What you need to know about Siberian Larch Leave a comment

Siberian Larch – one of the oldest growth timber in the world that is capable of providing the UK market with a premium product. Due to proximity, Europeans have been able to take advantage of this material since the dissolve of the former Soviet Union. Architects in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, and Japan are specifying the use of larch in the construction of residential homes and commercial spaces such as schools, museums, stadiums, and bridges.

We are proud to be able to offer our customers Siberian Larch decking, siding, and sawn timber. For a more in depth look at the properties that allow for such excellence please check on the “Why choose Siberian Larch” article.

Below we listed few facts that you should know before working with Siberian Larch.

• Is it straight?

Yes, it is straight. Nord Wood Timber over the years has always made significant commitments in improving our processes in milling wood. We continually investing in new technology that allows us to provide better, more consistent products. This material is being produced in a country where wood working has been a tradition for 100s of years. We take it seriously and as such this allow us make amazing products. We take our time and give all our attention to detail we use when it comes to drying the wood and producing a straight, uniform, consistent board..

• Does it Check / Twist or Warp?

Just as any specie of wood does, Siberian Larch will experience some movement. Expansion and contraction with changes in moisture levels occurs in any natural wood. You may experience some slight surface checking which is to be expected in all natural woods. With regards to the degree of movement, Siberian Larch will perform very well and is considered to be a stable wood. The density of a wood has a lot to do with whether or not water can penetrate its surface. The denser the wood, the less movement that will occur. On average, Siberian Larch has a density of 41 lbs/ft3. Treated pine is 35, Redwood is 25, and western red cedar is 23. Siberian Larch has a reputation of being a very difficult wood to dry. The drying process must be slowed down significantly and done at a very meticulous pace in order to prevent checking and other defects. The same properties of Siberian Larch (high density, high share of latewood and heartwood, large concentration of resins and extractives) that make it difficult to extract moisture during drying are the same properties that prevent moisture from penetrating the wood when used as decking. When treated pine is injected with chemicals, the chemicals tend to break down the material and make it brittle. Siberian Larch is not treated with chemicals, it is naturally durable, so no it will not self-destruct like treated pine.

• Does it stain and take paint well?

We do not recommend painting the larch. Paint is not flexible and will eventually fail if used. If you do paint, it will not fail as quickly as it would with the other woods that experience more expansion and contraction. Paint is like a layer of “skin” and for a period of time will protect a wood. These days the cedar, pine, and particularly redwood you can get are of lesser quality. All the old growth redwood is protected and what is being used now for decking contains much more sapwood. These woods are just not as durable as they have been in the past. For this reason, people must paint their decks in order to protect them. Larch does not need that layer of protection in order for it to survive the outdoor elements. Painting is not necessary with larch. If you want to change the appearance, we suggest staining the wood. Siberian Larch takes a stain very well and with its grain features it can be amazingly beautiful when stained.

• Is it structurally equal to pressure treated?

The structural properties of Siberian Larch are far superior to treated pine and really are better than any softwood out there. Siberian Larch is the hardest softwood around. On the Janka scale, it has an average hardness of 1100 lbs/in2. For comparison cedar is 350-580, redwood is 480, treated pine is 690-870, and Ipe is 3680. Our larch is old growth wood with a very dense grain and growth rings. It is not like plantation grown pine that is being timbered after a few years of growth. The structural integrity of the wood is definitely there.

• Is it beautiful timber to look at?

It is a very attractive wood. What is most appealing is its grain features. The grain is very tight giving it a distinguished and classy look. The color is a light, golden brown. Another aesthetic feature of larch is that it does have some knots and character marks.

• Is it from a sustainable forests?

It most definitely comes from a sustainable forest. Here are some stats. The Boreal Forest in Russia is 2.7 billion acres in size! Larch species account for 38% of the timber in this forest. That alone is substantially bigger than the entire Amazon Rain Forest which is 800 million acres in size. The timber being cut in Russia only accounts for 20% of the forest’s growth. Meaning for every tree that is cut, the equivalent of 5 more have already grown in its place. It does come from a very sustainable forest. Russia has a reputation of caring little about the environment and its natural resources. Corruption, scandal, bureaucracy all plague Russia and the businesses that operate within its borders. Nord Wood Timber is very picky about making sure they do not waste a single bit of a tree they harvest. For example, we go as far as compressing the leftover sawdust into fuel pellets for the use of energy means. Our deep commitment to being environmentally responsible was a very important consideration to us when deciding to represent our products.

• What finishing and sealing requirements are needed?

One of the most attractive features of Siberian Larch is the fact it does not need to be sealed. Sealing is not mandatory and you can still expect a long life out of your deck. This offers significant maintenance time and cost savings! However, sealing adds an extra layer of protection and will result in the deck lasting even longer. It will help to preserve the appearance and reduce surface checking that can occur in any natural wood. Like all natural woods Siberian Larch will oxidize and turn a silvery, gray color. If you would like to preserve the color, a UV-Ray protection must be applied.

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