Using Local Wood

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Using local wood is an important consideration when renovating or building a home. What are some of the criteria in regards to picking wood?

I have a recent customer who requested that I provide madrone hardwood flooring for their remodel here in Ashland, OR. They wanted it first because it is a local species, and, not necessarily secondarily, for its' color variation and its' hardness.

First off, I have to say how stoked I am that some of today's customers are on the sustainable tract. They are requesting that I find a local species of wood instead of the other way around.

In terms of the carbon footprint, picking local is important because there is less shipping.
Here in Oregon, we have so many beautiful woods to choose from that the freedom of choice is vast.

There is a trade off, however, to staying regional and it has to do with the milling. Some of the best mills for the wood are not in the same state where the wood is cut. For the floor guy this is a huge deal. If there exists variation in the shaping of the wood when he/she goes to put it together, gaps can occur and height variations that will take extra labor and materials to deal with. In the end it can affect the final product.

The strictest choice environmentally, i.e. same region same mill, is not always the easiest choice for the carpenter,craftsman.

Availability can also play a role in choosing locally. The local choice is not always available when we want it. The dilemma here is to hold out for the local choice or keep the project on a particular schedule.

In the end wood is an excellent choice for a floor because, if installed and maintained correctly, it will provide a living product that will enhance not only your life, but every other person who inhabits the dwelling...which could be your grandchildren's grandchildren. One day, if the dwelling gets remodeled or demoed the wood could be reused as furniture or fuel as firewood.

Sustainability should be a top priority in wood selection. Choosing a wood that fits your lifestyle and your aesthetic sensibilities is also very important. Take your time and choose wisely weighing all the considerations as the floor will be with you...possibly for the rest of your life.