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Thread: matching salvaged pine flooring to existing pumpkin pine floor

  1. #1

    matching salvaged pine flooring to existing pumpkin pine floor

    Hey everyone...first timer here who was happy to come across this site. I am a designer - a landscape architect - with an architect for a wife..So we'll see you on the design threads some day!

    The living room of our 1861 home in Massachusetts has some gorgeuos old pumpkin pine floors. The rest of the place is carpet over what I think are the same, original floors (with lots of paint). I am about to begin the process of rebuilding the steps - new risers and treads; funky new landings of my wife's design - and we could use some advice on matching wood.

    (we're really beginners here)

    I found a guy selling "antique salvaged pine" (he wants $4/SF for the 12" boards, $8/sf for the 19" wide boards - reasonable?) from a nearby barn built in 1910. So i guess I have a few questions:

    --Is this old enough to be the old, solid heartpine?
    --I know that modern pine = soft...will 1910 pine hold up well as step treads?
    --How do I match this old, dusty, unfinished wood to the warm orange/brown pumpkin pine?
    --How do I match the painted, carpeted stuff to the finished floor?
    --Do you use poly or stain?


    sorry for the length! Like I said we're really beginners and don't really know how feasible this all is. I plan to construct the new steps/landings myself, and hire someone to sand and probably finish as well.

    Thanks!

    Robert
    Last edited by Robert Gilmore; 02-22-2008 at 11:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    Hi Robert, and welcome to the clubhouse. (Wifey, too.) It'll be great having input from both of you in the Design forum.

    I'm by no means an expert on getting woods to match, but I suspect by the time you strip off the carpet and old paint on the covered flooring, it will be close in color to your existing floors, except it'll likely be a bit lighter in color. It should darken somewhat over time, although you could speed up the process with a stain. The only suggestion there would be to make several test swatches on scrap wood (sanded with the same sequence of grits that you intend to use on the floor itself) and see what looks the best to you and your wife.

    The barn wood will also probably be close in color (after it's cleaned up and sanded), but again, you may end up wanting to stain it lightly to get a better color match.

    As for finishes, I think polyurethane is one of the more common floor finishes. It's relatively easy to apply, and it's durable. A flooring supplier might have some good suggestions for specific brands. Keep in mind that poly and stain are two separate entities. One of them colors the wood, and the other protects the wood from wear and tear. You can get tinted poly finishes, but I think most folks prefer keeping the two separate. That way you can apply as little or much of the stain as necessary for a good color match, and use whatever amount of ploy you feel is necessary to protect the (freshly-stained) wood.

    And no apologies necessary for the length of your post. You're gonna have to write a lot more than that to start giving wordy guys like me a run for our money.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
    Another New Englander....this is good we are slowly starting to take a foot hold on this side of the continent. As for your question, I think you are in for a tough time. I would seriously doubt that the wood from a barn built in 1910 had pumpkin pine wood in it.

    I am no expert by any means, but I do enjoy logging history and have been living in Maine...in a logging/farming family that has been here since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, so I think I know a little something about logging and Pumpkin Pine.

    I know by 1870 much of Maine and New England had been logged over pretty hard. It was the apex of the logging era. Now it depends on where the barn in question was built. If it was in some far flung town in the center of New Hampshire's White Mountains, where few rivers resided and it would be hard to get the logs to market, then maybe it was built via Pumpkin Pine wood since it would be hard to log those areas over. More then likely it was built from 2nd generation Eastern White Pine. (We are currently harvesting our 3rd and 4th generation Pine nowadays).

    You can easily tell. I worked with my uncle once on a 200 year old house in Brooks,Maine and we found some Pumpkin Pine Boards. The grain was so tight you could barely count the growth rings...or at least I had to squint to see them. The color was also quite yellowish, but that might have occurred from being a wall board for so many years. Anyway you know all this since you have some Pumpkin Pine at your house now.

    If the 1910 barn wood does not pan out, you have a few options. One is to find a building contractor that specializes in demolishing old buildings. They know what Pumpkin Pine is and most certainly save it out for people such as yourselves. I know of one such person on Route 17 in Rockport, but don't know his company name.

    Another option, and perhaps more costly, is to find a salvage diver. They are few in number, but I have heard of some that are dredging log driving rivers and lakes such as Moosehead Lake, the Penobscot River, and the Kennebec Rivers. You will have to do an internet search to find them though.

    If you do find some wood, or find some barns our buildings you suspect are made out of Pumpkin Pine, measure the board widths. The widest board you will find is 23 inches wide. That is because prior to 1776, any tree wider then 24 inches was automatically granted to the King of England for use in the British Naval Fleet. That is a quick way to determine the age of the wood, then go for grain and figure. You may find boards wider then that, but it will be very rare. Boards wider then 23 were toppled by the wind and that was where we get the term "windfall" to this day.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  4. #4
    great info - thanks guys...so let's say we just apply a polyurethane to the reclaimed pine - does this inhibit or slow down the natural color darkening?

    also: color matching aside, i am concerned that this slavaged pine from the 1910 barn might not be a good choice for step treads - b/c it could be too soft and get beat up quickly...thoughts on this? is it gamble? Or is 1910 pine - no matter the species - likely to be a tighter grain and harder wood than today's pine?

    fyi Travis the barn is located in Boston South Shore...so probably Eastern White Pine.

    thanks!

    Robert

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Gilmore View Post
    great info - thanks guys...so let's say we just apply a polyurethane to the reclaimed pine - does this inhibit or slow down the natural color darkening?

    also: color matching aside, i am concerned that this slavaged pine from the 1910 barn might not be a good choice for step treads - b/c it could be too soft and get beat up quickly...thoughts on this? is it gamble? Or is 1910 pine - no matter the species - likely to be a tighter grain and harder wood than today's pine?

    fyi Travis the barn is located in Boston South Shore...so probably Eastern White Pine.

    thanks!

    Robert
    Depends on what you use. Both oil based and water based poly can yellow over time. Certain types of both oil and water based poly seem to yellow more then other kinds. The thing is though, your color matching may be a bit misconstrued. Poly yellows within itself, since it is a thick layer laying over the wood. You may get some yellowing from the poly, then some yellowing of the wood itself, or a mixture of both.

    If you are merely worried about color matching, I think the right stain could set you straight there. Grain may be a more difficult match to make, but pine is pine...which is a lot better then trying to match say pine to basswood or whatever.

    As for softness and hardness, Pumpkin pine is harder, but not by a lot. The reason Pumpkin Pine got its name is not from the pinkish color it has, but because the settlers found their axes sank into the wood like an "ax in a pumpkin." Hence the name.

    As long as you feel you are getting a good deal from the 1910 barn, and not getting duped into paying for pumpkin pine which it probably is not...then I would go ahead and use it. Second growth pine is certainly going to be better then any new wood you buy today, not to mention being air dried for 100 years. Of course there is going to be defects from where the wood was fastened down. That may or may not work for you in your house.

    The one thing you NEED to find out though, is if this barn was used to bed down animals at some point. I have seen this before. A poor homeowner buys "rustic barn boards" put them in their house, and as soon as the air tight structure and heat hits the wood, the ammonia and poo and urine smell starts to permeate the house. No amount of time will get the stink out of the wood. Its just part of the wood at this point. Just something very important to find out about.

    One last thing...and a remote chance at best, but you speak of hardness. Your floors are not made of Eastern Hemlock are they? This was a very common wood found on second floors and other secondary areas of older homes. Eastern Hemlock is a "hard" wood as far as evergreens go. It too has a reddish hue to it that can sometimes be confused as pumpkin pine. A remote possibility but I mention it nonetheless.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    wow learing a lot and thank you!....i hope to have something to offer back some day!

    our condo IS the second and third floor of a late 1800's stone mason's home...house was built in 1861, some major renovation was done in 1940's (?) and then chopped up, carpeted, and converted into 4 condos in 1981...so it could be eastern hemlock i suppose - there are 2.75" t+g fir boards in one room as well - im guessing as part of the 1940's renovation.

    i will definitely inquire as to barn usage / animals with regards to the 1910 barn stock...I think he mentioned it came from the loft which might alleviate some animal concerns but that definietly had not ocurred to me. Ill post a photo tomorrow but im guessing you can't tell just from a visual.

    does $4/sf for 12" wide X 96" and longer and $8/sf for 19" wide x 144" long sound reasonable for this 1910 mystery barn pine?

    ps...i may be a neophyte but something primeval is stirring!

    rg
    Last edited by Robert Gilmore; 02-23-2008 at 04:17 AM.

  7. #7
    2 pics of the finished floor in question (for my steps project I wouldn't mind matching this but I won't be heartbroken if we can't...) and

    2 pics of the 1910 salvaged pine boards from a barn in boston south shore i am thinking of buying.

    rg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails the floor ...jpg   the floor 2...jpg   the salvagd pine.jpg   the salvaged pine 2.jpg  

  8. #8
    You definately have Pumpkin Pine floors, you can tell they are not Eastern Hemlock because of the knots. As for the price, I really can't say. The price difference from Mass to Maine can be quite different. That does not mean you are paying too much, but rather just have a higher cost of living and whatnot.

    If you had a truck or suv with trailer you could probably get a better deal per bf here in Maine, but by you factor in the travel times, the price of gas and the rest, you would probably be on par with that. I really don't know. I know a lot about Pumpkin Pine but thats only because I've run into it many times on these old houses around here. I have never boughten or sold any Pumpkin Pine or second growth Pine.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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