What is longleaf pine?

Longleaf is a particular species of Southern yellow pine. It is treasured because of its beauty, rich colors, dense grain, durability and resistance to pests and decay. Although it’s a biological cousin to the Southern yellow pine 2×4 you can buy cheaply at Home Depot, you would never confuse them for each other: a longleaf board is darker, heavier, sappier, prettier, and has more growth rings per inch. 

Where is it reclaimed from?

Old Texas Floors’ longleaf pine comes from mills, dance halls, barns, homes and other old buildings scheduled for demolition. Most of this wood was milled around a hundred years ago from trees that were already hundreds of years old at that time. Much of the wood was originally used as structural lumber rather than flooring. Your 7” wide floor board might come from an 8” beam that held up a home from the turn of the century—the 20th century, that is. Reclaiming the wood means that no new trees are lost to create your flooring.

Why no new longleaf?

In 1700 a vast, virgin forest of longleaf pine—approximately 90 million acres—ranged from South Virginia to East Texas in a crescent encompassing much of the Southeast.

Longleaf was used for building homes, for making ships, and as a source of turpentine. It grew straight, strong and tall–up to 150′. It’s easy to see why our predecessors wanted to used it so heavily; it’s just sad that they didn’t have the foresight to use it in a sustainable way. Most of that extremely old wood was harvested for lumber by the early 1900’s. Only a fraction of the old forest remains, mostly on federal lands. We will probably never again see a time when people wait hundreds of years for new wood to mature to this quality; longleaf pine grows very slowly. Re-using the old wood is a wonderful way to get great quality flooring without depleting any new resources. 

Why is this wood special?

Antique, longleaf pine is much richer in color and more durable than the new-growth pine that is harvested now. You just can’t get this appearance from new pine, no matter how many stains or dyes or oils you use. Only antique, longleaf pine looks like antique, longleaf pine.

This wood has a charming, rustic quality. After the old buildings are dismantled and the wood reclaimed, the nails are pulled by hand, one nail at a time. The resulting nail holes on many boards testify to the wood’s past life.

The variation in color and grain pattern allows great creativity in the design of your floor patterns. Unlike, for example, a pre-finished, dark-stained oak floor, this wood can be finished and arranged in a variety of beautiful ways. Be sure to consult with your installer about your design preferences.

Is it hardwood?

Pine is sometimes thought of as being soft for flooring, but that’s because new-growth pine is in fact much softer than red oak, the industry standard for hardness in flooring. Old-growth, longleaf pine has had many decades to dry and harden, and its hardness is similar to red oak’s. This wood started out more durable, and then became tougher as it aged. In technical terms, all pines are classified as softwoods; in practical terms, longleaf pine deserves to be seen as hardwood. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Encyclopedia of Wood says, “…some softwoods are actually harder than some hardwoods, and conversely some hardwoods are softer than some softwoods. For example, softwoods such as longleaf pine and Douglar-fir are typically harder than the hardwoods basswood and aspen” (p. 1-2). The finish that you apply to any wood floor will also make a significant difference in durability; see the Finishes page for more information.

Is it “heart pine”?

The term “heart pine” is sometimes used interchangeably with “longleaf pine,” which is a specific species; “heart pine” is sometimes used to mean the reddish brown wood from the center (heart) of a pine tree; and sometimes “heart pine” is used simply to mean very old pine trees. We’re comfortable calling our longleaf pine “heart pine” because it’s antique longleaf AND has a high percentage of red-streaked heart wood. Longleaf is often labeled as “long leaf pine.” While we’re on the topic of labels, longleaf is named for its extremely long needles–8″-18″ long.

What is the difference between solid hardwood flooring and Pre Engineered wood flooring?

Our Solid Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Solid wood flooring is one piece of reclaimed wood that is either cut to order from old lumber we have harvested from an old Texas building or it is reclaimed vintage wood flooring that we have harvested from an old Texas building. It comes in a variety of widths, from 2 1/4″ to 8″ or wider. Thicknesses varies from 5/8″ to 3/4″. And lengths up to 20′. See Texas Select for more product and ordering information.

Our Pre Engineered Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Pre Engineered wood comes from the same place as solid wood, but rather than being one thick piece of wood, it instead, is composed of approximately 5 millimeters of reclaimed hardwood glued on top of 5/8 to 3/4″ of plywood. The resulting plank is then shaped with a tongue and groove so it installs with a very similar look to solid wood flooring. Due to its multi-ply composition, pre engineered wood can be more stable than solid wood and it is less susceptible to shrinking and expanding with changes in temperatures and humidity. Pre Engineered wood flooring also comes ready to install, versus solid hardwood flooring that requires more preparation. See Texas Premier for more product and ordering information.

How can I get a sample?
If you are near the Austin TX area, you are welcome to view samples in person. If you are elsewhere in TX or the US, just contact us, and we will send you some samples. Please give us as much detail as possible regarding what grain patterns, grade, widths, thicknesses, etc. you are interested in seeing.