8 Main Disadvantages Of Douglas Fir Wood

disadvantages of douglas fir wood

Douglas fir is popular for plywood making, flooring, furniture making, and many other woodworking projects. It is softwood with excellent strength and versatility.

But on the other hand, there’re some disadvantages of Douglas fir wood as well which are important to know.

Here’s a list of disadvantages of Douglas fir wood,

  • Need regular maintenance
  • Douglas fir is too soft
  • Prone to dents and cracks
  • Expensive than softwoods
  • Poor weather resistance
  • Poor durability
  • Susceptible to insect attacks
  • Hard to find

In this article, we’re going to look at each of the above disadvantages of Douglas fir in-depth and see how to fix and overcome those drawbacks to get the best outcome.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

First, let’s have a brief look at the advantages of Douglas fir wood.

Advantages Of Douglas Fir

  • High strength-to-weight ratio
  • Versatile wood
  • High flexibility
  • Decay resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to work with
  • High stability
  • Attractive
  • Chemical-free

As you can see Douglas fir is filled with lots of benefits that are important in various indoor and outdoor woodworking projects.

In order to get a clear idea about the behavior of Douglas fir wood, let’s have an in-depth look at its drawbacks and fixes.

Disadvantages Of Douglas Fir

1. Need Regular Maintenance

Douglas fir is softwood with less hardness and density. Therefore, it doesn’t have good resistance against environmental elements such as moisture, Insect attacks, temperature fluctuations, and harsh weather conditions.

Having a proper finish is a must to protect Douglas fir furniture or woodwork for so long.

But after you apply a proper sealant or finisher on Douglas fir, it tends to fade, and wipe away over time.

Once the protective finishing coat fades away, the Douglas fir wood surface will be exposed to the outside environment.

Because of being a soft sensitive wood, it will get easily attacked by moisture, UV light, fungi, and other elements.

Therefore, applying a proper sealant or finisher at least once per year is a must and you need to keep eye on it for reapplying finish before the current finish fades away over time.

Regular maintenance is a must to keep Douglas fir protected with an enhanced look.

Otherwise, wood cannot tolerate extreme temperature levels and environmental changes.

Make a proper time frame and scrape the previous finishing coat on Douglas fir and apply a new coat of stain, sealer or finish at least once per year to keep the wood protected for years.

Plus, clean your Douglas fir furniture and woodwork regularly to keep them dust and debris free.

Dust and debris give an unpleasant appearance to your Douglas fir furniture and damage the wood surface over time.

By keeping the Douglas fir surface clean with regular application of sealant or finish, you can prevent moisture from going inside the Douglas fir and stop wood from warping and rotting.

Wood finishes with UV inhibitors adsorb UV light and dissipate heat and prevent wood gets damaged by harmful UV rays.

Once the wood gets exposed to the outside world, there’s a high tendency of rotting wood because of the moisture and insect attacks.

Once the wood started to rot, there was no point in applying a wood finisher.

You’ll have to restore wood by removing the rotted area and applying a quality product like Flex Seal.

Ultimate proper care and maintenance are a must for Douglas fir wood to increase its lifetime and keep your furniture as fresh as new for a significantly long time.

2. Douglas Fir Is Too Soft

Doulas fir is softwood with less density and hardness than many other kinds of wood that we use in our woodworking projects.

Therefore, it cannot bare high forces and is unable to use for large constrictions. It gets damaged easily.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Douglas fir has a Janka hardness rating of 710 lbf (3,158 N) which is lower than Oak, Teak, Mahogany, Cherry, Birch, and Ash.

Janka hardness test is a standard method of measuring the hardness of a particular wood considering its resistance to wear and shear.

If a particular wood has high wear resistance, that means it has a high score on the Janka hardness scale.

Because of its being soft, Douglas fir is easy to work with almost any kind of woodworking power tools and hand tools.

But it can chip away easily and is unable to work with the metal surface due to poor strength, especially in corners.

You need to be extremely careful when transporting, handling, and milling Douglas fir wood since it gets damaged easily even with small forces. You need to hire professionals when working with Douglas fir to avoid wood damage due to mistakes.

Proper handling, and storing are must when working with sensitive woods like Douglas fir.

But on the other hand, they are excellent for wood carving projects to get a project with a well-detailed finish.

3. Prone To Dents and Cracks

Douglas fir can get easily cracks, scratches, and dents because it has no resistance against outside impacts.

Wood is soft and leaves scratches and dents more easily than many other kinds of wood.

Therefore, you need to have good patience when working with Douglas fir since it is so sensitive, and scratches and cracks appear quite easily.

Having good scratch resistance is important when it comes to flooring applications.

Your wood needs to have good resistance against foot traffic and dog scratches to keep the floor protected.

But Douglas fir cannot bare foot traffic and other impacts. It gets scratched pretty quickly.

Therefore, make sure to apply a proper sealant or finisher of Douglas fir before installing them on the floor.

Sealants or finishers help Douglas fir to bare and tolerate scratches and dents without leaving marks on the surface.

Apply lacquer, varnish, or oil finishes like tung oil, and Danish oil to keep your Douglas fir flooring, countertops, and other furniture protected from scratches and dents.

But the uneven texture and variable porous structure of Douglas fir absorb stain or other finishes unevenly and make the wood difficult to stain and finish. This can result in stain mistakes like blotchy surfaces.

Therefore, better to apply wood conditioner first and then go for wood staining to get a good protective layer with an enhanced look.

Overall, Douglas fir is not good for hard-using applications like knife handles, and kitchen cupboards since they usually get scratch marks if you use a softwood like Douglas fir.

The same goes with outdoor projects, use Douglas fir for woodwork that doesn’t use for the hard stuff.

Apply proper sealant or finisher to keep your Douglas fir furniture and woodwork protected from scratches, dents, cracks, and splits.

Plus, make sure to apply them regularly to have a good appearance over many years of use.

4. Douglas Fir Wood Expensive Than Softwoods

Douglas fir is more expensive than many other softwoods which have similar properties to Douglas fir.

There’re so many cheap low qualities Douglas fir wood in local stores. You need to be wise to get quality Douglas fir wood with proper inspection.

Most of the quality Douglas fir wood is more expensive than other varieties.

This is because of its high versatility and high strength-to-weight ratio. People love to have wood that is not too heavy and with a good amount of strength.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can try some of the best alternative wood types for Douglas fir which provide almost similar or better properties for a cheaper price tag than Douglas fir.

Here’re some cheap and quality woods than Douglas fir,

  • Popular
  • Beech
  • White oak
  • Maple
  • Alder

Try the above woods to avoid expensive Douglas fir and they also perform pretty much the same or better than Douglas fir in many aspects.

5. Poor Weather Resistance

Douglas fir has poor weather resistance since it cannot withstand harsh weather conditions and temperature fluctuations.

Wood tends to get damaged by warping and rotting due to weather changes.

During extreme cold months in winter, Douglas fir wood fibers shrink and expand in hot summer due to the thermal expansions of the wood.

Because of these irregular wood movements over changing climates, Douglas fir furniture and woodwork will lose their stability and get warped.

Wood joints made from Douglas fir don’t last for long especially when you use it for outdoor woodworking projects.

Wood gets splits and cracks easily under climate change.

During high humidity conditions, moisture tends to penetrate Douglas fir and expand wood fibers.

Same as, during less humid conditions, moisture will evaporate from the wood and cause the wood to shrink. This can lose wood strength and reduce the lifetime of the wood.

You can make Douglas weather-resistant by applying a proper sealant or finisher all over the wood before using it for any woodworking project.

Sealer, wood stain, or finisher make a protective coating over Douglas fir wood that prevent moisture from going inside the wood.

The protective sealer helps to keep the wood away from temperature changes, humidity changes, winter days, harsh weather conditions, and many more. Plus, a proper finisher enhances the wood’s appearance as well.

6. Poor Durability

Douglas fir cannot keep for so long if it keeps untreated. The wood will lose stability over time due to water damage, insect attacks, UV light, fungi, growth of mold, hard use, and many other things.

Having poor durability is not only common for Douglas fir.

Most softwoods have issues in durability because of being so soft, less dense, and have poor stability than hardwoods.

Because of having less lifetime than hardwoods, many people tend to go for hardwoods over Douglas fir.

But what if I told you there is a way of increasing the lifetime of Douglas fir even more than regular hardwood.

Take wood stain, finisher, or sealant and apply it all over Douglas fir furniture or any other woodwork evenly without missing any spots.

Better to apply wood conditioner first to avoid getting blotchy or tacky surfaces.

Stain or wood finishes increase the flexibility of Douglas fir and strengthen the wood fiber bonds.

Plus, they’ll make a protective coating over the Douglas fir surface and protect your beautiful furniture for so long from water damage and other impacts.

But make sure to apply wood finisher regularly to keep the protection constantly over years and years.

This is how you can get the maximum out of any wood with bad weather resistance.

7. Susceptible To Insect Attacks

Douglas fir has no resistance against insect and bug attacks.

Douglas fir gets damaged and loses its stability due to insect attacks, especially if it keeps untreated for several weeks of use.

Here’re some common insects and bugs that attack Douglas fir wood,

  • The Douglas fir beetle is a popular insect that attacks Douglas fir wood by eating it and laying egg galleries.
  • The larval form of insects damages Douglas fir by digging tunnels underwood bark.
  • Other beetles destroy wood heavily by eating wood bark.
  • Psyllid insect species destroy Douglas fir by releasing sugary sticky compounds which can fungi and mold to grow.

Douglas fir is soft and less dense. Insects can chew and damage e Douglas fir quite easily and are able to make their habitats.

They spread all over the wood quickly if you didn’t take the necessary steps and ruin your furniture within a few weeks.

You can stop insects, beetles, and other bug attacks by treating Douglas fir chemically using lacquer, varnish, and oil finishes like tung oil, Danish oil, linseed oil, and other wood finishing products.

Insects and beetles cannot live in a chemical environment and wood finishes kill them and their eggs to keep your furniture safe.

Therefore, make sure to apply a properly suitable wood finisher on Douglas fir furniture as quickly as possible to protect it before insects go inside the wood.

Insect attacks are common when you use Douglas fir for outdoor woodworking projects like making garden beds, patio furniture, and more.

Therefore, do proper sealing and give proper attention and care to your outdoor Douglas fir furniture and woodwork regularly to keep them safe for so long.

8. Hard To Find

Douglas fir wood is hard to find in local stores because of its high demand.

Therefore, most people tend to use online stores to buy Douglas fir but most woods they find are not of good quality.

The reason for its less availability is its expensiveness and some people go for alternative wood types like mahogany, oak, and teak over Douglas fir because no one wants to pay high for a softwood.

It’s challenging o find quality Douglas fir wood because most of the woods in local stores are cheap and bad quality.

Ordering online from branded sites is the best option to buy Douglas fir which has all the good qualities that are important in any woodworking project.

That’s it, folks! Now you have a clear in-depth idea about the disadvantages of Douglas fir with relevant solutions.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.

Does Douglas Fir Rot Easily?

Douglas fir has a natural resistance to rot. Therefore, it doesn’t rot easily.

But under extreme water or moisture conditions and when you leave Douglas fir wood untreated for so long, moisture will go inside of the wood and cause wood to rot.

You can prevent Douglas fir from rotting for so long by applying a proper sealant, wood stain, or finisher over the wooden surface. Wood finishes repel water particles and prevent them from penetrating inside the wood.

When you block the water entrances with wood finishes, Douglas fir won’t rot and that helps to increase the wood’s durability as well.

If somehow your Douglas fir wood furniture starts to rot, restore wood by removing the rotted area and applying Flex Seal on the wood to stop rotting further.

Can Douglas Fir Wood Get Wet?

Yes, Douglas fir wood can get wet under high moisture and water conditions.

Usually, Douglas fir has natural water resistance and is able to protect from water damage for a significant amount of time. But it won’t last for long if you keep the wood untreated.

You must finish and treat the wood properly with a proper wood finisher to keep the wood protected even under a high moisture environment.

Applying a proper sealer or finisher helps Douglas fir furniture to get protected from outdoor elements.

Make sure not to use work when your Douglas fir wood is wet.

Let wet wood dry for some time and use it only when it’s completely dry for any woodworking project.

What Is Douglas Fir Good For?

Douglas fir is literally good for any woodworking project including outdoor projects only if it is treated properly with a quality wood finisher like lacquer, varnish, or oil finishes.

Douglas fir is softwood with lots of benefits.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking, better to go for Douglas fir projects first because working with Douglas fir is so much easy because of its high workability and softness.

Here’re some popular uses of Douglas fir wood,

  • Plywood making
  • Furniture making
  • Flooring
  • Joinery
  • Boatbuilding
  • Lumber
  • Panels
  • Boxes and crates
  • Wood carving projects

Can You Treat Douglas Fir for Outdoor Use?

Yes, you can treat Douglas fir for outdoor use by applying a proper sealant or wood stain finish.

But Douglas fir has uneven texture and variable porous structure that make it difficult to stain. Plus, red and orange hues can pop through the stain.

Therefore, apply wood conditioner first and then go for wood finishing with stain for better absorption of the wood and to get a protective coating with an enhanced natural look.

After applying a proper finisher, you can use Douglas fir for outdoor use since the protective layer keep Douglas fir wood away from water damage, insect attacks, and UV light only if it has UV inhibitors to absorb UV light.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Disadvantages of Douglas Fir Wood?

In this article, we took a long journey to identify the disadvantages of Douglas fir with all the possible fixes to overcome them.

The disadvantages of Douglas fir wood are that requires regular maintenance, is too soft, prone to dents and cracks, expensive than softwoods, has poor weather resistance, and poor durability is susceptible to insect attacks, and has less availability.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about the disadvantages of Douglas fir and fixes.

Try Douglas fir wood for your next woodworking project and see whether you can face discussed drawbacks and get help from this article to face those challenges with courage.

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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