Most of the Hirsh Log Homes are made from first growth Western Red Cedar trees that are from British Columbia, Canada. Western Red Cedar is the preferred species for many reasons. It’s the most attractive in appearance and in fragrance and it shrinks, twists and cracks (checks) the least of all wood species. Western Red Cedar also is naturally impervious to rot and to insect infestation and for this reason can be aged before construction, which will further reduce shrinking and checking. This is ideal for Scandinavian Full-Scribe style construction. Cedar logs also offer more architectural diversity in 2 key ways. First, Cedar log bases usually have a dramatic swell that can be left intact to add a unique organic element to style of the homes. Secondly, because Cedar is so impervious to decay and insect infestation, really large diameter old growth logs can be found. These are often used for features such as centre logs in spiral staircases, totems, stand-alone posts, etc. Due to many reasons Cedar prices continue to rise faster than other species making Cedar an investment that eventually won’t be a feasible option.
Although BC Douglas Fir is often used in log home construction, it is most popular for use in Post and Beam construction where logs and timbers are used as features and structural support in an otherwise conventionally framed structure. The reason is for both its engineering and architectural attributes. Where strength is required for long spans or heavy loads BC Douglas Fir is the species of choice. It has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. In more contemporary styled applications Fir is often used as the logs naturally have very little tapour, and can have very few knots therefore offering cleaner, more uniformed lines. The pink heartwood and pronounced grain of Fir are also distinguishing aesthetic factors.
Pine is the predominant species used in Ontario as grows abundantly and is stronger and more stable than Eastern White Cedar and Pine from other nearby areas. Eastern White Pine logs can also be found in relatively large diameters and long lengths giving it design flexibility. Architecturally it used in more rugged or rustic style homes both because of the popularity of that style and because of the inherent qualities of the wood. Like all softwoods (except Cedar), Pine will product pitch (sap) especially where direct sunlight comes into regular contact with it. However, it can be cleaned or left alone as in the rustic setting where it more acceptable and enhances the character. When used for a less rustic style, with some extra effort and tricks of the trade Pine can also be finished to look more like cedar.
Antique wood (reclaimed wood) comes in a variety of species. What is preferred is more determined by what is available in the quantity and size of timbers needed, rather than by the species itself. When the wood is used in its original weathered or grayed state, the differences between the species are difficult to decipher. Only when the wood is going to be resawn would the characteristics be seen. Antique wood is becoming increasingly popular and is often salvaged from historic buildings and barns from around the turn of the century. Architecturally it is used to evoke a sense of history and old world aesthetic. Typically, antique wood has a lot of character such as nail holes, axe marks (adzing), original pegs, worm hole markings and so on. It is often used in planks for cladding floors, walls and ceilings and in full timber form for structural components such as ceiling and floor rafters and posts. Although it can be used in the construction of a Timberframe home or a Dovetail home, it is more often used in Post and Beam construction or simply as an accent in a framed home.