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Updated November 13, 2020
Why look into Douglas fir flooring pros and cons? So many reasons.
Douglas fir is one of those subtle-but-amazing types of wood flooring that you don’t hear about too often. But these days, people are starting to realize just how lovely Douglas fir flooring can be—and we think that’s great!
Douglas fir trees are among the most essential timber resources on the planet. They’re beloved for their iconic shape, towering size, and never-ending usefulness for everything from telephone poles to decks to Christmas trees.
But what exactly makes Douglas fir good for flooring? What does a Douglas fir floor even look like? What’s the difference between Douglas fir and pine flooring? And most importantly, what are the pros and cons of Douglas fir flooring?
Below, we’ll answer all of those questions—and more—so you can decide whether Douglas fir flooring is right for you.
First of all: is Douglas fir good for flooring? Why?
Oh goodness yes! Of all the types of flooring you could choose, Douglas fir has a lot to offer. It’s absolutely stunning, it’s super durable, it tends to have very few knots (which can weaken a floor), it has a distinctive lovely grain… we could go on forever, but in the interest of clarity, we’ll dive into each of these factors in detail below.
Douglas fir flooring pros and cons
Pro: It makes beautiful floors
If you want a truly stunning floor, you can’t do much better than Douglas fir. With its gorgeous waves, golden tones, and tight grain patterns, it’s at the top of the class when it comes to personality and looks. Even more popular types of wood flooring like oak and maple can’t hold a candle to fir’s natural beauty. High-quality Douglas fir is sometimes known as Clear Vertical Grain or CVG because its grain is so uniform.
Pro: It comes in longer-than-average board lengths
Douglas fir trees grow to be very tall. Most varieties have the potential to grow up to 70 feet tall with a 12-20 foot spread. The tallest type, the Coast Douglas fir, dominates the West Coast at a height up to 300 ft.
For this reason, Douglas fir flooring often comes in surprisingly long board lengths. When installed, these planks give your floors a softer, smoother, and more uniform appearance. Of course, if you’re keen on installing some creative wood floor patterns, you can always buy shorter planks instead. It’s up to you, but we thought this was interesting enough to earn a spot in our list of Douglas fir flooring pros and cons.
Pro: It’s incredibly strong and can last for generations
Douglas fir has one of the highest strength to weight ratios of any wood species in the world. This doesn’t just make it a lightweight and strong floor; it also makes it resistant to decay.
Many old barns and granaries in the Western Rocky Mountains were built with Douglas fir, and they’re still standing strong over 200 years later. If you’re looking for a floor that’s going to last generation after generation, Douglas fir is a great pick.
Pro: fir flooring does surprisingly well with water
Basically, this means that while fir may flex and warp when it gets wet (like every other wood floor does), it will go right back to its original shape when it dries! Very few other woods have this dimensional stability. When they warp from wetness, game over—they’re deformed forever.
Also: because you don’t need to worry about warping, Douglas fir is a great choice if you plan on heating your wood floors.
Pro: It’s easy to maintain and refinish
Because Douglas fir is a softwood—and we’ll talk more about that later—it’s very easy to maintain and refinish. This makes Douglas fir flooring a great choice for areas that are prone to discoloration (we’re thinking sunroom flooring here). And because Douglas fir flooring handles water like a pro, refinishing is usually a breeze—no shaving down warped floorboards or anything like that.
You can even bleach some wooden floors to get out tough stains, and Douglas fir is one of these floors. Don’t believe us? Check out this video that shows how even after 115 years, a Douglas fir floor can be made to look like new.
Con: Douglas fir flooring is very soft
While this could earn a spot on either side of Douglas fir flooring pros and cons list, the wood’s softness can be an issue. While it’s easy to refinish, it can be marred, dented, and scratched relatively easily.
What’s the difference between Douglas fir and pine flooring?
Whew! Now that we’ve gone through the major pros and cons of Douglas fir flooring, let’s answer some common questions. First of all: what’s the difference between Douglas fir and pine flooring?
Although many people mistake these two types of wood for each other (the trees do look very similar) they’re actually different species.
When it comes to flooring planks, pine has a wider grain that is more susceptible to twisting and warpage. Douglas fir has a tight grain that’s a bit more rugged.
That said, Douglas fir and pine are both softwoods. Douglas fir scores around a 700 on the Janka hardness scale, and pine often scores around 800. Translation: neither one of these woods makes for the most scratch-resistant flooring, nor are they the best wood flooring for dogs. But when it comes to beauty, utility, and ease of refinishing, they really can’t be beat.
Is Douglas fir flooring expensive?
When it comes to price, new Douglas fir flooring is often in the lower-to-mid-range compared to other types of wood flooring. It depends on a number of factors, however: the company you buy it from, the length and cut of your boards, etc.
As a rule of thumb, wood flooring costs generally range from around $3 all the way to $18 per square foot for solid planks. Douglas fir usually comes in between $3.50 and $8 per square foot. All in all, it’s a very affordable wood floor!
What is “reclaimed” Douglas fir flooring?
Reclaimed Douglas fir flooring has been getting more and more popular, and it’s easy to see why. Basically, this material is antique wood—planks that were once used in old houses, businesses, or barns. And because Douglas fir is so long-lasting (and resistant to warp), these planks are now widely sought-after for their seasoned look and history.
If you’re looking for a way to give your floors a bit of personality and really make them your own (but don’t want to go down the intensely stressful DIY wood flooring route), reclaimed Douglas fir is a fantastic option. Plus, reclaimed planks are some of the most sustainable wood flooring options around.
Can you buy it as engineered flooring?
Absolutely! Engineered Douglas fir is indeed available, and in many cases, it’s a smart purchase. Solid wood almost always has to be nailed, glued, or stapled to a subfloor (and if you’re wondering what subflooring is, it’s just the raw material under your finished floor). Engineered wood, on the other hand, can often be purchased as a click-together floating floor—meaning the planks lock together like a puzzle and don’t need to be attached to a subfloor.
That being said, there are a few engineered wood disadvantages that you should know about. First off, engineered floors can’t be refinished as many times as solid ones can. And if you don’t buy the best engineered wood flooring, you might end up with surfaces that can’t be refinished at all. So if you want your Douglas fir floors to last a lifetime, you may want to go for solid planks.
Who sells Douglas fir flooring?
It depends on whether you want to buy new or reclaimed floors, but many of the best hardwood floor brands sell Douglas fir flooring. When it comes to availability, Douglas fir pros and cons are very similar to teak flooring pros and cons. They’re both specialty products that aren’t ubiquitous, but aren’t particularly hard to come by either. And bonus: they’re both relatively eco-friendly flooring choices!
Still not convinced that the pros and cons of Douglas fir flooring make it right for you?
If you love the look of fir but have concerns about putting it in your home, remember that there are endless wood floor alternatives that can be made to look just like Douglas fir. We’re not talking fake wood flooring here either—we’re talking about stuff like cork and bamboo.
Conclusion: the pros and cons of Douglas fir flooring are pretty one-sided
At the end of the day, there aren’t many disadvantages when it comes to Douglas fir flooring. You could make the argument that being a softwood, it’s more prone to scratching—but when it comes to long-term strength, fir is one of the most durable types of wood flooring around.
Really, unless you opt for wood-look concrete flooring or something similarly industrial, you’re not going to find anything that’ll stand up better to the test of time.
Best known for being “not that kind of doctor” and never knowing which fork to use, Sara is a learning designer and writer, former real estate agent, and builder with a penchant for home design and remodeling.
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