OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS-Old Growth Wood

OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS-Old Growth Wood

Old growth forestOld growth wood, from deep within the forest primeval. From fairy tales to an awed reverence in bungalow fans, the forest is endemic to the lore of humankind. Trees have been regarded as sacred in many early traditions. Since the dawn of time humankind has understood that his survival & that of the tree are interconnected- for shade, for food, for fuel & for shelter.

In old house circles, ancient wood is highly regarded for its strength & its beauty. I wrote an article about it & it is the most viewed post on my blog. That post discusses the properties of old wood, but in these videos, you are going to look at the forest & how it contributed to the wonderful characteristics of the trees & the lumber that was cut from them. 100 years ago, this lumber was used to build your house & today your house stands strong & sturdy.

You are going to hear a fascinating talk by a woman who grew up in the forest & listens to trees. She has learned the secret of how trees in the forest form a strong community, helping one another survive & grow, through communication & by passing chemicals & nutrients to trees in need.

You are going to find out how farmed wood differs from forest grown wood & why it results in inferior lumber.

You are going to see 100 year old logs pulled out of rivers to be milled into building materials.

OLD GROWTH WOOD VIDEOS

No matter how much you cherish your old growth fir, pine, oak – these videos will increase your understanding & appreciation for it immensely. The people who are speaking, are authorities in their fields & each one loves old wood. Let’s get started.

BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE RESOURCES

BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE RESOURCES

bungalow architectural salvage fireplaceI put a call out to my Facebook followers for their favorite bungalow architectural salvage resources. I have long been a fan of the idea of salvage, as well the the practicalities of the practice. In my previous article, I write about the cultural, economic & ecological benefits of salvage & in this article, I write about the ones that they recommend & ones at which I have shopped over the years.

I tend to get a bit mesmerized in a salvage shop. While you see a plethora of objects, of all ages & types, the story is incomplete. Riveted by these bits of story. I get unpopular pretty fast because I ask so many questions but I’m a woman who loves a story, mine or someone else’s, & I feel untethered when I don’t know the details.

Occasionally, it is difficult is even understand an object’s purpose! The object to the left, provided by Doc’s Architectural Salvation, is clearly a product of The Aesthetic Movement, an art movement in the late 1800’s which valued the beauty of the the applied & fine arts over any social ramifications. You have heard the expression, “art for art’s sake?” This philosophy was manifested in the work of the Aesthetic Movement.

(I’m rather partial to this design style myself, & my dishware at my home in Eagle Rock, the Hare House, was of an Aesthetic pattern. I displayed it on my plate rail in my dining room & heck if it didn’t look wonderful with my Craftsman built-ins & my Restoration Hardware, Stickley knock-off dining table.) But more importantly, what is this thing?

Now you know how I feel in a salvage store!

BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE RESOURCES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY

I’m going to split up the country into sections. As I hear from you (hint, hint-see the comment form below?) I will break it up by state. So let’s get salvage shopping!

ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE SOURCES IN THE NORTHWEST

Aurora Mills architectural SalvageAurora Mills
Aurora, Oregon

Established in 1999, Aurora Mills is a multi-facted store offering antique & vintage architectural items, lighting, reclaimed lumber, iron gates, doors, fireplace mantles- pretty the much the full array. They have an extensive website with a large online inventory as well as a tour of the warehouse which I opened on my big screen. Wow!!!

For the bungalow crowd, they carry Arts & Crafts tiles & other Craftsman pieces.

ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE SOURCES IN THE MIDWEST

Architectural Antiques of Indianapolis
Indianapolis

My Instagram pal, hosshouse1879 tells me, “They do an excellent job of organizing the materials that they have salvaged. If you go in looking for a house part, they know what area to go to & make the search pretty easy.”

Norm, the proprietor has a great affinity for Arts & Crafts & is always on the look-out for items appropriate to the bungalow. He has a good stock of lighting, doors & hardware for us & often has some furniture & even colonade sets that would we would love.

Rebuilders Xchange architectural salvageRebuilders Xchange
“We partner with communities to transform the home building and design industry into a circular economy.”
Cleveland, Ohio

Referrer Amy K. says, ”It’s a fantastic place to just wander & look at all the treasures they’ve saved.”

So, I wandered through their website & found many items in their 50,000 sq. ft. jam-packed warehouse, in various categories that would be appropriate for bungalows, such as doors, windows, flooring, hardware, cabinets & cabinet doors, lighting, mantels, even kitchen sinks with drainboards (they come & go.)

In speaking with them I discovered that all items are on consignment, which encourages homeowners to recycle instead of contributing to the landfill. They even have several elderly pickers who bring things in to them to supplement their incomes.

ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE SOURCES IN THE NORTHEAST

Architectural salvage PittsburgConstruction Junction
“Salvaging the past to save the future.”
Pittsburgh, PA

Construction Junction is a non-profit organization which sells its donations of used & surplus materials in its 30,000 square foot store.

Sue D., a FB follower posted, “Construction Junction is wonderful! We needed a new door for our 1920 bungalow & found a perfect match for $5.00. And they wanted to give us a second one for free!’

They are always accepting donations & look forward to your visit.

ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE SOURCES IN THE SOUTH

Doc's architectural salvationDoc’s Architectural Salvation
Springfield, TN. 

Doc & his crew travel all over the U.S. carefully taking apart old structures. As terrible as it is that these buildings are demolished, they are there to make sure that much is saved.

In their 30,00 sq. ft. ware house they have an abundant supply of lighting, bathroom fixtures & hardware, mantels, doors & windows & more.

All the images from this page & the one about the wonders of salvage are from Doc’s.

Schiller’s Architectural & Design Salvage
“We take pleasure in our wacky finds.”
Tampa, Florida

In my world, there is simply not enough wacky so I’m a big fan of Schiller’s. My wood flooring company purchased reclaimed flooring from them & I was occasionally allowed to accompany my husband when he was there for a pick-up. It’s the sort of place that invites a long, quiet browse & husband wanted to get the flooring & scram.

Click on the PRODUCTS to see their array of items & don’t miss the Oddities page!

Southern Accents Architectural SalvageSouthern Accents Architectural Antiques
Cullman, Alabama

First of all, when you are on their site, you have to hit the OUR STORY link. The tale of this family business will both touch & amuse you. Dad started it out of love for salvage & over the decades, the business & the family just grew!

Martha L., my follower on Facebook says, “They have a huge selection & it is very organized. Their inventory is updated continually. Prices are reasonable.”

Speaking of huge selection, when you click the INVENTORY link, a full page menu drops down & each category displays  another page plus.

ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE SOURCES IN THE WEST

Pasadena Architectural SalvagePasadena Architectural Salvage
Pasadena, California

Over 20 years ago, when I was restoring my 1910 Craftsman, the Hare House, I frequently visited Architectural Details in Pasadena, home of the Gamble House, the Blacker House, Bungalow Heaven & an glorious abundance of historic homes & commercial buildings. I was astounded that the huge space could not only be so full of old salvage, but so tidy & organized. The inventory was meticulously kept in an index of 3’X5″ note cards & there was nothing that was untracked or out of place.We drooled over the Batchelder tiles kept behind the counter wishing our fireplace was in need of mending.

A quarter of a century later, after the owner’s retirement, Architectural Details has morphed into Pasadena Architectural Salvage with just as many wonderful, orderly items (tracked electronically, I’m sure!). The folks here are very friendly & I’m sorry I’m so far away! However, looking at their website is quite the treat & even includes a couple Batchelder fireplace surrounds.

MORE! I WANT MORE!

I know that there are other great salvage outlets scattered about the U.S. & I want to know about them & why they are special. So plunk your magic twanger, Froggies & zip on down to the COMMENT section. Become visible. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to see a click for a very strange children’s show in the 50’s. I shudder to think what the exposure of this to my 5 year old self had on my development.)

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BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE

BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE

Bungalow architectural salvage lightingIf you should be fortunate enough to have a bungalow, architectural salvage can be your BFF. Merriam Webster defines salvage as “property saved from destruction in a calamity (such as a wreck or fire).”

Cambridge adds, “to try to make a bad situation better.”

Not surprisingly, the derivation is from the French, “to save.”

Personally, I consider the destruction of a historic building, by Mother Nature, Father Time, or the hand of Man to be a crushing calamity & I have spent my adult life trying to get people to understand their value.You can read my story here.

There are so many arguments against it financially, culturally & aesthetically that it both puzzles & pains me that our built heritage is destroyed so casually. Whether by neglect, natural disaster or ignorance & short-sighted greed, the stories of our communities are turned to rubble & to dust.

Making lemonade, making “a bad situation better,” out of this sour mess, are those who are involved in architectural salvation. Architectural salvage involves carefully removing materials from a historic (or even a newer) structure that is going to be remuddled or completely destroyed. Instead of ruining these materials, & sending them to the landfill, salvagers give them a new life. Here’s a page of recommended by my Facebook followers outlets all over the U.S.

ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE IS GREEN

Bungalow salvage sinkThe footprint of architectural salvage materials is generally only that of transportation, from the original site, to the warehouse, to the new home. (hm-m-m.) I don’t think transportation is figured  into the numbers for the turbine or for the panels.) This of course varies considerably so I’m not going to give you any figures on this but I think you get it!

My buddy, Doc, of Doc’s Architectural Salvage and Reclamation Service, outside of Nashville, who provided me with all these gorgeous images, (including the PG one, is a master of the art. His well-ordered, abundantly stocked shop, Architectural Salvation is 38,000 sq. ft. of fine salvaged materials from homes, churches & commercial buildings & even ships. He & his crew have meticulously extracted these items from doomed structures, hauled them to his shop, cleaned & repaired them & offer them for sale to those who understand & appreciate their value.

I’m not going to try to ‘splain about Doc or Doc’s Architectural Salvation to you here when his website & social media do a good job of it. However, in the interest of full disclosure, Doc allows me to use his images for my blog & social media & buys me tacos when I visit him for the mention. I love tacos.

Please visit the BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE RESOURCES page to see outlets from all over the U.S. that were recommended by my Facebook followers. I encourage you to add the ones that you like the best too. Just scroll on down to the comments section.

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OUR OLD HOUSES ARE BUILT FROM OLD GROWTH WOOD

OUR OLD HOUSES ARE BUILT FROM OLD GROWTH WOOD

old growth wood houseFrom their framing to their siding to their doors & windows to their built-ins & their flooring, our old houses, are built of old growth wood. Thousands of board feet of it.

“Old growth.” What does that mean?

Let’s have a tree history lesson. Fossils show that the first tree-like plants, with vascular systems that transported water & nutrients, allowing the plants for the first time to rise up off the ground (Think moss.) & to form trunks & branches, developed 400 million years ago. Their evolution since then included the development of seeds & true woody stems.

Then,

Over 300 million years ago: The earliest conifers (i.e., cedar, fir, pine, redwoods & others) appear.
67 million years ago: Evidence of the first maple trees.
56 million years ago: Evidence of the first oak trees.

They continued to evolve & to create the great forests that covered most of America, generation after generation contributing to the next as they produced seeds, died & decayed, becoming part of the rich soil of the virgin woodland.

REDWOODS- THE LONGEST LIVING OF OLD GROWTH WOOD

loggers cutting old growth woodLet’s start with the Redwood, one class being the oldest plants on earth, living from about 800 to 3,200 years. On the west coast, before they were chopped to build our houses, they played an important part in the lives of early indigenous peoples who revered them, building  structures from fallen trees. Native elder Minnie Reeves called them “a special gift from the Great Creator. Destroy these trees and you destroy the Creator’s love . . . and you will eventually destroy mankind.”

When California became a state in 1850, there were nearly 2 million acres of redwood forest. San Francisco was built twice with redwood, before & after the quake & fire of 1906. But the worst was yet to come. During the first half of the 20th Century when California experienced a major building boom, the redwood forest suffered its greatest losses, with trains of lumber heading south as trains of oranges headed north.

Going into the 21st Century, only 5 percent of the old growth forest still stood, thankfully protected on public lands.

In modern times, redwood farms produce wood for lumber, however, this new wood does not have the same high levels of toxic tannins, a type of bitter, astringent chemical compounds which protect the trees from fungus & insects & decrease its susceptibility to rot.

Selective cutting of young trees is permitted on redwood farms but these trees do not have enough age on them to acquire the decay & insect resistant properties of the old growth. If you want the original, old growth wood, you must buy it second-hand, salvaged from old buildings that some uninformed person has chosen to demolish.

OTHER OLD GROWTH CONIFERS IN OLD HOUSES

The Douglas fir forests of the Northwest were treated just as casually. The timber industry, both logging & milling’ developed into a huge industry. The quantities were regarded as unlimited, if they were regarded at all in the push to maximize profit. As harvesting & transportation technologies developed, so did the quantity of forest land destruction increase.

It wasn’t until the 1880’s that conservation of timber supplies was considered. National forests were established & research into good forest practices began.

OAK

Clear cut forestThe Domesday Book of 1086, a survey ordered by William the Conqueror to record his holdings, indicated a forest cover of 15%,  By the start of the next millennium, this coverage had dropped to 5%.

In the 17th Century, as thousands of colonists arrived in the United States from England, they placed heavy demands on the forests taking huge trees, some hundreds of years old, of many species for lumber not only for building but also for fuel. Additionally, they cleared lands for agriculture & livestock.

Additionally, after the Industrial Revolution, potash, potassium carbonate derived from burned wood was in high demand in the colonies & in England where they had already decimated their forests. By the early 1800’s, the pre-revolutionary American colonies were providing England with more than 60% of its potash.

The construction boom after WW I, especially during the mid-1920’s, furthered reduced our forest resources. You can read about pine’s story, in the forests of the Eastern U.S.,  here.

FARMED WOOD VS OLD-GROWTH WOOD

old growth bungalow woodTrees are planted in man-made forests with the purpose of generating a large amount of product, fast. These farms do not replicate the ecology of the natural forest.  Generally they are one species only, & all the trees are planted at the same time. The trees are planted in rows spaced to allow maximum sunlight & water exposure so they grow very fast. The old forests allowed trees to grow slowly, putting on more tightly-packed growth rings

Because of this, new growth wood does not have the strength, stability nor the decay & insect repelling properties of old growth wood- not to mention the beauty. But. stick with me here. I have a theory about additional environmental factors that made the virgin forests a much better place for trees.

The conditions in the old forests had evolved over millions of years. Co-evolution is the evolving of all the parts of an ecosystem to assist each of its parts survive better. i.e., evolutionary change over time, benefiting each interacting member, usually involving different species. Tree farms lack this dynamic. They are the new  kids in school without a support system, not oriented to their environment, & growing in unnatural conditions.

The virgin forest is home to many tree species as well as hundreds of different insects, animals & microbes. All of these organisms have made reciprocal adaptive changes in cooperation with one or more other species, over the millennia, helping one another to survive with greater & greater efficiency.

Old growth forestMuch of this mutual adaptation involves microorganisms, the fungi that break down the fiber of the dead trees & turn them into nutritious soil, but also form a communication network for the trees. Watch this short video by National Geographic that explains how trees connect & share with one another.

Trees do not stand alone, competing with one another for sunlight, water & nutrients. Rather, the forest is almost like a single organism, the different trees interacting with one another, both within & outside their own species, through their roots & the fungal networks that connect these roots. They exchange communication & nutrients through this network, with the larger, old Mother trees forming the hubs. As an example, Douglas firs share excess sugars with the leafless birches in the spring & fall, & in return, the birches send sugars to the Douglas-firs in the summer, via the fungi underground.

Here’s my crazy theory. The health of the human body depends on the quantity & diversity of the microbes that live in the gut. To build a strong, healthy body, one needs a strong healthy microbiome- the colony of microorganisms within the body. This is a lovely short video of 2 Stanford researchers who have discovered much of what is known in this science. They have a big picture of bacteria over the fireplace in their home.

My hypothesis is that lumber from a tree grown in the virgin forest is better, stronger, more stable, more decay & insect resistant not just because it is old & bigger, but because it has grown up with a Mother, a family, neighbors & friends in the form of an active ecosystem that has had millions of years to get it right. “It’s not better because it’s old, it’s old because it’s better.”

What do you think?

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OLD GROWTH WOOD, VISIT OUR OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS- OLD GROWTH WOOD here.

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CHOOSE THE RIGHT WOOD FLOOR FINISH FOR YOUR BUNGALOW

CHOOSE THE RIGHT WOOD FLOOR FINISH FOR YOUR BUNGALOW

choose-wood-floor-finishesThe finish is the material that goes on top of a prepared wood floor- a correctly & thoroughly prepared floor- that makes it look fresh, emphasizes the grain & protects the wood, a comparatively soft & porous material. There are many products on the market, & I think the best way to choose the right wood floor finish for your bungalow, is to examine some of these products & consider their pluses & their minuses. I am not going to talk about stains (changing the color of the wood) here. Historically, wood floors were not stained. They were left natural & have aged & darkened to a beautiful patina over the decades. So that’s what I am going to recommend- floors au naturel.

As with any material that you use, or is used by a hired professional, I suggest that you read the manufacturer’s data, the Safety Date Sheet for the product & if you have any questions after reading the material, call the tech people at the manufacturer. They are the ones that most likely to have all the true & correct information about the product- not the pro, not the distributor or seller, not little ol’ me, but the manufacturer. I once had a really good painter apply paint in a method that was different from the manufacturer’s directions. The paint failed. The company’s literature said it would.

HIRE TRAINED WOOD FLOORING CRAFTSMEN WHO KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT WOOD FLOOR FINISH

IAngry-woman-on-phone do not like speaking ill of members of my trade, but I have seen some pretty angry homeowners  complaining about the odd choices made, resulting in high-gloss floors that gleamed like beacons in the night, floors that peeled before they were even dry & floors with their beautiful grain obscured by too many coats applied by the overzealous finisher.

As a wood flooring professional, my focus, when I choose the right wood floor finish for your bungalow or decide on which technique or equipment to use, it to view their consistent workability & durability. After answering calls from tearful owners of old houses, seeing hundreds of attempts by others to do oddball stuff to save time &/or money, all the advice that I am giving you is based on my 40+ years of experience with professional products & techniques.

You have only so much wood layer left above the tongue & groove of your historic floor. Incorrect choices, over-aggressive or poor sanding can reduce your floor’s life by decades. I always recommend that any wood flooring tradespeople you hire be trained & certified by the companies that make wood floor finishes for your historic bungalow that they will actually use on your project. (Hopefully, they follow schooling that they learned!) The National Wood flooring Association has extensive training programs for installers, sander/finishers & even sales reps.  Additionally, Bona a finish company whose products we used for many years has a topnotch training program for finishers.  They train craftspeople in the use of their products, their state-of-the-art equipment & techniques, including removing the least amount of precious floor necessary to get the heavy marks out of it & create a surface with which the finish will tightly bond. I also recommend that you read my 7 VITAL Things to Know Before You Hire a Contractor.

I caution you against hiring someone to apply a particular type or even brand of finish for the very first time. The techniques & tools for applying each of these finishes varies hugely. They do not use the same skill set.

SO-O-O-O, WHAT’S THE RIGHT ONE?

My pros & cons are based on the use of these products in an old house- either for the installation of new or reclaimed/salvaged, wood or for the refinishing of existing wood. Folks seem to have strong opinions about wood floor finishes. Please be polite in expressing these opinions. Everyone has different requirements for their floors based on budget, lifestyle, skill level & aesthetic preferences. And perhaps the phases of the moon.

OIL-BASE POLYURETHANE FLOOR FINISHES

oil-polyurethanes-for-bungalowsPros: Approximates the illusion of depth that old finishes- shellac, wax, & varnishes showed & it ambers over time, again mimicking those historic materials. Costs less than many other types of finishes.

If you follow my maintenance guide & don’t have any water intrusion horrors, you have a good chance of never having to refinish your floor again by periodically recoating it. Check out the section RECOATING to learn more about this useful option.

Cons: Strong odor that can linger for months. Long cure time. More environmentally harmful. Flammable, as are applicator rags. Some people don’t like the fact that it ambers over time.
Sheens: Available in matte to high gloss. (With matte, it is almost impossible to get an even sheen.)

Recommended brands: Bona & Dura Seal (Not available at big box stores.

 

WATER-BASED FINISHES

water-based-wood-floor-finishes-for-bungalowsPros: Easy application & cleanup; low odor and low VOCs; several gloss options, including an easy-to-use matte; no yellowing over time. Good scuff, scratch and chemical resistance at full cure. Quick drying. Easy care.

The ones we liked best were two-partwater-based finishes, such as Bona Traffic HD, Dura Clear Max, & Basic Coating Street Shoe which are considerably more durable than most oil-based polyurethanes. They have much better abrasion resistance and will last longer when used on your bungalow’s wood floors. However, water-based finishes sold at the retail level are not two-part & are less durable than these better, professional grade water-based finishes.

Cons: Raises grain when applied for the first couple of coats when no stain coat has been applied. Grain raise makes the wood surface feel rough, both in appearance & to the touch. A trained wood flooring professional should be able to deal with grain raise & would probably suggest a minimum of 3 coats, lightly abrading between each one.

Lower sheen or matte water-based finishes make the wood look bare rather than creating a look of depth that old finishes impart. Semi-gloss or gloss water-based finishes do give good depth of finish.

Sheens: Available in matte to high gloss, except for Bona Traffic HD which is not made in high gloss.

COMBINING FLOOR FINISHES

Another good option when you choose the right wood floor finish for your bungalow, is to consider applying 1-2 coats of Bona Dri-Fast oil poly sealer, with 2 coats of water-based Bona Traffic HD (stands for Hard & Durable!) on top This combination gives you depth, ambering & durability plus avoids grain raise.

Recommended brands: Bona, Basic Coatings, & Dura Seal. These products are available in extra durable product levels.  (Not available at big box stores.)

Once again, if you follow my maintenance guide & don’t have any water intrusion events of magnitude, you can avoid refinishing your floor again by periodically recoating it.

OIL PENETRATING WOOD FLOOR FINISHES

oil-penetrating-wood-floor-finishes-for-bungalowsWhile other finish systems sit on top of the surface of the wood, oil penetrating wood finishes go down into the fibers of the wood, then harden on the surface.

Pros: Offers a natural look because you do not look through it. Many contain no VOC’s. Easy application of non-pigmented products. We have found Rubio to have a moderate odor & WOCA’s to be stronger.
The use of these products requires periodic maintenance- re-applying oil, but may not ever need a full sand and refinish. If severely worn, a light sanding may be needed first.

Cons: The look is very matte & most people are accustomed to a bit of shine. It is a durable finish, however, we once used this coating on the floor of a studio of a painter. He worked in oils & his paint drips were not repelled by the finish but soaked right into the wood. It was awful!!!!
Pigmented oils require impeccable prep/sanding & are difficult to apply.
Clean-up is similar to that of oil-base finishes. You will need paint thinner to clean your hands, your brush or non-disposable applicators. All are flammable.

Recommended brands: WOCA, Rubio & Bona

TUNG & LINSEED OILS

In 40+ years in the trade, we did not have good luck with these materials for various reasons- cost, durability, toxicity, flammability, sheen choices, ease of use & ability to get a consistently good finish. There are no manufacturer recommendations for use on floors for some products. Floors lead a hard life & using a product designed to be applied to furniture is only going to lead to more maintenance.  We greatly preferred the products mentioned above. If you should choose to use these product formulated with these oils, please ensure that they are specified for floors.

One more bit of advice- when it’s time to choose the right wood floor finish for your bungalow, no matter what the species, stay away from high-gloss sheens. They reflect so much light that you will not be able to see the beautiful wood grain. Additionally, they show even the tiniest scratches as well as dust & dirt. And the there’s the hairballs. Kitty’s urp is very high acid & will dull that mirror shine of high-gloss very quickly.

As always, whether you are hiring someone to perform the work or doing it yourself, study the manufacturer’s materials, the Safety Data Sheets & protect yourself & your family from chemicals & toxins in your home. And enjoy your beautiful wood floors!

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HISTORIC BUNGALOW WOOD FLOORS 101- Tree Anatomy

HISTORIC BUNGALOW WOOD FLOORS 101- Tree Anatomy

Train-in-old-growth-forestI consider historic bungalow wood floors to be the single most endangered historic fabric, well, maybe second to windows! As a tree-hugging, wood flooring profession, specializing in the restoration & preservation of historic floors, I’d like to pass on what I have learned in over 35 years in the trade. I’m starting with Historic Bungalow Wood Floors 101- Anatomy of a Tree, so that you will understand the value of your original wood flooring material that was gifted to us by the forest primeval.

Wood is a soft & porous material which means that they require a coating to keep them protected. This coating gets tracked off, the floors get scratched, they suffer water damage, animals make messes on them- all expected parts of life if you’re a wood floor.

“They’re not shiny enough.” “They’re the wrong color.” “I just bought my house & I want everything to be fresh & new.”

Then they get attacked by a sanding machine at the hands of a person who doesn’t have a learner’s permit let alone a license to drive such a machine. (That’s a joke but there is training for the most conscientious craftsmen which saves floors & honors trees.) Maybe expected, but highly unnecessary.

Let’s see what precious material, harvested over a century ago from the old-growth forests of our country, this wood actually is, that we may decide to treat it more gently.

A GIFT FROM THE FOREST TO YOUR BUNGALOW

Tree-seedlingYour historic bungalow’s wood floor began as trees. It is a product of Mother Nature, gifted by her warmth & beauty, but also subject to her whims. Consequently, to fully understand & properly care for your floor, it helps to know a bit about your floor’s life from its conception.

The seed holds all the parts of the tree as well as the nutrients it needs to get started. Given the proper conditions, soil, water, temperature, it sprouts into a tiny seeding. After only a few weeks you will see a miniature tree, complete with leaves, needles, bark & wood.

Like everything else on earth, ancient trees sprang from the sea & like all other life, are dependent on water. The entire tree has evolved to move water to all its parts.

When we look at a historic bungalow wood floor, we see the tree’s trunk & branches. The trunk’s function is to support the tree’s limbs & to move water & nutrients from the roots to the leaves. As the tree grows taller & taller in its reach for the sun, allowing its leaves to photosynthesiz to make food for the tree, it expands in girth to increase its ability to support its increasing height. Each year the cambium adds new layers of woody tissue which create the tree’s annual rings which you can easily see.

HISTORIC BUNGALOW WOOD FLOORS 101- ANATOMY OF A TREE

Tree-anatomyThe bark covers the tree to protect it from pests & disease. Just under the bark is the layer called the cambium. It is made of growth tissue cells and these cells divide to increase the tree’s diameter.

The sap wood, on the outer edges of the tree is made up of the youngest layers of wood. Its cells carry moisture & nutrients- sugars, amino acids, vitamins, hormones, minerals & micro-nutrients from the tree’s roots to its leaves.

In an old tree which has lived many centuries, like the ones from which the lumber was cut to produce our bungalows, most of the trunk is dead. This wood, on the inside of the tree, is called heart wood. It has ceased transporting nourishment for the tree, & has become a repository for various chemical compounds. The heartwood is often much darker in color than the sapwood. The heartwood gives the tree support, but in some species, as the tree grows, it rots away leaving a hollow, living tree.

Heartwood tends to be more durable than sapwood & less subject to attack by certain insects & by stain & mold-producing fungi. It usually is more highly colored & therefore considered more ornamental & is more highly prized for historic bungalow wood floors, than the white sapwood. Heartwood is also less permeable to liquid, containing more resin than the sapwood.

The meduliary rings are ribbons of cells running from the inside of the plant to the outside which carry nutrients & chemicals which fight invasion by insects & fungi, & block any damaged areas, out toward the surface of the tree.
The pitch is found in the middle of the stems & roots of many plants which store & transports nutrients. It is the oldest part of the tree.

HISTORIC BUNGALOW WOOD FLOORS 101- Anatomy of a Tree
The Summary

The people who logged our wood from the forest are long gone, but I here’s a shout-out to their efforts in ensuring cozy little bungalows for Americans to live in for the next 100+ years.

I want you to remember the miracle of the forest. Honor those men & those trees by preserving your floors.

Old typewriterSTAY IN THE BUNGALOW KNOW!!!

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