As a result of its unusually slow growth rate, eastern hemlock is both moderately lightweight and more dense, stable, and durable than other softwoods in Eastern Canada. Its high tannin content produces lumber with natural rot-resistance greater than spruce and pine as well as natural resistance to insect attack. It has historically been used in the construction of barns and log homes and as a source of tannin for tanning leather.
Eastern hemlock’s colour ranges from pale orange-brown to light brown.
When used for decking, eastern hemlock is prone to splintering. It is available in bigger dimensions than tamarack larch, however, so it is often used in framing and timber wall construction.
Recommended applications: framing for decks, bridges, & platforms; rails and ties for fences, raised garden beds, & other landscaping structures.
As North America’s densest softwood, tamarack larch has strength and stability comparable to a hardwood. Its high resin content produces lumber with natural rot-resistance equal to or greater than hemlock (without any need for pressure treatment), contributing to its historical use in ships, wharves, piers, bridges, and fence posts.
Tamarack lumber’s attractive striped pattern ranges in colour from yellow-brown to whitish. Aged in harsher weather, the wood eventually turns a stately silver-grey.
If not used right away, tamarack lumber is prone to warping, but that can be prevented through careful handling and storing. It finishes well and rarely splinters.
Recommended applications: patio & garden furniture; decking for patios & truck beds; posts for fences, gardens, & vineyards; piers, bridges, & pilings.