Saving Money on Wide Plank Flooring

Cherry sapwood and heartwood flooring costs less than all heartwood.
To save money on wide plank flooring, be flexible about the floor you want. There are probably many species and grades of wood that will meet your needs. Deal directly with the manufacturer and ask if their sawmill has any overruns or specials. Most mills want to move these items to clear warehouse space, and you can benefit.

Love the look of wide plank flooring but not the price?  Don’t despair! With a little homework you can find the floor of your dreams at a down-to-earth price. Here are some tips from Hull Forest Products, a family-run New England sawmill that has been making wide plank flooring for three generations.

1. Buy mill-direct.

Many flooring manufacturers claim to be mill-direct, but they are really just buying someone else’s lumber and re-milling it into flooring. To find the best deal, you want to circumvent the middleman and go right to the source.  At Hull Forest Products, we manufacture our wide plank flooring from start to finish. We grow the trees, harvest them, and make lumber and flooring with them. It doesn’t get any more direct than that. Because we control the entire supply chain, we are able to keep our prices reasonable for the quality of wood floor we offer.

2. Choose random widths.

In most cases, you will save money by choosing wide plank flooring  in a range of widths–for example, a percentage each of six inch, seven inch, and eight inch planks instead of all six inch planks. Random width orders require less sorting of the product than orders of equal width or orders of repeating patterns. Random width flooring also provides a more natural and historically accurate look. In the old days, people used the entire log or resource that was available to them, so floors in old homes have planks of several different widths, known as random widths. Traditional floors were not only a mix of widths but also a mix of grades, and we frequently mix grades for customers who want this historically accurate look.

3. Consider narrower widths.

If you like the look of wide plank flooring but need to keep costs down, consider going with a mix of three, four, and five inch widths. A mix of 3-5″ widths is more affordable than wider widths. If you are okay with slightly shorter lengths (say, a range of 3-8 foot long planks instead of 4-10 foot planks) you will also save money.

4. Trim ends on site.

You may be able to choose plank flooring that is not already end trimmed and end matched. Yes, you will have to trim some ends on site, but you will save  by doing this yourself.

5. Be flexible about the product you want.

Love the look of select grade Cherry but want to spend less money? Consider other grades of Cherry that show some color or character variation like the photo above. When a log is opened up by our saws and turned into planks, the boards are not identical. If you want a floor with consistent color and grain, we have to sort and select for that, and this additional handling adds to the price. Embrace the natural look and go with a range of planks from the inner and outer part of the log (the sapwood and the heartwood), and you will save money.

Last but not least: Always ask about sawmill overruns and sales.

Most primary producers (a.k.a. sawmills) will have some overruns or odd lots of inventory gathering dust in a warehouse.  These items are usually heavily discounted, though the volume may be limited. If you’re not doing a whole house and only need enough for a room or two, look for these odd lots and sawmill overruns to save even further.

And remember, wood flooring is an investment in your home.  According to realtor.com, homes with real hardwood floors sell faster, and at higher prices, than homes without them.

Ready to learn more? Start by browsing our mill-direct wide plank floors.

Have questions? Contact us: 1-800-928-9602

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Curly Birch Wide Plank Flooring

Curly figured birch wood flooring
Look at the beautiful figure on this wide board Curly Birch floor.

Couldn’t resist showing you a sneak peek of this truly exceptional figured wide plank Birch floor we created for a client in California.  We loved it so much, we used curly Birch for the floor of our new office addition here at Hull Forest Products. We have many more photos of curly Birch floors in our Birch Flooring gallery, including this one below, which is one of our most clicked-on photos ever (goes to show you people love their laundry/utility rooms!).

Figured grain and lustrous sheen are the hallmarks of our curly birch wide board flooring.
This laundry/craft room in a Newport Beach, California home features our curly birch wide plank flooring. The homeowner set out to find the finest wood floors for his house and chose Hull Forest Products.
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Step Up the Style in Your Home With a Custom Staircase

custom curly maple flooring
We milled stair treads from birdseye maple to complement the hard maple flooring we milled for this home in New Hampshire’s Lakes region.

Stairs are utilitarian–but they can also be a work of art.  Imagine ascending and descending a  beautiful stairway each day.  Shouldn’t you take the time to make sure your stairs are not just  functional, but lovely? Here are a few photos of custom staircase treads, risers, nosing, and landings we have crafted for our clients.

Birch flooring and staircase from Hull Forest Products.
Clients often ask us to craft stair parts that will match or complement the floors they commission from us. The treads and landing of this birch stairway exactly match the natural birch flooring we made for the home.

Looking for more ideas? You can browse more staircase photos at our stair gallery, or you can see our stair projects  at houzz.com.

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Using Tongue and Groove Wall Paneling

Tongue and groove wall paneling creates an illusion of greater height in a room, and it adds architectural interest.

Thinking about using tongue and groove paneling on your walls or as an accent wall feature? This is a great way to add architectural detail to your home, and it’s less expensive than you think given the cost of plaster and wallboard. Plus, with walls this rich in detail, who needs to hang artwork?

Maple wood flooring with maple tongue and groove wall paneling and tiger maple trim.
We provided this tiger maple trim to complement the maple tongue and groove wall paneling and maple flooring the client ordered from us.

At Hull Forest Products, we’ve been milling bead board and other styles of wall paneling for our customers for years.

Pine tongue and groove paneling and white oak flooring from Hull Forest Products.
This timber frame home used natural grade white oak flooring and vertical pine tongue and groove paneling. The result is a very natural look that contrasts beautifully with the painted cabinet.

Whether used vertically or horizontally, half way up the wall or floor to ceiling, tongue and groove wall paneling creates a bespoke look.

cherry wide plank bathroom flooring and tongue and groove wall paneling
This cottage style bath features wide plank cherry wood flooring and tulip tongue and groove wall paneling with a beaded edge, both milled by Hull Forest Products.

Tongue and groove paneling can help define your home’s style.  The styles shown above range from formal to cottage.  But a more rustic take on tongue and groove paneling might use  pine like this Virginia log cabin:

Circle sawn skip planed pine tongue and groove paneling.
The owners of this rustic log cabin chose skip planed and circle sawn pine tongue and groove paneling for its rusticity.

Every species of tree that we mill into flooring can also be used for tongue and groove paneling.  Different edge profiles are available. Check out our species galleries to see more photos and find your paneling style. For even more photos, ideas, and inspiration on how to use tongue and groove paneling in your home, we love this article by a Houzz.com contributor:

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Hull Wide Plank Flooring Appears in Old House Journal

Red oak wide plank flooring from Hull Forest Products
The editors of Old House Journal selected this photo of our wide plank Red Oak flooring to accompany an article on the history of wood flooring that appeared in the Dec/Jan 2013 issue.

Interested in the history of wood flooring? Dan Cooper has written an informative article on the topic for Old House Journal, and OHJ editors selected this photo of our wide plank oak flooring (taken by Damianos Photography) to accompany the article.   Wide plank flooring is touted as a way to get a historic look or help a new addition blend with an old house. Here’s the link to the Dec./Jan 2013  OHJ article, The History of Wood Flooring.

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Prefinished Wide Plank Wood Floors

 

custom prefinished wide plank wood flooring
Custom prefinished wide plank flooring from Hull Forest Products (solid Hard Maple floor #556)

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.  All of our wood floors are available either unfinished or  prefinished.

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.

We await your call. 1-800-928-9602.

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How to Choose a Wide Plank Wood Floor

wide plank white oak flooring from hullforest.com
Figure 1:  Hull Forest Products’ wide plank white oak flooring in a mix of 7, 8, and 9 inch widths with a semi-gloss poly finish in a Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts home. Floor #200.

Not sure what kind of wide plank wood floor you want? Flooring manufacturer Hull Forest Products recommends you ask yourself  four questions to help determine your style when choosing wide plank flooring:

1. Do you prefer a clear floor or one with some knots or other natural markings?

Clear floors, like the White Oak floor shown above in Figure 1, present a more uniform appearance. While all planks exhibit a natural beauty unique to the tree from which they came (there really are no two alike), there is a more obvious grain and color variation between the planks of floors exhibiting light to heavy character markings. (See Figure 2 below)

Natural grade White Oak flooring with character markings.
Figure 2: Natural grade live sawn White Oak with some character markings. This is the same species of wood as shown in Figure 1, but a different grade and saw cut. This natural grade of wood has character markings such as knots, bark pocket, and mineral streak.

In Figure 2 we have a natural grade of live sawn White Oak with some knots and other character markings that create a homey, less formal, atmosphere.

2. What kind of statement do you want your floor to make (or not make)?

If you want a floor that draws a lot of visual attention, you may like something with strong contrast between heartwood and sapwood, such as Hickory. Or you might prefer a floor that showcases the rustic beauty of character knots, bird peck, and other variations as unique as each individual tree.

If you want your floor to blend into its surroundings a bit more, you may prefer a traditional choice, such as Red Oak or White Oak. Trends come and go, but Oak is a classic. Eye pleasing but not attention-grabbing, Oak accounts for approximately 2/3 of all new floor installations in the United States. We offer flawless Oak floors that showcase clear grain beautifully and we offer character grade Oak floors with varying degrees of rusticity.

3. If you are not sticking with the natural wood color but are planning to stain your floor, are you going for a color that is light, medium, or dark?

Many of our clients choose to keep the natural color of the wood. Others want a bleached floor, or a very dark one. In general, lighter floors lend an open and airy feeling and can make a room seem larger, while darker floors tend to have a vintage, more formal look. Of course you can stain your floor any color you like, but it helps to start with a wood that is close to the color you are trying to achieve. In addition, some woods, such as Oak and Pine, absorb stain more readily than others and can be stained equally well light or dark.

4. Where will the floor go in your home, and what is your tolerance for dings and dents?

All wood floors develop wear marks over time. This is part of the charm of wood, an organic material. Some people actually prefer softer woods because they develop this patina more quickly. For example, our wide pine is very popular among farmhouse and period homeowners because it quickly gives an “aged” feel (See Figure 3 below). Others do not find wear charming, and they tend to choose harder woods such as Maple, Ash, Red Oak, White Oak, and Hickory.

Figure 3: Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Massachusetts, uses our wide plank pine. They deliberately apply no finish to the wood so it wears quickly. This floor has been subjected to heavy public foot traffic for years, aging it very quickly so it looks older than it is.

Where you plan to place the floor in your home may make all the difference in your wood selection. Depending on your tolerance, a harder wood may be a better choice for a high-traffic area, while a lower-traffic area such as a bedroom may be the best place for a softer wood.

Your choice of finish will also affect the condition of your floor, with a poly finish providing more protection than an oil finish or no finish.

Placing area rugs over your wood floor in high-traffic areas will also help reduce wear.

The beauty of solid wood floors is that they can be sanded and refinished many times and still have a lifetime of wear left in them.

See Figure 4 for an example of a hardwood floor that is subjected to heavy public foot traffic but still looks great.

Figure 4 below shows the  floor of the Frye Boot flagship store on Spring Street in lower Manhattan. We made this floor for them out of ten inch wide natural grade White Oak planks, and they chose to stain it a very dark color.  The floor we made for Frye Boot  looks fantastic and it gets walked on every day by all kinds of shoes–including high heels.

Figure 4: Our White Oak flooring in the natural grade, Frye Boot flagship store, Spring Street, lower Manhattan.

Your own living room is unlikely to ever see this level of foot traffic, but I point it out as an example of what you might want to go with if  you really don’t want to see any dings or dents on  your wood floor. For those uncomfortable with any wear, a hardwood like Oak is a great choice.

Have questions or need more advice in choosing a floor?  Our flooring specialists can help.  Browse our wide plank floors.

Call us toll-free at 1-800-353-3331 or email us today.

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What We Love About Oak Floors

Our White Oak flooring in the natural grade, Frye Boot flagship store, Spring Street, lower Manhattan.

1. Oak Takes Stain Really Well

The pores in Oak are more open to receiving stains than those of other woods, so your Oak floors can easily be stained to match any color scheme– you can go natural, pickled white, dark espresso, or anything in between.

2. Oak is Plentiful, Durable, and Beautiful

Renowned for their strength and longevity, Oaks grow in all the temperate climates of the world and provide shade, beauty, mast for wildlife, and lumber. There are over 60 species of Oak in the United States. Northern Red and White Oak, grown in the northeastern United States, are especially prized for their superior strength and tight grain—the result of shorter growing seasons and colder weather. Oak floors are eye-pleasing and practical; in fact, they account for 2/3 of all new wood flooring installations in the United States and Europe.

3. Oak is Tough

Oak is very wear-resistant so it makes an extremely durable wood floor that holds up well to the highest levels of foot traffic.

4. Oak Has a Distinguished History

Traditionally used for the frame and planking of ships and for timber framing, Oak has a natural ability to resist rot and insect damage. Most of the great sailing ships of the world had hulls and planks and frames made of Oak. The hull of the U.S.S. Constitution, the ship that gave the U.S. its first naval victory, was made of Oak and famously repelled British cannonballs during the War of 1812.  The British coined her nickname, “Old Ironsides,” when their cannonballs appeared to bounce off her hull. (Incidentally, the captain of the Constitution during this famous naval battle was none other than Isaac Hull.)

5.  Oak Helps Make  Great Wine and Whiskey (Need We Say More?)

Oak barrels are used in wine and whiskey making because they are waterproof and because the tannins in the Oak impart subtle flavors of vanilla, butter, and spice.  These same tannins are what help Oak to repel insects and resist rot and water damage–all great qualities to have in a wood floor.

Have questions about our Red Oak floors, White Oak floors, or any other wide plank floor?  Call 1-800-353-3331 between the hours of 7:30 am and 4:00 pm EST to speak to a real live person. Or email anytime.

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10 Reasons To Choose A Wood Floor

Why wide plank wood floors are a good choice for your kitchen
Wide plank flooring made from locally grown natural character grade White Oak on the kitchen floor in this timber frame home.

Top Ten Benefits of Wood Floors – And Why You Should Choose Them

1. Wood is the most abundant renewable flooring material available.

Trees create wood by harnessing solar power. Trees are a renewable resource and sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood over and over again without any negative impact on the environment. Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals, and hardwood growing stock in the United States has increased by 119 percent since the 1950s.  Wood is a natural, renewable, sustainable, and environmentally-preferred building resource. (Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service; Woodisgreen.com; National Wood Flooring Association: woodfloors.org)

2. Wood floors improve indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality is better with real wood floors than with vinyl, carpet, or other flooring choices. Wood floors do not harbor animal dander, pollen, dust, and mold compared to other floor coverings. (Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Wood Flooring Association: woodfloors.org)

3. Wood floors are long lasting.

Wood floors last hundreds of years and don’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options.  (National Association of Home Builders)

4. Houses with real wood floors sell faster than those without them.

In a national survey of realtors, 90 percent said houses with wood floors sell faster and for more money than those without them. (National Wood Flooring Association: woodfloors.org)

5. Wood floors save natural resources.

They use far less water and energy to produce than other flooring options. Every wood substitute requires far more energy to produce than wood. (University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Life Cycle Analysis)

6. You can address climate change by using more wood, not less.

Wood is a carbon neutral material that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life.  The growth of wood in renewable forests works to sequester and remove carbon from the atmosphere. (Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials www.corrim.org)

7. Choosing wood floors protect forests.

The use of wood creates demand in the marketplace, giving people incentive to plant more trees and maintain forested areas. Want to protect forestland right here in the United States? Buy local/native wood products. You will help conserve the landscape you enjoy by giving local forest owners incentive to keep their tree farms. (shoplocalsaveland.com)

8. Wood outgreens bamboo.

Trees take longer to regenerate than bamboo, which is often touted as an environmentally friendly flooring because it is rapidly renewable; however, longer regeneration time is a benefit because forests with trees of different ages promote biodiversity. In contrast, bamboo is grown in monoculture plantations which do not make as large a contribution to wildlife habitat, air, water, or soil quality. (Idahoforests.org)

9. Wood earns LEED points.

Wood is recognized by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program for improved indoor air quality, material use, location proximity, and sustainably sourced materials. (U.S. Green Building Council)

10. Natural materials  enhance your home environment.

Your home should be a beautiful, healthy sanctuary.  Wood is a beautiful, durable, healthy choice for both the world’s environment and your home’s environment.  Bringing natural materials like wood into your home is also a great way to enhance your well-being and your indoor air quality. (Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Information)

We hope this information is helpful to you as a homeowner or builder/designer.  We love hearing from you, so let us know if you need a catalog or complimentary wood samples. And don’t hesitate to contact Hull Forest Products with your wood flooring questions.  Call 1-800-928-9602 to speak with a flooring representative, or email us today.

Browse wood floors by species.

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Why It’s Good to Use Wood

The Myers Pond Forest, managed by Hull Forestlands in Union, CT
Formally managed for timber production, the Hull woodlands provide critical wildlife habitat. The property shown in the above photo offers wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl in Union, Connecticut.

The increased use of wood is one of our most important forest conservation tools. If you’re reading this blog, you may already be aware that working (i.e. managed) forests are the key to forest conservation. But, for those unconvinced, read on.

Increasing the use of wood benefits the environment, economy, and community.   The use of wood provides incentive for private landowners to maintain their forestland, and this land provides public benefits like air and water quality enhancement, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and open space preservation.  Using wood also provides a critical source of jobs in rural America.

When a life cycle cradle-to-grave analysis is performed, wood outgreens every other building material.  It takes less energy to produce than any other building material, it stores carbon throughout its service life, and when its service life is over, wood can be recycled  to produce energy.

Recognizing that the active management of working forests is in the nation’s best interest, the USDA and the U.S. Forest Service are now giving preference to domestic wood as a building material.

Here’s a nifty 90 second video put out by the Danish Wood Initiative that sings the praises of wood, the world’s most environmentally friendly raw material.

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