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Choosing a Wood Floor Professional – 2

Legacy Select Antique Pine Wooden FloorPart 2 – Hints for finding a finisher for heart pine wooden floors
Many of the suggestions for finding an installer in the first section also apply to looking for a floor finisher for heart pine so you might want to look at Part 1.
A directory of professionally certified finishers such as NWFACP’s list at http://www.nwfacp.org is one place to look for a person or company to sand your wood floor. Websites will often list certifications for the individual or company and classes they have taken. Membership in a wood flooring association can also be a positive sign. A certain minimum amount of work experience is highly desirable, but this is not a guarantee of quality work. Another indication of a commitment to quality work is attending wood floor industry schools. Also the sanding equipment should be professional grade. This does not mean that it has to be new but well maintained high quality equipment is important for a top quality job.
A discussion of the look you want to achieve helps choose between the many types of floor finish available for wood floors. Natural oils, hard wax oils, oil modified polyurethane, water borne acrylic or poly, and Tung oil (fortified or not) are some examples of what is available. Talk to your finisher about the properties of the different products such as –
—overall look,
—ambering,
—gloss levels,
—drying times (walk on floor),
—durability,
—odor,
—time for full cure (replace area rugs),
—VOCs,
—film build,
—maintenance requirements, and
—environmental concerns.
Additional information is available on the internet at http://www.woodfloors.org/WoodFloorFinishes.aspx and other sites. The brand of finish should be designed for use on wood floors for durability and so that film forming products flow to yield a smooth surface. Saving money by using low quality finish can significantly reduce the life of the floor. Professional products cost more but usually only add a small percentage to the overall price. Discuss the finisher’s experience with sanding antique wood floors. River Recovered® heart pine sands slightly differently than most other woods. Some finishes darken antique heart pine floors as they are applied and continue to enhance the natural color change in the wood as it ages. Other products maintain a much lighter shade. Certain species have different reactions with different finishes so it is best to use a combination of flooring and finish products that your floor finisher has experience with.
Dust control and possible paint touch ups on the baseboard are other topics to discuss in advance. The temperature in the room, relative humidity, and direct sun light in the areas where the finish is applied will be of concern to the workers. Commissioning a new flooring project can be stressful, but finding a good team to install and finish your floor makes the process easier and gives better results.

Log Rounds and Wood Tiles for Antique Wood Floors

Large End Grain Tiles of Antique Heart Pine

Heart Pine End Grain Tiles

Entries and other transition areas present an opportunity to use patterns in wood flooring.  The distinctive appearance of end grain tiles with their circular grain pattern creates a strong impression in an entry.  Designs such as herringbone, chevrons, or an English weave used in transition areas create interest and elegance.

Antique Log Rounds

Log Rounds

Herringbone at Master Bedroom Entry

Restoring Antique Wood Floors

Cushion edge end grain

Reclaimed Heart Pine

We recently had an inquiry asking if more finish can be added to an old site finished floor to improve its appearance. This is what we used to call a buff and coat.  Recoating will not remove deep scratches or discoloration in the antique wood, but is a good choice in many cases where the finish is sound and not overly worn. The surface of the existing finish is abraded lightly to get it ready for additional finish.  If there are contaminates on the wood floor such as wax, dusting products, polish, etc. the new coat may not adhere in some spots and total resanding may be a better choice. The major water based finish manufacturers make pretreatment products which aid adhesion. The water based finishes are easy to use if you know what you are doing and are used by many professionals.  If you are doing the work yourself many first time attempts do not come out as well with these products. You might consider using a more traditional urethane floor finish with a slower drying time. Once you get everything cleaned up and ready two coats often looks better than one on an old floor. A finish with a low gloss level tends to help surface imperfections blend in. If you are not going to use water borne finish the old way to abrade it was to rub the surface with fine steel wool.  Go with the grain of the wood floor. It is a good idea to test the compatibility of the finish you are using with the existing finish in a small out of the way area before doing the whole floor.  Also the National Wood Flooring Association http://www.woodfloors.org/ has information on finishes and maintenance. Especially with antique wood, you can find small ways to improve any damage or discoloration that has happened over time, because much antique wood already carries natural imperfections!

Antique Wood Floors Over Radiant Heat

Antique wood floor

Decorative feature in antique wood floor

We are occasionally asked if antique pine flooring is a good choice over radiant heat.  Over the years our customers have had many successful installations over this heating system.  There are general guidelines such as turning on the heating system in advance for several days to make sure that there is no excess moisture in the subfloor.  Also the temperature of the subfloor should not go above 85 degrees F. Wider boards are prone to show larger gaps in the heating season.  Vertical grain flooring moves less than select grain flooring.  As with any installation starting with properly milled flooring and exercising care to get the moisture content of the flooring (and the job site) correct go a long way towards getting an antique heart pine floor which looks good for years and years.  The NWFA has also developed guidelines for installing wood floors over radiant heat see Installation Guidelines, Appendix H.

Choosing a wood floor professional -2

Part 2 – Hints for finding a finisher for heart pine wooden floors

Many of the suggestions for finding an installer in the first section also apply to looking for a floor finisher for heart pine so you might want to look at Part 1.
A directory of professionally certified finishers such as NWFACP’s list at http://www.nwfacp.org is one place to look for a person or company to sand your wood floor. Websites will often list certifications for the individual or company and classes they have taken. Membership in a wood flooring association can also be a positive sign. A certain minimum amount of work experience is highly desirable, but this is not a guarantee of quality work. Another indication of a commitment to quality work is attending wood floor industry schools. Also the sanding equipment should be professional grade. This does not mean that it has to be new but well maintained high quality equipment is important for a top quality job.
A discussion of the look you want to achieve helps choose between the many types of floor finish available for wood floors. Natural oils, hard wax oils, oil modified polyurethane, water borne acrylic or poly, and Tung oil (fortified or not) are some examples of what is available. Talk to your finisher about the properties of the different products such as –
—overall look,
—ambering,
—gloss levels,
—drying times (walk on floor),
—durability,
—odor,
—time for full cure (replace area rugs),
—VOCs,
—film build,
—maintenance requirements, and
—environmental concerns.
Additional information is available on the internet at http://www.woodfloors.org/WoodFloorFinishes.aspx and other sites. The brand of finish should be designed for use on wood floors for durability and so that film forming products flow to yield a smooth surface. Saving money by using low quality finish can significantly reduce the life of the floor. Professional products cost more but usually only add a small percentage to the overall price. Discuss the finisher’s experience with sanding antique wood floors. River Recovered® heart pine sands slightly differently than most other woods. Some finishes darken antique heart pine floors as they are applied and continue to enhance the natural color change in the wood as it ages. Other products maintain a much lighter shade. Certain species have different reactions with different finishes so it is best to use a combination of flooring and finish products that your floor finisher has experience with.
Dust control and possible paint touch ups on the baseboard are other topics to discuss in advance. The temperature in the room, relative humidity, and direct sun light in the areas where the finish is applied will be of concern to the workers. Commissioning a new flooring project can be stressful, but finding a good team to install and finish your floor makes the process easier and gives better results.

Why I love antique wood floors…

I had fun yesterday driving through historic neighborhoods in Orlando with Sheila Ratliff, Classical Renovations. You could Jonni Vermeulen's River Recovered Antique Heart Pine flooring with a dark walnut stain.literally see her 30-year career from house to house. For years Sheila has driven her truck to Goodwin and taken back all the antique heart pine flooring and other wood she could carry to restore historic old homes from the 1800s and on and I finally go to see them! Sheila agreed to write about ‘green renovations’ so more about her soon.

Then I called up a client who bought antique heart pine flooring two years ago. Jonni Vermeulen sounded surprised to hear from me but said, “I love, love, love my floors.” You can see in the photo how she stained her River Recovered Antique Heart Pine dark to reduce the red tones but still have the dense hard antique wood floors’ beauty and grain.

For years I’ve talked mostly on the phone with our reclaimed wood floor owners. Now I’m on a mission to see more client’s homes and reclaimed wood floors. Love to hear from you.

Yours,
Carol Goodwin

P.S. Join us on Facebook and upload your photos of Goodwin wood flooring, millwork, and stairs.

Pilings from Savannah First Dock Continue To Serve As Beautiful Flooring in Homes Across the Nation

Savannah’s port has always played a significant role in the city’s history, serving as a leading shipping avenue for New World products bound for Europe. Now the wharf pilings that launched those ships 250 years ago is continuing to live on, as reclaimed wood for new flooring in Savannah and across the country.

All of a sudden—perhaps with a remembered sense of patriotism or new nesting instinct—modern designers and homeowners are rediscovering antique wood floors. One company that specializes in recovering antique woods recognized the inherent benefits of the Savannah River dock pilings and purchased them to remill into luxury flooring, millwork and stairparts.

The pilings are made of heart pine and heart cypress older than any previously recovered antique pine and cypress, according to George Goodwin, president of Goodwin Heart Pine Company, located outside Gainesville, Fla.,

“We have been recovering heart pine and heart cypress for more than 25 years and this wood is older than any antique wood I’ve seen,” Goodwin said. “These pilings were constructed about the time General James Oglethorpe was creating Savannah and were hundreds of years old when they were cut down. And just as Savannah is rich in architectural and natural beauty, so too is the wood from it’s first dock.”

The pilings were made from original-growth Longleaf Pine and Bald Cypress. The cypress is a survivor from prehistoric times, commonly living more than 1000 years and towering over 100 feet. These giants of the southeastern swamps helped build America along with heart pine from Longleaf pine trees, which grew slowly and are hard and extremely durable. Both of these antique woods are in limited supply and available only from specialists who reclaim them.

The indigenous woods withstood the elements and became the principal building materials through the entire area. The dock was made up of logs and beams, many of which still show the ax marks where they hand hewn.

Tim Wellford, who owns a restaurant on the pier at St. Simons, installed Goodwin’s Midnight Heart Pine™ flooring in his contemporary home and loves both the look and the romantic history of the historic wood. Next he plans to build an entertainment center from the Midnight Heart Cypress™.

“I didn’t even know about this wood until I start researching wood,” Wellford said. “It’s so much better than any ordinary wood because it’s a better product, it’s good looking and it has historical value. I just never knew I could have wood this nice.”

Heart Pine is hard, nearly indestructible and has a rich red patina. The Savannah River pilings offer antique heart pine with chocolate tones.
Heart Cypress, also called antique tidewater cypress, is fine grained and finishes to a warm, honeyed brown. It is often used for paneling, trim, fireplace surrounds, mantles, whole slab table tops and exterior projects. The heart cypress from the Savannah wharf piling are a bit darker.

“Throughout its eons of adaptation, original-growth cypress developed natural oils that resist insect and water damage, which you just don’t find in other woods,” Goodwin said. “It was a favorite of Frank Lloyd Wright’s and, with its blend of vertical straight grain and arching swirls, it’s easy to see why.”

Goodwin said the dock functioned through the 1800s and pilings could still be seen intact from River Street in downtown Savannah looking toward Hutchinson Island until the summer of 1997. The decision to build a theme park and raceway created the need to remove the pilings.

Known for his passion for conserving original-growth wood without cutting trees, Goodwin finally secured the rights to buy the pilings after more than 18 months of researching the issue. The homeowners fortunate enough to install this rare treasure appreciate his diligence.

“My wife is born and raised in this area,” Wellford added. “The fact that we have a floor from a local landmark just adds to the benefits we receive. If we ever sell this house, I know the historical value will be a great selling point.”

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5 Things to Learn About Antique Wood Floors in 5 Minutes

1. Help in choosing a reclaimed wood floor…River Recovered Antique Heart Pine Vertical Grain

To help you think about what you want here are a few choices:
· Do you want a unique wood floor with a story?
· A beautiful, historic and durable floor.
· Light, medium or dark tones?
· Consistent color or color variation?
· Grain with pin stripes, bold arches or subtle graining?
· A single width versus a random width pattern gives a different look?
· Do you like ‘character’ or prefer pristine?
· How about knots or do you want a ‘clear’ grade?
Maybe you just want to see a few of these characteristics in River Recovered Heart PineLegacy Heart PineRiver Recovered Heart Cypress… or Sustainably Harvested Woods.

Antique Heart Pine is the most frequently specified reclaimed wood.’Virgin growth’ heart pine is known as the ‘wood that built America’. It is mostly or all heartwood, is very hard and comes in many grades.

Some of the more commonly available reclaimed woods include: American Chestnut, Heart Cypress, Douglas Fir, Eastern White Pine and Oak.

2. Which finish should you use on reclaimed wood?

The finish you choose can dramatically change the look of your floor. While most reclaimed wood is sanded and finished smooth to the touch, you can also have a distressed floor. Distressing simulates old, old floors or barn siding and is usually done on milling machines, though it can also be done onsite by craftsmen.

How you want to maintain your wood floor determines if you want polyurethane that requires a professional to repair or if you want an oil finish that you can refresh when scratches occur. Polyurethane is a plastic coating that adds shine to the floor. The oil finishes are very natural and are low sheen; however, they can be made to have degrees of shine. They are especially appropriate for heavy traffic and come with easy maintenance products.

3. Would solid or engineered reclaimed wood work best for you?

Engineered wood flooring is a growing market. Goodwin began engineered flooring to help conserve the rare River Recovered® wood. While solid wood floor may remain the ‘gold standard’ for those who can accommodate its greater demands, now you can have ‘USA made’ engineered flooring that looks and lasts like solid and is easier to fit into the construction cycle.

4. Not all reclaimed wood is equal…

To consistently manufacture a well made reclaimed wood floor that is properly kiln-dried, precisely milled, graded to established standards and backed by in-house technical expertise requires a considerable investment. Reclaimed wood can be a confusing niche industry. You may want to know some terminology when specifying antique heart pine. Building design professionals can call for our free continuing education course on Architectural and Design Uses of Reclaimed Wood.

5. Installation tips to help your reclaimed wood perform well for a lifetime and beyond.

Once you have chosen your floor, learn what to ask; about installation, selecting an installer, even tips on existing subfloors on our blogs. Should you need stair parts or millwork it is possible to get any flooring complement in the same grade as your floor.

Engineered floor installation, when glued to concrete, needs to have an elastomeric type adhesive made for engineered wood. We generally suggest a vapor retarder over the slab. Even if the slab is dry now it ensures against leaks or storms.

Just a few of the important tips to help ensure your solid wood floor installation:
1. The sub floor needs to be flat and level to within 3/16” over 10 feet for nail down or flat within 1/8” over 6 feet for glue down installation.
2. The moisture content of the wood floor and the sub-floor need to match the expected indoor temperature and relative humidity once the building has been occupied. Be sure to use a pin type moisture meter on dense reclaimed wood.
3. Enough ‘cleats’ for nail down jobs will help prevent the floor from moving too much. You should nail a 6” inch wide floor every 4”, an 8” inch wide floor every 3”, etc.

Old Growth’s Meaning

By Kathy Fleming

Hardwood Floors Magazine

Ask most people how old a piece of furniture must be to be considered a true antique and most will know the answer. At least 100 years old.

Ask most car buffs how old an automobile must be to be considered a classic and they too will know the answer. At least 25 years old.

If only it were that simple with antique wood floors.

It was…once upon a time. Whenever the terms old-growth, original-growth and antique were bandied about, the vast majority of us unconsciously agreed that meant o-l-d. Very old. We knew we were discussing trees from America’s first forests and wood that provided denser, superior lumber.

None of us really needed an exact definition. It was mainly the foresters and scientists who investigated the topic. The customers of specialty antique flooring manufacturers knew what they wanted and would never have thought to ask for the definition of the “old-growth” wood they were buying. And vast majority of the time, they got wood floors that truly were very o-l-d.

But today, as antique floors become trendy, the marketplace is buzzing with more choices, sizzling copywriting and fuzzy terms…making it harder for consumers and flooring pros to understand the distinctions. While “original-growth” and “antique” seem to be retaining their true meaning, the term “old-growth” in particular is becoming ambiguous.

What difference does it make, you may ask. First of all, anyone ordering this kind of floor is expecting a certain look and quality, and that’s what they should get. They are expecting to live with that floor for generations. And you just can’t fake an antique floor. The wood is denser, tighter-grained, stronger and unusual. It’s a bit like the new Thunderbirds. They are cool cars, but any enthusiast with a 1963 in the garage is going to speak at length on the differences. He will never be totally satisfied with the new model.

It also matters from an historical standpoint. Consumers who specify this wood also tend to value nature, history and Americana. If they have gone to the trouble to understand, research and select an old-growth wood, that’s the floor they deserve.

The need to keep the terms—and the standards—straight have sent several manufacturers into the deep recesses of scientific literature. One of them, Carol Goodwin of Goodwin Heart Pine, one of the leading manufacturers of antique heart pine and heart cypress flooring, has a thick file of research to support clear cut terminology.

She and her colleagues share a wealth of information with each other, including this from a 1993 science conference: “Old-growth forests are those at least 200 years old and older. Most remaining old-growth forests are on federal lands. Nearly 90 percent of the region’s old-growth forests already have been logged. An estimated 8 to 9 million acres of old-growth forests remain today.”

Another study is from the 1989 National Old-Growth Task Group, which determined that “old-growth forests are ecosystems distinguished by old trees and related structural attributes. Old-growth encompasses the later stages of stand development that typically differ from earlier stages in a variety of characteristics which may include tree size, accumulations of large dead woody material, number of canopy layers, species composition and ecosystem function.”

Perhaps the most straight-forward definition comes from the USDA Forest Service, which said the approximate age at which old-growth features begin to appear is about one-half the maximum age of the predominant tree species.

No doubt, it’s a complicated subject that varies by species. In the case of longleaf pine, which can live 500 years of longer, foresters agree it takes at least 200 years for the tree to become mostly heartwood and be considered old-growth. They call any longleaf pine less than 200 years old “new heart pine.” Yet, there are heart pine flooring products on the market today that are about 75-90 years old and are called “old-growth.”

Another Forest Service report recommends that most stands with Virginia pine, loblolly, pitch pines and shortleaf pines that exceed 100 to 125 years with little human disturbance can be considered in the early stages of old-growth.

So, as always in a free market system, the buyer must be aware. Ask how old the trees were when harvested and ask about the color, the heart content, and the tightness of growth rings. And if someone tells you they are cutting down old-growth trees for flooring, that’s a problem. If these stately old gems aren’t protected, they should be.

After all, buying an antique floor isn’t so different from buying antique furniture. Antique lovers know what to look for when shopping. An authentic 1710 antique sideboard will bring them many more years of blissful enjoyment than a good reproduction. To them, it’s just not the same thing.