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mixed grain wood

How Mixed Wood Grain Can Offer Builders More Flexibility

Wood grain is a common concern in construction and carpentry, and other woodworking industries. If you’re a contractor or builder, chances are you’re quite familiar with the impact of wood grain orientation and the strength of timber. While many believe that vertical grain is the only good choice for most projects, this is far from the truth.

In fact, at Reliance Timber we only offer mixed grain lumber. While some ay see this as a limitation, we firmly believe that by offering mixed grain wood our customers are afforded many benefits. It is often underutilized by professionals despite its status as a fantastic option for specific projects. 

Despite what some may say about mixed grain, it can be an incredible boon to your next project, and we say it’s time to stop sleeping on it.

What Is Wood Grain?

Douglas Fir wood grain

The way that cell fibers are distributed throughout a piece of lumber is called wood grain. You can find wood grain everywhere: anything made from a tree will have some wood grain. 

Trees will develop a new growth ring every year — another line of their wood grain. The number of rings in a tree will change the texture and look, and the species of wood has an impact on how it presents as well. 

Because wood grains vary in color, shade, and texture, it’s good to know what grain you need for your project. Each type of lumber will have a unique look and a specific strength as well, which is essential to keep in mind when building with wood.

Mixed Grain Wood vs. Vertical Grain Wood

vertical vs flat grain

These types of lumber are cut from the same trees, but they’re processed differently, making each suitable for different projects. 

Clear vertical grain is cut so you can easily see the growth rings, while mixed grain will be a combination of vertical and flat grain. Modern vertical grain wood is cut perpendicular to the growth rings, while mixed grain is cut parallel to the growth rings.

Vertical grain Douglas fir will have a more uniform coloring and is quite durable. Mixed grain wood offers much more variety in shading and can give furniture or other building projects a more antique feeling. 

Both are valid, durable choices in their own right. But if you’re looking for an economical lumber option that doesn’t sacrifice quality, mixed grain wood will never disappoint.

Uses for Mixed Wood Grain

Where can you start using mixed wood grain? Anywhere you’re interested in a more natural patina rather than a polished look, you’ll want to go with mixed wood grain. 

If you’re building something that needs a rustic flair, mixed wood grain provides excellent flexibility at an unbeatable price point. It’s also one of the best structural building materials in the country and is praised for its strength-to-weight ratio.

When Creating a Rustic Look Full of Character

As stated above, mixed wood grain exposes many different facets of the wood’s grain patterns, patina, and coloration. Clean, vertical grain wood just doesn’t have the depth of character and beauty that mixed grain offers. For any project where knots, swirls, and deep colors are desired, such as a rustic mountain cabin, mixed grain is an absolute must.

Paneling, Trim, and Flooring

If you are planning to install trim, molding, shiplap, etc., you’ll be all set with mixed grain wood. Often the wood will eventually be painted over, thus hiding the contrasting grain and character. Springing for vertical grain wood in these applications is often a huge waste of resources. Save yourself some money and effort by utilizing mixed wood grain for these projects.

Dimensional Lumber

Mixed grain is also a popular choice for structural or dimensional lumber among builders. When compared to other Western softwoods, Douglas fir has a superior strength-to-weight ratio along with extremely high strength ratings, according to the Western Wood Products Association. It is the most widely used structural building material in the country.

All of that high-demand construction material, which will eventually be hidden behind sheetrock, is typically mixed grain Douglas fir. It’s strong, holds nails and screws securely, and doesn’t splinter or crack. When it comes to framing material that will not be exposed to the elements, mixed grain is the ideal choice—quality and economy combined.

Benefits of Mixed Wood Grain

While vertical grain wood is often considered to be the industry standard, it isn’t the proper wood grain for every job. Here are a few benefits that will have you loving working with mixed wood grain:


Mixed wood grain is more affordable than vertical grain wood. The way the vertical grain is cut produces much more waste, making it a pricier product. But mixed grain is cut in a way that produces minimal waste, so there tends to be more of it at a lower price. 

Its cost-effectiveness allows contractors and builders to be bold with larger projects without having to worry too much about budget constraints.

Visual Excitement

Vertical wood grain gives off a more refined and uniform look. But if you’re looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind grain pattern, you’ll get that from mixed wood grain. The lack of consistency is part of the charm and allows you to work with the wood’s natural character, giving your project a visual interest and even a unique point of view.

Superior Sustainability

The waste from making vertical grain wood doesn’t have other uses, so it simultaneously drives up the price and makes vertical grain wood a less sustainable option. 

Cutting logs into mixed wood grain will minimize the waste, making it more eco-friendly. Vertical grain is also usually sourced from old-growth trees, whereas you can manufacture mixed grain from smaller trees and still end up with a durable, visually appealing wood grain.

Reliance Timber Can Answer Your Questions

There is no reason to select vertical grain wood when mixed grain wood is sometimes the best product for the job. If you have any questions about mixed wood grain and our production model, click here.