27 August 2010

Back to work: I need to specify a new floor


I'm back to work as of today and I'm picking up a project where I left it last weekend. I'[m working on a design for a large, historic home in an old neighborhood in Tampa. It's a pretty grand home and it was built some time in the 1920s. The renovation centers around a kitchen but it involves the entire first floor.

Over the course of the last 90 years, the home's endured some pretty unfortunate revisions and renovations and at some point, someone thought it would be a good idea to remove its original heart pine floors.
Heart pine

I am recommending that we use another wood for the floors and since the home had heart pine in it originally, it would make sense to use heart pine for the new ones. However, the original heart pine on the stairs and on the second floor is 90 years old. It's also cut to an unusual dimension and matching it would be a whole lot more trouble than its worth. I'm recommending that we use a different wood species all together. But which one?

It's a somewhat formal space and my impulse is to go for walnut immediately. I'd love to see a really wide, like 18-inch-wide, plank and our pals at Carlisle Wide Plank Floors will go up to 20" wide on some of their species. Wider plank floors will open up the rooms affected by this renovation and since their scale is rather large, using a wide plank will allow more emphasis to be placed int he coffered ceilings and other wood details that are original to the home.

I know I don't want to use an exotic so much as I want to use something unusual but still in keeping with the character of the house. There are a host of other traditional species that get used so rarely any more that their effect is pretty arresting.

Here are some highlights from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors.

Antique chestnut

Ash

Birch

Hickory

Eastern white pine

Quarter-sawn white oak

Rift cut and quarter sawn white oak

Rift cut white oak

Is there a particular kind of wood floor that resonates with you? If you could pick any wood species to use in your home, what would it be?

24 comments:

  1. Love the ash in the picture you posted - works well with the sea.
    Love the hickory - colour and movement.
    Clearly I'm attracted to the blonde wood. But if there was a copse of trees outside the window I might like a darker tone to mimic the forest floor.

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  2. Ash does make a pretty floor, but my favorite wood floor for beach homes is coconut palm. It's the most distinctive material I know of. I'm fortunate because it only looks right in the tropics. What wood species are popular as flooring in Australia?

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  3. I had hickory in my home in TX and chose it for the movement and variability from plank to plank. Loved the "nature can be wild and funky" vibe it gave off. Pretty color tones too.

    I have heart pine in my current home and definitely would not want to go through the pain of having to match it! Of the ones above, I have to say the chestnut intrigues me...

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  4. I'm intrigued by the American Chestnut too, they also use American Elm. They are two species that are no longer available and haven't been for a very long time. The material they use is all recycled, vintage wood. I love the idea of a new life for an old floor.

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  5. I love hickory, love the variety of graining and the fact it's a very hard, forgiving wood. I'm building a new home and wish I could take my existing hickory floor with me - it's not made anymore.

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  6. Look into Carlisle, you can buy from them directly and have the floor drop shipped to your job site.

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  7. We are doing a remodel and we are removing our pine flooring (1930's Red Bank NJ). At this point we are going to use oak for our new floor.

    My question is what do you plan on doing with the old pine? I've been asking around to see if there are companies that recycle/re-use old pine flooring. Is that even something to consider?

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  8. Find an architectural salvager who's local to you. A lot of times they'll come remove things like vintage floors. Even if they don't remove them, they will buy the wood from you so yes, please consider it.

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  9. Screw the flooring, I want those cats! :) And yes, I'm turning into a crazy cat lady.. I can just feel it.

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  10. I feel your pain. I've started carrying around my own tea bags. You can't fight the march of time.

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  11. Go for the walnut and post pics so I can live vicariously - it was out of my budget for the remodel!

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  12. If I have anything to say about it, we're going with walnut.

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  13. Hey - I carry my own teabags around too! What's wrong with that? I love the chestnut

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  14. If you ever want to see somebody have a melt down, look for me at around 3pm when I have no Earl Grey in my briefcase. Chestnut does intrigue me but I have to admit a fascination with birch too. It has a really subtle iridescence to it.

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  15. I put a beautiful walnut floor in one of my last projects. It was hand finished on the job site. It looks amazing. I think that is my first choice, although I love Hickory.

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  16. Hickory's a beautiful floor. I just can't imagine using it here at the beach.

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  17. Hi Paul - I'd say that right now 'spotted gum' is the most popular wood being used in architect designed homes in Australia.

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  18. Thank you Elisabeth, it's good to know those things.

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  19. You said the house is formal but didn't say what the color scheme of walls etc. Hate floors that are too busy. I'd go for walnut as it's fairly tight grained, dark and would wear better than pine. (just keep the high heels off. They give it that ball peened texture....

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  20. I didn't say because I'm not that far yet. I have some ideas but I don't have a presentation together. What ever ends up in there, it's going to be close grained wood in a more monolithic color. Walnut's perfect because I want the floor to be interesting but not attention stealing.

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  21. I hope the owners agree to go with the Walnut.
    I am planning to have h/wood installed thruout our home and from the research I've done, Walnut is at the top of the list. From all reports it is one of the hardest wearing and do I love its grain. Will be curious as to what your clients and you decide upon. -Brenda-

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  22. I can't wait to see what they pick either Brenda.

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  23. I know I am a year and a half behind on this post but I am desperately seeking the right wood floor. I am drawn to walnut, but keep getting talked out of it by distributors who say it's too soft. I want a pretty uniform color because the house is so open. I wanted 7-9" walnut... looks like I might end up with 5" Brazillian teak (cumaru) or 5" white oak rift cut. I like a less-swirly grain. I keep thinking I am going to end up pining over that walnut I didn't get. Any thoughts? (Apparently the larger boards tend to cup terribly in the south).

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  24. Thanks for finding this post. If you want less-swirly grain and a uniform color then I would recommend you avoid walnut too. I wrote a series for Houzz.com on wood floors last fall and I review a bunch of common, North American wood floors. A second installment dealt with exotic wood floors and then I wrote another guide to engineered wood floors. You may find some better information there because I did so much research on the various species and products.

    Houzz.com is down right now or I'd give you the links. Just go to that site and search for my name and the ideabooks I've written for them. The series is called "Your Floors."

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