When it comes to timber, Australian homeowners can choose from several attractive, durable varieties. To select the right timber for the job, it’s important to consider several factors, including the look you want to create, the purpose of the timber, and where you want to install the wood. For many home projects, Oregon pine (also called Douglas fir) is an excellent choice. Learn more about the properties of Oregon timber, and the reasons why you might choose this timber.
Archibald Menzies, a Scottish physician and naturalist, first discovered Oregon pine in British Columbia, Canada. In 1827, the Scottish botanist David Douglas introduced the species in England, and the tree’s common name now honours this famous explorer.
While people refer to the tree as a fir, the species does not actually show all the qualities of a true fir tree. The needles are similar to those you would normally find on a fir, but the cones more closely resemble spruce cones. As such, some people refer to the tree as the Douglas spruce.
Today, the tree grows widely in the United States, where it is the state tree of Oregon. Oregon plantations also exist in New Zealand, with some smaller sites in Australia.
Oregon is one of the strongest softwoods you can buy. The heart is yellow-brown to reddish brown in colour, while the sapwood is paler. The wood has a coarse, uneven texture, and the grain is very straight.
Oregon has very prominent growth rings, which makes the wood very attractive in traditional, rustic settings. The striking appearance conveys warmth and age, which many developers like to take advantage of in their homes. Freshly cut Oregon wood also has a distinctive, strong odour, which also appeals in many home settings.
Aging and exposure
Fresh Oregon is generally green, but the timber seasons rapidly with adequate protection, creating an established look in a short period. Well-protected Oregon timber generally won’t distort or check (crack along the radius of the log). Unprotected timber is often subject to defects, and may discolour, split or twist.
Additionally, Oregon timber will rot following an extended period of moisture exposure. If you decide to use the timber in a pergola or car port, you should install a roof to stop water pooling on the surface of the timber. You should also support posts in stirrups at least 50mm or higher.
Oil-based paints or timber preservatives can significantly extend the life of Oregon timber. During construction, you should also seal any ends before fixing.Talk to a timber expert for more protection advice.
Oregon timber is a good choice for internal framing and joinery. The pleasing appearance of Oregon timber works well for exposed rafters and beams, and is a popular choice for traditional construction projects.
Oregon timber has a high strength to weight ratio, which makes it easier for homeowners to use the material without specialist handling equipment. Oregon timber panels also work well in insulating walls, and can lower demand on heating systems. The wood rarely settles or cracks, which means that dust and dirt are less likely to infiltrate rooms. Oregon timber is also good for sound insulation, and cuts out a lot of noise pollution.
Other things to consider
Like all timber types, it’s important to understand how Oregon copes in certain circumstances. For example, Oregon timber isn’t suitable for steam bending. After the wood settles, you may end up with a ridged surface that doesn’t meet your needs. Similarly, the timber is not a good base for paintwork, as the surface is quite uneven. Oregon timber also has a high resin content, which can sometimes bleed through paint films.
Oregon timber is an excellent choice for many home construction projects. Talk to your local supplier for more information about this versatile material.