Glazing Applications

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir In Architectural Design.

Douglas Fir is a softwood that offers a high quality finish and strength which allows it to be used as structural elements. The timber species is readily available in the UK which makes it a popular building and architectural finish for UK construction projects.  

It is not as strong as oak but can be used in the same way as oak can be using similar thicknesses and designs. Douglas fir is an environmentally responsible alternative for impregnated pine. With its many good qualities, this European pine variety is suitable for a wide range of projects. 

What is Douglas Fir?

Douglas fir wood comes from Douglas fir trees (the Pseudotsuga menziesii). These trees are a native tree of North America. When they were discovered on Vancouver Island, David Douglas sent seeds back to the UK where they became one of its fastest growing timbers. Douglas Fir trees are also found now in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. 

A Douglas Fir tree is not actually a true fir tree. It is a distinct coniferous evergreen which comes from the Pinaceae family of timbers.  

Douglas fir comes from sustainably managed forests in northwestern Europe. This wood variety has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to its many advantageous qualities. For instance, it is naturally very durable and exceptionally strong, making it an ideal choice for outdoor projects such as timber cladding and roof boards. Once dried, it is even harder. With its flame-like grain and heartwood in yellow-brown to pink colouring, Douglas also has a beautiful appearance. 

Douglas fir trees live on average around 500 years though there are some as old as 1,300 years old. 

The Appearance of Douglas Fir Building Material  

Douglas Fir has a warm tone, with a slightly pink-orange colour to the natural timber material when freshly cut. This slowly transforms to a burnt orange appearance over time. If you wanted to tone down the orange design and create a lighter timber finish, Douglas Fir can be ‘limed’ using oil, wax or a wash.  

The grain finish of douglas fir is very straight which makes it suitable for timber finishes where a more uniform design finish is wanted.  

Building Applications for Douglas Fir 

You won’t find any curves in a Douglas Fir timber frame due to the straight grains of the wood. Any curves found in a douglas fir solid structure will be very gentle curves that were designed into the section on purpose from larger sections. Douglas Fir is a more stable and predictable building material than oak and holds a strong edge when cut. Its stability means it works well as a planned timber, its sharp edges, clean lines and smooth surface making it perfect to incorporate into a modern or contemporary space. 

Thanks to its lightweight density in compares to its thickness, Douglas Fir timber is strong.  Douglas fir wood is said to have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any wood on the earth. It has a lower moisture content that your typical hardwood and cannot hold a moisture content, so it seasons quickly, enabling its use in building. This also means that it is useful as a surface finish.  

The moisture properties of the timber also mean that it is often uses in the construction of boats.  

Douglas combines well with steelwork to achieve spacious, clean-lined frames, allowing for a very light and airy feel to the room. If your preference is simple, modern, contemporary, then you might want to consider this approach. 

Finishes for Douglas Fir 

Douglas fir can be left untreated or given an attractive colour finish via oil and stain finishes for wood. If desired, we can brush or char Douglas fir for interior use. As an environmentally responsible yet hard pine variety, Douglas fir is always a budget-friendly alternative to oak.