For decades, hemlock and chestnut were some of the most popular flooring options in the United States. The trees were available in many different parts of the country and could be sourced locally. A blight in the late 1800s and early 1900s eliminated many of the chestnut trees around the country. Deforestation greatly damaged the hemlock tree population. However, these two woods can still be sourced for your flooring if you know where to look. Specifically, you need to look for reclaimed wood sources.
Barns that were built in the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s typically used woods that were found near the site of the build. They were typically hardwoods as well. That means that many barns are made of old growth hardwood and have stood for over 100 years. Hemlock is a common choice for those barns. Hemlock is technically a softwood but it is actually harder than white oak and red oak. White oak is typically 1,860 on the janka hardness scale. Hemlock is 2,200. It’s a very resilient wood. However, if you want a true hardwood that is antique, you should choose chestnut.
Chestnut was one of the most populous hardwood trees in the United States. It was used to create low-cost hardwood floors, siding, and roofs for barns around the country. In the early 1900s, a blight spread that greatly reduced the population of chestnut trees. Now, chestnut is highly sought-after and fairly expensive. If you want to get the best chestnut floor you can find, you should choose a floor that is sourced for antique chestnut. The chestnut from before the blight is in greater abundance; also, using reclaimed wood means that a chestnut tree does not have to be cut down.
The wood of those barns has been weathered over decades; it has assumed an antique patina that is very difficult to mimic. It’s also a very reliable wood that can create a great floor. There’s a reason that chestnut was used in so many barns. It wasn’t used simply because it is a beautiful wood that responds well to machining. The main focus of the barn builders was function. Chestnut served their functional needs.
It will do the same if you source it from a great company that finds antique barn woods. If you purchase an old barn, you can actually do the work yourself. It’s much easier to have it sourced by a reclaimed flooring company.
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