When it comes to structural framing, the most common timber associated with this centuries-old tradition is Oak. This timber has understandably dominated the market for years thanks to its heritage, inherent strength and durability. However, more recently we have seen the ancient tradition of oak framing applied to different materials. Proven to be structurally sound and possess exceptional aesthetic properties, alternative timbers are offering more and more customers added choice and flexibility.
Despite its more attractive price point, Douglas Fir is still relatively unheard of as a timber frame material. Yet Douglas Fir has the highest strength rating of any softwood and is the preferred specie for timber framing in the United States.
It is pinky/orange in appearance with a contrasting creamy white sap. It is visually characterised by a tight grain with minimal knots. Thanks to its neat and light appearance when planed, Douglas Fir lends itself extremely well to contemporary, modern spaces.
Compared to its Oak relatives, Douglas Fir is lighter in weight and has a much lower moisture content. The rate at which it loses its moisture is faster too, meaning the seasoned timber is at a far more advanced stage when the frame is erected.
For this reason, it is always advised to treat Douglas Fir with a wax or oil surface finish to avoid continual maintenance and damage to the structure, plus prevent premature weathering. Alternatively, customers can opt to paint their frame which offers a great opportunity for customisation.
Whilst the majority of timber frames can be found in rural areas, the flexibility of Douglas Fir means painted frames – with their striking aesthetic impact – are extremely well suited to urban environments.
In terms of raw material cost, Douglas Fir is comparatively cheaper than Oak – having said that, the price of the frame only makes up a small percentage of the total project. So if you like what you see and are inspired by the custom options made available with Douglas Fir, then the marginal saving is just a welcome bonus!