Customers often ask me “which is the best species” for a log home. There are many good species and most are appropriate for use in log homes and timber homes. Selection of the species often comes down to which one you like to look at most. However, in my humble opinion based on more than 20 years of log home experience, there is one wood species that seems to perform better when it comes to log homes and timber homes – West Coast Douglas Fir.
West Coast Douglas Fir is grows on the Pacific side of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Douglas Fir growing east of the Cascades is technically the same species but the high moisture and soil conditions of the Pacific Coastal Region produces much higher quality wood fiber than its inland cousin. The grain is straight with fewer knots and defect. The color of Douglas Fir varies from a yellow/white sapwood to a glowing brownish red heart wood. It takes stain and finish very well. Personally, I think Douglas Fir gives the best overall appearance.
Ask any framer that been in the business for awhile. The old salts will tell you about the good old days with most framing lumber was West Coast Douglas Fir. It was straight, true and you could count on the quality. Today, the West Coast Douglas Fir is just too valuable to use in standard framing lumber. Most framing lumber is made from other lower quality species. The high quality Douglas Fir is reserved for timbers and finish boards.
Douglas Firs has the highest structural qualities of all of the softwoods. It is typically the species of choice by architects and engineers in structural applications. Most roof and truss members require the strength of Douglas Fir. In timber frame structures, Douglas Fir is the best choice. In a timber frame, most timber connections are structural and the timbers are typically load bearing. Using Douglas Fir in a timber frame structure gives the designer and engineer much more flexibility.
Of course, old growth Douglas Fir is protected – for good reason. As an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council, we employ practices that are environmentally friendly such as utilizing second growth and plantation logs and timbers.
PrecisionCraft’s species of choice for log homes is West Coast Douglas Fir. We can get other species and the final decision is always up to our customers. But, if someone asks my opinion on which wood species is the best, I will always tell them that West Coast Douglas Fir is my personal preference. ~Jim Young, President of PrecisionCraft Log Homes & Timber Frame