• 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.

  • 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:

    select grade plainsawn white oak with clear finish applied.
    Figure 3: Select grade plainsawn White Oak flooring with a clear semi-gloss finish applied.

    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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Join Us at the Shriner’s Auditorium Home Show Wilmington, MA Feb. 8-10 2013

    Hull Forest Products wide plank wood flooring display
    Visit us at the Home Show at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA February 8-10, 2013

    Attention Greater Boston residents! Don’t miss the opportunity to see our locally grown wood flooring in person at the Home Show at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA February 8-10, 2013.  Selected floors will be 10-30 percent off. This show is free and open to the public and ample parking is available.  Save yourself the drive to our Connecticut sawmill and check us out while we’re in your back yard.

    Show hours are Friday 11 am t0 10 pm, Saturday 10 am to 10 pm, and Sunday 10 am to 6pm.  we hope to see you there!

    Shriners Auditorium, 99 Fordham Road, Wilmington, MA, take exit 39 off of I-93, whether you’re coming from the north or south.

  • 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:

  • Installing and Finishing a Wide Plank Floor

    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!

    Wide Plank Flooring Installation Video

  • 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.

  • Local Forests Are Helping to Reduce Carbon Footprint for One New England College

    The biomass heating facility at Bennington College
    The biomass heating facility at Bennington College in Vermont.

    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.