Denim pine comes from trees that have been infected by mountain pine beetles. The name stems from its distinctive blue streaks, which are caused by a fungus the beetles introduce while attacking the tree. Photo courtesy BeetleWood Industries.

Singing the blues

Colourful wood can add character to any home

It goes by many names: denim pine, blue-stain pine and “beetlewood,” to name a few.

No matter what you call it, this little-known wood could be the centrepiece of Calgary’s next big interior design trend.

Denim pine comes from trees that have been infected by mountain pine beetles. The name stems from its distinctive blue streaks, which are caused by a fungus the beetles introduce while attacking the tree.

“It has some very unique marking and colourings, as well as what we call strong character, where you can actually see the beetle trails in the lumber,” said Ronald Chmelyk, president of BeetleWood Industries, a B.C. company that ships denim pine lumber all across Canada. “It has an exotic tendency and it’s beautiful.”

“People nowadays are jumping at the idea that they can make something out of nothing.”

The blue stains on the wood mean the lumber is no longer commercially viable for traditional purposes, even though its quality is not compromised provided it is milled within eight to 10 months.

Yet that opens the door for denim pine to be used in a number of ways within the home, including everything from flooring and panelling to ceilings, countertops and shelving, said Deborah Harrison, an interior designer with Inside Out Design and columnist with CREB®Now.

“It’s very strong, so you can use it in the same applications as pine,” Harrison said. “This product is probably going to explode in the next couple of years, just because of its uniqueness.”

Each piece of denim pine is a little bit different, giving any room a distinctive look and feel.

“Some of them have penetration as high as 100 per cent, where the board is almost a full blue-grey. Others are as low as 10 per cent, where you’ll have a beautiful white pine with some blue markings within it,” Chmelyk said.

“It’s like a Kinder Surprise every time you cut a log. You’re just not quite sure what’s going to come out of it.”

In addition to its unusual colouration, denim pine’s biggest selling point is its sustainability, since it comes from trees that are already dead and will otherwise go to waste.

“It’s really being marketed as the greener alternative to healthy living trees,” Harrison said.

“People nowadays are jumping at the idea that they can make something out of nothing.”

For now, BeetleWood Industries is the only company in B.C. that ships denim pine to locations outside of the province, including Calgary, but that could change if demand for the wood increases.

“We’ve taken a negative connotation and turned it into a positive want,” Chmelyk said. “It’s just a matter now of becoming mainstream — more people talking, more people looking. We can definitely see the future being really bright.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *