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Why do you mostly sell random width flooring?

For two reasons. First, random widths allow us to achieve the best yield, keeping the price down and giving you the full width and length of each board. Second, it most closely reproduces the look of an early floor. Here in the East, we are fortunate to have a wealth of historic architecture to serve as examples for construction details. And, from the first settlement until the 1870’s ALL wood floors were random width (for the same reason as our first). Only well into the formality of the Victorian period (3rd quarter of the 19th century) did flooring succumb to the boring monotony of uniform widths, and then, they settled on all 2 1/2″ wide! This taste remains today (in the form of 2 1/4″ strip), although fortunately wider boards are gaining favor. We do however, offer uniform widths for those who don’t appreciate the random look. Most species and grades are available in uniform (single) widths and are priced in the pricing matrix on each page. If there is no price in the block corresponding to the size you desire, please give us a call – it may be doable.

How are random width floors installed?

With a hammer and nails. No seriously, there is very little magic to it at all. First, a repeating pattern should be avoided at all costs. Repeating widths represent a 1960’s (ranch plank) attempt at a wide board floor but in no way duplicate an early floor. As your flooring arrives strapped in bundles of uniform widths, it is easy to tell at a glance how much of each width you’ve received (along with reviewing the tally!). The layout is no more scientific than using rows of more prevalent widths more frequently and less prevalent widths less frequently. For example, in a 3″ – 6″ random width pattern, you may receive: 10% 3″, 30% 4″, 40% 5″ and 20% 6″ . Therefore, your layout may look like this: 5″, 4″, 5″, 6″, 5″, 3″ 4″ 6″ 5″, 4″, and so forth; or something like that. This is not nearly as difficult as it may seem, and it prevents the eye from picking up a pattern and most closely resembles an historic floor.

May I install wood flooring in the kitchen?

By all means. The kitchen is the perfect place for a wood floor. It is the heart of the home and shouldn’t it have the most warm and inviting flooring in the home? With all the new finish technologies available, the performance of wood is no longer a concern; and it is “softer” on the feet than ceramic tile or stone.

Isn’t pine too soft for flooring?

I’m glad you asked. I’ve personally walked on white pine floors (in New England) that are over 300 years old. Now granted, they are not looking their best, but neither would I after 3 centuries of being walked on! Sure, pine will dent quicker and deeper than oak, but in most cases it just adds to its patina and history and in no way shortens its life span. After all, if owning a floor that never mars and looks the same as the day it was installed is your goal, real wood isn’t a good choice anyway.

May I stain my flooring?

Absolutely. You may choose any color in the rainbow, but some woods stain better than others. Red oak takes virtually any stain well (including a white stain); but maple, cherry and white pine can become blotchy if a sealer is not used first. However, in my book there are several down-sides to staining a floor. First, the darker the stain, the more it shows dirt. Second, if a stained floor is scratched into the underlying wood (not good, see below), it is more visible. And third, stain is merely thin paint. As such, it muddies the grain, locks the color in place for all time and prohibits the wood from aging gracefully. Other than that, ignore my advice and stain merrily away.

How can I maintain my wood floor?

Easy. First, prevention and protection are essential. Use felt pads on each and every chair and table leg and under anything else that sits on the floor whether you plan to move it or not. Clean off shoes when entering the house; or better yet wear slippers; or at the very least keep your high heels maintained and don’t track in sand or stones. Vacuum frequently and mop using a well rung out mop only. Most modern finishes need no wax and in most cases waxing is not recommended. Most finish manufacturers recommend a cleaner for periodic use. Mop up spills promptly and try to keep plumbing and roof leaks to an absolute minimum (!). Enjoy your floor, don’t be a slave to it.

Will wide board flooring shrink?

Maybe, maybe not. If your home is in a very dry (southwest) or very wet (gulf coast) climate, acclimation prior to installation is essential to minimize movement of the flooring once installed. But remember, wood is hygroscopic (meaning it absorbs and expels moisture dependent on its environment), so all movement cannot be eliminated. Seasonal movement – shrinkage in the winter, expansion in the summer – is normal and expected anywhere north of the tropics; and the reverse anywhere south of it!

May I install wide board flooring over a radiant heated subfloor?

Certainly………with a few cautionary words. There are many types of in-floor hydronic heating systems available. It is critical that the mechanical contractor be aware that your intention is to install wood flooring above his system so that he can engineer it properly. In traditional wood frame construction, my favorite type is the “Warmboard” system – which is comprised of an additional layer of plywood with the tubing inset into it. This allows a lower operating water temperature which is ideal for solid plank flooring installation, as well as a reduced cost of operation. Another option would be that which clips to the underside of the plywood subfloor with a radiant shield or reflective barrier and/or insulation below it. This is designed to accommodate wood flooring and allows installation to proceed in a traditional manner, albeit with shorter cleats (complete penetration of the plywood is contra-indicated). Wood flooring can also be directly glued down to a slab – using one of the permanently elastic urethane adhesives that I recommend under my Useful Links tab – or, a plywood subfloor can be applied over the cement. This can be glued or floated (a minimum of 5/8″ plywood is recommended, 3/4″ is better) and then the plank flooring can be nailed down in the normal way – again with shorter than normal cleats. In any application though, acclimation of the wood flooring, prior to installation, in the room with the system running at occupancy levels is necessary.

What sort of finish is on the pre-finished flooring?

We have 2 choices. A 7 coat, UV cured, solvent based polyurethane with Aluminum Oxide added to coats 4&5. It is “clear” or “natural” and no stain is used or available. This is a very durable “Satin” finish that should perform well for at least 15 years before a slight scuff and recoat might help freshen it up a bit. We also offer a 4 coat, UV-Cured, water-based polyurethane with Aluminum Oxide in coats 2&3 in a “Matte” finish. This closely mimics a European Hard Wax Oil finish in appearance but, has the durability of a polyurethane. This finish is also available in a “clear” or “natural” and, several colors are available, but not on every species and grade.

What sort of finish warranty is offered on the pre-finished flooring?

This is where I get on my soapbox. As I said in the preceding paragraph, our finish should last for a long time. I don’t offer a warranty, because if I did, I would have to exclude everything that living with the flooring might cause – like scratching – as all finish warranties do (please take the time to read them). That runs counter to my grain. Why offer something and then dilute it to such a degree that it becomes worthless? Rhetorical question – sorry. I would rather provide an honest assessment of the features and benefits of my products and let you take it from there. I predict 10-15 years of great performance, easy – without an onerous maintenance regimen.

Does the pre-finished flooring have a beveled edge?

Yes. All solid wood flooring needs a slightly eased edge (we call it a micro-bevel) to disguise the possibility of uneven joints between boards. Since the flooring cannot be sanded flat after installation, any subfloor irregularities or minute differences in thickness would be felt underfoot if the edges weren’t beveled.

How do I handle receipt of my flooring?

Once your order ships, you will be provided with the delivering terminal’s phone number and the shipment tracking number (“pro” number). Upon receipt of this information, please call the carrier to arrange for the delivery. Please understand that the freight carrier’s responsibility ends upon arriving at the destination. It becomes your responsibility to unload the truck and move the flooring to a safe and dry place. Mechanical unloading means such as a forklift are ideal, but depending on the size of the load, a few hearty individuals can make quick work of it. Usually one person on the truck to break open the large shrink wrapped pallet and hand down the individually wrapped bundles (40-70 lbs each) to one or two people on the ground, who hustle them inside. And, although I can’t promise it, the driver will more often than not hand the bundles down to you and your help on the ground. A half hour is allowed without complaint (and frequently more) by the driver; and a few strong backs can move a lot of flooring in 30 minutes! Remember, you have paid for your flooring AND the freight when it shipped, so no further charges to you apply – please call if someone presents a C.O.D. ticket.

How do I determine how much shipping will cost?

The cost of shipping is dependent on weight and distance. In order to accurately quote a freight cost, we would need to know the quantity of flooring needed, species and grade of flooring (we ship from several different mills) and the destination zip code. When you call us with this information, we will provide a quote good for 30 days.

What is Rift Sawn and/or Quarter Sawn?

Rift and quarter sawing are methods of sawmilling logs designed to yield boards with a specific grain orientation. The grain orientation is best viewed from the butt ends of the boards and is defined as the angle at which the growth rings intersect the face of the board. Between 30 and 60 degrees is defined as Rift Sawn and between 45 and 90 degrees is Quarter Sawn. These angles could change across the width and along the length of the board, but, as long as the majority of the board conforms, it is considered in compliance. The resulting appearance is reasonably uniform and predominately straight parallel lines running the length of each plank and as the grain approaches 90 degrees, a “figure” can appear. While most woods do not exhibit a particular figure, both Red and White Oak can display an impressive array of iridescent flecks and flashes when the grain approaches 90 degrees.

Are Rift and/or Quarter Sawn planks more stable?

All other things being equal, Rift and Quarter Sawn planks tend to exhibit less movement across their width than plain sawn boards, but, the difference is slight, and in practice is virtually indiscernible. Because our drying and conditioning processes impart such stability to our planks, the benefit of using our rift and/or quarter sawn flooring over our plain sawn flooring solely for performance is marginal. Choose our Rift and/or Quarter Sawn flooring for its beauty instead!

Why does everyone advise me against boards over 5″ wide?

Because, most flooring installers – If they’ve been in business long enough – have encountered problems with boards 5″ and wider. Here’s why. If asked to provide wide plank flooring, most installers will turn to the local Distributor from whom they buy their 2 ¼” “strip” flooring. The local Distributor will then turn to the big mill that provides them with truckloads of 2 ¼” “strip” flooring. Those big “strip” mills dry their lumber from air-dried (20% moisture) to kiln-dried (6-9% moisture) in 3 hours using vacuum kilns. This leaves tremendous stress in the planks that isn’t a problem in 2 ¼” widths, but when they are milled as wide as 5″, all sorts of bad things can happen after installation. By contrast, our lumber is dried from 20% to 6-9% over the course of 3 days to a week using dehumidification kilns – a much slower and gentler process – during which time we vary the temperature to not only dry, but condition the boards. The result is stress-free and stable planks of any width – so, don’t limit your design plans due to performance concerns!

Should I use glue when installing wide board flooring?

No. well, at least not underneath! You may use a bead of yellow glue on the butt end of each plank prior to snugging up the next one. But glue, regardless of it’s chemical make-up, can trap moisture under the planks as it cures. Not good. More critically, solid wood will expand and contract seasonally – if only by a little bit. Over time, this will do one of two things – break the adhesive bond between plank and sub floor or break the plank itself. Neither are desirable outcomes. Our flooring is so well conditioned and stable that as long as your site conditions are appropriate, blind nailing through the tongue is all that’s required for any width plank. Consult our How to Install page for more detailed information.

I have 3 kids and 2 dogs, what do you recommend that’s durable?

Anything I have listed is durable. By durable, I mean that anything I offer should last well over a hundred years, as long as you don’t flood it or set it on fire! Is that durable enough? That it will outlive your children and possibly their children?

Pine was used exclusively for the first several hundred years of colonization on this continent – many of those floors still survive – and, don’t you think those floors saw children and dogs and who knows what else over those centuries? When did it suddenly become accepted that wood flooring (of ANY species) isn’t “durable” enough?? Besides stone or dirt, it’s the most durable flooring option available. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!