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Frequently Asked Questions

kitchen wood floors
hallway with wood floor
Humidity Warning

Changes in humidity are what case boards to move. The job site must be maintained at the humidity level you will keep it at when you live there. Boards need to acclimatize to the environmental conditions in your home. If the humidity changes after you move in, the boards will move, resulting in gapping. 

The humidity levels need to be stable prior to receiving the shipment of flooring; this is true of new and antique wood.

Below is a list of questions we get often. If you have a question not answered here, please contact us on our contact page.


What is Antique Wood?

Antique wood is salvaged from old local structures, such as barns, houses, ware houses and so on. The lumber needs to be 80 years old or older before it has enough patina to be considered "antique".


What can Antique Woods be Used For?

In our experience, the most popular use is for flooring, but it can be used for wall panel, stairs, furniture, cabinetry, and more. In fact, it can safely be used in most places where new wood is used. If you want to use antique building materials for structural purposes, please consult your local building authorities, as there may be regulations that apply to using old lumber in new load bearing construction.


Where does most of your salvaged wood come from?

The majority comes from old barns all over Southern Ontario. There are some other structures as well, such as houses, kilns, warehouses, etc. The most unique structure we salvaged lumber from was the Central Fire Dept. building in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. There was a renovation to bring it up to fire code, and old heart pine planks were salvaged, and converted into flooring,


Can antique wood be used over in floor heating?

Yes, but it's not always a good idea to use soft or hard wood flooring over in floor heating. In many cases, engineered flooring is requires so the boards don't shrink. It is possible to install solid wood flooring over in floor heating, but a great deal of care must be taken by everyone involved, from the manufacturer, right down to the general contractor and homeowner. Still, there will likely be some movement as the heating is turned on and off through the seasons.


Is it safe to use this flooring in an unheated cottage?

Yes, this flooring can be used in a cottage that is closed every year. The temperature in the cottage is less important than the humidity. As long as the building is sealed, the wood will most probably be fine.


Why does wood have to acclimatize before installation?

The wood needs time to expand or shrink according to your home's humidity levels before being installed, otherwise they will move after, leaving gaps, or becoming uneven surfaces.


What does "moisture content" mean?

This is a way of measuring how much water is actually in the wood. 6% to 8% moisture content is required for all interior wood. This means there is about 6-8 gallons of water in 100 sqft of boards.


What humidity content should I keep my house at?

A comfortable humidity content ranges from 35%-45%. Maintain this year round, and you'll see little to no movement in your floor boards.


What about bugs in the wood? Will my house get an infestation?

As described on our "Quality Standards and Terms" page, all of our flooring is heat treated to kill any bugs or pests before we work with any lumber.


How do you install this flooring?

All antique floor boards need to be stapled or nailed through the tongue, plus some surface nailing to help hold everything in place. It must also be glued down with high quality construction adhesive such as PL 400 or a floor adhesive like Dri Tack.


How do I look after antique wood floors?

It is best to clean antique wood floors often using a vacuum or dry duster. Also, avoid excessive water, such as with mops, and be diligent to clean up spills as they happen, rather than leaving a puddle for a long time. Try to keep the floors free from dirt and grit, giving special attention to entrances, under mats, and places where dirt can accumulate and wear the finish. Keep pet nails trimmed, especially dogs, to avoid scratches. If there is a spot that a duster or vacuum can't handle, then use a well wrung out, soft cloth that is damp, and not soaking. If you still need more, then use a cleaning solution provided by a urethane manufacturer, such as Minwak or Bona Kemi. These can be found in hardware stores around the wood finish section. Please be careful not to use just any chemical cleaner, as these could damage the varnish, or leave behind a build up of wax or soap scum, making repairs to the varnish virtually impossible.


We hired our own installer and have leftover flooring. Can we return it?

All uncut lumber that is still in its original condition and moisture content can be returned for a refund. If you need us to pick it up, you will be charged for it. The boards will be checked for moisture content and structural integrity before it will be received. 


Why does it take so long?

When the barns and century buildings we reclaim were built, the builders were not picky. They used whatever happened to be on hand at the time. Accordingly, when filling your order, we may have to search to find your chosen species. Moreover, a great deal of work is involved in harvesting and milling the wood to fit your needs.


What is engineered flooring?

Engineered flooring is made by gluing a layer of solid wood to a base of high quality multi-ply plywood, often Baltic Birch, or something similar. The idea is that the plywood will hold the veneer of the wood in place so that it will not shrink or expend. If the product is made right, it will last, and preform as expected. Nonetheless, not all engineered products are of equal quality. Engineered floors can delaminate ( meaning that the solid wood top separates from the plywood) when the glue gets old, or if poor quality glue is used. Delamination is not repairable, and f it occurs, the floors will need to be replaced. If you choose to employ engineered floors, be sure to buy product that specifically guarantees it will not delaminate.


What payment options are available?

We accept cheque or cash. We can also do online banking.


What is Patina?

Patina is the naturally present colouring found in well aged lumber. For instance, new lumber, such as pine, is very white; by contrast, antique pine wood can range in colours from reddish brown to a deep golden brown when finished with oil based varnish. The colour is the result of patina.


What are the differences between antique, and new boards?

There are a number of differences. Antique wood is essentially used material. Defects will be present, and are in fact what makes antique wood valuable and rustic. Antique lumber is primarily decorative, and is not for load bearing situations without proper inspection. On the other hand, the imperfections o new wood is cut out and disposed of. Antique wood displays deep, rich, naturally occurring colours that almost give the impression it has been stained or treated in some way. New wood, by comparison, has little colour.


Are you running out of old buildings to salvage?

Not yet, but eventually we will. generally, there is about one barn plus additional structures every 100-200 acres in the country side. Many of these are still there, they just aren't being maintained. Thus, as development expands, these structures are slowly disappearing. We are able to salvage more now from each project than we could have previously with new technology. Nonetheless, there is a limited number of structures left.


Can this flooring be used in a boat house, or near a lake?

Yes, as long as the home is properly sealed and air tight to stop moisture from getting in under the wood. Make sure that the general contractor is very diligent in this area. Still, expect some movement between boards through the seasons, especially if you like to leave windows open.


How does humidity affect the flooring?

Wood breathes, it takes in moisture from the air, or releases moisture depending on the atmosphere around it. In a humid setting, wood soaks up moisture and expands. In a dry environment, wood gives up moisture and shrinks. To stop boards from moving, you need to maintain constant humidity year round, humidifying and dehumidifying if needed. 


Once the wood is varnished, doesn't this seal the wood, and lock its moisture content?

No, varnishing just slows down the process. That is why cabinets and furniture are built with moving panels, so as the wood moves, it does not break the panel.


What does "relative humidity" mean?

Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air at a fixed temperature. For instance, a humidity reading of 80% means that the air is holding 80% of water vapor it could hold at that temperature. This is an oversimplified definition, but it explains why it is so important that the house is sealed. If the moisture in the air changes, then the moisture in the boards will follow suit. If the house is sealed, the boards will remain constant.


Is antique wood environmentally friendly?

Yes, for a few reasons. First, it is reclaimed from old, unused buildings, which were not benefitting anyone in the first place. Then, instead of cutting down new trees, you are reusing what has already been done. Also, you are saving good materials that otherwise would be scrapped with the rest of the structure, left to rot in a landfill. It seems fitting that you are rewarded with gorgeous floors for helping to protect the environment.


What about holes and cracks in the wood?

In most cases, all holes and cracks are filled prior to applying varnish. Depending on the flooring you have ordered, you decide that you don't want every imperfectio filled it, such as with Rustic or Distressed Heritage Grades, where the impressive colours are on the surface of the wood. If the holes are filled, then you have to sand it smooth, stripping off the colour and authenticity. In this situation, you may prefer to leave it textured.


How long does it take varnish to dry?

This depends on the varnish, and the environment. If the environment is drier, then the varnish will dry faster. Usually it is possible to walk on varnished floors after about 24 hours of drying time, if you wear socks, and keep traffic to a minimum. In any case, always read the label of the varnish, and give it extra time to dry if it is taking longer. Too much traffic on an uncured varnish will cause problems, and result in expensive repairs.


We have antique wood, but our job has been delayed. How do we store it?

When storing antique wood, it must be kept in a moisture controlled environment, ideally in the room or area it will be installed in. If this is not possible, store the wood in a sealed environment, and do your best to simulate conditions you will have in your house. It may also be necessary to allow the wood to re-acclimatize to your home again before installation.


We are ready to order: how long does it take to make the flooring?

The answer depends on what you order. Standard flooring, such as antique pine, typically takes an estimated 6-8 weeks for us to find and process. Other orders may shorter or longer. We recommend placing your order well in advance, to ensure installation isn't delayed.


At what point during construction should antique flooring be installed?

Before installation of antique wood flooring can begin, the house must be sealed, with all windows and doors in place; All heating and cooling systems must also be operational. The drywall should be done, and at least primed, as drywall plaster drying could throw off the humidity levels in the house. The trim work and cabinetry should not be installed yet, because the flooring has to be sanded and finished in place. Installation price is calculated based on open rooms without anything in the way, so if cabinets and trim are in the way, it will take more time, and cost more money. This includes floor castings and jambs.


Is engineered flooring better?

Engineered flooring is not necessarily better, just different. On the plus side, it is more stable, and can be used over in floor heating with minimal movement. On the other hand though, if engineered flooring gets wet, it is more likely to delaminate and fail, where solid wood could simply be repaired. Delaminated engineered flooring cannot be repaired, and must be replaced, where solid wood flooring can be refinished and repaired repeatedly. If you are considering engineered flooring, please take your time, think it through, and weigh the pros vs cons. Maybe a mix of engineered floors, and solid wood will work the best in your situation. 

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