Please help me identify the types of wood flooring in my house.
The main part of the house was built in about the 1860's in
Massachusetts while the guest room and kitchen areas were built in the
The floors are unstained and all were sanded and coated with semi-gloss
oil-based polyurethane about 5 years ago (except for the guest room).
1. 1st floor and 2nd floor hall (1860's)
(I believe both are the same wood, though correct me if I am wrong)
2. 2nd floor bedroom and 3rd floor hall (1860's)
(I believe both are the same wood, though correct me if I am wrong)
I'm with Nova on the Yellow Pine. Not so sure with the Kitchen. If
you took pics digitally, you might check your white balance setting
against lighting (fluorescent, incandescent, etc) and resubmit. It
could be Cherry but the color doesn't look right.
It was done with a good digital camera using flash - color is pretty
reasonable. I don't think kitchen is cherry either.
All wood in the house is (unfortunately) pretty soft.
I agree that 3rd floor, 2nd floor bedroom, 2nd floor guest and probably
the stairs look like pine - based on color and grain. But the 1st and
2nd floor halls look very different from the pine that I am used to. Any
It's edge grain - quartered. Lucky you :)
To me, all of it looks more like Douglas fir than pine but I wouldn't think
you'd have that, especially that mfrom the late 1700s. The same for the
newer...why import yellow pine from the south or west when there was still
beaucoup wood locally? White pine maybe? I don't have much experience with
that so can't say.
The kitchen isn't a hardwood, looks pretty much like all he rest.
Related idea or "Who's Ya Daddy?" option:
Send some "drill" samples to your local university for a student to do
a DNA analysis, quite likely at no charge for a dedicated student in a
diversified field (forestry-genetics), that way. I'm sure there is,
also, an online site with reference to a facility that has DNA
analysis results or some sort of comparative data. University of NC
would likely have that info/data/student/etc., I'm thinking. Maybe,
these days, even the Forestry Products Laboratory would have DNA data
for identifying wood products. Note: What specific kind of DNA
testing is required to be performed, if applicable?
I once used some yellow pine to make a valance that matched the doug
fir trim in my 1940s mother-in-law's house in Ontario. looks very
much like it. Also larch or tamarack looks a lot like doug fir.
Could it not be red pine? IIRC it also has the same grain as yellow,
but is softer.
The grain is too pronounced for white pine.
On Sun, 31 Jan 2010 06:26:58 -0800 (PST), the infamous RonB
VG cherry with that look? Please send support pics.
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire,
you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
-- George Bernard Shaw
No, look at the grain. I'm not sure what the kitchen *is*, but unquestionably
it is *not* cherry. If it's a hardwood at all -- which I very much doubt --
it's probably elm. IMO, it's spruce, maybe Douglas fir.
I'm almost positive all of it is Longleaf Pine. Even the new kitchen
floor may be reclaimed Longleaf Pine that has been sanded or planed,
hence the different "color". What I find odd is that some areas seem
to be toe-nailed (kitchen) and others are face-nailed. I wonder if
that face-nailing is original (I think not).
Can you cut a piece (even a small piece) and smell it? Pine should
still have, at least, a hint of the turpentine smell, even after all
All the floors (except for the 2nd floor guest which is pretty rough)
were thoroughly sanded and polyurethaned just over 5 years ago -- so
that shouldn't contribute to the difference.
The kitchen (to my novice eyes) looks very different from all the other
wood with different grain pattern, color, and streaks of sap vs. heart
Even the 1st and 2nd floor halls (which are the same by the way as the
other formal rooms on the first floor) look very different from the the more
private areas (2nd floor bedroom, 3rd floor hall, 2nd floor guest). The
grain is much tighter and straighter, there are no visible knots, and
the color is darker amber vs. the more yellow "pine" color of the
private areas. I had always assumed that was consistent with
cheap-ole-yankees only using the best wood for the public areas.
Do you think they are really all the same species of pine?
The nailing in the old parts (everything but the kitchen) is indeed face
nailed with what appear to be hand made cut nails. In the basement you
can see the nails poking through the subfloor by 2-3 inches! and the
exposed portion is rusty and a bit curled. I don't know if the face nails
were original or added over the years but they certainly don't seem to
be anything modern...
I wish I could and I will if I ever find a spare piece...
The fact that there is a sub-floor makes me think the finish floors may not
original to the structure... This based on what I've seen both here in NY,
living in a city with buildings that date from the 1670s through the
present, and during my time working in Williamsburg, VA in the restored
area. I think it would have been more common to find the floor to be THE
floor, both structural and finished, in the late 1700s. The flooring would
have been nailed directly to the supporting structure, i.e,. joists, so you
wouldn't see the nails. I'm speculating here based on my personal
experiences, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but it may be worth
exploring this possibility.
For what it's worth, most of the floors look like pine to me and the other
I think you are right there. Definitely a subfloor (using wide planks)
on the part build in mid-nineteenth century. I haven't taken up the
floor in the late 18th century part, but I wouldn't at all be surprised
if there were no sub-floor there.
It most certainly can. Some of your old floors may have been covered
with a rug, affecting the patina that was subsequently formed.
I'll stick with the opinion that all of it is longleaf pine, even in
the kitchen. I may be wrong about the kitchen, despite your further
description. That new flooring hasn't been affected, long term, as
the rest of the flooring. See below for drilling recommendation/test.
Yes. What you have further described is consistent with longleaf
pine, which is the very assets that made it a flooring material of
choice. Additionally, to those descriptive aspects, are the rays seen
in the wood in all but the kitchen pics (can't see, that, close/well
In an inconspicuous area, with a 1/8" drill bit, drill 1/8" down,
clean the bit of "contminated" cuttings, then continue to drill into
the center of some boards for a sample of non-contaminated wood.
Smell the drilled cuttings. Those small drilled holes can be easily
filled with no damaging/unsightly/or otherwise negative effects.
If you can, determine what kind of lumber the joists/beams/etc is,
what the flooring is nailed into. Often times, the same lumber was
used for floor framing/support. I may get debate on this matter, LOL,
but I'm looking for pine lumber being consistently used in the home.
I would guess it is a softwood since unfortunately for a kitchen, the
floor scratches and dents *very easily*. I would have guessed fir but I
am at best a novice at understanding wood...
Any pointers on how to narrow it down?
The best way to narrow it down is an on-site inspection by someone who knows
wood, preferably someone who's familiar with the types of wood used in house
construction in your area two hundred years ago.
But does it really matter? There's a solid consensus here that you have some
species of softwood; most of the guys seem to think it's pine, but my money is
still on spruce, but either way, what difference does it make?
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