Douglas Fir Flooring. Exotic Wood?

Posted: September 20, 2011

knotty fir flooringA friend of mine in the lumber industry asked if our Douglas Fir flooring could be classified as an exotic wood. Being that I live in Montana and see Douglas Fir trees every day I never looked at it as being exotic. It wasn’t until I started to look into the term “exotic wood” that I came to a conclusion.  Here’s what I came upwith:



Definition – Exotic

1.  of foreign origin or character; not native; introduced from abroad, but not fully naturalized or acclimatized: exotic foods; exotic plants, exotic woods.
2.  strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance.

In order to justify my argument, I think in order to actually term it “exotic” we must look at it from the perspective of our friends and customers overseas. Being that Douglas Fir is a nonnative species to SE Asia and other parts of the world, technically according to it’s definition Douglas Fir would be considered an exotic wood.

So now let us look at the native range of the Douglas Fir tree –

Native Habitat of the Douglas Fir TreeThe latitudinal range of Douglas-fir is the greatest of any commercial conifer of western North America. Its native range, extending from latitude 19° to 55° N., resembles an inverted V with uneven sides. From the apex in central British Columbia, the shorter arm extends south along the Pacific Coast Ranges for about 2200 km (1,367 mi) to latitude 34° 44′ N., representing the range of the typical coastal or green variety, menziesii; the longer arm stretches along the Rocky Mountains into the mountains of central Mexico over a distance of nearly 4500 km (2,796 mi), comprising the range of the other recognized variety, glauca– Rocky Mountain or blue. Nearly pure stands of Douglas-fir continue south from their northern limit on Vancouver Island through western Washington, Oregon, and the Klamath and Coast Ranges of northern California as far as the Santa Cruz Mountains. In Sierra Nevada, Douglas-fir is a common part of the mixed conifer forest as far south as the Yosemite region. The range of Douglas-fir is fairly continuous through northern Idaho, western Montana, and northwestern Wyoming. Several outliers are present in Alberta and the eastern-central parts of Montana and Wyoming, the largest being in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. In northeastern Oregon, and from southern Idaho south through the mountains of Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, extreme western Texas, and northern Mexico, the distribution becomesdiscontinuous.

Conclusion – Douglas Fir is only native to a small area of western North America, and nowhere else in the world.


The definition also states, “strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance”.  According to the Softwood Export Council:

Douglas Fir is universally recognized for its superior strength-to-weight ratio. It also provides excellent nail-holding and fastening capability that is documented with a superior performance record against wind, storms, and earthquakes.

Douglas fir strength properties rank the highest of any western softwood for extreme fiber stress in bending; tension parallel-to-grain; horizontal sheer; compression perpendicular-to-grain and compression parallel-to-grain.

It also has the highest modulus of elasticity (E) values of all North American softwood species. E is the ratio of the amount a piece of timber will deflect in proportion to an applied load. This reflection of stiffness is one of the most important considerations in the design of floors and other horizontal systems. Douglas fir is often selected for four- and five-story timber frame buildings.

Because of its physical working properties, the durability of its heartwood, and its excellent dimensional stability, all combine to provide the reasons why many builders worldwide prefer Douglas fir exotic wooden flooring. It is truly the ideal, general-purpose softwood species for timber framing in residential, light commercial, multi-story and industrial construction, and for structural formwork applications.

Conclusion – For a softwood species Douglas Fir is unusually strong and durable.

Inquire about our exotic wood flooring today!

Based on the above information, my personal conclusion would be:
Yes, Douglas Fir is exotic wood.

This is strictly my own personal conclusion based on research found on the world wide web.

Ryan Palma
Co-founder of Sustainable Lumber Co.