Hem-fir is a species combination of western hemlock and five of the true firs: California red fir, grand fir, noble fir, pacific silver fir and white fir.
The hem-fir species combination is one of the most important in the western region, second only to the Douglas fir-larch species group for abundance, production volume, strength and versatility.
In products graded for appearance, wood-savvy architects and designers often choose hem-fir for trim, fascia, paneling, molding and millwork, as well as for exposed wood ceilings.
Hem-fir is also useful for a multitude of general-purpose framing applications and is capable of meeting the span requirements of many installations.
Hem-fir is also used for exposed ceilings, as its face, or better side, conveys its sophisticated elegance. Its moderately light weight makes it easy to handle and install.
It is also a practical choice for roofing, flooring or subflooring, and is commonly used for structural decking for its strength and beauty.
Hem-fir lumber is light and bright in color, varying from a creamy, nearly-white to a light, straw-brown color. It can be as light or lighter in color than some of the western pines and is often considered, by those seeking a strong wood with a very light color, as a desirable western softwood. Sometimes western hemlock may have a slight lavender cast, especially around the knots and in the transition area between the spring and summerwood growth rings. Attractive, delicate, dark grey or black streaks may be apparent in the wood.
Hem-fir is abundant in managed forests, and accounts for 28 percent of western lumber production annually. It is estimated there are more than 380 billion board feet of hem-fir saw timber on the managed timberlands of the Western region.