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Classic hardwood flooring choices: Douglas fir

Posted on March 30th, 2012 In: Articles, Floor Sanding Articles

Douglas fir is a popular choice for hardwood flooring and has been used in such applications for generations.  Due to this long history, the properties of Douglas fir as a flooring material are very well understood.

The scientific or botanical name of the species that produces Douglas fir is Pseudotsuga menziesii.  The heartwood of this species tends to have an appearance that ranges from pale brown through to a yellowish shade while the heartwood varies from tan to a creamy white.  The heartwood in particular may appear to be Southern yellow pine as the two species are very similar.  The heartwood of young trees, however, tend to have a heartwood that is reddish in colouration; these varieties are sometimes referred to as red fir.  Homeowners who install Douglas fir should be prepared to expect significant colour changes in areas of the floor that are exposed to strong sunlight.

The grain of Douglas fir is usually quite straight, although some planks may exhibit a spiralled or wavy texture.  Most of the flooring material made from Douglas fir has been rift-sawn and will show a vertical grain pattern.

Douglas fir has a Janka hardness rating of about 660, which makes it nearly 50% softer than the standard species used for comparisons, red oak.  This makes it somewhat simpler to have floorboard sanding performed when needed.  Interestingly, Douglas fir is more than a quarter more dimensionally stable than red oak.  This makes it a durable wood even though it can be scratched or dented with relative ease.

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