Is Lodgepole Pine Good for Building?

February 25, 2022 8:16 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Lodgepole pine has long been used by Native Americans as supports in lodges and teepees (hence its name). Lodgepole pine grows in the Rocky Mountains all the way from Alaska to New Mexico, as well as on the Pacific coast. If you’re wondering about lodgepole strength and whether it should be used for building, read on to learn more.

How strong is lodgepole pine?

Lodgepole pine trees may reach up to 80 feet in height. However, they are not very wide, rarely exceeding 14 inches in diameter. Sometimes lodgepole pine lumber is grouped together with ponderosa pine lumber, as they’re similar in processing and properties. Both of these are moderately strong softwoods that are ideal for construction.

Lodgepole basics

This species can vary from very short, almost shrub-like trees to tall and slender trees that are best used for poles and processed lumber. One way to separate lodgepole pile from ponderosa pine is that it has a generally narrow trunk compared to the wide, clear trunks of ponderosa.

Unfortunately, recent infestations of pests such as the mountain pin beetle have resulted in the death of lodgepole pines in Colorado and Wyoming. When beetle larvae emerge and feed on the bark, this results in the tree’s death. The discolored lumber is sometimes labeled as “blue stain pine” or “beetle kill.”

Lodgepole pine is classified as a yellow or hard pine, and shares some characteristics with soft pines. It does have lower density when compared to yellow pine species found in the east.

Features and uses of lodgepoles

One characteristic of this wood is that the tangential surface has many dimples that show up, particularly when the lighting is at a lower angle or when the wood is stained. In comparison, ponderosa has far fewer dimples. Lodgepole dimples are similar in overall appearance to birdseye maple.

The density of lodgepole pine is about 29 pounds per cubic foot, similar to ponderosa pine and slightly heavier than eastern white pine. Drying this lumber is a quick process, but the presence of compressed wood means that it’s possible there will be warping. The pile tops should be weighted during drying to avoid this.

Applications of lodgepoles

Lodgepole pine is a versatile wood used historically for everything from railroad ties to log cabins, furniture, cabinets, fences and more. Today an important use is for knotty pine paneling, along with millwork and cabinetry. Ponderosa pine will have fewer knots than lodgepole.

Thanks to their low cost and high durability, lodgepole pines are perfect for daily, long-term use. From beautifully crafted furniture to projects like gazebos and decks, wooden lodgepoles are a great option. They’re even used as a rustic design element in buildings across the region.

We hope this article addresses how strong lodgepole pine is and what this versatile wood can be used for. If you’re looking for high quality wooden lodgepoles, fence posts, teepee poles and more, turn to Huberwoods. We have everything you need to get started on your next project. Give us a call right now to find out more about our products.

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