Beetle Kill Pine Siding: A Local, Sustainable Option.
Today, I picked up the siding for the tiny house.
At the beginning of this project, we decided to use reclaimed and other environmentally friendly materials as much as possible. One of my reasons for building the house in the first place was to live closer to the Western landscape that I love. Since this house was inspired by my appreciation for the land, I want to do everything that I can to help preserve it, by building in a sustainable way. Hopefully, this project will help to show how inexpensive and easy it can be to build a house sustainably.
When choosing siding, we decided to go with Beetle Kill Pine (also known as “blue-stain pine tongue and groove”). It’s called “Blue Stain” because of the blue-ish tint of the wood, which is milled from Lodge Pole Pine trees that have been killed by the bark beetles plaguing forests in this part of the country.
The wood is beautiful, naturally tinted a blue-grey that will offset our red trim. It’s environmentally friendly, since it’s harvested from already-dead trees that would need to be cut down anyway. And significantly cheaper than traditional Cedar siding.
Blue Stain wood is an eco choice because it’s taken locally (you’d be surprised at how much energy and fuel goes into shipping trees and wood from across the world), from trees that have died a (somewhat) natural death.
Bark Beetles are actually indigenous to the Rocky Mountain region and are a natural part of the ecosystem here. But the slightly warmer temperatures of recent years, which many attribute to global warming, have provided the right conditions for their population to grow out of control. The trees are killed by a fungus that lives on the beetles, which they carry deep into the wood of the tree.
Because winters are no longer as harsh in the mountains outside of Denver, Bark Beetles, which are not supposed to survive during the long deep freezes of winter, are now living until spring where they continue to bread. Millions of trees in the Rocky Mountains have succumbed to the Beetles, and the vast forests of once vibrant Lodge Pole Pines are now dry tinderboxes waiting to ignite. Since these trees must be thinned to prevent forest fires anyway, some companies have begun to harvest the trees and use them for building materials.
This afternoon, when I was loading the wood at the lumber yard, Rocky Mountain Forest Products, I was astonished by how truly beautiful this wood is. While it is horrible that millions of pine trees are dying as a result of the Bark Beetles, there is at least this one silver-lining. Merete and I are excited to begin siding the house, and we are even more excited by how good it will look when it is done!
~ written by Christopher Smith, 9/22/11
(Here is an example of how we want the finish to look.)
And a Behind-the-Scenes shot, filming a dead Lodge Pole Pine tree in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado: