Long considered a waste from our forests, because of the difficulty of drying it, the larch is now taking its revenge and is becoming an increasingly sought-after species.
Thanks to the beauty of its grain, we begin to use it as a floor covering. It will now be able to protect us from the weather, since we have found a new use for it: roofing.
Since the summer of 2004, Habitations Apex, a cooperative specializing in the construction of healthy houses, has been crafting larch shingles in its workshop in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc, in Mauricie. In search of ecological building methods, the team discovered on the Internet that larch has been used as a roof covering for a very long time in the Southern Alps, in Europe.
“We therefore consulted experts to realize that local larch (tamarack) is even more suitable than that of Europe for roofs. By growing more slowly, our larch has a tighter fiber, which makes it more resistant to rot. It is also considered to be a rot-resistant wood, ”explains Isabelle Saint-Arnaud.
Result: even without any protection, a larch roof has a lifespan of between 70 and 100 years, when it is properly installed and its ventilation is ensured. A larch roof therefore represents an ecological alternative, because it requires little energy for its transformation, requires no chemical treatment to ensure its protection and after its very long life, it does not create any pollution, unlike for example shingles of asphalt, made from petroleum.
It gives dwellings a rustic appearance which is perfectly suited to country houses. Over time, the larch shingle changes color and takes on a silvery gray tone, but it can also be dyed to give it another appearance.
Its cost: between $ 2 and $ 3.70 per square foot. It is more expensive than cedar, its main competitor. “On the other hand, its quality is superior,” says Ms. Saint-Arnaud.
We use the heart of the tree and the sapwood to make shingles. Those from the heart, the strongest part of the tree, require no protection from the elements. Shingles made from sapwood, the younger part of the tree, require a protective layer. Apex uses Sansin in this case, a natural product used to protect the wood.
Gaston Lapointe, from the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and a specialist in larch, is delighted with the new popularity of this conifer. “Many people still mistakenly believe that there is nothing we can do with larch, a tree species that grows mainly in wetlands. It has been overlooked in the past, but things are changing quickly and its price is increasing accordingly, ”he says.
Faced with demand, the larch is starting to become rarer and we have started to reforest it. “This almost rot-proof wood – Venice is largely built on larch – has great potential for outdoor use, not only as a shingle, but also as furniture or the construction of terraces. It is a very high quality wood that looks great, ”says Lapointe.
Interested? Get ahead, because the delivery time is more than a month. According to Michel Lampron, craftsman-carpenter at Apex, installing larch shingle is extremely easy. You can do it yourself or use the services of professionals.