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Douglas fir for decking?

maddog3's picture

hello, does anyone have any experience with Douglas fir as decking? I have access to #1 clear, vertical grain lumber, this wood is from old tanks (that is storage barrels) I have used it inside the house of course and have had only minor shrinkage in that flooring, I understand that would change outside of course,but I was wondering about the durability of the wood to the elements. Would this fir need to be sealed with something? or can it just fade naturally? I would prefer to leave it alone like cypress or redwood but I have never used fir outside

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(post #60878, reply #1 of 4)

Since yours is reclaim material, it may have some different charachteristics.

fir is a traditional deck surface for theese houses from 1880 to 1920. Some of it laid back then is only now getting replaced. it is strong, stable, and good looking.

What we get now is not nearly as good. But the stuff that has lasted for a hundred years was well installed and oiled regularly.

One deck of about 2000 sf I laid in 1988 or 89 is doing OK but I've had to replace a few sticks because the caretaker steadfastly refuses to treat it yearly. It has had a coat of Thompson's three times since installation is all. ( T water seal is a thinned wax that is only good for six months in the sun and under foot.)


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(post #60878, reply #2 of 4)

Ok, this lumber was milled about fifty years ago and as I said it is straight grain -all clear, it looks like qtr. sawn to me and the grain runs vertical between the long sides. The yard that salvages this claims to use it for exterior signs and is quite durable.

It has been just fine in the house and I was thinking of different material for this small deck. can I leave this fir unfinished?

I figure I have to do something to the surface ( you mentioned oiling) But I don't like to stain my outdoor projects. I have used Flood products....(Seasonite)...on cedar and redwood, with no problems. I will contact them to ask if their stuff will work on this or even if it is necessary since this lumber is at least 50 years old and has only been planed to cleanup the faces

Edited 4/16/2004 4:24 pm ET by maddog

Edited 4/16/2004 4:30 pm ET by maddog

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(post #60878, reply #3 of 4)

I mill VG DF regularly for various uses.

Sounds like you've got 10 rings/inch+ old growth...200+year-old trees...if so, the resin content is higher and the boards should do fine.  The problems come with later growth 40-year-old trees with low resin and large amounts of sapwood.

There are two uncovered log and rubble footbridges from the 1930's crossing streams on my property...the decking is old, tight 8/4 DF and those boards are still as sound as the day they were cut.

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think...that a time is to come when those (heirlooms) will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.’ “ --John Ruskin.

“Perhaps then, you will say, ‘But where can one have a boat like that built today?’  And I will tell you that there are still some honest men who are not scared to use hand tools, who can sharpen a saw, plane, or adze:  there are still some who know that a little healthy exercise will not do them any lasting harm.  To be sure, most of these honest men live and work in rather out of the way places, but that is lucky, for in most cases they can acquire the provided boatbuilding materials for perhaps one third of city prices.  But, best of all, some of these gentlemen’s boatshops are in places where nothing but the occasional honk of a wild goose will distract them from their work.”-- L Francis Herreshoff ,  The Common Sense of Yacht Design

(post #60878, reply #4 of 4)

well Bob you are right ! I just counted the rings on a scrap of the flooring and .....9-10 rings to the inch ! Thanks to both you and "piffin". It would seem there is a fir deck in my future

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