Apr 5, 2011

Choosing the right historic wood flooring.

If you're ready to update the worn flooring in your older home or desire an authentic old floor in your remodel, take a look at these species for a wonderful, traditional floor.  When you purchase rustic floors milled from salvaged barns or old buildings, you obtain a floor with character and authenticity that isn't possible with new wood. Their existing stains, nail holes, marks and worm holes add to the charm and appeal of the wood.  Here are some ideal wood species and characteristics to look for.

Heart Pine

1) Heart Pine. Often reclaimed from old industrial buildings including closed cotton and wool mills in New England and Georgia. Some is recovered from river bottoms where the lumber sank while being floated from the forest to the mill.  Heart pine has a natural blond to amber color and has a dense grain pattern with wide variation. Many pieces will have nail holes and nail stains. This will likely be the least costly species of wood per square foot. 

Granary Oak

2) Granary Oak.  A price point higher than pine, is this beautiful red and white oak that typically comes from beams 'harvested' from factories, warehouses and barns. Found up and down the East Coast, the wood is very dense with tons of character.  A strong grain is visible and the original saw marks and nail holes and scars are a testament to its history. Its unique patina can be maintained with pre-sanding and oil coatings.


3) Chestnut. Higher priced than the first two species, the wood from chestnut trees represented more than 1/4 of the hardwood in Eastern forests until the 1906 blight that nearly wiped them out.  It was used extensively for home building and in commercial structures. Generally wormy, with a linear or arching grain, the wood ranges in color from deep blond to deep brown.

Chinese Elm

4) Chinese Elm. Costing about the same as chestnut, this species was used in China for homebuilding. It's available as flooring now that old buildings are being demolished and replaced with new construction.  The grain is elaborate with deep chocolate brown highlights and bird's eye patterns on a butterscotch toned wood. Available in smooth or distressed finishes.

5) Strongbow. Another species priced in line with Chestnut, this oak is a rich brown and salvaged from apple cider vats in England. The grain is very dense and often retains yellow or copper coloration from the cider.  You may have pieces with dark accents from the iron bands holding vats together and even small wedges hammered in between boards to stop leaks!