Like some multi-talented actor or athlete, someone who can do just about anything and do it well, Douglas Fir is considered one of the finest, most adaptive building materials on the market today. With two known species (Coastal and Interior) Douglas Fir is a type of coniferous softwood that has found a place in all aspects of residential and commercial construction. Durable, rot resistant, flexible and having an excellent strength to weight ratio, Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is widely used in framing and as a structural timber – but is just as commonly used in the manufacture of decorative doors and window frames thanks to its tight straight grain and its aesthetically pleasing golden-orange color.
The natural range of this species extends all along the West Coast of North American from British Columbia south to California. Adapted to the West Coast climate, which consists of mild and wet winters followed by sunny dry summers, the Douglas Fir has evolved into a species of tree that is tall (up to 100 meters), straight and thick, making it an ideal source for milled lumber. The second tallest conifer species in the world (after the California Redwood), Douglas Fir trees are considered one of the world’s best timber producing species. A Fir is not an apex plant species, meaning it never stops growing. One example that collapsed during a storm near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island was shown to be more than 1,350 years old, and would have continued to grow if an exceptional storm had not toppled it. An apex species of plant will reach a specific age or height and then stop growing.
Douglas Fir lumber is considered an ideal building material. A type of wood with excellent nail and plate-holding ability, it is also known for its flexibility and resistance to stress. Tests have indicated that homes with structural timbers composed of Fir wood are more resilient to shifts caused by winds, storms and even earthquakes. This lumber is also noted for extraordinary dimensional stability, meaning it will not warp, shrink or alter its shape due to rain, temperature or other changing natural conditions, an attribute welcomed when used in home construction.
Whether used as a primary structural element or as a decorative feature Douglas Fir lumber is an excellent choice in any construction project. It combines beauty with its tightly knotted and close-grained appearance with a flexible strength that makes it ideal for projects of any size.