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Douglas Fir vs. Hem Fir: Access Mats Manufacturing Showdown


Douglas Fir Access Mat Manufacturing

Access mats play a crucial role in providing stable ground support for heavy equipment across challenging terrains. When it comes to manufacturing access mats, the choice of wood is an important consideration. Two commonly considered options are Douglas Fir and Hem Fir. In this blog post, we will explore why Douglas Fir emerges as the superior choice for access mat manufacturing, delving into critical factors such as wood density, water absorption, rot resistance, and strength.


1. Density Matters:

The density of wood is a significant factor affecting its suitability for access mats. Douglas Fir boasts a higher density, around 530 kg/m3, compared to Hem Fir's 500 kg/m3. This increased density translates into greater strength and durability, ensuring access mats made from Douglas Fir can withstand the toughest conditions.


2. Water Absorption and Diffusivity:

The ability of wood to absorb water is closely tied to its density and water diffusivity. Douglas Fir's higher density contributes to its lower water absorption rate and slower diffusivity, reducing the risk of moisture-related issues that can compromise access mats' integrity.


3. Resistance to Wood Rot:

Moisture plays a pivotal role in wood rot, with fungi thriving in conditions where moisture content exceeds 20%. Douglas Fir, with its superior density, exhibits greater resistance to wood rot. Its dense grain and higher resin content deter wood-destroying fungi, making it a more reliable choice for wetlands, muskeg, and muddy conditions.


4. Strength and Durability:

Douglas Fir's higher density not only enhances its rot resistance but also bolsters its strength. It boasts a bending strength of 12,400 psi, outperforming Hem Fir's 11,300 psi. When strength and durability are paramount, as in the case of access mats, Douglas Fir unquestionably takes the lead. This critical metric means access mats constructed out of Douglas Fir have greater flex to allow the safe travel of equipment and crews over unstable ground conditions.


5. The Access Mat Cost Consideration:

While Hem Fir may be cheaper to purchase, claims that it is as strong and rot-resistant as Douglas Fir are not substantiated. The superior properties of Douglas Fir, including higher density and strength, more than justify its slightly higher cost.


In the battle of Douglas Fir vs. Hem Fir for access mat manufacturing, Douglas Fir emerges as the unequivocal winner. Its higher density, lower water absorption, superior rot resistance, and greater strength make it the superior choice for access mats designed to withstand the harshest conditions. It is not surprising then that Mats Unlimited's first choice in manufacturing is always Douglas Fir. We've been manufacturing and selling our 3-ply access mats for nearly 10 years and have consistently heard from clients that they see superior performance in the field with our mats. Every job site is unique and has its own challenges and the best way to manage the unexpected is to ensure you're deploying the most dependable and highest quality access mats in the market.


Mats Unlimited Access Solutions


Our management team and production crews are ready to meet your access needs. At Mats Unlimited you're not just buying access mats, you're getting best in class service and support.

  1. Industry leading production capacity: We are able to manufacture 10,000+ access mats a month across our two facilities in Nisku

  2. Robust Inventory: We have access mats in stock for urgent orders

  3. Project Management: Not sure how many mats you need? Our field experts can help

  4. 24/7 Support: Contact us today to get started

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