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Characteristics of Wood | How to Pick the Best Type of Wood For Your Project

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Gary Campbell explains the different characteristics of wood and gives advice on what type of wood species to select for your project.

We’re going to discuss the characteristics of wood, pros and cons, and best use of four common wood types, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Red Cedar, and Cypress. We’ve had customer after customer rely on the information in this blog to build everything from shingles to log home paneling, timber frames, and more.

Let’s dive in:

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#1) Douglas Fir

Characteristics of Wood:

  • Known for its strength and durability
  • All of the Douglas Fir at Reliance Timber is free of heart center which minimizes cracks and splits

Color:

  • Pink, white, and yellow

When To Use: 

  • Timber framers love to use it for rafters, ridge beams, and post and beam.

Pros:

  • One of the strongest of the softwood varieties
  • Boring Bees tend to stay away from Douglas Fir
  • You can use it easily wherever you want as it doesn’t absorb water as other species might

Cons:

  • Limited supply on the east coast because it’s a west coast species
  • It’s more expensive than pine
  • It can sometimes drip sap (pitch pockets) until it is seasoned
  • Takes approximately 5 years until fully seasoned
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#2) Eastern White Pine

Characteristics of Wood:

  • It’s a great choice if you’re on a budget
  • It’s less expensive than the other wood choices
  • It’s not decay resistant, so you have to make sure it’s protected if used outside
  • Rustic looking and accepts any color stain well

Color:

  • Bright white

When To Use: 

  • Great for interior and exterior uses
  • A lot of log homes are used with White Pine, in fact, Gary, (Reliance Timber general manager), lives in a log home built out of White Pine

Pros:

  • It has a lower cost due to its availability
  • It’s one of the lightest woods we offer, so it’s easier to handle
  • It’s easy to treat with a clear coat, stain, or paint
  • There’s less twisting and bowing than Yellow Pine

Cons:

  • It’s not as strong as Douglas Fir
  • Because White Pine is typically boxed heart/heart center, it’s known to check/crack. Some like this as a rustic feature and others steer away
  • Boring Bees are known to love White Pine, however, insecticide can help remedy this issue.
  • It’s not ideal for open spans, such as rafters, loft joists, etc.
western_red_cedar_characteristics

#3) Western Red Cedar

Characteristics of Wood:

  • From: British Columbia, Canada, and North Western America
  • Known for its decay resistance properties (termites hate it)
  • It’s not known for strength, so if you’re looking for rafters and ridge beams, this is not the right choice. However, it’s often used for decorative rafters, timber trusses, and more.
  • It’s a great all-around product, but it’s one of the more expensive items that Reliance has on the market.

Color:

  • Red, with a little pink, brown, and blonde

When To Use: 

  • It does great when used as wood shingles or wood siding on the outside of homes
  • Can be used for indoor and outdoor use. Good for accents, T&G, shiplap, post and beam

Pros:

  • It’s naturally decay-resistant (making it good for things like decking)
  • Some find its strong color tones to be an attractive feature
  • Rich brown colors are often well-liked by customers
  • It’s known for its nice smell

Cons:

  • There’s a limited supply on the east coast, so it is more expensive
  • It’s not ideal for spanning
  • As a softer wood, Cedar is more susceptible to scratches and dents
cypress_characteristics

#4) Cypress

Characteristics of Wood:

  • It’s known for its decay resistance properties and its strength
  • The grain looks like Cedar, but the color of it looks like Pine

Color:

  • White and yellow with a little bit of pink and brown

When To Use: 

  • It’s best used for rafters, ridge beam, T&G, accents, and more
  • Can be used for indoor and outdoor use

Pros:

  • It’s durable and great for outdoor use
  • Infrequent knots
  • It sands well, cuts easily, and machines precisely

Cons:

  • Cypress is a heavy wood, relative to White Pine and Cedar
  • It can bow or twist
  • There’s usually a limited supply

There are so many beautiful species of wood out there, but each serves a specific purpose. When you pick the best type of wood type for your project, it will make it last longer and look more beautiful.

So, set yourself up for success for your next lumber endeavor. No more guessing if you’re selecting the right type of wood or not. Now, you can focus on what matters most, creating beautiful projects you’re proud of. 

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Reliance Timber is nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. We cater to the log home, timber frame home, and conventional home industries. Our team of experts pride themselves on quality and work tirelessly to deliver products directly to your job site all across America.

Our inventory is stronger than ever. We have lots of White Pine, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Cypress. Whatever you need with these species, we’ve got you covered!

We’d love to supply you with quality wood. Give us a call today!

Transcript of Video: 

Gary Campbell: I would like to talk to you today about the different characteristics of the wood that we offer- White Pine, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Cypress. This is a piece of Douglas Fir and this is really known for its strength. A lot of timber farmers love to use this for rafters and ridge beams. It’s beautiful in color- pink, white, and yellow. And all the Fir we have is free of heart center, so you won’t see a bunch of cracks and splits

Right here, we’ve got Eastern White Pine, and this is great to fit the budget. It’s three times less expensive than any other choice. White Pine is great for interior and exterior uses. It’s bright white in color. It is not decay resistant, so you really do have to make sure it’s protected if you use it on the outside. And we do a lot of log homes out of White Pine. I live in a White Pine log home and I love it. So this is just a great, great choice if you’re on a pretty tight budget and you’re looking for something that’s rustic and bright in color, this is a good way to go, and it accepts any color stain well.

This is Western Red Cedar. This comes out of British Columbia, Canada, and it is known for its decay-resistant properties. It’s not known for strength. So, if you’re looking for rafters and ridge beams, this is not the right choice. This does great for wood shingles or wood siding on the outside. It’s super decay-resistant. Termites hate it. It’s also very nice to put on the inside as well. It’s just a great all-around product, but it is the most expensive item that we have on the market, and it rings in about four times the price of White Pine. 

And this is Cypress. This is a piece of 4X12. It’s known for its decay-resistant properties and strength. This is for exterior rafters and ridge beams and just all-around strength. It’s beautiful. It’s kind of almost the color of Yellow Pine. It’s got a lot of white and yellow, a little bit of pink, a little bit of brown. The grain of it looks like Cedar, but the color of it looks like Pine. This is also another great choice for indoor or outdoor use. 

So, if you’re looking for high-quality wood products, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Reliance Timber that is our focus. We’re going to make the best quality wood products money can buy. We guarantee it, so give us a try. Call us today at Reliance Timber.