Over the years, we’ve installed lots of hardwood floors for our clients, the most common being either red oak (3/4” thick, nail down, sanded and stained onsite) or lately engineered wood floors (like a hand scraped hickory). We’ve read countless articles about reclaimed wood, touting its beauty, durability and most importantly its “green” credentials – after all, it is completely reclaimed. We were finally given the opportunity, at our Harris Park project, to source and install some gorgeous long leaf pine floors and we were excited.
The boards, including material for the stair treads and landings, were brought down from Dallas on a flat bed trailer. Our crews nailed them down (note: on the first floor, because this addition sits on a slab on grade foundation, we laid 3/4” plywood as an underlayment as well as a vapor barrier) in a couple days. Something to keep in mind if you are considering using reclaimed floors…make sure you plan for some “waste”. There will be damaged boards, more than you’d normally plan for using new material. Our supplier did a great job of culling the material before shipping, but this is something you just have to prepare for.
The sanding and finishing is where it starts to get exciting, and it pays to have a very skilled contractor working on these floors. There is a balance that must be struck between sanding the floors to get the desired finish, and sanding too much, which ultimately removes a lot of that character we (and the client) were hoping to maintain. It takes a skilled hand, and we’d encourage anyone doing this to research their wood floor company closely. Or call us for a recommendation – our guys did an outstanding job.
As far as finish goes, this falls under the category of “let it be”. These floors look amazing on their own – resist the urge to do too much. The client elected not to add any type of stain/toner to the floors to alter their natural color, and the finished product was outstanding. Another quick note – the normal (and cheaper) way to finish these floors is with an oil-based finish. Because our client was living next door, with two small children and two on the way, they elected to upgrade to a water-based finish. Not only did it solve the “off-gas” problem of odors during construction, but it will also cure harder and be more durable. With a bunch of high energy young boys tearing around on these floors for years to come it seems like a wise investment.