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.
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.
To date we have permanently protected over 10,000 acres of our Massachusetts and Connecticut woodlands from development. These working forests provide so many public benefits, including enhanced air and water quality, large unfragmented wildlife habitat, critical wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl, carbon sequestration, and a steady supply of timber to meet society’s demand for sustainably grown, renewable building materials.
As part of our commitment to multiple use in our forestland (wildlife, timber, recreation), we lease some of these large forestland properties to individuals and groups interested in exclusive hunting leases and recreational access. The properties generally include access roads, gates, and miles of trails. Some even have warming cabins with wood stoves. Our clients include fish & game clubs whose suburban locations do not allow them to hunt deer; bird dog trial enthusiasts; hunters; and outdoorsmen and women of all kinds. Some of our lease clients have been with us for over 30 years, allowing them and their families to develop a special connection with the land.
For more information on leasing forestland, visit us at hullforest.com and click on the “Forestry” tab.
For all you timber frame enthusiasts, check out this youtube video of the Laird family barn raising. After their barn was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the family hired Todd Mendes Woodworking to build them a new timber frame barn. The timbers were milled from locally grown wood by Hull Forest Products. It is so inspiring to see our timbers used in this way!
Hull Forest Products in Pomfret, Connecticut, is the state’s largest sawmill and has been offering its CT grown wide plank wood flooring mill-direct to homeowners since 1965.
Connecticut is one of the most heavily forested states in New England, with over 60 percent forest cover, yet the majority of the forest products grown in Connecticut are sent out of state. If you are looking for CT hardwood flooring or pine flooring, why import a wood floor from halfway around the world when you can buy local and save money and thelocal environment in the process?
In 2011 Hull Forest Products joined the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Connecticut Grown program, which identifies local producers of forest products and helps connect them with CT homeowners and builders who are looking for local mill-direct wood flooring, paneling, and millwork.
If helping the local environment and saving money are not reason enough for you to choose Hull Forest Products as your Connecticut wood flooring supplier, consider these reasons as well: 10 Reasons to Choose Hull Forest Products.
Read Reviews from Hull Forest Products Flooring Customers
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
The appearance of a White Oak floor also depends on the method by which the log was sawn. Common styles are: plain sawn(see figure 3 below),quarter sawn, and rift 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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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 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 3-12 foot long planks instead of 6-12 foot planks) you will also save money.
4. Trim ends on site.
Choose plank flooring that is not already end trimmed. Yes, you will have to trim some ends on site, but you will save at least 50 cents per square foot 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 sales and sawmill overruns to save even further.
Ready to learn more? Start by browsing our mill-direct wide plank floors by style or species or sale.
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.
Looking for more ideas? You can browse more staircase photos at our stair gallery, or you can see our stair projects at houzz.com.
Thinking about using tongue and groove paneling on your walls? This is a great way to add architectural detail to your home, and it may be less expensive than you think given the cost of plaster and wallboard these days. Plus, with walls this rich in detail, who needs to hang artwork?
At Hull Forest Products, we’ve been milling bead board and other styles of wall paneling for our customers for years.
Whether used vertically or horizontally, half way up the wall or floor to ceiling, tongue and groove wall paneling creates a bespoke look.
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:
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: