Tech Talk: Matching Reclaimed or Historic Wood on a Project

How did you overcome a challenge in matching reclaimed or historic wood on a project?

John Alford: Matching the patina in a historical restoration isn’t always easy. First, determine the species of wood you are working with and then decide what the finish and look will be. I have added patina with reactive stains and dyes. Just keep in mind as some woods age, they will darken and may get darker than your historical floor in a short time. Texture also can be a problem, and experimenting with different things to add age and wear is sometimes the only way to match. I have used rocks in a pillowcase or just simply a tiny drill bit to add wormholes. Flat scraping can add a worn look, especially around knots.In addition,  a light wire brushing can add subtle texture that looks 100 years old.

Matthew Bruno: Palermo Flooring performed a restoration project in Bridgehampton, New York, where we found historical photographs, to reference the project. Some of the locations were beyond repair, so we removed these areas and salvaged the material to restore other locations throughout the project. The hardest part was matching the proper milling and thickness of the existing floor, and properly identifying each species. We tackled the species issue by performing tests and referencing the NWFA species book. In reference to the milling issue, we had to use thicker material and then custom mill material to match.

Mike Osborn: Here in the northwest, you will find “old growth fir flooring” in 3/4” x 3 1/4” dimension, and “Siberian oak” in 5/16” x 2” dimension installed in the historic turn-of-the-century homes, a finite resource. The old-growth fir and Siberian oak are no longer available as “new products,” so I have turned to reclaimed or second-use sources. These businesses will decommission a historic home gently and offer the valuable flooring materials to the remodel or renovation contractor.

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