Submerged Logs Into Antique Pine Floors

Most of the River Recovered® pine used to produce heart pine flooring has been underwater for a century or more. Questions about this antique wood cover the entire spectrum from concerns that the wood will shrink extra after it is installed to the thought that long exposure to water might keep the wood from moving at all. Actually the answer lies in the middle of this range.

To start with, living trees have a high water content. Wood in its natural condition performs well when it is surrounded with water. The basic structure of the heart wood with high resin content changes very little during the long stay at the river bottom. The resin helps protect the heartwood underwater just as it protects the wood in a living tree.

The desirable properties of this antique wood come from the slow growing conditions. Original growth forests produced long leaf pine of a high density with high resin content. These characteristics are not changed while the wood is submerged.

Carefully kiln dried and matched in moisture content at the job site, this antique wood will give excellent performance as antique pine floors.

Antique Heart Pine flooring from Reclaimed boards

Inlay of log end

Occasionally we get calls from people who have some salvaged lumber and they want make their own flooring.  Here are a few details to consider.

The fit of the tong and groove is critical if the wood floor is going to perform well.  A loose fit can lead to squeaks while a fit that is too tight will make the floor hard to install.  If you put two short straight boards together and then hold them in the air by one of them the other should not fall off.  A quick shake should cause the boards to disengage.  A difference of a few thousandths of an inch can make a significant difference.

Almost all wood flooring is made with the top face slightly wider than the bottom. As the floor is installed the top touches first leaving a slight gap between the boards on the bottom. The difference in width between the top and bottom avoids cracks showing between the boards in areas of slight sub floor irregularity.

A groove on the top inside corner of the tong allows a space for the nail heads as an addition aid to a tight fitting floor.

Some individuals with good skill levels have been able to produce serviceable flooring from antique wood, but most high quality reclaimed flooring is made by experienced craftspeople.

Natural Color Changes

The rich color of old heart pine is one of the main benefits of an antique wood floor. A discussion of heart pine may help you to get the look you want. Several species of wood change color significantly as they age. Lumber from freshly sawn antique heart pine logs change from light yellows to deep orange-red browns as time passes. The color change is especially noticeable in longleaf heart pine of high resin content. Other species such as American black cherry, Jatoba (sold as Brazilian cherry) and purple heart also show a significant color transformation. Oxidation of components of the wood drives the change in color and it is accelerated by ultraviolet light. Covering part of a board with aluminum foil and leaving it in strong sun light for a day or two can cause enough darkening to be seen. For a new wood floor much of the change in color takes place in the first few weeks. However the richer tones continue to emerge for several months. Area rugs placed on the floor before this time will keep the areas under the rugs from darkening. Heart wood typically changes color significantly more than sap wood. The color of freshly sawn longleaf pine River recovered® logs is lighter while heart pine reclaimed from buildings is usually darker. Reclaimed heart pine can also contain some yellow portions that are associated with high resin concentrations. The color deepens to the same range in wood from either source. The degree of color change in a new floor is strongly affected by finish that is applied. The type of finish should be considered as a part of the decision to determine the final color of the floor.

Knowing what to expect can help you flooring installation go more smoothly, and heart pine will make your heart sing.

Making Pine Flooring is Fun

Pulling Logs for Pine Flooring

Joe Collins' Ax Men Pulls Antique Logs to Make Pine Flooring

Who would have thought 35 years ago that lovingly making beautiful antique heart pine flooring from River Recovered® logs would be so much fun. Years ago when This Old House’ Producer, Russ Morash, visited Goodwin with Norm Abrams, Goodwin’s fame began to grow. Now we are famous for Ax Men Joe Collins who worked with Goodwin Heart Pine for over 20 years. Here he is with his new river recovered logging boat.

Goodwin Heart Pine is employee owned. George will personally put his heart into making antique heart pine flooring for another 15 to 20 years at least. Craftsmen that he is training now will then be training their replacements so that you can continue to have the richest, most beautiful pine flooring in the world.

And… since George has developed with expert help from Andrew St. James, our COO, well-made engineered pine flooring the supply is going to last even longer.

Antique Wood Flooring in Georgia

Goodwin end grain heart pine floor tiles at the Chihuly Museum in TampaCharleston One Source’s Pat Devaney met me at beautiful Glendalough Manor near Atlanta to see builder, Gary Alford last Thursday. After looking through Goodwin’s album Gary and his client chose end-grain tiles and vertical grain Antique Heart Pine wood flooring for a home they are building nearby. When we offered to pre-square and groove the pieces to help create a herringbone pattern Gary said, “Wood work is what God put me here on Earth to do.” Can’t wait to see the floors when finished.

On to my next stop…

The Yellow Bluff Company south of Savannah was lovely when I arrived late the next day at sundown to deliver a 1901 photograph of heart pine logs being rafted down river. The frame was of Goodwin’s Antique Heart Cypress to hang in the clubhouse that has Midnight Heart Pine and Legacy Vertical Antique Heart Pine flooring and stair parts.

Goodwin Midnight Heart Pine Antique Reclaimed Wood Office Furniture

I plan to visit St. Petersburg, Florida and Key West to deliver more wood flooring soon. Call if you want to come along to see beautiful antique river-recovered and reclaimed wood and meet great crafts people.

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.

Carol Goodwin

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