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Barn-wood flooring; beauty, durabilty, authenticity


    Master bedroom renovation in Historic Bethlehem

When considering an old world look, there is one type of wood flooring many people never consider; barn-wood flooring.

There are many choices of wood species, color and quality when you are considering wood flooring. You can walk into any flooring store and go through the hundreds of samples of solid oak, maple, walnut, cherry, or even exotic tongue and groove flooring. You will see simulated distressed flooring that looks as if it was hand planed, and you will see laminate flooring that attempts to reproduce antiquity.  

There are pre-finished floors sporting high-tech old-world finishes that also try to give the appearance of authenticity, but never quite come up to the plate.

     Stair nosing and treads and risers are hand made

If you are going for the colonial farm house look, or you love the feel of a 200 year old home, you can begin to achieve that by choosing barn-wood flooring. There are floor covering stores that carry it, but many do not. If you contact a flooring contractor you will be surprised that they will, more than likely, know exactly what you are talking about. There is one in particular, right here in the Lehigh Valley, called Wood Natural Restoration. Ken Muth, founder and owner, is a well known expert on antique woods and restoration products.

In Bucks, Lehigh, and Northampton counties, there are still plenty of standing barns that were once part of a rich agrarian culture. But, no matter how hard we try to protect these treasures of our past, the pressure from the cities of New York and Philadelphia has, for years, been displacing much of the farm land with new homes, shopping centers, and highways. The farms have been sold off only to become part of that endless expansion called suburban sprawl. As a result, many of the barns have fallen into disrepair. Some have collapsed, and others have been disassembled. In either case, the materials, such as the stone, beams, interior planking and siding are all being recycled. You just have to ask the right contractor about it.

 One side planed smooth and the edges straight ripped 

Once you have found a source and a contractor who knows how to properly install barn-wood flooring, you have a few more choices to make. The interior flooring in many barns, in our area, was commonly pine. The barn-beams were commonly oak or chestnut, and the barn siding was in most cases hemlock. You could choose to have the interior wide- plank flooring of a barn reinstalled into your house, and there is no doubt it would be absolutely beautiful after being sanded and finished.

But, if you choose the hemlock-siding you will get something called a weathered patina. The planking is planed smooth on the side that, at one time, faced inward toward the barn’s interior, and the edges are cut straight and parallel. The planks are laid with the rough weathered side up and then sanded down to be even across the surface of the floor. What is left showing are rich colorations imparted deep into the fibers of the wood by years of weathering? The defects, such as open knots, are filled with matching epoxy filler and then the floors are double coated with polyurethane.

When all is said and done, you have a rich butterscotch colored floor with hues and deep varied tones not found in any other floor. One installation note; be sure your contractor nails the floor with old-world cut nails and sets those just below the surface.

Jeffrey B. Allen

Read about the old Firehouse that could

For further Information:
Wood Natural Restoration
Read more about old barn wood flooring and its processing
Antique flooring companies
Interior architectural elements of design and construction: Please leave suggestions on topics you would like to learn more about.


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