Five Things You Should Know When Choosing Wide Plank Wood Flooring

1. Know the size of your project. Estimate the square footage of  wide plank flooring you will need based on your room’s dimensions, then add 10 percent.   By knowing  your square footage needs, we can figure out whether we have enough material in inventory to process your order ASAP. Also be sure your site conditions are appropriate for wood flooring (for example, we don’t recommend installing our solid wood floors below grade).

2. Think about wood species. Spend some time browsing photos of different wood species, and learn about the properties of the woods. Does the wood you like make sense for your needs? (If you are a perfectionist who can’t stand the look of distressed floors, you probably want to go with a harder wood that won’t show wear easily, like Ash, Red Oak, White Oak or Maple.) Don’t get too hung up on the color of a particular floor you see in a photo, as the same wood can look very different depending on the finish you choose.  Applying a stain can also change the color of a floor dramatically.You may want to experiment with different finishes to make sure you get the look you like best. (Hull Forest Products offers free unfinished samples-just go into one of our species galleries, click on a photo, and select the “more details” button to order samples). Figure 2, below, shows the range of coloration between various types of clear satin sheen finishes. The finishes were applied to samples of our unfinished Select grade White Oak flooring.

 

White Oak floor boards labeled with different finishes applied for comparison purposes

Figure 2: Note the color variation between these different types of clear satin sheen finishes when applied to identical planks of our select grade White Oak. From the left: Bona Mega Waterborne satin finish, Lenmar polyurethane oil-based satin finish, Sutherland Welles tung oil satin finish, and Waterlox tung oil satin finish.

3. Consider grades of wood. Once you’ve decided on a species of wood, you’ll have a choice of grades within that species.  All of our flooring grades perform well; the grade is purely a matter of style and cost. We call wood with clear grain and few to no knots Select grade. Wood with natural character markings like knots or bark pocket is called Natural grade.  Premium grade is a midpoint between these two grades.

4. Consider plank widths. Plank widths affect the price of your floor and they have a big visual impact as well.  Choosing a range of plank widths (known as “random widths”) is less expensive than requesting floor boards that are all 7″ wide, for example.  This is because the material does not have to be sorted as much or ripped to 7 inches. Figure 3, below, illustrates the look of a floor with random widths.  The planks are a mix of 5 inch, 8 inch, and 12 inch widths.

rift and quartersawn white oak wide plank floors random width

Figure 3: Rift and quartersawn White Oak wide plank floor with random plank widths from 5 to 12 inches.

Compare the look of the random width floor boards in Figure 3 above to the floor shown in Figure 4, below, which features plainsawn White Oak floor planks that are each 10 inches wide.  This gives you an idea of the visual impact of random widths vs. equivalent widths.

White Oak wide plank flooring, all 10 inch wide planks, from Hull Forest Products, hullforest.com.
Figure 4: Select grade plainsawn White Oak wide plank flooring, all 10 inch wide planks, with a satin sheen poly finish.

5. Do you want unfinished wood flooring or prefinished wood flooring? In some cases, such as an apartment in a high rise that doesn’t allow on-site wood finishing, this question may already be answered for you. It may depend on whether you are building a new home or already living in an existing one.  The up-front cost of prefinished flooring is higher, roughly $3.00-$3.75 more per square foot.  On the other hand, if you are hiring a professional to finish your floor on site, it may cost at least $3 per square foot. Some people prefer the look of a site-finished floor because it has a snug, square edge with no bevel, compared to a prefinished floor, which will have a slight microbeveled edge on the sides of the planks.  It’s up to you, so weigh your options.

Related posts:

Choosing a Wood Floor for Your Kitchen

Why Plank Length Matters in Wood Flooring

As always, we are here to answer your questions!  Happy browsing, and when you’re ready to find the perfect wood floor for your home, give us a call or send us an email.  1-800-928-9602  Browse wide plank wood floors anytime at hullforest.com.

 

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, from $5.05/square foot. 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.

Choosing A Wide Plank Wood Floor For Your Kitchen

 

Wide plank kitchen wood flooring in Red Oak, in a Soho Manhattan loft.

Figure 1: Light toned Red Oak flooring provides a pleasing contrast to the shiny dark cabinets in this Manhattan loft kitchen. The long plank lengths of this floor are especially well suited to the wide open spaces of the loft. (Hull Forest Products red oak wide plank floor #302)

Thinking about installing a wide plank wood floor in your kitchen? You’re not alone. Adding wood flooring is one of the most popular kitchen upgrades.  And homeowners adding wood flooring are likely to see a return on their investment. According to the National Association of Realtors, homes with real wood floors are easier to sell, sell faster, and sell for more money than homes without them.

Wood Floors Establish A Tone

Wood adds warmth and interest to a kitchen like no other floor covering can. Because floors are generally the largest visible canvas in your kitchen, they set the backdrop for your furnishings and the tone for the space. Wood floors connote quality and craftsmanship, and wide plank floors can be used to convey a sense of luxury or history. (Retailers know that customers associate wood floors with quality, so they will often upgrade stores by installing wood flooring in key areas.) Installing wood flooring in your kitchen immediately raises its profile.

Since durability is especially important in high-traffic areas like kitchens, we recommend the use of harder woods such as red oak, white oak, hard maple, hickory, and ash wherever wear is a concern. But some folks find wear charming and they want a wood floor that will develop a patina more quickly.  It really depends on your tolerance for dings, dents, and wear. In an old house you may want to choose a floor that looks like it belongs there, such as the wide pine kitchen floor shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The homeowners chose wide plank pine flooring for their kitchen (Hull floor #418) for a period look and utilized an oil finish that would be easy to touch up and repair.

Figure 2: The homeowners chose wide plank pine flooring (Hull floor #418) for a period look and utilized an oil finish that would be easy to touch up and repair.

Try to pick a wood floor that will make your kitchen look its best. Love an all-white kitchen but don’t want it to look sterile? Use a warm toned wood floor to inject color and life  into an all-white kitchen.

Reddish toned American Cherry wide plank wood floors from Hull Forest Products

Figure 3: The homeowners used our warm and naturally reddish toned American Cherry wood floors to add color and life to their all white kitchen, making it a very inviting space that is anything but sterile. (Hull Forest Products American Cherry wide plank floor #616)

Choosing a contrasting tone floor is one way to go, as shown in figures 1 and 3.  On the other hand, if you love the wood tone of your kitchen cabinetry and want to build on that color, consider choosing a similar wood tone for your floor.

White Oak floors same tone as the wood in the cabinets of this kitchen.

Figure 4: These homeowners chose to coordinate the tone of their cabinets and wood floor. (White Oak select wide plank floor #231 from Hull Forest Products.) The matching cabinets and floor really put the emphasis on the red of the stove, the dark countertop, and the white of the ceiling paneling.

You can also add interest and character to your kitchen with rustic or figured wood floors.  The owners of the New England kitchen shown in Figure 5 chose natural grade Ash wood flooring  for its durability as well as for its character markings and color variation–then they stained the floor to emphasize the open grain and achieve a darker tone that suited their tastes.  The result was a kitchen wood floor with character that  proved to be one of our most popular wood floors in 2013.

wide plank ash kitchen floor from Hull Forest Products

Figure 5: Rustic grade Ash wide plank flooring with an ebony stain adds a cottage vibe to this coastal kitchen, contrasting nicely with the stainless appliances.

Looking to contrast darker cabinetry and finishes with a lighter colored wood floor? Check out the pale White Oak kitchen floor shown in Figure 6.  The homeowners chose a lighter tone floor to contrast with their cabinetry and trim and went with all five inch planks rather than random widths in order to emphasize the contemporary design of their home.

Figure 6: Light colored select grade White Oak (Hull wide plank floor #211) with five inch plank widths, finished with a water-based poly. The floors provide a pleasing contrast to the kitchen's darker cabinetry.

Figure 6: Light colored select grade White Oak (Hull wide plank floor #211) with five inch plank widths, finished with a water-based poly. The floors provide a pleasing contrast to the kitchen's darker cabinetry.

In case you need more reasons to choose a wood floor for your kitchen, don’t forget that wood floors have an exceptionally long service life, which makes them an attractive investment. Solid wood floors have a service life of 100+ years, and they can be sanded and refinished many times as homeowner tastes change. And that’s just one advantage.

Environmental Advantages of Wood Floors

Wood is a renewable and eco-friendly building and finish material. Solid wood floors require less energy to produce than any other type of floor covering, and they hold up to the scrutiny of life cycle analysis. Choosing responsibly sourced wood floors helps conserve working forests, which provide ecological benefits in the form of enhanced air and water quality, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration. Learn more about what makes wood good.

Need more inspiration for your kitchen floor? Check out our pinterest board on kitchen wood floors and our  houzz kitchen wide plank wood floors ideabooks.

 

Why Plank Length Matters in Wood Flooring

length shot eastern white pine floorboard

Our floor salesman, Greg Anderson, stands 6' 5" but is dwarfed by this 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.

 

Installing and Finishing a Wide Plank Floor

During a recent expansion to our offices here at Hull Forest Products, we had the fun of choosing what kind of floor we would lay down.  Ah, the perks of being a sawmill!  We chose Curly Birch, and we videotaped the installation, sanding, and finishing.  We have a talented team here at HFP, and our flooring consultant Greg Anderson (who installed hardwood floors in a previous career) installed the floor.  Another one of our floor experts, Jon Ramos, coordinated the video so you could learn about the process.  Enjoy!

Wide Plank Flooring Installation Video

Prefinished Wide Plank Wood Floors

 

Prefinished cherry wood floor.

Prefinished solid Cherry kitchen flooring.

Looking for prefinished wide plank flooring?  Perhaps you don’t have the time or patience for a site-finished floor, but you want the durability and quality of a site-finished floor.  Our prefinished wide plank flooring fits the bill.

We can accommodate wide board and long board orders and every floor is custom finished with your choice of stain color and sheen level.  The finishes are environmentally friendly and there is no off-gassing on site. This could quite possibly be the easiest floor installation you’ll ever know.

Seven Tips For Stress-Free Flooring Installation

You’ve chosen plank flooring and love the look of a site-finished floor. If you’re building a new home or an addition, staying off the floor while it is being finished may not be an issue.  But if you’re upgrading an existing floor while simultaneously living in the house, you’ll need to prepare for the installation and finishing.   We’ve asked flooring installers to provide a few tips for making it through the process unscathed.  Your reward: a floor with architectural integrity and a finish that will look more beautiful with time, not less.

1. Make Room.

You will need to empty all of the furnishings and wall hangings from the room being worked on and you may also need to clear part of an adjacent room for the duration of the installation. The room being worked on has to be empty for the contractors to do their work, and an adjoining room may be pressed into service as a storage area.

2. Plan Ahead.

It is advisable to store plank flooring in or near the room where it will be installed for one to two weeks prior so the wood can adjust to the indoor climate.  You can’t rush nature. Make sure you stack the planks in layers separated by sticks of wood so they get maximum air circulation. Be patient. Remember that 1-2 weeks of hosting these bundles of wood is worth it because the acclimation process will prevent gaps from forming in the floor.

3. Choose Stains and Finishes.

While you’re patiently waiting for the wood to acclimate, compare surface and penetrating finishes and decide which type is best for you. One of the many advantages of job-site finished flooring is the range of choices you have for stains and finishes.

Some folks prefer a surface finish such as oil-based polyurethane for the amber glow it imparts to the wood, while others prefer water based polys because they remain clear, dry faster, and have less odor.

DIYers may be drawn to penetrating finishes that are forgiving for the novice, such as tung or polymerized tung oil.

The floor’s location in your home and your tolerance for wear should also influence the choice of finish as surface finishes offer greater protection from scratches and stains than penetrating ones.

Will the finish go on the raw wood or will you be staining the wood first? Either way, you should test the product(s) on samples of the wood to make sure you’re happy with the outcome. Your contractor can give you some cut-offs to use as samples. Consider how the floor will look with your existing wall color, trim, furniture, or the other floors in your house.

4. Prepare Yourself.

“It helps to prepare yourself psychologically for the transition,” says carpenter Phil Nowlan of Putnam, Connecticut.  Accept that there will be a temporary inconvenience, like 2-3 guys in your home each morning when you may be trying to get the kids ready for school. Plan accordingly.

5. Take a Break.

Depending on the scope of the job and how much the work may disrupt your routine, you might consider staying someplace else for a few nights during the finishing process. Once the finish is applied, you will need to stay off the floor until is has dried.  Dry time varies depending on the type of finish used. Most floors receive 3 coats.

How long it takes for the smell to diminish also depends on the type of finish chosen, with water-based finishes emitting far less odor than oil-based ones. Keep in mind, says Nowlan, that the smell will also vary depending on the square footage of your floor–a big room will be smellier during the finishing process than a small one.  Phil Delaney of Floorworks in Woodstock, Connecticut, advises that if 50 percent or more of your home is being worked on, you may want to stay someplace else during the finishing stage of the project. At the very least you may need to eat out a few times or stay away for the day during the application of finish coats.

How long will it take? “If it takes two days to put in a prefinished floor, an unfinished floor takes five days: two days of installation, three days of finishing time,” says Delaney. The pricing is very similar though. “Pricing is by the square foot, not the hour.  I charge $3/sf to install prefinished material that costs around $6-$7/sf. For a floor finished on-site, I’ll charge $4.25/sf for the install, and they’re paying $4-$5/sf for the material.  The labor costs more, but the material usually costs less.”

6. Schedule Smart.

It is not always feasible, particularly for families, to stay away from the home during the finishing process. In these cases Delaney advises a low-VOC finish and schedules the work around the family.  ”If I am done sanding the floor in the afternoon, I won’t put the finish on until the following morning, that way they don’t have to smell the finish all night. I’ll put it on the following morning after they’ve gone out for the day, and when they come back to the home at 5 o’clock they have their house back.”

7.  Keep Your Perspective.

You may endure a few days of inconvenience, but the pay-off is that you get higher quality floors that will last a lifetime, and an incomparable finish.  Keep in mind that modern sanders with dust containment systems have significantly reduced the amount of dust generated during the sanding process. “I always tell people that this is not your grandfather’s 1970s desert sandstorm floor sanding experience.  It is a very manageable amount of mess when you have the right equipment,” says installer Phil Delaney. ”To me, the short-term inconvenience is definitely worth it for the look of the job-site finished floor. When you’re dealing with large plank flooring, it’s material that speaks for itself, full of character and quality.  People interested in authenticity should be looking at plank flooring.”