although the mature trees deep in the forest that were procured for your wide plank flooring may not be in the forefront of your mind, i think it’s important to understand the the source in order to better understand the finished product. wood in it’s natural state, is a vibrant living species that is constantly cycling through changes – and that doesn’t stop once it is harvested and arrives at the mill. I’m going to try and briefly describe some of those characteristics while also attempting not to sound like my 8th grade earth science teacher.
throughout a tree’s life it is constantly building a vast and random cellular highway that allows water and nutrients to get to where they need to go, which are located in the outermost layers of the trunk, known as sapwood.
lighter sapwood and darker heartwood
the lighter colored sapwood contrasts with the darker inner portion of the tree, known as heartwood. as the tree grows, the inner layers of sapwood are gradually absorbed into the heartwood, while fresh sapwood grows on the outside. the rings formed with each season of new growth, along with the pores that run throughout, create the grain pattern that is unique in every tree. knots, usually created by a budding branch, also add to it’s character.
while a particular species, such as oak or hickory, may have characteristics which are universally identifiable, each individual tree has its own “fingerprint.” to me, this is one of the most endearing qualities of a wood floor. it’s yours, and no one else has the same one. that can be hard to find in our age of mass produced goods.
the moisture content of the wood used for your floor is the key factor in its strength, durability, and longevity. wood is a hygroscopic, meaning its moisture content fluctuates depending on the relative humidity of the surrounding environment. for this reason, its important to allow a new hardwood floor time to acclimate before installing in order to get accustomed to the environment it will occupy. while solid core wood will always be subject to some movement, this will help avoid major issues such as crowning or cupping. a proper vapor barrier beneath the floor is also recommended, especially when installing over concrete, to prevent the floor from absorbing moisture from below. proper management of the relative humidity in the space your wide plank flooring is installed is paramount to its maintenance.
i think it’s best to stop it here and come back to this topic every now and then, because i know how important it is in regards to every new hardwood floor, including our wide plank floors. we appreciate your questions and feedback, so feel free to leave something in the comments section of the blog, or even email or give us a call.
president, woodwrights wide plank flooring
132 kroemer avenue
riverhead, ny 11901