Eco-friendly, easy to work with, and cost-efficient, alder wood is having a moment in the world of building materials.
Abundant and sustainable, alder is grown across the Pacific Northwest—with a range that spans from Southeast British Columbia all the way down to Northern California. This all-around adaptable hardwood has many advantages which have led to its spread in popularity among furniture and cabinetry makers worldwide.
“Alder has changed over the years,” explains Jed Miller of the Tacoma, Washington–based supplier Northwest Hardwoods. “Forty years ago, it was most mostly used throughout the Northwest as a substitute for other species. But now it is one of the most sought-after woods on the market. Because of its consistency, versatility, sustainability, it has grown to become a popular choice both in the U.S. and overseas.” Below, we list the reasons for its coming into the limelight.
A Greener Choice
Alder is both abundant and sustainable. “Alder can be used by a manufacturer without worry: its growth is well-managed,” says Miller.
As opposed to certain exotic timbers from Brazil and Southeast Asia, alder is not endangered, making it a more eco-friendly choice. It is also grown in North America, so if you are building in the U.S. or Canada, the transportation to your job site has less of an impact.
Alder is well-suited to large-scale projects, and supply is not an issue. “Northwest Hardwoods produces quality product in good volume. We are able to turn out large volumes of alder that are consistent and predictable,” Miller explains. “When you are trying to determine what wood to use, you need evaluate what is legal, sustainable, aesthetically appealing, and reliable from a supply side,” he adds.
Northwest Hardwoods produces alder that is both FSC (Forest Stewardship Council®) and PEFC (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified. Both green certifications mean that the wood is harvested from forests that are responsibly and sustainably managed, and comply with internationally recognized sustainability benchmarks.
A Compliant Material
Alder is carefully manufactured, dried, and inspected to ensure flat, straight, and stable lumber—making it ideal for moldings, millwork, as well as furniture and cabinets. “Alder is an attractive, close-grain species, with a nice uniform color, a fine texture, and uniform density,” says Miller. “You can put any stain on it or use it in its natural color. There are no unusual mineral streaks or sap or deposits. It machines well and is excellent for turning and polishing.”
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