Monday, 23 March 2009

All About Heart Pine Flooring

Although "Heart Pine flooring" is a description that's used widely to describe a floor that's generally associated with antique & reclaimed wood, a good deal of misunderstanding prevails. While flooring of Antique Heart Pine has been a revered choice of builders for centuries, few people understand the diversity in the classifications of pine and descriptions can be confusing when purchasing Heart Pine Flooring today.

So what exactly is it and what's the difference between Antique Heart Pine, "New" HeartPine and regular pine?

Read to find out:

Where Does Heart Pine Come From?

First of all, all wood species contain "heartwood," not just pine, but that's where most misunderstanding begins.

It is the innermost of 4 layers in the cross section of a tree:

The first layer is Bark, the 2nd is the Cambium (typically a thin green layer under the bark), the 3rd is the Sapwood, or growing section within the tree which is most susceptible to decay, and the 4th most inner layer is the "heartwood," which is actually no longer a living tree component though more resistant to decay, and usually much darker in color .

But all "heartwood" is not equal, especially when we're talking about "Pine" heartwood. And With prices ranging from $4 - $15 per sq. ft. for Antique Reclaimed, you'd best be sure you know what you are getting.

Just know that just because pine comes from an old building or is dragged from a river, that doesn't make it "HeartPine." But what is referred to as "HeartPine" does not have to be reclaimed or centuries old either. Many pines have local names and many wood dealers will use the pine name that they feel will sell their product. You may hear it called Southern Yellow Pine, Antique Yellow Pine, or just Heart Pine. It can be the "heartwood" of any of a number of pines and should be more appropriately called "New" Heart Pine.

The pine wood which is most prized, what we refer to here as Antique Heart Pine, once called "The King's Pine" when this country was still owned by England, is specifically the Long-leaf pine which grew in the southeast, was notoriously slow-growing, and the 300-500 yr old trees were for the most part eliminated by overharvesting by 1910. Some 2nd & 3rd generation growth stands can still be cut today, but there's just not much heart to go after, as the trees haven't had the time to grow very large. The virgin stands of heart pine are gone forever and the wood from them can be recovered only from old buildings, factories and homes built over 100 years ago that are now being deconstructed.


Whether more beautiful or more practical is a challenging question to ask. It's also one of the most durable wood floors available, rivaled only by red oak, and a floor whose tight grain patterns and deep hued coloration grows richer in color as it ages and continues to add beauty and value to homes graced with this very special reclaimed wood. It's also a "green" building material, there are often stories associated with it, and its quality, strength and stability has been sought after by craftsmen for generations.


When you're paying $4 - $15/sq. ft., it's certainly a disadvantage if there's any uncertainty about the product you're actually paying for. Particularly when choosing higher quality Antique Heart Pine Floor, you'll want to be certain your supplier is as knowledgeable as he'd like you to think that he is.

Heart Pine Flooring in Homes

For over 200 years, heartpine has been used as a durable, long lasting building material in homes and buildings. The longleaf pine was the virgin growth tree of choice along the lower elevations from Maryland to Texas. Slaves with pit saws, and with water powered sawmills in later years, helped early Americans utilize this termite and rot resistant building material in their homes.

Longleaf pine was an extremely important part of the Industrial Revolution. Because of their tremendous strength, timbers could span 25 feet distances and hold up thick heart pine floors that supported the buildings machines. Today, most of those factories and mills are in poor shape, if they are still standing at all. They are now being torn down, but in many cases the heart pine can be reclaimed and reused for beautiful flooring, stair parts, doors, cabinets, and millwork in fine homes being built and renovated today.

Heart pine flooring is best acquired from a lumber mill whose focus is antique lumber. If you prefer vintage wood flooring or antique wood flooring, a lumber mill that specializes in reclaimed lumber and sustainable wood flooring options would be your best bet. Whole Log Lumber specializes in both. This lumber mill/wood floor manufacturer has been providing quality heart pine flooring, antique wood flooring, and vintage lumber supplies, to deserving homes across the nation since 1984

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