Five Things You Should Know When Choosing Wide Plank Wood Flooring

Choosing wide plank flooring? Here are five points to keep in mind.

1. Know the size of your project. When choosing wide plank flooring, first estimate the square footage you will need based on your room’s dimensions, then add 10-15 percent, depending on the shape of the rooms.   Your sawmill or supplier will need to know  your square footage needs to determine whether they have enough material in inventory to process your order ASAP. Also be sure your site conditions are appropriate for wood flooring (for example, installing solid wood floors below grade is not recommended).

2. Think about wood species. Spend some time browsing photos of different wood species, and learn about the properties of the woods. Are you choosing a species of wide plank flooring that makes 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.   At our sawmill,  Hull Forest Products, we offer free unfinished samples – just go into one of our species galleries, click on a photo, and select the “more details” button to order samples of any floor.

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 when choosing wide plank flooring. 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 plank widths are a mix of 9-14 inches.

Live sawn White oak flooring
Figure 3: Live sawn White Oak flooring from Hull Forest Products, in random plank widths of 9-14 inches.

Compare the look of the random width floor boards in Figure 3  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.managedcoder.com.
Figure 4: Select grade plainsawn White Oak wide plank flooring from Hull Forest Products, 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.  On the other hand, if you are hiring a professional to finish your floor on site, there is a cost and an inconvenience factor associated with that, too. Some people prefer the look of a site-finished wood floor because it will have a snug, square edge with no bevel, compared to a prefinished floor, which will have a slight microbeveled edge on the long sides of the planks.  You also  have a greater range of finish options when site-finishing your wood floor.  It’s up to you, so weigh your options.

Shop Our Wide Plank Wood Floors

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.

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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, 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.

Learn more about our wood floors

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Wide Plank Pine Floors

wide pine floor custom finished to look like old heart 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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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Choosing A Wide Plank Wood Floor For Your Kitchen

Long plank Red Oak floors emphasize the wide open space of this Soho loft kitchen.
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 wide plank 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 wide plank 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  has proved to be one of our most popular wood floors.

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 wide plank 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 wood flooring galleries, our pinterest board on kitchen wood floors and our  houzz profile.

Contact us by email or phone 1-800-928-9602 or visit the wide plank flooring showroom at our sawmill in Connecticut.

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Hull Forest Products Earns “Best of Houzz 2014” Design Award

wide plank curly birch wood flooring from hull forest products
Wide plank figured Birch wood flooring from Hull Forest Products.

Pomfret, CT, February 4, 2014 – Hull Forest Products  has been awarded a “Best Of Houzz” design award by Houzz.com, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The family-run forestry service, sawmill, and wide plank flooring manufacturer was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users who comprise the Houzz community. This award goes to those whose work was the most popular among Houzz users, who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, and ipad/iphone/android apps.

“We work hard to make wood floors like no one else, and we are thrilled that our American-grown and manufactured wide plank floors have been so popular with the Houzz community,” said Mary Hull, co-owner of Hull Forest Products.  “People feel good about choosing our floors because they are beautiful, durable, and sustainably grown products whose use helps protect working  forests here in the United States.”

With Houzz, homeowners can identify top-rated products like Hull Forest Products’s wide plank floors and find companies whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and reviewing their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.

Follow Hull Forest Products on Houzz:  http://www.houzz.com/pro/hullforest01/hull-forest-products

Remodeling and Home Design
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Why Plank Length Matters in Wood Flooring

why length matters in wide plank flooring - view of a 16 foot long board
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. (Hull Forest Products Red Oak, floor #359). 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 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.

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Using Neutral Colored Wood Floors

Ash sapwood-only wood flooring as an example of a neutral colored floor.
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 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.

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.

Have questions about our wood floors? Contact us  1-800-928-9602.

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Oak Wide Plank Floors

Red oak wide plank flooring from Hull Forest Products
Wide board red oak flooring brings a sense of history to this reproduction colonial home. Wider planks allow for a fuller view of the “cathedral window” grain common to oak. Hull Forest Products long length select grade wide Red Oak, floor #359.

Oak. Quercus.

How do you tell one oak wide plank floor from another? And what is the difference between red oak and white oak wide plank flooring? Well, for one thing, there is the price tag (red oak generally costs less than white oak.) Appearance wise, red oak tends to have ruddy undertones that are pinkish to red, while white oak’s undertones tend to be more gray to brown. But it is not always easy to distinguish the two. With the application of stain and/or finish, each can be made to look more like the other.

A more accurate way of distinguishing these two species within the Oak genus is by comparing ray length.  Rays are vascular tissues in the tree. (Think of them as drinking straws transporting food, water, nutrients, and minerals to all parts of the tree.) In flatsawn wood, these rays appear as horizontal lines, while in quartersawn wood, they can appear as wavy lines. The rays of red oak are noticeably shorter than those of white oak. (Compare figures 1 and 2 below).

Detailed view of the rays in the grain of Red Oak.
Figure 1: Close-up view of the rays (the darker horizontal lines) in the grain of a wide plank Red Oak floor.
Close up view of the rays in the grain of a wide plank white oak floor.
Figure 2: Close-up view of rays in the grain of a wide plank White Oak floor. Notice how these are longer than those of Red Oak shown in Figure 1.

Differences in ray length are most obvious when you can compare red oak and white oak boards side by side.

It’s no secret in the flooring world that red oak, for over a decade, has been the poor cousin in the oak family, taking a backseat to its more popular relative, white oak.  This trend reflected a backlash against the ubiquity of red oak strip flooring (which once accounted for the majority of flooring installations in the United States).  But when you enter the realm of wide plank flooring, red oak becomes something very uncommon.  Wide plank red oak flooring shows off the bold cathedral grain of oak in a way that is simply not possible with the narrow boards of strip flooring, which means that wide plank red oak flooring looks very different from 95 percent of the red oak floors in the world today. Personally, we feel the bias against red oak is unjustified and that it is just as beautiful as white oak.

You may be wondering how the subtle differences between red and white oak translate to the appearance of an entire floor, so here are some photos that can help. For comparison purposes, both figures 3 and 4 below show select grade oak floors with an oil-based clear poly finish.

Figure 3: Red Oak in the select grade with a clear oil based poly finish.
Figure 3: Red Oak in the select grade with a clear oil-based poly finish.
white oak select with a clear oil based poly finish
Figure 4: White Oak in the select grade with a clear oil-based poly finish.

As you can see, with a clear oil-based poly finish, the red and white oak floors look very similar. The oil-based finishes are known for imparting an amber or yellowish glow. In contrast, water-based finishes give you more of a clear coat over the natural wood and do not amber with age. Here are some  examples of red oak and white oak with clear water-based finishes:

Quarter/rift sawn white oak with a clear water-based poly finish.
Figure 5: Quarter/riftsawn Red Oak floor with a clear water-based poly finish.
White Oak with a water-based poly finish.
Figure 6: White Oak with a  clear water-based poly finish.

The end result from the water-based poly finish is a much paler floor in both cases, as shown in Figures 5 and 6 above. Now let’s see what happens when red and white oak are given a stain before being finished. The large pores in oak are particularly receptive to stain, so whether you start with red oak or white oak, a wide variety of color can be achieved, from pickled white to dark espresso.

Red oak floor with Bona Early American stain and poly finish.
Figure 7: Red Oak flooring with Bona’s “Early American” brown stain and clear poly finish.
Frye Boot Store - Hull Flooring
Figure 8: White Oak flooring darkened with an aniline dye stain, at the Frye Boot flagship store, Manhattan.

As you can see, virtually any color can be achieved when you change the natural color of the wood with stains or dyes. Since monitor colors vary and since the light in your home will affect the view of your floor, the very best way to make sure you are happy with the species and color of your floor is to test out your stain and/or finish choices on samples of the raw woods.  At Hull Forest Products, we offer complimentary raw wood samples so you or your designer or contractor can experiment.  After all, if you’re going to be living on our slice of nature for years to come, we want you to love the way it looks.

Related posts:

White Oak Wide Plank Flooring

For pricing, specifications, and more photographs of oak wide plank floors, please visit our red oak flooring and white oak flooring galleries online at hullforest.com.

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Hickory Wide Plank Floors

Warming up a white kitchen with a variegated wood floor.
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.  

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.

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

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White Oak Wide Plank Floors

Custom quarter sawn white oak floors from Hull Forest Products.
Figure 1: Select grade quarter and rift sawn White Oak in a Manhattan apartment. This floor features five inch plank widths and plank lengths of four to nine feet. The floor was stained with Minwax Special Walnut.

White Oak. Quercus Alba.

Considering a White Oak wide plank floor? You’re not alone. White Oak is one of the most popular species of wood flooring in the United States, though not as popular as its cousin, Red Oak. Renowned for its impact resistance and beauty, white oak flooring makes an eye pleasing and practical addition to your home and is available in a wide range of cuts, grades, and styles.

As a saw mill, we find that floors can sometimes be hard to describe to the lay person – but if you look at enough pictures you will quickly notice what you like and don’t like.  The point of this post is to illustrate the different varieties of White Oak so you can make an informed decision when choosing a White Oak floor.

For reasons both practical and aesthetic, White Oak is among our top selling wide plank floors here at Hull Forest Products.  White Oak floors hold up well to foot traffic and are durable enough to be used in the highest traffic areas, including your  kitchen. Scoring a whopping 1360 on the Janka hardness scale, White Oak is among the toughest of the North American hardwoods.

White Oak is also extremely versatile – the wood takes stain very well and can be left natural, stained dark (Figure 1, above), or whitened to a pickled or bleached appearance.

Pale White Oak wood flooring in five inch plank widths, from Hull Forest Products.
Figure 2: Select grade pale White Oak plank flooring, five inch plank widths. Because each plank is the same width, this floor has a more contemporary look. A water-based poly finish helped preserve the paleness of this floor.

The appearance of a White Oak wide plank floor also depends on the method by which the log was sawn.  Common styles are: plain sawn (see figure 3 below), quarter sawn,  rift sawn, and live sawn.  Let’s start with plainsawn oak first, since that style is the most common.  Figure 3 below shows the traditional cathedral grain pattern of plain sawn White Oak,  which most of you will recognize:

Close up view of the grain in plainsawn White Oak flooring from Hull Forest Products.
Figure 3: Close up view of the grain in plain sawn White Oak select grade flooring.

Notice how the grain in Figure 3 rises into peaks – those are what we call the “cathedrals.”  This is how 90 percent of the oak floors out there today are sawn, and this method of sawing is the most efficient.

In contrast, when a log is quarter and rift sawn, the radial and vertical grain are exposed on the face of the planks, and the floor has both undulating and straight grain like the floor shown in Figure 4 below:

Close up view of the grain of quarter/rift sawn White Oak flooring.
Figure 4: Close up view of the grain of quarter/rift sawn White Oak select grade flooring. With this method,  both the undulating grain (shown toward the top of the photo) and the straighter rift cut grain (shown on the bottom of the photo) are visible on the face of the planks.

As you can see by comparing the White Oak floors shown in Figures 3 and 4, the grain of plainsawn White Oak and the grain of quarter/rift sawn White Oak look completely different.

Quarter and rift sawn White Oak was popularized by the Arts & Craft movement and remains a hallmark of Mission style.  Quarter and rift sawn wood is also exceptionally stable, which makes it popular for use over radiant heating. When the planks are further sorted to contain only rift sawn grain, you get a floor with consistently straight grain like that shown in Figure 5 below:

Close-up view of the grain of rift sawn White Oak wood flooring.
Figure 5: Close-up view of the grain of rift sawn White Oak flooring.

Live sawn oak is another style that comes from a different type of saw cut, one that slices from the outside diameter all the way through the log. It results in a floor with all three types of grain: plain, quarter, and rift.

Now let’s talk about grades of White Oak.  The photos shown above all feature select grade White Oak, which is a clear grade with few to no knots or character markings.

White Oak is also available in other grades with varying degrees of character markings.  Your choice of grade will have an impact on the overall look and feel of your floor. I’m making a generalization here, but IMO select grade floors tend to look more formal and modern, while character grade floors read as rustic and cozy, perfect for a mountain retreat or log cabin.

Character grade White Oak flooring from Hull Forest Products.
Figure 6: Natural grade live sawn White Oak replete with knots and character markings.

That being said, I must admit that with a little creativity, you can create a signature look within any grade.  For example, if you take that same natural grade knotty White Oak floor shown above and give it a dark burnished stain (like the folks at the Frye Boot flagship in Manhattan did with our character grade White Oak – See Figure 7 below), you get a decidedly more urbane vibe.

Natural character grade White Oak flooring - Frye Boot Store, Manhattan, NYC.
Figure 7: Hull Forest Products’s Natural character grade White Oak flooring finished with a dark stain, Frye Boot Store, Manhattan.

Hopefully you’ve found these pictures and descriptions helpful in determining what kind of White Oak wide plank floor best suits your style.  To check out other species of wide plank floors, price wide plank floors, or order wood samples, you can visit our sawmill’s web site at  www.hullforest.com.

 

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