Wood. It’s expensive on many levels. As it probably should be when you cut down a venerable living thing and slice it up into boards and sawdust. Vital ecosystem, carbon sink, cubic metres of cash, something to chuck into your woodstove.
It depends on your view point.
So I set off to find some flash but affordable wood for our house ceiling that met a number of environmental, economic and aesthetic objectives.
Rule number one: no old growth.
So I ring up on mill on Vancouver Island near Ladysmith and request a quote on some tongue and groove planks. I’m very specific: ‘Douglas fir or red cedar, no old growth.’ Mill man responds: ‘is there any specific reason why you don’t want old growth?’ as if it’s the most bonkers thing he’s ever heard.
If I have to explain to someone in 2015 why my house cannot possibly justify cutting down a 500 year old Douglas fir tree then is there really a point in going on? Sure it’s British Columbia and we’ve diligently cut down 99% of the old growth Douglas fir over the past 125 years so hell ya, why not go all in and turn those remaining ancient 200 foot tall behemoths into flooring for wankers?
So I move on to mill man two. An FSC certified mill near Parksville. Plenty of wood, all young second growth, all from monitored woodlots. Good start. Mill man appears highly motivated. Even better. So as we’re discussing micro V versus flush milled tongue a groove joints I spot some dust covered lifts of lumber in the back of a vast warehouse.
‘Oh some flooring. I think it been sitting back there for eight or ten years.’
‘Hmm… would it work for a ceiling?’
‘Can’t see why not.’
So I’m back a week later. Mill man is very keen. I suspect the bank is circling overhead, talons glistening.
‘You can have two lifts for $1700, including tax.’
‘Including tax, eh?’
‘For all 1900 square feet?’
So handed the mill man an envelope of freshly extruded plastic $100 bills and the wood is mine.
Over 6,000 lineal feet of mostly clear [knot free] second growth Douglas fir tongue and groove flooring, seasoned after a decade of collecting dust in a saw mill warehouse. Somebody’s long forgotten dream floor that never happened, now destined for our ceiling.
So the recipe for great early summer T&G: cut board to length, pound tongue into groove, nail, repeat 600 times while developing that neck tan.