Flooring 101: Pine, Hardwood or Reclaimed

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Are you getting ready to pick out a flooring style for your home?

The first step in the process is choosing what wood style you want to use — pine flooring, domestic hardwood flooring (including distressed) or reclaimed flooring. The best way to do this is to consider the pro’s, con’s, and aesthetics of each wood style and how they relate to your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Pine Flooring

Wide pine flooring is available in two styles: Eastern White Pine flooring and Heart Pine flooring. Eastern White Pine flooring is the best choice if you want an authentic look in the widest planks available. This floor can be graded for more or less knots, which will help you create a more casual appearance (like the Artisan’s Boutique Showroom in Nantucket), or a modern look (like the New Hampshire log home), both of which are shown below.

Pine flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

A pine floor will be soft, so it will acquire dings, dents, scratches and scuff marks easier than other harder flooring options. But just because the wood is soft doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for flooring. Over time, the floor will harden. Why? As you walk on the wood, the fibers compress upon themselves getting harder and harder. This is why so many pine floors have lasted in original New England homes. In fact, Eastern White Pine flooring has been installed in homes for over 300 years, and many of them are still in place today!

Heart Pine flooring is another authentic choice. It originates in the Southeast, where over 200 species of Heart Pine grow. The best species for flooring is Long Leaf Heart Pine, due to the fact that it is more stable and durable compared to other Heart Pine species.

Heart pine flooring is prized for its beautiful color, ranging from rich amber to warm gold and brown. It will almost always have knots and it’s strong grain pattern is a defining characteristic. You will find heart pine flooring in New England buildings and factories, where it was the premier building product during the Industrial Revolution. It is also found in grand plantation-style homes from Alabama to Maryland.

Eastern White Pine flooring and Heart Pine flooring are not available in an engineered construction. This is due to the fact that the cost to create an engineered pine floor would be nearly three times as much as our solid wood flooring, with no benefit to you.

Our authentic, wide pine flooring is crafted from mature timbers, the result of which is a stable floor even in solid wood construction. This has been proven again and again with our 20″ wide Eastern White Pine flooring being installed from Nantucket to Carmel.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring options provide a versatile mix of wood flooring styles, including dark wood flooring like Walnut, and popular oak flooring like White Oak and Red Oak. Hardwood flooring also includes options for beautiful, but lesser known, wood flooring styles like Cherry or Birch floors.

Three hardwood flooring examples from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Style and Color Variations

One of the benefits of hardwood flooring is that there are so many options to choose from. Choose from a dark wood floor, a more rustic floor or modern looking floor… You can have it all!

Some hardwood floors, like Hickory and Birch, will have more color variation from board to board. You can minimize this with custom grading, or in the case of Hickory you can easily stain it to create any look! That is why Hickory is one of the most popular flooring options available.

Durability / Grade

If you are looking for durability, all hardwood flooring styles are relatively the same in terms of long term durability. If you look at it purely from a JANKA scale perspective (which we don’t recommend) Hickory and White Oak are at the top.

When selecting a hardwood floor, it is important to understand “grade.” Flooring grades are relative to the manufacturer you are working with. Learn more about our grading practices and see examples.

Solid / Engineered

Another benefit of hardwood flooring is that most species can be crafted in solid or engineered construction. For those clients needing either option, hardwood flooring is a great choice.

Reclaimed Flooring

Reclaimed flooring, like hardwood flooring, is available in a variety of species. Unlike pine and hardwood flooring, reclaimed flooring  is normally not available in different grades. The one exception to this is reclaimed Long Leaf Heart Pine flooring.

Perfect for Character

One of the biggest things to understand about your new reclaimed floor is that it will have “character.”

When we craft a reclaimed floor we are salvaging material that is hundreds of years old! It has been weathering storms on the outside of a barn in Ontario; it has been worked on for 150 years in an industrial factory in Boston; it has been re-sawn from the 2″ thick floor boards of an Ohio cattle barn. This means that your floor will have nail holes, knots, cracks, splits in the boards, original saw marks and color variations — just to name a few remnants from its past life.

Take, for example, the two floors below: a reclaimed milled barnwood floor installed in Hawaii, and a reclaimed Chestnut floor installed at a home in Soquel, California. Both of these floors abound with color and character.

Reclaimed flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

If you are looking for a more “pristine” floor, or want to control the amount of character in your floor, wide plank hardwood flooring might be a better choice for you.

If you love the idea of character and the unpredictability that comes with it, then reclaimed flooring is a gorgeous option and Carlisle’s manufacturing process will make sure the boards you receive will be both aesthetic and suitable.

Like our softwood floors, reclaimed wood is not available as engineered flooring. This is due to the fact that in order to make an engineered floor you need to cut the floor boards to about 3/16″ thick. 200-year-old antique wood (much of which is hardwood) can literally fall apart when it is milled that thin. In order to create an authentic wide plank floor with long lengths and antique character, use only reclaimed solid wood.

Wrapping Up

No matter what flooring you choose it is important to work with the experts. After all, you want to invest in a lifetime floor —  not a temporary floor covering.

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The possibilities are endless with Carlisle’s custom crafted planks. Browse our wood types today and begin designing your dream floor.
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