Warming Up a White Kitchen with Wood Flooring

The homeowners chose the natural Hickory wood floor because its character and color added a rustic element to their space. They also wanted a durable wood that would hold up well for their family, which includes two dogs. Photo by Matt Delphenich Architectural Photography.

Looking for a modern kitchen that’s also cozy?  For a primer on how to warm up an industrial space with warm wood tones, check out this white kitchen in Boston’s South End.  The cooler elements (white brick, white macaubus quartzite, white cabinets) juxtapose with the warm variegation of the Hickory wide plank floors, upping the cozy factor. The copper faucet and pot rail add another warm element.

Chris Greenawalt of Bunker Workshop in Charlestown, MA, transformed  the space’s quirks, including an old pizza oven and a triangular shaped alcove, into functional shelving (made from leftover hickory flooring) and extra storage space. With no upper cabinets, the space is open and filled with natural light.

Warming up a white kitchen with a variegated wood floor.

Natural American Hickory wood flooring with grain and color variation contrasts beautifully with the white elements, adding warmth and life. Photo by Matt Delphenich Architectural Photography.

The homeowners used Hickory flooring throughout to add a warm lived-in feel to an otherwise industrial and modern space and help pull the look together. The warm toned wood continues up the stairs with modern square edge and square ended Hickory treads and risers laid over white painted wood. The high color contrast between the light sapwood and the darker heartwood in the Hickory flooring and stairs adds texture and warmth–like a cozy blanket–preventing the space from feeling stark.

Hickory stair treads and risers with square edges and ends.

Hickory stair treads and risers with square edges and ends make a decidedly modern profile. Applied over a white background, they draw the eye up. Photo by Matt Delphenich Architectural Photography.

The original stairway in the home was traditional, and the homeowners wanted to modernize it, but due to building codes, they could not change the footprint of the original steps. Together with their c0ntractor, Michel Beaudry, and their architect, Bunker Workshop, they devised a zig-zag pattern that ensured each tread was the same size as it had been previously,  but with a modern line and no overhanging nosing. Hull Forest Products custom milled the Hickory treads and risers to their specifications.

The homeowners wanted to source their floors locally, which led to their decision to choose Hull Forest Products, the largest sawmill in the greater Boston area, and a producer of custom-milled wide plank floors and stairs from local wood.  “We absolutely love our floors,” say the homeowners, who completed their home renovation in 2014. “Their character is one of the favorite characteristics of our home.”

The wood flooring and stair parts shown in the photos above are Hull Forest Products’s natural grade Hickory, with knots and color variation, finished with a water based poly. No stain was used.

This apartment has been featured in The Boston Globe, Apartment Therapy, and The Anatomy of Design.

 

 

Hull Forest Products Participates in National Bioenergy Day

The biomass boiler at Bennington College in Vermont. Since 2008 Bennington has used locally grown wood chips from Hull Forest Products to reduce its dependence on oil. The school has cut its emissions by over 40 percent and aims to become carbon neutral by 2020.

October 2014–

Hull Forest Products is participating in the second annual National Bioenergy Day event on October 22, 2014, to help show the public, elected officials, media, and other stakeholders how local companies are utilizing bioenergy.

Hull Forest Products supplies mill quality as well as whole tree wood chips to many New England institutions that utilize biomass heating, including Ponagansett Middle and High Schools in Rhode Island, Mt. Wachusett Community College and the Quabbin Reservoir Visitor Center in Massachusetts, and Bennington College in Vermont.

One ton of wood chips has the energy equivalent of approximately 60 gallons of heating oil, but unlike oil, wood chips are a renewable (and local) source of energy. Hull Forest Products’s  woodchips come from trees grown in family-owned working forests, and their use helps promote a healthy market for local wood, which in turn helps keep forests as forests in our region.

Please join us at 99 Canal Street, Putnam, CT from 3-7 pm on October 22, 2014 to learn more about the availability of woody biomass in southern New England and how this resource is being put to use locally. Bioenergy experts will be on hand, along with residential and commercial pellet boiler information, food vendors, and live music.

 

Hull Floors Used At Frye Boot Stores

Frye Boot’s Manhattan flagship store used ten inch wide floor planks of natural White Oak from Hull Forest Products.

If you have visited Frye Boot’s Manhattan or Boston stores, then you have stood on Hull wide plank Oak flooring. Frye Boot, the oldest continually operated shoe brand in the United States, wanted the design and visual merchandising of its stores to reference their long history of shoemaking, so they turned to “raw” ingredients like wood, leather, and metal to convey the company’s brand heritage.

Hull Forest Products provided ten inch wide live sawn solid White Oak flooring for the New York store and eight inch wide live sawn White Oak flooring for the Boston location.

Both floors are rustic grade, with occasional knots and character markings, and both were given a dark multi-tonal stain to help create the “vintage workshop” feel envisioned by the Frye’s design team.

Learn more.

Audubon Applauds Quality of Bird Habitat at Hull’s Connecticut Forestland

Scarlet Tanager, photographed at Hull’s Myers Pond Forest in Union, CT, a mixed deciduous forest interspersed with hemlocks and pines. Photo courtesy of Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation/Audubon Connecticut.

Union, Connecticut– In the summer of 2014, biologists from Audubon Connecticut and scientists from the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station teamed up to conduct bird habitat assessments on privately owned woodlands across the state, with the goal of helping landowners take steps to enhance bird habitat in their forests. Connecticut has faced forest fragmentation and an ensuing loss of variety in bird habitats, but intensively managed working woodlands can provide a range of critical habitats, from the unfragmented interior forest habitat favored by neotropical migrating birds like the Scarlet Tanager, pictured above, to the early successional habitat favored by shrubland and grassland birds.

Among the woodlands assessed was the Myers Pond Forest in Union, a 450-acre woodland owned by Hull Forestlands and managed by Hull Forest Products, a CT sawmill and woodland management service. Permanently protected with a conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy, Hull’s Myers Pond Forest is surrounded by the 8,000 acre Yale University Forest, creating a large tract of contiguous woodland. The property has been formally managed for timber production for over a century, and most recently has undergone harvests to remove diseased Hemlock and promote White Pine regeneration.

View of Myers Pond and fall foliage at Hull Forestland’s Myers Pond Forest. The woodland has been formally managed for timber production since 1900 and provides a wide range of bird habitat, including sedge/tussock, meadow, open water, riparian, and upland habitat types.

Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon Connecticut, was impressed with the quality of the bird habitat at the Myers Pond Forest as well as the way in which Hull’s forest management activities had led to forest regeneration.  He hailed the property as “truly one of the crown jewels of forestland in Connecticut.” Jeffrey Ward, Chief Scientist at the Dept. of Forestry and Horticulture at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment station, declared the Myers Pond Forest the “best managed property he had seen” so far in their bird habitat assessments, which included over 25 properties in Connecticut.

In southern New England, residential development and suburbanization have contributed to forest fragmentation, and as forest parcels grow smaller and smaller, they provide less viable habitat for birds. Smaller parcels also make it more difficult to practice forest management, and as a result, there is less variety of bird habitat. In contrast, when timber harvests are periodically conducted as part of a forest management plan, they create temporary openings in the woods that quickly regenerate to shrubbery, then young forest, eventually growing into mature forest, and they provide a variety of bird habitats in the process.

Hull Forestlands and Hull Forest Products are proud of their role in contributing critical habitat to Connecticut’s birds and grateful that Audubon Connecticut was able to perform the assessments and provide feedback for landowners.

Wide Plank Pine Floors

How to get your new wide pine floors to look like old pine.

Figure 1: Newly sawn Eastern White Pine + a custom stain + pure tung oil for a matte finish = an antique looking wide pine floor at a reasonable price. The homeowner used our premium grade wide pine, stained it with hoodfinishing.com’s “burnt umber” wiping stain (that had been thinned with a reducer) then applied several coats of pure tung oil (from realmilkpaint.com) that was thinned 50/50 with mineral spirits. The result was this beautiful low-luster matte finish.

The first floors we milled at Hull Forest Products nearly fifty years ago were wide pine floors, and wide plank pine continues to be one of our best selling wood floors for kitchens and other rooms. New England homeowners (and many others with antique, farmhouse, or period inspired homes) love traditional wide pine. There is something about the width and length of the planks, the large sound red knots, and the patina that develops that makes a wide pine floor charming. The floor has an heirloom quality.

Customers often come to us looking for a floor that emulates the look and feel of old pumpkin pine or heart pine at a reasonable price, so we show them how our clients have chosen to finish their floors to mimic the look of an antique floor. See Figure 1 above for an example, and check out our pine flooring gallery for many others.

Some of you may be familiar with the living history museum, Old Sturbridge Village. They used our wide pine for the floor of their Oliver Wight Tavern Building. If you get a chance to visit there, be sure to check out this floor (shown in Figure 2 below).  It is an interesting example as it had no finish applied at all and has been left to weather the heavy public foot traffic in the buff.

Our wide pine flooring in use at Old Sturbridge Village in the Oliver Wight Tavern. OSV applied no finish to the floor, preferring to let it age naturally.

Figure 2: Our wide pine flooring in use at Old Sturbridge Village in the Oliver Wight Tavern. OSV applied no finish to the floor, preferring to let it age naturally.

We source our flooring grade pine from the historic Myers Pond and Yale University Forests in Connecticut, harvesting only during the cold winter months so we get the best color retention.  We mill our wide pine flooring from logs predominantly twelve feet and longer, selecting  for even growth and live red knots.

Wide pine flooring lovers are often history buffs, so you may be interested to know that the Eastern White Pine tree played a role in the American Revolution. Because it grows so tall, Eastern White Pine has long been used for the masts of ships, and the British Navy tried to reserve the tallest White Pines in the colonies for the masts of British naval vessels. When an act to this effect was enforced in New Hampshire, it outraged the colonists. Though forbidden to cut “any pine tree of the growth of 12 inches of diameter,” it became unfashionable to have floorboards in one’s home that were less than 12 inches wide.

In 1772 a sawmill owner in Weare, New Hampshire was arrested and fined when white pine logs with the king’s broad arrow mark were found at his mill.  He and a group of about 40 townspeople rioted, attacking the sheriff and his deputy and literally running them out of town in what became known as the Pine Tree Riot.  This act of rebellion against British authority was an inspiration for the Boston Tea Party, which took place the following year.

For those of you who appreciate the “story” that boards can tell, see figure 3, below. This is a truly unique pine board with a very old pruning mark  that was revealed when the log was sawn.  (Thanks to Tom Fletcher in our flooring shop for spotting this.)  The flat dark lines at the ends of the knots indicate where the tree was pruned.  As you can see, the tree healed quickly and went on to produce clear grain. This board is 24″ wide and comes from a tree with an estimated age of 125-175 years.

pine board with pruning mark visible in wood grain

Figure 3: This 24″ Eastern White Pine board came from a tree with an estimated age of 125-175 years; someone pruned the tree around the turn of the century and you can see that in the straight dark lines at the ends of the knots.

Visit our gallery of wide plank pine floors for more information on the merits of Eastern White Pine and to browse photos showing how the application of stains and/or finishes can change the look of a pine floor.

Why Plank Length Matters in Wood Flooring

length shot eastern white pine floorboard

This guy stands 6′ 5″ but is dwarfed by our very long Eastern White Pine floor plank.

The lengths of the floor boards you choose for your room will have a big impact on the overall look of your floor.  Longer plank lengths create a clean visual line because there are fewer end or butt seams/joints (places where the ends of the boards butt up against each other). In fact, depending on the dimensions of your room, you might be able to eliminate butt seams all together by using long planks.  We frequently get requests from clients looking for long planks in order to avoid butt joints on their floor.

Red Oak wide plank flooring, Norwich, Connecticut

Figure 1: Wide and long board red oak flooring brings a sense of history to this reproduction colonial home. Longer planks create a cleaner visual line with fewer butt seams.

In contrast, using shorter planks will result in more end seams on your floor, and if you go with especially short boards, you will get a patchwork effect. See figure 2, below:

look of shorter floor boards is patchwork-like

Figure 2: Using shorter plank lengths (the ones shown are around one to two feet long) results in a patchwork effect. If this is not the look you are going for, you should consider longer planks.

At Hull Forest Products we offer two length classes: long and extra long.  Long is our standard length class, which features much longer average plank lengths than other manufacturers (generally 3 to 8 feet long), but at the most budget friendly price.  Extra long (generally 6 to 15 feet) is for those who want a truly luxurious long and wide plank floor.

To get long and extra long lengths, we have to start with very high quality timber so we can saw it full length off the log without having to cut around defects. Most wood floors out there today feature shorter lengths because they are made by cutting around defects in lower quality wood.

Long and wide floor planks are our specialty; please let us know what we can make for you. 1-800-928-9602.

Using Neutral Colored Wood Floors

Neutral colored "blonde" wood floors, in this case, select grade sapwood-only Ash wood, can provide a nice contrast with darker colored cabinetry and trim.

The homeowners selected neutral "blonde" colored wood floors made from select grade Ash sapwood in order to create a nice contrast with their darker colored Cherry cabinetry and Doug Fir timbers.

The owners of this New Hampshire timber frame home came to Hull Forest Products for select grade sapwood-only Ash wood flooring, which they chose for its hardness, beauty, and–most importantly–its neutral “blonde” color.  They did not want their flooring to compete or clash with the warm color of their Cherry cabinetry and Douglas Fir trim. To preserve the pale color of the Ash floor, they finished the floor with Arboritec 20, a clear water-based satin poly finish. A water-based poly provides a clear coat that will not amber with age, so it is a good choice for those interested in pale colored wood floors.

“We chose this product primarily because it is the clearest poly finish available,” said the homeowners. “We did not want to use an oil-based poly because we thought the yellow discoloration that an oil-based polyurethane finish acquires with age would obscure the blonde wood color and clash with the reds in the frame, trim, and cabinetry.”  And they have been very pleased with the results. The finish, which was put down in four coats, has proven to be very durable.

Select grade sapwood-only Ash wood floor.

The homeowners chose pale and clear-grained Ash wood flooring to carry out their vision for a modern Arts & Crafts home.

The husband and wife team behind this home first drafted a design for their dream timber frame, and brought it to Bonin Architects, who turned the idea into a beautiful home plan.  Next they called on Timberpeg to cut their home’s frame from Douglas Fir, and on builder Old Hampshire Designs to put up the frame and shell and make it weather tight.

Clear grained pale wood Ash floors contrast nicely with the warm hues of Douglas Fir timbers and trim.

Clear grained neutral tone Ash hardwood floors contrast nicely with the warm hues of the Douglas Fir timbers and trim and the Cherry cabinetry.

The couple joined forces to act as general contractors for their home, and also did much of the subcontracting (including the interior framing, electrical, and plumbing) while simultaneously holding down full-time jobs. Though challenged to find the time necessary to complete their home, the result  was a labor of love and a beautiful modern interpretation of an Arts & Crafts home.

You can view more photos of this home in the Hull Forest Products Ash Flooring Gallery and you can check out the photos at our profile on Houzz.com.

Looking for a pale or neutral toned wood floor? Check out our gallery of light colored wood floors.

 

Recreational Leases in New England Forests

Four coyote pups explore recently harvested woods.

Forests and wildlife go hand in hand. Forest thinnings bring sunlight to the forest floor, leading to new growth that attracts birds, browsers, and predators. Can you find all four coyote pups in this photo? They were exploring a recent timber harvest in Wales, Massachusetts.

To date we have permanently protected over 10,000 acres of our Massachusetts and Connecticut woodlands from development.  These working forests provide so many public benefits, including enhanced air and water quality, large unfragmented wildlife habitat,  critical wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl, carbon sequestration, and a steady supply of timber to meet society’s demand for sustainably grown, renewable building materials.

As part of our commitment to multiple use in our forestland (wildlife, timber, recreation), we lease some of these large forestland properties to individuals and groups interested in exclusive hunting leases and recreational access. The properties generally include access roads, gates, and miles of trails. Some even have warming cabins with wood stoves. Our clients include fish & game clubs whose suburban locations do not allow them to hunt deer;  bird dog trial enthusiasts; hunters; and outdoorsmen and women of all kinds. Some of our lease clients have been with us for over 30 years, allowing them and their families to develop a special connection with the land.

For more information on leasing forestland, visit us at hullforest.com and click on the “Forestry” tab.

Properties currently available for lease

Hull Family Permanently Protects Over 700 Acres of Forestland in Granville, MA

August, 2013, Granville, MA-

Over 700 acres of productive forestland in Granville, Massachusetts have been permanently protected in a collaborative effort between the Hull family, the New England Forestry Foundation, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEA), and the town of Granville, MA. The conserved forestland protects Valley Brook, which is Granville’s largest stream and an important tributary to the Hartford Metroplican District’s Barkhamstead Reservoir, the primary water source for the city of Hartford, CT.

Hull Forestlands L.P., the Hull family land trust, granted a conservation easement  for the 715 acres  to the New England Forestry Foundation in June 2013. This land protection project is part of the Western Massachusetts Aggregation Project, which aims to create larger unfragmented parcels of land in central and western Massachusetts. The New England Forestry Foundation received a Landscape Partnership Grant  from the MA EOEA in 2012 to pursue the project.

The Hull family, who already steward over 8,000 acres of permanently protected forestland in Massachusetts and Connecticut, had long expressed an interest in seeing the Granville forests protected. The newly conserved forests add to large contiguous tracts of conserved forestland in the area, including NEFF’s Phelon Memorial Forest, forests owned by the Hartford Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), and those of other private landowners.

The Hull family’s Granville forests, called the “Noble &  Cooley Forest” and the “Valley Brook Forest” will remain in their natural state and continue to provide a source of timber for generations to come.  The Hull family will continue to pay taxes on the land annually to the town of Granville.  (And since forestland pays more in taxes than it consumes in community services like education, water, and sewer, forestland is a net financial gain for the town compared to residential land.)

The Hull family own Hull Forest Products–the largest hardwood sawmill in the region–and their mission is to preserve working forests, grow trees, and manufacture wood products, thereby satisfying society’s demand for sustainable building materials and forest ecosystem benefits.   Selectively harvested timber from the Valley Brook and  Noble & Cooley forests will be turned into lumber, flooring, post & beam timbers, wood chips, and fuel wood.   These private forests will also continue to provide public benefits that make them important to the region as a whole, including wildlife habitat, enhanced air and water quality, carbon sequestration, and their contribution to the rural character of New England.

For more information on the Western Massachusetts Aggregation Project:  http://www.wildlandsandwoodlands.org/activities/protect-land/western-mass-pilot-aggregation-project

For more information on the New England Forestry Foundation: http://newenglandforestry.org/

For more information on Hull Forestlands’ Working Forest Conservation Efforts: http://hullforest.com/forest-conservation-projects-c-3_66.html

Hickory Wide Plank Floors

American Hickory wide plank flooring select grade

Figure 1: Hickory wide plank flooring is renowned for its resilience and beauty. Note the color variation, which is typical of Hickory and which is at home in either a modern or a rustic interior. The floor shown is a select grade of Hickory, with few to no knots.

Hickory. Carya.

It’s hard to imagine a wood floor that conjures up the image of the American frontier more than wide plank Hickory, which has a distinguished American pedigree. Hickory trees are found throughout eastern North America, and “Hickory” is one of the few extant Algonquin words.  Along with moccasin,  tomahawk, and hominy, the word pawcohiccora, from which hickory derives, was among those recorded by the explorer John Smith in Virginia circa 1608. This word survived because the wood and mast of the Hickory tree were extremely important to both the Powhatan and the early English settlers.

The Hickory nut was a significant Algonquin foodstuff; pounded and mixed with water, it made pawcohiccora, or hickory milk, a  nutritious butter-like substance so prized that a quart of hickory milk was the barter equivalent of twenty pounds of pork.

Recognizing Hickory’s strength, Native Americans used its wood for their bows.  European settlers used Hickory to make wooden wheels, wagon axles, plows, and tool handles. Parents inflicting corporal punishment selected hickory switches because they did not break easily (ouch). Because of its high energy content, Hickory was also a favored fuelwood, used for firewood, charcoal production, and for smoking meats.

Hickory’s toughness was so legendary in early America that the word hickory became synonymous with “strength”: a hard-wearing twill cloth was known as “hickory cloth”, and General Andrew Jackson was dubbed “Old Hickory” by his troops when he demonstrated his toughness on the battlefield.

This California retreat's bunkhouse-style bedroom needed a wood floor that could accommodate heavy foot traffic, so the homeowners chose wide plank Hickory flooring.

This California retreat’s bunkhouse-style bedroom needed a wood floor that could accommodate heavy foot traffic, so the homeowners chose Hickory.

Hickory is the only wood with the quintuple attributes of toughness, stiffness, denseness, shock resistance, and hardness.  Because of these attributes, Hickory’s more modern uses have included flooring, furniture, tool handles, golf club shafts, ski bottoms, lacrosse sticks, ladder rungs, drumsticks, and other demanding applications.

Hickory floors are a perennial best seller at our sawmill; here at Hull Forest Products we utilize Hickory species native to the Northeast to make our wide plank Hickory flooring in grades from clear to character. Our Hickory floors are tough and impact resistant, and we recommend Hickory for kitchens and other high traffic areas.  If you have little tolerance for dings and dents, a Hickory floor may be a good choice for you.

The striking color variation in Hickory can be played up with a clear finish (see figure 1 above) or the color difference can be minimized with a brown or darker colored stain (see figure 2 below).

Hickory wide plank flooring, natural grade.

Figure 2: This natural grade wide plank American Hickory floor has lots of knots and character markings, and it has been stained a brown hue to minimize the color variation natural to Hickory.

In Figure 2 the floor has been stained brown to make the color more consistent.  This gives the floor a very different appearance from the floor in Figure 1, which shows the striated light and dark color variation typical of Hickory wood.

Hickory wide plank character grade floor.

Figure 3: Hickory wood flooring in the natural grade has the most knots and character markings of all our Hickory floors and it is popular with our log and timber frame home customers. The floor shown has a clear oil-based poly finish.

Many of our log and timber frame home customers choose Hickory because they appreciate the wood’s color variation, and these customers also tend to prefer natural grade Hickory for its character markings (see figure 3), sometimes opting for a skip planed surface to add to the rusticity.

As you can see, Hickory wood floors look different depending on your choice of grade and stain/finish, and Hickory is a wood equally at home in a traditional or a modern setting. American Hickory wide plank flooring is at once a utilitarian and an attractive wood flooring choice.

Related posts:

Five Things You Should Know About Wide Plank Flooring

To see more photos of wide plank Hickory floors as well as other species of hardwood floors, visit us at www.hullforest.com.