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The Heart of Style

Wood Project Inspiration Wood Project Inspiration

Turning a stack of timbers into new floors reveals the unique beauty of recycled wood.

The oldest trees, woodworkers say, yield the best wood. Two, three or more centuries of growth not only produces towering trunks but also makes their core -- the heartwood -- dense, hard and very desirable. Most of the ancient trees, mature and ready for harvesting, were felled long ago and milled into miles of beams and boards. Fortunately, however, that doesn't mean the wood has disappeared completely and forever. Indeed, an entire industry has sprung up around the reclamation and recycling of old logs and massive timbers.

One of the most popular and sought-after species, heart pine, has remarkable density and hardness plus a beautiful colour and grain that make it a great choice for flooring. So recyclers search for logs left at old logging sites and on river bottoms - some logs were so heavy they sank - or they dismantle old barns and other buildings for their bounty of timbers. Once recovered, the pine is sawn and planed into smooth planks, ready for installation as an elegant new floor.

When the owner of this newly constructed house saw how beautiful heart pine could be, he ordered hundreds of square feet from a local recycler, who turned a stack of timbers salvaged from an old warehouse into long floorboards. Once they were nailed in place and sanded perfectly smooth, they received three coats of new Minwax® Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane Floors in a semi-gloss sheen. This recent addition to the Minwax® line offers a 25 percent faster dry time with no sanding between coats, allowing a floor to be top coated in a day. Besides its convenience and superior protection, the polyurethane enhanced the pine's natural warmth and rich beauty.

To complement the floor, the owner searched for reproduction kit chairs and tables and found exactly what he wanted in pieces made of maple. He chose dining, side and coffee tables that were all made of curly maple, whose rippling, iridescent grain is nothing short of exquisite. He also found maple Windsor chair kits that were just right for both the dining and living rooms.

Before assembly, the kits received a coat of Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Then the bases of the dining and coffee tables were stained with Minwax® Wood Finish™ Ebony, creating a nice contrast with the curly maple tops. Some of the chairs were stained with a new colour in the Minwax® Wood Finish™ line, English Chestnut, and the rest left unstained. After assembly, the tables and chairs were top coated with Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane in a semi-gloss sheen, while the curly maple side table received two coats of Minwax® Wipe-On Polyin a gloss sheen. When all was done, the "old" floors and "antique" furnishings made perfect partners inside a brand-new home.


Who sells recycled wood? Look for advertisements in the back of home-improvement and woodworking magazines, where you'll find offers for oak, walnut, mahogany and other species along with heart pine. Ask for samples so you can not only see what the raw wood looks like but also test it with different stains and clear finish.