Carpenter Oak - The Professional Timber Framing Company
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A Douglas Fir Timber Frame

Douglas fir is a quality softwood which is readily available in the UK and ideally suited to structural framing. Although technically not as strong as oak, it can confidently be used in the same way as oak within frames in very similar sections. Douglas is a pinky orangey timber when freshly cut, which mellows to a more ‘burnt orange’ colour over time. We frequently use Douglas Fir for frames as it has many advantages and characteristics which lend itself to a particular way of building.

Douglas Fir Building Qualities

Douglas Fir is very straight grained and this means that you wont find any curves in a Douglas frame, unless they are very gentle curves 'forced' out of larger sections. It is more stable and predictable than oak, and holds a decent edge when cut. This means it works well as a planed timber, its sharp edges, clean lines and smooth surface making it perfect to incorporate into a modern or contemporary space.

It is comparatively lightweight but retains a good strength. It has a much lower moisture content than a hardwood and loses its moisture more quickly meaning that by the time a frame is constructed and raised it is already much further towards being seasoned than one would expect from a hardwood. This makes surface finishes a much safer option and many of our clients opt for a limed finish which can be achieved with a wash, oil or wax. This has the effect of toning down the orange hue and lightening the timber.

Douglas combines well with steelwork to achieve spacious, clean lined frames which contrasts to the aesthetic impact of large oak tie beams, allowing for a very light and airy feel to the room. If your preference is simple, modern, contemporary then you might want to consider this approach.

Douglas is cheaper than Oak and incredibly it is one of the only building materials not to have increased significantly in price over the last 15 or 20 years. This can be an added bonus for those who chose it, but the raw material cost is only a small percentage of the cost of the frame, and so it only represents a marginal saving and should probably not be the deciding factor for your choice, but instead go with your aesthetic preference.

There are very good sources for Douglas Fir on Longleat and Stourhead Estates as well as slower grown suppliers further north.

Like the look of this material? Take a look at some of our previous projects below to get some inspiration! If you're already keen, contact us to discuss your plans.


Larch is very similar in appearance to Douglas Fir and in many respects has similar properties. One major difference however is the high content of sticky resinous sap and it is this characteristic which both makes Larch inappropriate for indoor use (since the sap exudes from the timber as it seasons) but the same characteristic makes Larch ideal for exterior use as it gives it durability and resistance to fungal decay and insect attack.

Larch is not as durable as oak, but is one of the only softwoods to be classed as 'durable' and suitable for exterior use untreated. It is therefore ideal for use on porches, balconies and cladding which are exposed to the elements and if you decide to use Douglas Fir internally for your frame, then Larch can be used externally to give continuity of appearance.

See Oak and Larch Together
The Carpenter Oak Show Barn in Devon
Visit the Carpenter Oak show barn to see the combination of an oak frame and larch cladding.
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