Hull Forest Products of Pomfret, Connecticut, has been making traditional wide plank wood flooring since the family sawmill got its start in New England over 54 years ago. The company began as a tiny backyard mill and evolved to become the largest sawmill in Connecticut, manufacturing over 10 million board feet of forest products each year.
Today thousands of homes and buildings in New England and beyond, including storied institutions like Yale and Harvard, feature custom wide plank wood flooring from this third generation family-run sawmill.
Wide Plank Wood Flooring Made With Sustainable Local Timber
Made with sustainable local timber coming from family forests in New England, Hull wide plank wood flooring adds beauty to your home and gives you the satisfaction of knowing where your wood comes from. The woodland management division of Hull Forest Products stewards over 50,000 acres of New England forests, providing long-term forest management to landowners and helping them keep their forests as forests.
Hull Forest Products has earned an Environmental Merit Award from the EPA for its role in helping to conserve the region’s working woodlands. When you choose a Hull wood floor, you are helping to conserve forests in the United States.
Hull Forest Products specializes in long and wide plank wood floors and custom matching stair components – all products are made to last for generations, and customers receive a lifetime quality guarantee. Wood products are sold mill-direct to the public with nationwide shipping.
When Yale University new residential colleges architect Robert A.M. Stern specified rift and quartersawn Red Oak floors from Yale’s own university forests, Hull Forest Products made that dream a reality.
As a woodland management service and a sawmill, Hull Forest Products was able to plan and undertake a timber harvest in Yale’s CT forest. Together with Red Oak logs from Yale’s NH forest, this timber became the stock for the flooring. Hull Forest Products trucked the logs to its Pomfret, CT sawmill, sawed them on its band saw, then air and kiln dried the lumber before custom milling it into the 5 inch wide solid Red Oak plank flooring that now graces the Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges. This wood helped increase the percentage of locally sourced materials used in the project, helping it earn Gold LEED certification.
Wood flooring was used throughout the common areas of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin Colleges, including the head of college houses.
In addition to manufacturing wood flooring, Hull Forest Products stewards over 50,000 acres of working forests in New England, helping to keep these forests as forests. Hull Forest Products has earned an Environmental Merit award from the EPA for its role in conserving forestland in New England.
For more info on our products and services, visit hullforest.com or contact us at 1-800-928-9602.
Choosing wide plank flooring? Here are five points to keep in mind.
1. Know the size of your project. When choosing wide plank flooring, first estimate the square footage you will need based on your room’s dimensions, then add 10-15 percent, depending on the shape of the rooms. Your sawmill or supplier will need to know your square footage needs to determine whether they have enough material in inventory to process your order ASAP. Also be sure your site conditions are appropriate for wood flooring (for example, installing solid wood floors below grade is not recommended).
2. Think about wood species. Spend some time browsing photos of different wood species, and learn about the properties of the woods. Are you choosing a species of wide plank flooring that makes sense for your needs? (If you are a perfectionist who can’t stand the look of distressed floors, you probably want to go with a harder wood that won’t show wear easily, like Ash, Red Oak, White Oak or Maple.)
Don’t get too hung up on the color of a particular floor you see in a photo, as the same wood can look very different depending on the finish you choose. Applying a stain can also change the color of a floor dramatically. You may want to experiment with different finishes to make sure you get the look you like best. At our sawmill, Hull Forest Products, we offer free unfinished samples – just go into one of our species galleries, click on a photo, and select the “more details” button to order samples of any floor.
Figure 2, below, shows the range of coloration between various types of clear satin sheen finishes. The finishes were applied to samples of our unfinished Select grade White Oak flooring.
3. Consider grades of wood when choosing wide plank flooring. Once you’ve decided on a species of wood, you’ll have a choice of grades within that species. All of our flooring grades perform well; the grade is purely a matter of style and cost. We call wood with clear grain and few to no knots “Select” grade. Wood with natural character markings like knots or bark pocket is called “Natural” grade. Premium grade is a midpoint between these two grades.
4. Consider plank widths. Plank widths affect the price of your floor and they have a big visual impact as well. Choosing a range of plank widths (known as “random widths”) is less expensive than requesting floor boards that are all 7″ wide, for example. This is because the material does not have to be sorted as much or ripped to 7 inches. Figure 3, below, illustrates the look of a floor with random widths. The plank widths are a mix of 9-14 inches.
Compare the look of the random width floor boards in Figure 3 to the floor shown in Figure 4, below, which features plainsawn White Oak floor planks that are each 10 inches wide. This gives you an idea of the visual impact of random widths vs. equivalent widths.
5. Do you want unfinished wood flooring or prefinished wood flooring? In some cases, such as an apartment in a high rise that doesn’t allow on-site wood finishing, this question may already be answered for you. It may depend on whether you are building a new home or already living in an existing one. The up-front cost of prefinished flooring is higher. On the other hand, if you are hiring a professional to finish your floor on site, there is a cost and an inconvenience factor associated with that, too. Some people prefer the look of a site-finished wood floor because it will have a snug, square edge with no bevel, compared to a prefinished floor, which will have a slight microbeveled edge on the long sides of the planks. You also have a greater range of finish options when site-finishing your wood floor. It’s up to you, so weigh your options.
As always, we are here to answer your questions! Happy browsing, and when you’re ready to find the perfect wood floor for your home, give us a call or send us an email. 1-800-928-9602 Browse wide plank wood floors anytime at hullforest.com.
The first floors we milled at Hull Forest Products nearly fifty years ago were wide pine floors, and wide plank pine continues to be one of our best selling wood floors for kitchens and other rooms. New England homeowners (and many others with antique, farmhouse, or period inspired homes) love traditional wide pine. There is something about the width and length of the planks, the large sound red knots, and the patina that develops that makes a wide pine floor charming. The floor has an heirloom quality.
Customers often come to us looking for a floor that emulates the look and feel of old pumpkin pine or heart pine at a reasonable price, so we show them how our clients have chosen to finish their new wide pine floors to mimic the look of an antique floor. See Figure 1 above for an example, and check out our pine flooring gallery for many others.
Some of you may be familiar with the living history museum, Old Sturbridge Village. They used our wide pine floors for their Oliver Wight Tavern Building. If you get a chance to visit there, be sure to check out this floor (shown in Figure 2 below). It is an interesting example as it had no finish applied at all and has been left to weather the heavy public foot traffic in the buff.
We source our flooring grade pine from the historic Myers Pond and Yale University Forests in Connecticut, harvesting only during the cold winter months so we get the best color retention. We mill our wide pine floors from logs predominantly twelve feet and longer, selecting for even growth and live red knots.
Wide pine flooring lovers are often history buffs, so you may be interested to know that the Eastern White Pine tree played a role in the American Revolution. Because it grows so tall, Eastern White Pine has long been used for the masts of ships, and the British Navy tried to reserve the tallest White Pines in the colonies for the masts of British naval vessels. When an act to this effect was enforced in New Hampshire, it outraged the colonists. Though forbidden to cut “any pine tree of the growth of 12 inches of diameter,” it became unfashionable to have floorboards in one’s home that were less than 12 inches wide.
In 1772 a sawmill owner in Weare, New Hampshire was arrested and fined when white pine logs with the king’s broad arrow mark were found at his mill. He and a group of about 40 townspeople rioted, attacking the sheriff and his deputy and literally running them out of town in what became known as the Pine Tree Riot. This act of rebellion against British authority was an inspiration for the Boston Tea Party, which took place the following year.
For those of you who appreciate the “story” that boards can tell, see figure 3, below. This is a truly unique pine board with a very old pruning mark that was revealed when the log was sawn. (Thanks to Tom Fletcher in our flooring shop for spotting this.) The flat dark lines at the ends of the knots indicate where the tree was pruned. As you can see, the tree healed quickly and went on to produce clear grain. This board is 24″ wide and comes from a tree with an estimated age of 125-175 years.
Visit our gallery of wide plank pine floors for more information and to browse photos showing how the application of stains and/or finishes can change the look of a wide pine floor.
For quotes or samples, email us or call 1-800-928-9602.
Pomfret, CT, February 4, 2014 – Hull Forest Products has been awarded a “Best Of Houzz” design award by Houzz.com, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The family-run forestry service, sawmill, and wide plank flooring manufacturer was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users who comprise the Houzz community. This award goes to those whose work was the most popular among Houzz users, who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, and ipad/iphone/android apps.
“We work hard to make wood floors like no one else, and we are thrilled that our American-grown and manufactured wide plank floors have been so popular with the Houzz community,” said Mary Hull, co-owner of Hull Forest Products. “People feel good about choosing our floors because they are beautiful, durable, and sustainably grown products whose use helps protect working forests here in the United States.”
With Houzz, homeowners can identify top-rated products like Hull Forest Products’s wide plank floors and find companies whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and reviewing their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.
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 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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 lotsand 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.
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.
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.