For those of you interested in quarter sawn flooring, here are some pictures of a gorgeous quarter sawn White Oak floor we made for a client on Long Island. The homeowners loved the look of quartersawn White Oak, and they even incorporated some of the leftover boards to make stair treads.
When a log is quartersawn, it is sliced at a different angle than when it is plainsawn. As a result, the radial and vertical grain of the wood is revealed instead of the tangential grain. The rippled figure and flecks and medullary rays you see in quarter sawn wood are only visible when the wood is quarter sawn. One of the benefits of quarter sawn wood, besides the different grain, is extreme dimensional stability. You can check out more of our quarter sawn floors here.
During a recent expansion to our offices here at Hull Forest Products, we had the fun of choosing what kind of floor we would lay down. Ah, the perks of being a sawmill! We chose Curly Birch, and we videotaped the installation, sanding, and finishing. We have a talented team here at HFP, and our flooring consultant Greg Anderson (who installed hardwood floors in a previous career) installed the floor. Another one of our floor experts, Jon Ramos, coordinated the video so you could learn about the process. Enjoy!
Our woodland owning clients sometimes like to know where their wood is going and what it’s going to be used for after a harvest. So today we’re telling the story of the not-so-lowly wood chip, and how it’s keeping New Englanders warm in winter.
When we at Hull Forest Products buy your timber and saw those logs at our mill, nothing is wasted. Bark is peeled off and turned into landscaping mulch. Sawdust is recycled in our biomass-powered dry kilns and also sold to wood pellet manufacturers. Slabs, edgings, and trimmings are ground into wood chips, a versatile product with uses ranging from paper production to playground surfacing to biomass heating.
One ton of wood chips has the energy equivalent of approximately 60 gallons of heating oil.
Hull Forest Products supplies mill quality as well as whole tree wood chips to 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.
Since its biomass heating system came online in 2008, Bennington College has reduced its annual emissions by 40 percent. The school used to burn 400,000 gallons of oil to heat the campus through the Vermont winter; now they use less than 10,000. Bennington is committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2020, and currently their biggest liability is the 15 percent of the campus not connected to their biomass system. They are now working to extend their steam lines to all areas of the campus.
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. Bennington College uses approximately 6,000 tons of wood chips each year. These chips come from trees grown in family owned working forests, and their use helps promote a healthy market for local wood.
Managing for Multiple Use: The Mark Greer Scout Reservation
Like so many Scout properties, Camp Tadma, an active boys summer camp in Bozrah, CT found itself on the chopping block in 2010 as the Boy Scout Council considered selling the 340-acre property. Friends of Camp Tadma Chairman Bruce Sullivan hoped that a timber harvest would generate some additional income and also improve the long-term health and productivity of the forest, making it more attractive to the Council. Hull Forest Products had conducted timber stand improvement work at Camp Tadma in the 1980s. Now the time had come to revisit those woods.
According to Chris Casadei, the forest resource manager at Hull Forest Products who was assigned to Camp Tadma, “When a forester revisits a woodlot that has responded nicely to the sound management practices applied by his predecessors, there is a feeling of great satisfaction.” “This feeling was abundant as I cruised the productive stands on the opposite side of Tadma Pond at the Mark Greer Scout Reservation. The vigorous growth was a direct result of our timber stand improvement work from the 1980s.”
Managing for Income & Recreation
Casadei reworked the property’s forest stewardship plan to reflect the current conditions and presented his findings and recommendations to the Council’s property committee. He scheduled a timber harvest to take place over two successive winters so it would not conflict with the activities of the seasonal camps held on the property for hundreds of Cub Scouts. Management prescriptions within the stand were tailored to the woodland’s current condition and the way it had responded to the previous work. “We did areas of timber stand improvement and intermediate sawtimber thinning, as well as two small areas of shelterwood harvest,” says Casadei, adding “There was also some ‘while you’re here with the equipment’ clearing of a few new campsites and some problem tree removal within the camp.”
Benefits for the Camp & the Campers
First and foremost, the forest itself has benefited from a flush of natural regeneration and the accelerated growth of the residual stand. The woodland will continue to provide quality wood, clean air and water, recreational opportunity, and wildlife habitat.
Camp Tadma has reestablished itself within the Council as a viable piece of the Connecticut Scouting experience and for the time being, talk of closing the camp has ceased. Whether the income from the timber sale influenced the fate of the camp has yet to be acknowledged, but it certainly could not have hurt.
The objectives and activities of the first winter havest at Camp Tadma were profiled by the Norwich Bulletin, providing both the camp and Hull Forest Products with great publicity.
Camp Tadma has turned the managed areas into a forestry classroom, and campers hike through the different stands, learning firsthand about woodland management. The Friends of Camp Tadma were so pleased they proudly erected a “BSA Forestry Management Camp” sign at the camp’s entrance. Cub Scouts now have the opportunity to learn firsthand how working forests provide multiple benefits, including wildlife habitat, a sustainable supply of timber, and recreational opportunity.
Not sure what kind of wood floor you want? Flooring manufacturer Hull Forest Products recommends you ask yourself four questions to help determine your wood flooring style:
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)
In Figure 2 we have a natural grade of 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, andHickory.
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.
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 more wide plank floors by speciesor style.
Call us toll-free at 1-800-353-3331 oremail us today.
The pores in Oak are more open to receiving stains than those of other woods, so your Oak floor 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 a Great Wine (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.
You’ve chosen plank flooring and love the look of a site-finished floor. If you’re building a new home or an addition, staying off the floor while it is being finished may not be an issue. But if you’re upgrading an existing floor while simultaneously living in the house, you’ll need to prepare for the installation and finishing. We’ve asked flooring installers to provide a few tips for making it through the process unscathed. Your reward: a floor with architectural integrity and a finish that will look more beautiful with time, not less.
1. Make Room.
You will need to empty all of the furnishings and wall hangings from the room being worked on and you may also need to clear part of an adjacent room for the duration of the installation. The room being worked on has to be empty for the contractors to do their work, and an adjoining room may be pressed into service as a storage area.
2. Plan Ahead.
It is advisable to store plank flooring in or near the room where it will be installed for one to two weeks prior so the wood can adjust to the indoor climate. You can’t rush nature. Make sure you stack the planks in layers separated by sticks of wood so they get maximum air circulation. Be patient. Remember that 1-2 weeks of hosting these bundles of wood is worth it because the acclimation process will prevent gaps from forming in the floor.
3. Choose Stains and Finishes.
While you’re patiently waiting for the wood to acclimate, compare surface and penetrating finishes and decide which type is best for you. One of the many advantages of job-site finished flooring is the range of choices you have for stains and finishes.
Some folks prefer a surface finish such as oil-based polyurethane for the amber glow it imparts to the wood, while others prefer water based polys because they remain clear, dry faster, and have less odor.
DIYers may be drawn to penetrating finishes that are forgiving for the novice, such as tung or polymerized tung oil.
The floor’s location in your home and your tolerance for wear should also influence the choice of finish as surface finishes offer greater protection from scratches and stains than penetrating ones.
Will the finish go on the raw wood or will you be staining the wood first? Either way, you should test the product(s) on samples of the wood to make sure you’re happy with the outcome. Your contractor can give you some cut-offs to use as samples. Consider how the floor will look with your existing wall color, trim, furniture, or the other floors in your house.
4. Prepare Yourself.
“It helps to prepare yourself psychologically for the transition,” says carpenter Phil Nowlan of Putnam, Connecticut. Accept that there will be a temporary inconvenience, like 2-3 guys in your home each morning when you may be trying to get the kids ready for school. Plan accordingly.
5. Take a Break.
Depending on the scope of the job and how much the work may disrupt your routine, you might consider staying someplace else for a few nights during the finishing process. Once the finish is applied, you will need to stay off the floor until is has dried. Dry time varies depending on the type of finish used. Most floors receive 3 coats.
How long it takes for the smell to diminish also depends on the type of finish chosen, with water-based finishes emitting far less odor than oil-based ones. Keep in mind, says Nowlan, that the smell will also vary depending on the square footage of your floor–a big room will be smellier during the finishing process than a small one. Phil Delaney of Floorworks in Woodstock, Connecticut, advises that if 50 percent or more of your home is being worked on, you may want to stay someplace else during the finishing stage of the project. At the very least you may need to eat out a few times or stay away for the day during the application of finish coats.
How long will it take? “If it takes two days to put in a prefinished floor, an unfinished floor takes five days: two days of installation, three days of finishing time,” says Delaney. The pricing is very similar though. “Pricing is by the square foot, not the hour. I charge $3/sf to install prefinished material that costs around $6-$7/sf. For a floor finished on-site, I’ll charge $4.25/sf for the install, and they’re paying $4-$5/sf for the material. The labor costs more, but the material usually costs less.”
6. Schedule Smart.
It is not always feasible, particularly for families, to stay away from the home during the finishing process. In these cases Delaney advises a low-VOC finish and schedules the work around the family. “If I am done sanding the floor in the afternoon, I won’t put the finish on until the following morning, that way they don’t have to smell the finish all night. I’ll put it on the following morning after they’ve gone out for the day, and when they come back to the home at 5 o’clock they have their house back.”
7. Keep Your Perspective.
You may endure a few days of inconvenience, but the pay-off is that you get higher quality floors that will last a lifetime, and an incomparable finish. Keep in mind that modern sanders with dust containment systems have significantly reduced the amount of dust generated during the sanding process. “I always tell people that this is not your grandfather’s 1970s desert sandstorm floor sanding experience. It is a very manageable amount of mess when you have the right equipment,” says installer Phil Delaney. “To me, the short-term inconvenience is definitely worth it for the look of the job-site finished floor. When you’re dealing with large plank flooring, it’s material that speaks for itself, full of character and quality. People interested in authenticity should be looking at plank flooring.”
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.
Have you ever wondered about the difference between quarter, rift and plain sawn floors? Well, here’s a primer for your reference. The way a log is cut by the saw will determine the orientation of the grain in the wood. This post discusses the difference between 1.) plain sawn floors – the default way of sawing in the modern world and 2.) quarter and rift sawing.
Plain Sawn Floors
The most obvious difference between plain sawn and quarter and rift sawn flooring is appearance. Most flooring today is plain sawn. In plain sawing, character markings and figure patterns resulting from the annual rings are brought out more fully, including the characteristic cathedral graining that is so prominent in woods like Oak (see figure 1). Plain sawn floors also tend to be available in wider widths than quarter and rift sawn floors.
The face appearance of a floor plank is determined by the way the wood grain is exposed by the saw. All logs consist of concentric annual growth rings of wood, beginning in the center and moving outwards. In plain sawing, a log is moved back and forth on a saw carriage and rotated with each successive slice until it is cut from the outside inwards. With plain sawn lumber, the growth rings, visible at the butt end sof the boards, will typically range from parallel with the surface of the board to a 30 degree angle or more from the surface of the board.
Quarter and Rift Sawn Floors
Quarter sawn floors are a relative rarity today and as such they have cachet among homeowners looking for the unique.
Quarter sawing slices perpendicular to the wood’s annual growth rings, resulting in a straight grain appearance that also exposes the medullary rays, producing a unique figure or fleck that is highly sought after for furniture and cabinet making (see figure 2). Those familiar with the Arts and Craft and “Mission Oak” style of the early twentieth century will recognize this fleck.
In quarter sawing, the log is first quartered and then the quarters are cut again into slices. This method produces both quarter sawn and rift sawn boards. The center boards (true quartersawn) will have growth rings positioned at 60-90 degrees to the board’s surface. This is best viewed from the butt ends of the boards. As the cuts are made from the quarters, they become more rift sawn (growth rings at 30-60 degrees from the surface). When flooring companies refer to quarter sawn wood, they are usually referring to a specialty wood flooring cut that is a combination of quarter and rift sawn.
The straight grain of quarter and rift sawn wood is very consistent, making it desirable among furniture makers. Because quarter sawn lumber takes more time to produce and produces less yield (there is no boxed heart left over to market as pallet lumber), it costs more than plain sawn. There is also demand for quarter sawn lumber among furniture and cabinet makers, boat builders, instrument makers, and others.
In Figures 3 and 4 we have room photos to more clearly illustrate how the appearance differs in plainsawn and quarter/rift sawn wood floors. Note how the grain in the floor shown in Figure 3, below, appears quite straight, with some waves of fleck.
The overall look of a quarter and rift sawn Oak floor is entirely different from that of a plainsawn Oak floor, which has the typical cathedral or flame-shaped peaks that are very prominent and broad in the grain.
In Figure 4 we have an example of plainsawn Red Oak in a room setting. Here you can really see the beautiful flame-like peaks in the broad grain, which is what most of us think of when we consider Oak. Both floors are made from the same species and grade of wood. The only difference is in the angle of the saw cut and the color of the stain and/or finish chosen for the floors.
If you need to see the differences up close and would like to order samples of our flooring, we are happy to assist. Call 1-800-353-3331 or email us today.
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.