Mary Hull grew up with a sawmill in her backyard and is the third generation in her family to manufacture wide plank wood flooring. She is co-owner of Hull Forest Products, which uses locally grown and sustainably harvested wood to make exceptional floors.
When Yale University new residential colleges architect Robert A.M. Stern specified rift and quartersawn Red Oak floors from Yale’s own university forests, Hull Forest Products made that dream a reality.
As a woodland management service and a sawmill, Hull Forest Products was able to plan and undertake a timber harvest in Yale’s CT forest. Together with Red Oak logs from Yale’s NH forest, this timber became the stock for the flooring. Hull Forest Products trucked the logs to its Pomfret, CT sawmill, sawed them on its band saw, then air and kiln dried the lumber before custom milling it into the 5 inch wide solid Red Oak plank flooring that now graces the Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges. This wood helped increase the percentage of locally sourced materials used in the project, helping it earn Gold LEED certification.
Hull Forest Products is excited to be a project partner with The Last Green Valley, helping to accelerate the pace of woodland conservation in the Southern New England Heritage Forest! We will be providing practical advice to more woodland owners and helping them create sound management plans for their #workingforests.
Looking for a modern kitchen that’s also cozy ? Consider adding wood flooring. 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.
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.
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. Some of the knots were defected out by the installer to create a cleaner look that is closer to a premium rather than a natural grade floor.
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.
If you have visited Frye Boot’s Manhattan or Boston stores, you’ve stood on Hull wide plank Oak floors. 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, and 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.
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.
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.
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 new wide pine 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 floors for 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.
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 floors 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.
Visit our gallery of wide plank pine floors for more information and to browse photos showing how the application of stains and/or finishes can change the look of a wide pine floor.
For quotes or samples, email us or call 1-800-928-9602.
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.
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:
At Hull Forest Products we offer two plank 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 4 to 10+feet with a 7 foot+ average plank length) is for those who want an extra luxurious long and wide plank floor.
To get long and extra long plank 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 plank 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.
The owners of this New Hampshire timber frame home wanted a neutral tone wood floor and they 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.
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.
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.
Have questions about our wood floors? Contact us 1-800-928-9602.
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 our recreational leasing program, visit us at hullforest.com and click on the “Forestry” tab.