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Free CEU Classes Update

Be sure to subscribe to our Antique Wood News RSS feed to keep up with the Goodwin Heart Pine Free CEU Course offerings for Building professionals. Feed back on the classes has been phenomenal, below an excerpt from the Heart Pine Blog

A Belated Note on November’s Workshop 

antique wood floor

antique wood floor

Jan 16, 2012

A note from Jo-Anne Peck, Suzanne Prieur and Steve Quillian
A belated thank you for your participation in November’s Historic Homes Workshop. Due to your enthusiasm and hard work, we had a nice turnout and a successful event. We are very impressed with you folks in St. Pete! Your neighborhood activism and your historic preservation advocacy are models for historic cities across the U.S.

Please visit http://oldhouseworkshop.com/ to view photos of this event and our earlier workshop in Tampa.

We are proud to have had the opportunity to have worked with you and look forward to together, helping preserve Tampa Bay’s historic fabric.

Please let us know of any suggestions that you might have to improve future workshops.

Free CEUs for Architects

What a great combo, free CEUs and a valuable resource at your fingertips with the informative classes led by Carol Goodwin, from Goodwin Heart Pine Company. Carol Goodwin, CR, MCR, is President of Goodwin Heart Pine and holds Craftsman and Master Craftsman degrees from the National Wood Floor Association. She is also a Certified Hardwood Flooring Inspector.

She has long been active in supporting and promoting both environmental causes and the wood flooring industry. Her professional activities include founding the Reclaimed Wood Floor Association and the Association for the Restoration of Longleaf Pine, and chairing the National Wood Floor Association’s Environmental Committee for four years. She is the past Treasurer and a Board Member of the Florida Green Building Coalition and is currently a Board Member of the USGBC Heart of Florida Chapter.

Ms. Goodwin is an experienced presenter to consumer and professional audiences and has authored and presented continuing education courses on ‘Reclaimed Wood’, ‘Wood Floor Installations and Commercial Uses’, ‘Green Home Building – How Certification Works’, ‘What Makes a Building Product Green?’ and ‘Wood Products… What They Mean to Your Green Building’. She has published numerous articles and booklets on longleaf pine ecosystem reforestation and the building uses of antique heart pine. Publications include “Owners Guide to Heart Pine,” “Restoring an Ecosystem for Profit and Pleasure,” “Longleaf Legacies” and “Old Growth – Defining Your Wood Floor.”

Green Halloween 2011

Goodwin Heart Pine was a proud participant in the Green Halloween Celebration in Gainesville Florida 2011, which was organized by the US Green Building Council, Heart of Florida Chapter, here are some fun moments!Green Halloween Goodwin Heart Pine 2011

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.

Reclaimed Wood Floor of the Year 2011

River Recovered Antique Heart Pine and Cypress


Goodwin Heart Pine floors win National Wood Floor Association Reclaimed Wood Floor of the Year again!

The millenium giant River Recovered Heart Cypress 53″ diameter log rounds were inset into a field of River Recovered Antique Pine floors and surrounded by Curly Heart Pine trim by Matt Marwick, Precision Floor Crafters, nearby Goodwin Heart Pine.

Matt’s passion for the sinker pine and cypress and his craftsmanship are a perfect match for Goodwin. These antique wooden floors are a tribute to the loggers that cut this tree down over 100 years ago.

Loggers from 1904 Show the Girth of a Giant Cypress

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

Reclaimed Pine Flooring Heartwood Colors

There can be confusion between sapwood and heartwood that has not darkened in antique wood.  As living trees mature they develop heartwood around the center. Pine heartwood has more resin than the surrounding sapwood.  As mentioned in an earlier posting the heartwood darkens over time.  In large antique pine beams it is common for this process to progress through out the entire piece.  Occasionally however we find beams that still have yellow portions within the heart.  These areas are called yellow heart.  The picture has a board that was just surfaced showing areas that have changed color and areas that have not.  The question is sometimes asked if these yellow sections are sapwood, but they are not.  The sapwood is on the outside of the heart wood. If you look at the curvature of rings and the yellow has heartwood outside of it the yellow part is heartwood. Over time the light heartwood sections will darken and blend in.

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Color in Heart Pine

Heart Pine

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.

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.

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.

Pages

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.

Heart Pine

Terms Commonly Used to Grade Antique Heart Pine

 

Checks Surface checks occur naturally in Heart

Pine. If the product is properly air-dried and slowly

kiln-dried, checks can be sanded out or filled during

installation.

Grain pattern There are three distinct grain patterns:

plain sawn, vertical and curly. Plain sawn has an arching

grain. Vertical has pinstripes with no growth rings over

45 degrees perpendicular to the face. Curly is the rarest.

Growth rings The pair of light and dark growth rings

denotes a growing season. The highest grades of heart

pine require an average of eight growth rings per inch.

Other grades may average six growth rings per inch or

less. Dense growth with at least 1/3rd in the dark ring

means stronger wood. Longleaf pine often lived 400 or

500 years or more.

Hardness The scale used to measure wood hardness

is called the Janka (“yahn-kah”) scale. The

Janka measure for Heart Pine is 1225, compared to red

oak at 1290. New Heart Pine is about one-half as hard

and comparable to Southern Yellow Pine at 670. (To measure,

a 4mm steel ball is dropped from 4 meters onto the wood.)

Heart content Heartwood is formed when sapwood becomes

inactive and is infused with additional resin compounds.

It develops slowly in the center of the tree as the tree

matures. The older the tree, the higher the heart content.

According to the Forest Service a 200-year-old longleaf

pine averages only 65% heart content (all the 200-year-old

trees are now protected and cannot be cut). Longleaf heartwood

turns a rich red color when exposed to light and oxygen.

As heart content decreases, color tones can vary widely

from pale red to yellow.

Kiln drying A process by which moisture is removed

from wood with heat and dehumidification. This ensures

the wood can easily acclimate to a building interior and

avoid excessive shrinkage when properly installed.

Knots Clear is the highest grade and has no knots

larger than a rare ½” ‘pin knot’.

Standard knots occur infrequently in the next best grade,

often called select or select and better, and may be up

to 1-1/2”. A ‘pith knot’ can be either

a pin knot or a standard knot that has a small hole through

the knot.

Longleaf pine Longleaf (Pinus palustris) is

the legendary ‘antique heart pine’ wood. The

Longleaf ecosystem was once the largest contiguous forest

on the North American continent. It is the quantity of

resin in the heartwood that gives antique heart pine its

uncommon hardness and durability. It takes 90 to 125 years

to develop any significant amount of heartwood. Most of

the trees were 200 to 500 years old when originally cut.

Nail staining Caused when the metal “bleeds”

around the nail hole. Nail holes are ¼” in

the select grades of Heart Pine, but may be larger in

other grades. They can be filled onsite.

Natural Color Heart Pine is yellow when first cut and

turns red when exposed to oxygen and ultraviolet light.

Beginning almost immediately, the heartwood will ripen

within weeks and will continue to grow richer in color

over the first several months. The heartwood portion of

building salvaged heart pine is usually already red except

for some ‘yellow heart’ areas. These areas

commonly occur next to a more resinous area that may have

prevented the ‘yellow heart’ area from oxidizing.

Once cut the yellow heart will turn red also. If you want

to retain the initial light color, a finish with UV inhibitor

may slow the change.

Pitch pockets Small pockets of crystallized resin occur

seldom in Heart Pine. In the best grades, pitch pockets

will be no larger than 1/8” wide, but can be up

to 3/8” or more in other grades.

Resin Oleoresin, the type of resin from longleaf

pines, made the U.S. the world leader in naval stores

production until the middle of the 20th century. Longleaf

sapwood contains from 1 to 3% resin while the heartwood

contains from 7 to 24% resins. The resin build-up is mostly

in the latewood or the dark ring of the pair that make

up a growth ring. The percentage of latewood is the factor

most closely linked with weight and strength.1 Longleaf

has the heaviest concentration of resin of any of the

pines.

Sapwood Sapwood (non-heart) is the lighter

colored wood on the outer perimeter of the log. It does

not deepen in color and is not as hard as the heartwood.

The best grades do not contain any sapwood. Lesser grades

can have up to 50% sapwood and may today still be called

heart pine.

Reclaimed Flooring Finishes

Finishing normally begins about 7 to 14 days after installation. This gives enough time for the installed floor to react to the environment. Slight cracks and any raised edges that are going to develop will have done so by then, and you can fill and sand them for the best possible appearance. Longer periods of exposure may subject the bare wood to job-site abuse and moisture.

For starters, heart pine is naturally hard and dense, and the new polyurethane finishes offers increased protection wherever you install your wood floor. But there is a lot of technical know-how needed for polyurethane or any other hardwood floor finish. The finish industry is evolving rapidly to meet strict new regulations and the increase in demand for wood floors. If you have further questions, telephone numbers, books, and articles are listed in the back of this guide, all of which provide more detailed information.

Sanding

Just like site conditions are to installation, good sanding techniques are critical in finishing. If the sander leaves swirls or grooves these will become more noticeable once the finish is applied. Sanding creates a lot of dust. Wear a respirator, ear plugs, and shoes that do not hold dust in the soles or leave scuff marks.

The job takes at least a couple of different machines. A drum sander is used to level the floor, and a disc sander to “screen” (or lightly sand) between each coat. You might want an edger, a small floor sander that lets you get close to walls, or you can sand these hard to reach areas by hand. A professional floor finisher will have all of these machines, or you may be able to rent them from your local hardware store.

Seal off doorways, vents, and built-ins by taping plastic over them. Just before sanding remember to check for loose boards or squeaks and repair them with screws from underneath the subfloor or nail through the floor into the joists. Set any nails at least 1/16″ deep and fill the holes with wood putty.

Operating a drum sander takes some practice. The machine is heavy but has to be moved along with a relatively “light” touch. If held in place for even a few seconds it will leave a dent in the floor. Sand in rows in the direction that the floor runs from left to right across the room. The drum sander takes a slightly deeper cut on the left side to allow you to feather the edge on the right side as you move over to the next row.

Turn on the machine and move forward as you lower the drum to the floor so it does not dent the starting spot. You do not have to bear down at all. About one foot away from the wall, lift up. Put the machine down again as you begin to move it backward over the same row. When you reach the spot where you started, lift up and move over 2–4″ for each succeeding row.

The first “cut” (sanding) is to level the floor. Use a drum sander with coarse-grit (20-36) paper. Fill any nail or peg holes and sand again using medium-grit (50 to 80). Check for any more blemishes and fill them before the final sanding with fine-grit (100-120) paper. Scrap the corners and hard to reach places, then hand sand them to blend with the rest of the floor.

You will not be able to get close to the wall behind you, so plan to start a few feet away from the back wall and sand to within a foot or so of the wall in front of you. Then turn around and sand the few feet remaining to the other wall, again starting from right to left. Take care to feather over the line where you reversed directions. Use an edger to get the area that the drum sander could not reach at walls and under counters. You may need to use a hand scraper and hand-sanding block for some areas.

After the first sanding, sweep well and change to medium grit (60-80) paper and sand again. You may choose to use a filler between sandings, usually used when refinishing old floors. If you defects that you want to cover there are some good latex fillers available. Use fine grit (100-120) sand paper for the final sanding.

As soon as you have completely sanded the floor to a level surface, vacuum thoroughly and then wipe it with tack rags. Be sure to get all the dust from not only the floor and out of the corners, but also off windowsills and mouldings. Remember to clean out any vents as well. This will prevent sawdust from falling into the finish and becoming a permanent part of your floor.

“Wash” the floor with a rag or mop that has been dampened with mineral spirits. This is an important step for heart pine. It removes any oils or resins from the surface of the wood that might prevent the finish from adhering properly. The mineral spirits will dry within a few hours, unless applied too generously.

Supplies to Have On Hand for Finishing

Penetrating oil-based sealers can be applied by hand with a rag, a brush, or a lamb’s wool applicator. Surface finishes are usually applied by applicator, or by brush in small areas.

Between coats of surface finishes you will need an abrasive nylon screen, fiber buffing pad, or steel wool to lightly sand the previous coat and help the next one adhere. Do not use steel wool if you are using a water-based finish. The steel fibers will rust and discolor the finish. If you use brushes, clean them only with water or mineral spirits. The distillates in some brush cleaners can slow the drying process.

Use a vacuum cleaner after each sanding or screening. For large areas, clean vacuum bags frequently to avoid returning any dust to the floor. You might even try wearing paper surgical booties over your shoes to avoid tracking dust. Rags with mineral spirits or water are also useful to clean up sweat, dust, dirt, or oil if any drips on the floor while you are applying the finish.

When do I Apply the Finish?

People generally prefer the natural look of finishes applied in the home over a factory baked-on finish, and most fine wood floors are sanded and finished on-site. For best results, finish the floor after the wall coverings are in place and painting is complete, except for a final touch-up coat of paint on your base moulding.

Which Finish do I Use?

  • Water-based (or water-borne) urethane is a good choice for the environmentalist and is the easiest to apply. Water-based is only slightly less hard than moisture-cure, and is less likely to leave drying lines during application.
  • Moisture-cure urethane is the hardest and most protective finish, but it requires the most skill to apply. Generally, it is not suggested for use by the non-professional.
  • Traditional oil-modified polyurethane finishes are used today, though they will be regulated out of use in the future. Wax is generally applied on top of this finish.
  • Use a penetrating oil sealer for a natural but soft finish. Buff the floor with steel wool between each coat, and then wax over the sealer. This finish may be the correct choice for some projects, but it requires extra maintenance and offers less protection.
  • There are completely natural finish products available for people with chemical sensitivities or for those who want to use totally non-toxic products. Organizations specializing in the most healthful and ecological building materials are noted at the back of this booklet.

The First Coat

We recommend that the first coat be an oil-based sealer to help bring out the red tones for which heart pine is so famous.

The oil-based sealer is a penetrating finish and soaks into the wood, unlike surface finishes such as water-based or moisture-cured polyurethane. The real beauty of the wood can be brought out right away by one coat of the sealer.

Heart pine is renowned for its unique color and beauty. Many heart pine lovers model the late Frank Lloyd Wright who said, “I like wood left alone, for the sake of wood.” Stains may actually muddle the wood’s strong grain patterns. However, if your project has special needs you can get the sealers in wood stain colors.

The finish is applied in parallel strips across the room with the direction of the flooring. Always maintain a wet edge and use a single gliding stoke along the length of your strip, “feathering” into the previous wet area. Work toward the light so that you can see your work, but do not worry about retouching missed areas if the finish has already begun to skim over. The next coat will fill in these areas.

Make sure your floor is completely dry before you apply the second coat since the sealer soaks into the heart pine. We suggest thinning it with 1/4 to 1/3 Mineral Spirits to give it maximum penetration. It has been our experience that this coat may take longer to dry than the finish manufacturer’s directions. We often find that it takes at least 24 hours for this sealer coat to dry. One customer says, “We think the labels should read, ‘dries in four hours unless you live in Florida where it takes two days.'”

If you are in a hurry use a moisture meter to see if the floor has returned to its pre-finish moisture content. Or, check for a thumbprint by pressing your thumb firmly against the floor (see Don Bolinger’s book, Hardwood Floors, available through Fine Homebuilding magazine).

After the First Coat

You have lots of choices for the second coat of finish. Water-based is increasingly popular. It offers quick-drying time, takes little maintenance, and is simple to recoat when wear eventually begins to show. Moisture-cured and oil-modified finishes are still used a lot today, even in this low VOC (volatile organic compound) age. For a simple but soft finish, wax on top of the sealer.

We generally recommend water-based urethanes because they are safe, durable, fast drying, and offer good protection for your floor. Water-based products are being continually improved to decrease their VOC contents and increase their durability. A water-based urethane used on heart pine over an oil-based sealer applied in thin coats is a very pretty finish. It looks similar to an “oiled” or hand-rubbed finish. Some woodworkers may hate to admit this, but many know it is -true and use this to their advantage. After the first and between each succeeding coat of finish, use a floor buffer fitted with a used 100-120 grit “screen” (rub two together if you do not have a used one) or hand sand small areas. You will have to hand sand corners and edges. Lightly sand the “top” off the finish.

You do not want to sand into the finish, and one or two passes over the floor is usually enough. All that is necessary is to take the shine off the finish to help the next coat adhere to the one before it. If the finish does not “powder” while you are sanding, it is probably not dry. Vacuum the floor and any sills and baseboards. Tack the floor again, then let it dry completely, and start your next coat.

Additional tips for finishing your hardwood floors

  • For the best possible adherence from coat to coat, use high-gloss for all coats except the last one. Many types of polyurethane are so hard that they do not adhere well to themselves. The high-gloss adheres best, so even if you want a satin finish use high-gloss. Use satin as your final coat and you will get the low-gloss (or semi-gloss) finish that you want with maximum adherence.
  • You can apply as many coats of polyurethane as you want. Usually two or three coats is enough, but we have had people ask if they can use several coats. Just remember to let each new coat dry a little longer than the previous one.
  • It is important not to wax a wood floor that has a surface finish (water-based or moisture-cured). If wax is used on these finishes, it prevents the ability to simply retouch the floor (screen or lightly sand to remove the shine and recoat it). If you wax on top of a surface finish you must sand the floor completely back to bare wood before recoating.

Special Floor Finishing Needs

If you are restoring a historic building, you may choose varnish to match an old finish. We discuss varnishes in the section on “Refinish.” We can also provide you with reprints of Old House Journal articles about historic finishes.

You might want to know about finishes for porch or outdoor floors… or how to sand a parquet floor… or even how to “pickle” your floor. There are many topics, and we can only mention the basics in this short booklet. Do not hesitate to call with questions. We will try to provide other references.

There are many companies that make excellent finish products, a few are listed in the back of this guide. No matter which finish manufacturer you choose, follow their directions carefully. These products are improving rapidly as are the ecological standards they are required to meet.

Let us know if we can provide reprints of flooring manufacturer’s association guides on finishing to further assist you.

Other Finishes

We do not mention white floors nor do we discuss finishes that contain formaldehyde in this guide. These finishes are frequently used and many professionals have a great deal of experience with them. If you need to know about them, we can recommend sources.

Antique Wood University

Antique Wood University

Recycled wood is not only a stunning addition to any home, it also makes sense for the planet, by reusing and re purposing the wood we’ve already cut down! With these thoughts in mind, Goodwin Heart Pine, a longtime advocate of green building and reclaimed wood standards is excited to offer these free training materials and to support an ongoing conversation around the topics of reclaimed wood and its use in remodeling, renovation and new construction.

Reclaimed Wood Floor Association

Reclaimed wood manufacturers have seen a ten-fold increase in orders and many more individuals and manufacturers are getting into the reclaimed wood business. The problem is that there are no standards to protect consumers. Standards for heart pine, for instance, were last published in 1924.

Led by Goodwin Heart Pine Company, a team of quality focused manufacturers have founded the Reclaimed Wood Floor Association. The association’s work to date has centered on establishing standards for antique heart pine, with other woods standards planned.

Why wood is better for the environment than other building materials?

Wood product manufacturing is cleaner. Steel products give off 24 times more harmful chemicals. Concrete leaches a great deal of carbon dioxide.
Wood requires less energy to manufacturer. Brick takes four times more energy, concrete six times and steel 40 times.
Wood actually conserves energy. It takes 15 inches of concrete to equal the insulation value of just one inch of wood.
Antique reclaimed wood IS recycling. This wood can come from industrial revolution era warehouses and docks, old homes, cider casks or even river bottoms (where logs are perfectly preserved). Rather than destroying the wood that built America, reclaimed wood manufacturers put this wood back to work to enjoy for many more generations to come.

Why wood is the healthy choice

Wood is the perfect choice for anyone with allergies. Carpet fibers trap allergens such as dust and fumes, while mold can grow in tile grout.
Wood requires fewer chemicals to clean than other floor coverings.
Many doctors recommend wood floors for your spine and joints because it gives a little and is easier on your legs and feet.

Why reclaimed wood appears to be more expensive

Antique wood does not come from standing trees. All of the few remaining original-growth trees—trees old enough to produce mostly heartwood—are protected, as they should be. As an example, most commercially available heart pine will probably be gone in about 10 years. There are only so many old warehouses and only so many logs at the bottom of the river. When those are gone- that’s it. Because there are only two sources for original-growth heart pine, there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the salvaging and recovering of this precious resource. Thus, the process to locate and mill this limited treasure requires more labor and time.

What are grain patterns for antique wood

Three distinct grain patterns are typical for sawn antique wood:

  • Select grain is the most popular grain pattern seen in wood floors. Select grain is achieved by sawing flat through the log and results in a blend of both arching or flame grain pattern and vertical grain in planks up to 10 inches wide.
  • Vertical grain is a pinstriped pattern achieved along the full length of the board by using what is called the quartersawing process. To obtain this formal grain pattern, a more intricate sawing method is used which does incur some waste. Note: When comparison shopping, you may want to review the percentage of vertical grain included in the plainsawn product.
    Vertical grain is a bit more costly than plainsawn wood.
  • Curly grain is an extremely rare, natural burled grain. This unique and luminous grain pattern is found in about one out of every 300-400 logs. It is perfect for a stunning conversation piece, inlays on flooring and cabinetry, or other areas of interest in your project.