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  • Uses for Vertical Grain and Mixed Grain Douglas Fir

    Posted on April 25, 2012 by nell

    You don’t use a fork to eat ice cream.

    You don’t use bowling shoes for ballet.

    And you don’t use mixed grain Douglas fir when vertical grain is what you need.

    These two types of lumber are both cut from the same Northwest-grown conifers, but they’re processed differently and best suited for different uses.

    Vertical grain Doug fir is sawn perpendicular to the growth rings of the tree. This means that if you are looking at a piece of vertical grain wood, you’ll be able to see the lumber’s tight growth rings in straight lines running vertically up and down the face of the wood. Vertical grain offers more consistent coloring, and is a more stable and durable product. That’s because when it expands and contracts naturally in response to natural moisture in the air, it does so evenly throughout the board--no warping, twisting or buckling.

    Mixed grain, on the other hand, is just what it sounds like--a mixed parcel of wood. When you order mixed grain from your lumber supplier, some of the boards in your allotment will be vertical grain. Others will be what’s called cathedral grain or flat grain. These logs were run through the saw parallel to the tree’s growth rings. When you look at a flat grain board, you’ll see a wider, wavier grain pattern. There’s a more visible light to dark variation. And while it’s still tough, it’s not generally considered as stable or as durable as clear vertical grain.

    For some things, we highly recommend using nothing less than vertical grain. When you need something with the highest durability available, such as flooring, decking, or exterior siding--or anything that needs to stand up to the elements or to heavy wear--vertical grain Douglas fir is your best bet. Vertical grain Douglas fir is also the wood of choice when you need the specific clear, consistent look of this beautiful, natural product.

    However, there are many times where mixed grain Douglas fir might be perfect for your building project. Not only does it offer a more varied look, it’s also more economical and still a durable type of lumber. For indoor paneling or trim, mixed grain Douglas fir provides an excellent product with a slightly different look than vertical grain. Rather than vertical grain’s subtle pattern, mixed grain can offer a more rustic look. AltruFir’s mixed grain reclaimed Douglas fir paneling features beautiful variation in color, from deepest brown to pale gold. The occasional knot and nail hole add to the antique look.

    Because sometimes, worn-in is exactly the look you want, whether it’s for paneling, trim, or even the floor. If you’re building a mountain cabin, you don’t want a polished, pristine surface. You want your wood to develop a natural patina, and mixed grain lumber will more easily acquire that well-loved, antique look.

    Mixed grain is also the builder’s material of choice for structural or dimensional lumber. According to the Western Wood Products Association, Douglas fir has a superior strength-to weight ratio, it holds nails in place well,  and it has high strength ratings when compared to other Western softwoods. It’s the leading structural building material in the country.

    All that high demand building material--which will eventually be hidden behind sheetrock--is generally mixed grain Douglas fir. It’s sturdy, it holds nails and screws well, and it doesn’t splinter or crack. And when you’re talking about framing material that won’t be exposed to the elements, mixed grain is the perfect choice--quality and economy combined.

    After all, just think about it:

    You don’t put ketchup on caviar.

    You don’t go skiing in your scuba gear.

    And there’s no reason to choose vertical grain Douglas fir when sometimes mixed grain Douglas fir is the product you really want for the job.

    By Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim, Douglas Fir Paneling and was tagged with Douglas-fir, douglas fir paneling, mixed grain doug fir, vertical grain doug fir, doug fir, uses for vertical grain doug fir, uses for mixed grain doug fir, vertical grain, mixed grain, mixed grain reclaimed douglas fir paneling, reclained douglas fir paneling, mixed grain douglas fir paneling, patina, western wood products association

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