Pros and Cons of Douglas Fir Flooring

engineered douglas fir flooring shadow gap uk manufacturer

Douglas Fir Flooring is undeniably beautiful but many people are clueless about its characteristics. Is Douglas Fir Flooring right for you? Why even discuss the very nature of Douglas Fir Flooring? There are many reasons, so please read on. 

Douglas Fir Flooring is Stunning

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 Beautiful pinky toned Engineered Douglas Fir Flooring

Douglas Fir Flooring is stunning. It’s THE most beautiful and elegant wood floor. Super wide floorboards, natural pinky tones in luxuriously long lengths. A stunning blank canvas of nature’s beauty. There are very few knots in a Douglas Fir Floor & it has a clear beautiful grain. The most coveted Douglas Fir floorboards are sliced, for distinctive and desirable ‘Cathedral arching’ in their figuring. 

Douglas Fir Flooring is Sustainable

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Douglas Fir is a very tall tree with few branches until its crown

Douglas Fir is of the world’s best timber producing species, prolific and sustainable. Many people mistake Douglas Fir as a Pine but although the trees and timber look incredibly similar they are different species.

Douglas Fir is not an apex plank species and never stops growing. The oldest Douglas Fir tree discovered, was over a 1000 years old. Nearly half the dry weight of Douglas Fir is carbon absorbed from the atmosphere by the tree as it grew. This means that your Douglas Fir Floor is actually storing carbon! As Douglas Fir Flooring is 100% natural, 100% recyclable and sequestering carbon… it’s incredibly sustainable. 

Room-Length Douglas Fir Floorboards 

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Douglas Fir Flooring Lye & Soap Finish  

When it comes to the height, the sky’s the limit with Douglas Fir. These majestic trees are incredibly tall with the largest towering at 90m. This means that Douglas Fir flooring can be produced in luxuriously long room-length floorboards. Room-length Douglas Fir floorboards deliver the queen of all floors. Originally used in palaces and castles, never-ending floorboards are used in the 21st century for the same effect and pack natural drama underfoot.

Douglas Fir is Lightweight & Resilient

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Douglas Fir has a high strength-to-weight ratio which means a lightweight & relatively strong wood floor. As such Douglas Fir floorboards are a fitter’s dream to install. Douglas Fir was traditionally used for framework and beams being a timber that hardens with age. Many old barns in the Western Rockies were made from native Douglas Firs and have stood the test of time against extreme weather and earthquakes. Douglas Fir is widely used in construction for the same reasons today.

Water and Douglas Fir Floors?

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Soap washing a Douglas Fir Floor – Dinesen

Water and wooden floors is usually a BIG no no. Water and wood floors almost always means warping. Although no wood floor is waterproof, Douglas Fir has an unusual quality – natural elasticity. Douglas Fir Flooring, like any wood floor will expand when it gets wet. The difference with Douglas Fir Flooring is that it returns to it’s natural shape when dry. Very few timbers share this incredible quality. If an Oak floor warps due to wetness, it will stay that way.

Douglas Fir Flooring is Easy to Refinish

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Douglas Fir Flooring – smooth & sanded 

Douglas Fir Flooring is ultra-smooth to the touch with an amazing ability to receive a stained finish. Sanding a Douglas Fir Floor is very easy. The way in which Douglas Fir Flooring reacts to water means that refinishing is straightforward – no  reshaping warped floorboards is necessary. Douglas Fir Flooring can also be bleached (with care) and worth considering for areas that are liable to stain. Douglas Fir is one of the few wood floors that can be bleached with wood lye / to remove stains.

Douglas Fir Floorboards Can Crack 

cracks checking in douglas fir flooring

It sometimes surprises people to discover nearly half a living tree’s weight is water. A green / wet 7.5m long Douglas Fir log  holds almost a ton of water!  All timber used for wood flooring is kiln-dried. Douglas Fir Flooring will always contain an element of water and will always behave as a natural product. Douglas Fir Flooring acts like a sponge – it’s moisture content constantly varies according to moisture in it’s environment. As the air dries out, so does the timber, causing it to shrink and sometimes crack. When moisture levels in the air increase the same happens to the floor and it will expand. This is normal timber behaviour and should be fully expected when buying any Douglas Fir floor be it solid or engineered wood flooring. 

Douglas Fir Flooring & UFH?

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Badly cracked Engineered Douglas Fir Flooring – incorrectly specified for a Bikram Yoga Studio

Engineered Douglas Fir Flooring is not a floor recommended for use with underfloor heating systems. The cracked Douglas Fir Floor above is an extreme example. This floor was incorrectly specified for a Bikram Hot Yoga Studio and subject to dramatic changes in ambient temperature & humidity. Such dramatic changes caused the timber to crack, trying to cope & adapt to its environment. No timber floor could cope with such extremes in temperature & humidity.

Douglas Fir Flooring is liable to crack when used with under floor heating systems and this is normal behaviour. With under floor heating systems choose engineered hardwood flooring instead. 

Engineered Spanish Oak Flooring has similar pinky undertones and beautiful figuring so a wonderful alternative, as is American White Ash flooring  with its arched figuring and natural pale tones. These stunning hardwood floors are a good choice with UFH systems; being far less likely to crack from ambient shrinkage and expansion because of their natural cellular structure.

Douglas Fir Flooring is High Maintenance 

how to clean white washed lye douglas fir floors

Soaping is a traditional Scandinavian treatment for a wood floor. Soya, coconut butter & soap flakes are the main ingredients along with a small amount of lye. Soaping provides a natural matte and velvety smooth finish. It looks beautiful, but it is high maintenance. Depending on use a Douglas Fir Floor initially needs to be soap washed once a week to build up a protective soap layer. After around 6 months a patina develops, and as such the floor becomes less and less sensitive.

The beauty of a soap finish on a Douglas Fir Floor, is that most dents will rise after a soap washing. A soap finish however, means a lot of upkeep and even shoe-less households will still need to carry out regular soaping of a Douglas Fir Floor. 

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