Douglas Fir for Outdoor Projects
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Cedar, redwood, and white oak are great choices when you want to apply a natural finish or stain. But what if your outdoor project will be painted, like this planter (built by Shanty2Chic using plans from Ana White)? If that’s the case, consider using a wood called Douglas fir. This wood looks a lot like ordinary pine and is similar. That means it’s a softwood that you can easily cut and fasten, just like pine. Douglas fir, though, is more resistant to decay, which makes it much better outdoors. Douglas fir can be sanded very smooth and it takes paint extremely well. You can apply semi-gloss paint (over primer, of course), or even high-gloss to achieve a sleek, smooth look.
You may have to search out a specialty lumber dealer to find Douglas fir, since it’s not carried in most home centers. (And don’t be fooled by the wood marked as “SPF” — meaning spruce, pine, or fir — in home centers. It’s not the same.) Even though Douglas fir can be a little tougher to find, you won’t have to pay a big premium for it. Douglas fir is more expensive than ordinary pine, but is usually fairly comparable to cedar.