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Siberian Larch - Naturally Durable
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Why Siberian Larch
Is it straight?
Does it check / twist / warp / self destruct like ACQ?
Does it stain and take paint well?
Is it structurally equal to pressure treated?
Is it pretty to look at?
Is there any certification to it?
Is it from a sustainable yeild situation
Where would this be available?
Where can I but it?
Has any of this been used over here in the states?
What are options for handrails?
What finishing and sealing requirements are needed?

Is it straight? - back to the top
Yes, it is straight. Our supplier is a company in Austria by the name of Leitinger. Leitinger over the years has always made significant commitments in improving their processes in milling wood. They continually are investing in new technology that allows them 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. They take it seriously and do amazing work. These products are not coming from China! If this product was being produced by a company in Russia, you could definitely expect more variations in the boards. Russia tends to be well behind modern times when it comes to their technology and processes. We have been overly impressed with Leitinger and the attention to detail they use when it comes to drying the wood and producing a straight, uniform, consistent board.

Does it check / twist / warp / self destruct like ACQ?- back to the top
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?- back to the top
First, we do not recommend the painting of 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?- back to the top
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 "pretty" to look at?- back to the top
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 there any certification on it?- back to the top
In Europe there are several certifications on the use of Siberian Larch. Architects in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, ect are specifying the use of Siberian Larch in the construction of schools, commercial space, and residential homes. In order for a wood to be specified in these particular countries, it must contain all the required certifications just like the process here in the US. When it comes to environmental issues, it seems Europeans are always several years ahead of the US. For example, the ban of arsenic in the treatment of pine has been in place for many years in Europe. The US just banned it in 2003. Lobbyist for timber companies carry a lot of weight here in the US and that tends to slow things down. In the US, Western Larch is specified and sold in combination with Douglass Fir as a premium structural timber. In all regards, Siberian Larch is far superior to its North American relative.

Is it from a sustainable yield situation?- back to the top
It most definitely comes from a sustainable forest. Here are some stats. The Boreal Forest in Russia is 2.7 billion acres in size (absolutely enormous)! 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. Always has. Leitinger, whose roots and headquarters are in Austria, comes from a very different heritage. Leitinger has actually been awarded several environmental awards by the Austrian government. Leitinger is very picky about making sure they do not waste a single bit of a tree they harvest. For example, they go as far as compressing the leftover sawdust into fuel pellets for the use of energy means. Their deep commitment to being environmentally responsible was a very important consideration to us when deciding to represent their products.

Where would this be available? I'm on the west coast.- back to the top
In all honesty, right now we would have a difficult time in supplying you with this material (at a reasonable costs that is). Logistically, we are not set up to ship the material very far. This will change in the near future and is something I am researching heavily at the moment. This is an area in which you could provide some useful information to me. Do you guys typically buy your material from a lumber yard or do you have relationships with manufacturers/dealers that ship it directly to you? If they ship it to you, through what means do they do it? It is my thought that we would need to enlist the means of lumber yards in order to develop a convenient and reliable supply for a broader area.

Where can I buy it?
Where is the main distribution point now?
- back to the top
Currently, the main distribution point is Chattanooga, TN. We can deliver the wood to you via LTL. Obviously, your proximity to Chattanooga will influence the shipping cost. South Lumber distributes our decking products in Atlanta, GA. They can be reached at 770-517-4054.

Has any of this been used over here in the States?- back to the top
Yes, we have sold material for 6 decks to be built. This has all been very recently and most are in construction as I type or waiting to be constructed in the next few weeks. 3 of the decks are covered living areas and the other 3 will be exposed. 2 of the covered decks are completed and 1 of the exposed decks is completed.

What are options for handrails? - back to the top
Many handrail options exist. We recommend following the creativity of your architect or builder. However, 2x6 material is available for railing and can be ripped down to a 2x4 if a narrower look is desired. 2x6 boards can also be ripped into 2x2 balusters. For posts, a treated pine 4x4 can be wrapped in 1x Siberian Larch material in order to achieve a uniform look. Also, posts can be made by screwing or nailing together two or three 2x6 boards. At this moment, we are diligently working on supplying 4x4 Siberian Larch posts. This could be part of our product mix in the near future. Another option is to look at alternative railing systems. Many companies specialize in the production of these products. Several wonderful designs are available and can allow you to add creativity to your deck. One such company is Deckorators.

What finishing and sealing requirements are needed?- back to the top
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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