Larch wood is famous for several things — high hardness, good durability, insect resistance, and versatility.
Although these are all necessary to learn, focus should also be given to the various larch wood’s disadvantages. Read to explore what they are!
Advantages of Larch Wood
Larch is a rather famous wood type with several benefits tied to its name. Aside from having many uses and purposes, larch wood is also known for having a tough, durable, and dense quality.
Despite being a type of softwood, larch has many essential qualities primarily found in hardwoods. For one, it has rot resistance properties and high durability elements that exceed most softwoods.
These characteristics of larch make the wood extra special and more compatible for exterior and interior purposes!
Before jumping to the main flaws of larch wood, here are the brief benefits of using this wood:
9 Drawbacks of Larch Wood
Since ancient times, larch wood has been used to create various types of furniture, décor, and building structures. All these uses are mainly due to the adequate characteristics of the wood.
Like any other wood type in the industry, there are also several disadvantages of larch wood to know before making boats and changing wood types for your next wood project.
From my experience working with larch wood, here are some of the main drawbacks I’ve encountered:
1. Unsuitable as a Building Material
Among the main selling points of larch wood is its excellent hardness, which exceeds most softwoods in the market. However, that does not mean it is a good building material.
Larch does not have the appropriate density and hardness to be sufficient and approved building materials.
It can’t hold a candle to actual hardwoods like Maple, Ash, and Oak — not in this department, at least.
Larch wood achieved an 830 lbf or 3690 N hardness rating on the Janka Hardness test or scale. This test, simply put, was designed to record the wood’s density by putting its denting, wear, and tear resistance to the test.
Wood types that scored a high rating on this scale are deemed to have high hardness.
For better reference, here are the hardness rating of other common wood types according to the Janka Scale:
Larch, in comparison to other wood varieties, ranks relatively lower on the hardness scale. It is important to consider that an excellent building material should possess notable characteristics such as high density, toughness, and hardness.
Above all, the wood should also withstand and survive high and extreme forces. Unfortunately, as it turns out, larch wood still lacks most of those factors.
If used on a large building project, the excess comprehension, force, and tension can put more pressure on the larch than it could handle. That will lead to the wood’s breaking point.
2. Not Weather Resistant
While it can be used on exterior furniture, I wouldn’t really advise it without proper support or protection.
Among the biggest drawbacks of larch is that it does not contain enough strength properties to withstand extreme weather conditions and climate variations. Also, extreme moisture and humidity can cause it to twist and warp.
While the wood’s high resin content can serve to protect the larch wood from a bit of humidity, it is not enough to shield it against harsh weather conditions.
To prevent it from warping or deforming, you will need to properly prepare the wood by applying the appropriate sealant on its surface.
With enough finishing, curing, and sealing, the chemicals could help build a protective barrier between the wood and the air to avoid moisture from traveling in between.
Once the moisture enters the wood, it will lose the bonds between fibers, leading to rotting and decaying.
3. Has a Strange Odor
Having a strange and distinct smell is undoubtedly among the primary drawbacks of this wood. This quality, however, is mainly seen in Eastern or European larch wood.
It gives off a prominent aromatic scent that ties it to the wood. While that may seem advantageous, the strong resinous odor can cause breathing problems.
If you plan to use and work on larch wood, I highly advise wearing proper and appropriate breathing or facial masks to avoid being nakedly exposed to the strong smell.
Additionally, do the woodworking in an open or well-ventilated space, giving you access to better air circulation.
4. Lacks Rotational Pattern
With larch wood, a rotational pattern is absent, making it more challenging to work with. When it comes to wood, a rotational pattern gives a person a guide to work with.
It will make working and manipulating the wood easier, allowing you to nail, cut, screw, drill, and perform several other tasks much more effortlessly.
Since there is no rotation, extra care must be practiced to avoid any unwanted tension on the wood. When that happens, the final product usually is easier to damage.
Another thing I’ve noticed about larch wood is that it can be tough on your tools. They tend to get dull quicker because there’s no rotational grain to guide them.
Your tools must be kept well-sharpened and in good condition to compensate for the rotational pattern absence.
I’d also like to mention how rare larch wood is. Supplies are rather low as it is hard to find, and the demand is relatively high due to their unique characteristics and properties.
It is a good quality softwood that tends to be more robust if exposed to water. This and its other unique qualities are harder and more challenging to find in other types of wood.
It is why people would prefer to choose and go for this exotic wood type than try to find an alternative that is just as good. Finding high-quality larch wood can be difficult due to its rarity.
Larch wood is truly a unique and versatile wood type. Its rarity and less availability serve as the primary barrier to gaining and acquiring good quality larch wood nowadays.
Larch wood is not the cheapest in the market. Despite being a softwood, it usually costs more than the average softwood like Cedar and Spruce.
The primary reason behind Larch’s rather fancy price is its unique hardwood qualities. Other than that, larch is also among the best wood species in the coniferous family — which adds to its expensiveness.
Larch is usually more robust and durable than most softwoods in the market, all while being relatively cheaper than most high-grade and quality hardwoods.
Hardwood is typically more expensive than softwood . With larch having hardwood characteristics, people prefer using it as an alternative to much costlier hardwoods.
Additionally, larch could be easier to work with because it has the hybrid properties of softwoods and hardwoods.
Aside from the hardwood qualities, the wood’s pressure impregnations and drying also contributed to its expensiveness.
Although, with larch’s unique qualities, it is safe to say that it is worth the price. And despite its disadvantages, I still think it is among the best softwoods out there.
7. Can Trigger Fires
While all wood types are flammable in a sense, larch is significantly more flammable than most. It has a high caloric value of approximately 1700 kWh, prominently higher than other woods.
It has an 11-second ignition time, which is second to Poplar’s 7-second ignition time. With these flammable qualities, be sure to avoid placing larch in an area where forest fires often happen.
Larch will quickly catch, trigger, and spread the fire.
8. High Contents of Resin
This wood contains high resin content within it. Larch has visible renal canals inside the wood, much like Pine and Spruce.
Note that being high-resinous can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. Larch wood’s resin is polymerized, effectively preventing moisture from seeping through the wood.
At the same time, this polymerized state also provides larch wood more stability and rot resistance properties.
The resin within the larch also aids in decreasing any irregular movements of the wood and prevents it from twisting and warping.
It all sounds pleasant and beneficial, but high resin content has flaws.
You must apply a good finisher or sealant if you want the wood to survive under harsh and extreme moisture and humid conditions.
Another drawback is that the high resin content makes larch challenging to process. Once the resin is polymerized, working and using larch wood becomes much more challenging.
The wood will be easy to chip and crack. Also, there will be a need to use powerful, expensive, and high-quality sharp-edged tools to get through the wood.
Hand tools may not work on the wood due to the polymerized resins. Moreover, the high content of resins makes it so that the larch becomes heavy and brittle.
9. Hard to Repair Over Time
Another one of larch wood’s disadvantages is that it hardens like a stone over time. It turns brittle and hard, making it challenging to work with using standard hand tools and woodworking supplies.
For instance, larch will undoubtedly be a nightmare after years of use, screwing, nailing, and drilling. This feature makes it different from other softwoods.
Larch will become denser, stronger, and harder compared to some hardwoods!
The polymerization of resins is the primary reason behind the hardening over time. The changes in the structure of the fibers also contribute to that.
As time passes, you can only use power tools with sharp ends and edges to repair larch furniture or flooring.
Is Larch Wood Resistant to Rot?
Yes. In fact, among the main advantages of larch wood is its incredible rot and decay resistance!
Due to the high resin content found within the wood, larch wood is highly rot-resistant. The resin prevents water or moisture from entering, seeping through the wood’s surface, and going inside.
To make your larch wood furniture even more rot and decay resistant, I’d recommend applying a proper, high-quality sealant or finisher for ample protection.
The polymerized high resin content creates an additional waterproof barrier and layer.
Since it is rather hard to find rot-resistant softwoods, larch is considered special and unique. Due to this specific feature, you can easily use larch on humid-prone areas of your house like the kitchen and bathroom.
Is Larch Wood Good for Outside Use?
Due to larch wood’s rot and water resistance, you can use it for outdoor and exterior uses.
It is the type of wood that is durable, dense, hard, and versatile — making it a good choice for exterior wood projects.
Not only that, but larch also has high stability and warp resistance. But as I said, you should apply a sealant to help the wood withstand temperature variations, moisture, humidity changes, and harmful UV lights.
It has insect resistance, so you wouldn’t have to worry about pest infestation.
Here are the standard and most typical uses of larch wood:
Is Larch Wood a Hardwood or Softwood?
Larch is a softwood that scored 830 lbf on the Janka hardness scale, making it significantly harder than most softwoods and some hardwoods in the market.
Larch wood is technically a known outlier within the softwood category or family since it does not need the standard treatment and possesses certain hardwood qualities.
This wood is considered the hardest wood belonging to the softwood family.
With it possessing the best of both worlds, larch wood is unsurprisingly on the higher end of the price range.
You may use it on most woodworking projects. However, finding quality larch wood is difficult as it is rare.
Does Larchwood warp?
Larch wood does warp if exposed to high amounts of moisture, humidity, or temperature variations. Since it dries quickly, larch can also warp easily if not properly maintained or cared for.
If you wish to prevent your larch furniture from warping, apply the proper sealant or finisher on it.
I hope that I was able to give you a better insight into the various disadvantages of larch wood and how you can minimize and fix these drawbacks. Knowing this wood’s main flaws, you can better decide if larch is worth the try for your projects or not.