9 Main Disadvantages Of Larch Wood

larch wood disadvantages

Larch wood is commonly used for fences, sheds, homes, boats, and many other projects. It is softwood with significantly high hardness and density. Therefore, Larch is popular among woodwork.

Apart from its benefits, let’s focus on what Larch wood lacks to be the best. Let’s explore, the disadvantages of Larch wood.

Here’s the list of Larch wood disadvantages,

  • Not good as a building material
  • No weather resistance
  • Distinct odor
  • No rotational pattern
  • Expensive
  • High resin content
  • Flammable
  • Less availability
  • Hard to repair over the years

From this article, we’ll dive deep into the disadvantages of Larch wood and discuss each one of them separately with simple how-to-fix guides.

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

As a fresh start, let’s talk in brief about the advantages of Larch wood.

Advantages Of Larch Wood

  • High dimensional stability
  • High durability
  • Light attractive appearance
  • Insect resistant
  • Stronger than softwoods
  • Versatile wood
  • Rot-resistant
  • High workability

As you can see even though Larch wood is a softwood, it has some important qualities to hardwoods as well.

Those qualities make Larch wood special and muti-purpose wood.

So, let’s head into the key topic of Larch wood disadvantages with simple fixes to sharpen up your Larch wood knowledge even more.

Disadvantages Of Larch Wood

1. Not Good as A Building Material

Even though Larch has excellent hardness compared to other softwoods, it is not good as a building material due to less density and hardness than hardwoods that use as building materials like Ash, Oak, Maple, etc.

According to the Janka hardness test, Larch wood has a hardness rating of 830 lbf (3,690 N) which is considered the highest hardness compared to almost all softwoods.

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

If a particular wood has high wear and tear resistance, that means it has a high hardness.

So, let’s have a look at the hardness of building materials,

  • Ash wood – 1,320 lbf
  • Red Oak – 1,290 lbf
  • Hard Maple – 1,450 lbf
  • Larch wood – 830 lbf

As you can see, why Larch cannot be considered a good building material.

To be a building material, wood needs to have significantly high density, hardness, toughness, and ability to withstand high forces. Larch wood is lacking in those factors.

The compressive strength and bending strength of Larch wood are as follows,

  • The compressive strength of Larch wood is 52.6 Mpa
  • The bending strength of Larch wood is 9.7 Mpa

The above strengths are not enough to consider Larch wood as a building material. compression strength needs to be above 54 Mpa and bending strength needs to be above 100 Mpa.

Therefore, Larch cannot be used for large building and construction projects.

Excess tensions and compressions can easily break Larch wood because of its lack of quality and solid material.

2. No Weather Resistance

Larch wood cannot withstand harsh weather conditions, temperature variations, and extreme humidity changes because wood tends to warp and twist because of irregular movements due to moisture variations inside and outside of the wood.

Having high resin content is useful to protect Larch wood from slight humidity changes. Not for the extreme conditions.

In order to keep arch wood from warping you need to apply the proper sealant of the finisher on the Larch wood surface before using it.

Otherwise, wood interacts with outside air and gets damaged.

With proper sealing and finishing, those chemicals are able to build up a barrier between the Larch wood surface and outside air preventing moisture to travel between them.

If you keep Larch wood furniture or woodwork untreated, the moisture in the air tends to penetrate the wood fibers under high humidity conditions.

When the moisture reaches the wood inside, they’ll lose the bonds between wood fibers and start wood rotting .

Once the Larch wood gets started to rot from the inside, there’s no use in applying sealant or finisher to the outside of the wood.

You can only cure rotted wood by restoration with the use of a quality product like Flexseal after removing the rotted area.

Plus, when the moisture penetrates inside of the wood, Larch wood fibers get expanded. Under low humidity conditions, moisture evaporates from the wood, and Larch wood fibers get shrink.

These irregular wood movements can cause wood to warp and twist.

Note: Compared to other softwoods, Larch has a slightly high resistance against moisture and wood warping because of its high resin content.

Excessive wood warping and twisting lead Larch wood to crack and peel. Therefore, having proper weather resistance is a must to protect Larch wood furniture and woodwork.

In order to prevent the wood from rotting, and warping, and get good protection from environmental impacts, apply wood sealant all over the wood evenly.

Wood finishers protect the wood from moisture, UV light, and insect attacks by providing weather resistance to the wood.

You can use lacquer, varnish, or oil finishes to protect Larch wood from environmental elements.

3. Distinct Odor

Having a distinct odor is one of the main drawbacks of Larch wood that occur during working with the wood.

This distinct odor is mostly common in European Larch (eastern Larch).

Larch wood has a strong aromatic odor that helps to identify the wood, but it is a huge disadvantage not to choose Larch wood for many projects.

The distinct resinous odor of Larch wood can occur breathing problems.

Therefore, make sure to wear facemasks when working with Larch wood. Plus, choose a well-ventilated area for better air circulation.

4. No Rotational Pattern

The absence of a rotational pattern is a major disadvantage of Larch wood since it makes the wood difficult to work with. Having a rotational pattern on wood makes the wood easier to cut, drill, nail, screw, and do many other tasks.

Because of not having a rotational pattern, working with hand tools and power tools can be difficult.

Plus, you must make sure not to make excess tension on wood with proper carving since excess tension with no rotational pattern can damage the wood easily.

Woodworking tools may get quickly blunted and your tools need to be well sharpened to protect both wood and tools due to the absence of a rotational pattern of the wood.

5. Expensive

Even though Larch wood is considered a softwood, it is significantly more expensive than other softwoods like Spruce, Cedar.

The reason for the expensiveness of Larch wood is because of its excellent hardwood qualities. It is the best wood species in a coniferous family which makes it costly.

Larch wood is stronger and more durable than many other softwoods while being cheaper than many other high-grade hardwoods.

Therefore, people tend to purchase Larch wood as an alternative to hardwoods.

Plus, Larch wood is easy to work with since it has hybrid qualities of both hardwoods and softwoods. Because of those exceptional qualities, Larch wood has become more expensive than other softwoods.

Drying and pressure impregnations are also significant things that cause the expensiveness of Larch wood compared to other softwoods.

But overall, Larch wood is well worth the paying price. It is one of the best softwoods I’ve ever worked with.

6. High Resin Content

Larch wood is a high-resinous wood with high resin content inside of the wood. Resin canals are visible inside the Larch wood like Spruce and Pine.

Having high content of resin has both advantages and disadvantages.

Resin in Larch wood is in a polymerized state which prevents moisture from going inside the wood. This makes the wood more stable and prevents wood from rotting.

Plus, resin helps to decrease irregular wood movements and prevent Larch wood from warping and twisting.

But under extreme humidity and moisture conditions, you need to apply proper sealant or finisher to protect the wood because resin doesn’t give better protection than sealants.

But on the other hand, having a high content of resin make the wood so difficult in processing.

Once the resins are polymerized, working with Larch wood can be so much more difficult. Woodworking tools can be blunt, and wood may tend to crack and chip easily.

To work with Larch wood with high resin content, you’ll have to use expensive power tools with sharp edges.

Hand tools will no longer work with Larch wood because they cannot break wood through polymerized resins.

Larch wood may become heavy, brittle, and difficult to work with because of its high resin content despite having good water resistance with rot resistance.

7. Flammable

Larch wood is flammable since it has a calorific value of 1700 kWh which is significantly higher than most other woods.

Larch wood has an ignition time of 11 seconds which is only second to poplar with an ignition time of 7 seconds.

Therefore, make sure not to use Larch wood in the area that occurs forest fires frequently. The wood can easily catch on fire and spread wide within seconds.

Note: All the woods are flammable and there is no solid wood with 100% resistance to fire.

8. Less Availability

Larch wood is so hard to find because the supply is not enough for the requirement because of its excellent qualities.

Larch wood is a high-quality softwood with lots of unique qualities that are so hard to find in other woods.

Therefore, people try to go for the Larch wood without looking for alternatives but finding a quality Larch wood is extremely difficult.

Plus, Larch wood has a unique property to be stronger when getting contact with water, and drying out is difficult.

These qualities make the wood unique and versatile. But less availability is the main barrier to reaching out for quality Larch wood.

9. Hard To Repair Over Years

Over the years, Larch wood furniture and other woodwork will get hardened like stones. They get so brittle and difficult to work with regular woodworking tools.

Therefore, repairing Larch woodworks are extremely difficult over years.

For example, nailing, screwing, and drilling Larch woodwork after several years of use can be a nightmare. It is no way near compared to other softwoods.

The reason for being so hard over years is because of the polymerization of resin and changes in its fiber structure.

Over years, you can only use power tools with sharp edges to repair Larch wood furniture without damaging the wood.

Larch wood will become harder, stronger, and denser than some genuine hardwoods over the years.

That’s it, folks! Now you have a deep knowledge about the disadvantages of Larch wood and how to fix those disadvantages to get maximum use from the wood.

Let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Is Larch Wood Rot Resistant?

Yes, Larch wood is rot resistant since it has high resin content inside of the wood that prevents water from going inside of the wood.

By applying a proper sealer and finisher you can make Larch wood even more resistant to rotting and decaying.

The polymerized resin content of Larch wood makes a waterproof layer on Larch that helps to make the wood water resistant.

Being water resistant is the reason for its excellent rot and decay resistance.

Rot-resistant softwoods are so hard to find, and Larch is one of them. because of this excellent quality, Larch wood can be used for humid areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

But I highly recommend you apply sealant or finisher because resin content can be varied on Larch wood type.

Is Larch Ok for Outside?

Larch is ok for outside use since it has excellent water resistance. Larch wood is a tough, dense, hard, and durable wood that can use for any outdoor project.

It has good warp resistance and high stability.

Appling a wood sealer or finisher makes Larch wood even more resistant to outdoor elements like moisture, temperature variations, humidity changes, and UV light.

Plus, applying a quality finisher like lacquer, varnish or finishing oil makes Larch wood protected from insect attacks as well.

Here’re some common outdoor uses of Larch wood,

  • Boats
  • Siding
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Patio furniture making
  • Gazebos
  • Fencing

As you can see Larch wood can be used literally for any outdoor woodworking project with ease due to its excellent characteristics.

Is Larch Wood Hard or Soft?

Larch wood is a softwood with a Janka hardness rating of 830 lbf (3,690 N) which is harder than many other softwoods and some hardwoods as well.

Therefore, Larch wood is considered the hardest wood in the softwood family.

Having both softwood and hardwood features make Larch wood special and expensive.

It can use for any woodworking project, and you need to find high-quality wood with no damage since finding quality Larch wood is extremely difficult.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Larch Wood Disadvantages?

In this article, we have deeply discussed the disadvantages of Larch wood and how to minimize those drawbacks with simple techniques to get the maximum from the wood.

Not good as a building material, no weather resistance, distinct odor, having no rotational pattern, expensive, high resin content, flammable, less available, and being hard to repair are the main disadvantages of Larch wood.

Most of those disadvantages can be fixed by applying a quality sealant and finishing the wood properly.

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

Hope you have gained good knowledge about Larch wood disadvantages and how to fix those drawbacks of the wood. Happy woodworking with Larch wood!

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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