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Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Posted by sweet-tea (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 16:35

We are planning on having SYP wide plank (9 in.) floors throughout the entire house. Yes, even the kitchen, baths, and mudroom. This is our forever house, so not concerned about what someone else might want later. My question is on finish. I've researched everything and I'm still confused, I hoping someone here might have some first hand experience with SYP floors and tell me what works for you. I don't really want poly, I know pine is soft, but I don't want to deal with the resand and refinish of poly. I prefer something more natural and easy for me to maintain, probably an oiled finished. I've been looking at Osmo, Monocoat, Woca, or pure Tung oil. I really like the honey color of older pine and the other 3 products offer a color oil, which the tung oil is just clear.

I'm also planning on having custom hickory countertops, (if all goes well) and I think I'm finishing them with tung oil and/or mineral oil. Does anyone have any experience to share with SYP floors or these finishes? Thanks for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

We have random width white pine floors in our colonial house. Like you, they are all over: entry, dining, kitchen, laundry, living, stairs for four levels, basement and all upper levels, including baths. Only one bathroom is tiled and I wish it was wood.

The advantage is that it provides a historic continuity throughout the house (ours is a reproduction of a 1700s house), and the floors, with their antique flat head nails visible on the surface, look and feel comfy.

We finished our floors with stain and waterbased poly. After 15-16 years they now need refinishing. But as they are they show the wear and patterns of a family living in and using the house--a sort of visual history that I like and thus, I'm in no hurry to refinish. Maybe never will, since as the floor age and show wear, they look very appropriate for a 1700s house in 2014.

A word of caution: pine is soft and shows every minor ding and scratch. Direct sunlight (and even reflected light) will sooner or later create "light patterns" on the flooring, and you will also have clear impressions of where rugs are located. If you are a neat and tidy extremist, who wants a crisp, tailored "modern" look, pine floors aren't for you. In such a case, you need maple.

Good luck on your project.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

We're planning SYP as well, face nailed. All I can recommend is to make sure the installer knows their stuff and lets the wood fully acclimate before nailing it down. SYP shrinks a LOT. We haven't decided on a finish yet.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

I can't speak specifically to pine, but we have a walnut top on our island with a mineral oil finish. It looks fine, but you end up with oil marks on any papers you may be working on at the island.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Virgil- thanks for the tips. Your house and floors sound lovely. I'd love an old historic home, or a reproduction. Our house will be rustic, in a wooded setting. I don't think patina and dents will bother me as long as they are darker, that's why I was considering an oil finish. My mom has poly on her oak and after 17 years the high traffic areas are worn lighter, and I'm afraid that would bother me. I wouldn't mind if my floors looked 100 years old, well loved and used but not abused.

Mushcreek -We plan to face nail ours as well. I think we have to with boards over 8 inches. I'm worried about the shrinkage, we're in the humid South, but they're kiln dried, and we plan to let them acclimate in the house for several weeks before install. Post pictures when you finish yours, I'll be watching. Good luck!

Nini- thanks for the hint on the countertops, I did a sample board of the hickory and I didn't notice any problems with it, but I'll check on it. Thanks.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

The biggest challenge for wood flooring as soft SYP is that water will get under the finish very quickly and lift it. Therefore, it is important to use a much harder wood in a kitchen at least near a sink or a back door unless some kind of floor covering is used in these areas.

Pure tung oil is a very slow polymerizing drying-oil not suitable as a floor finish especially on SYP. Be aware that the term "tung oil finish" is commonly used by varnish manufacturers for any wood finish that contains some tung oil or looks like a finish that contains it but is just a solvent based linseed oil varnish.

I recommend discussing the finish with a professional floor finisher.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Renovator- Thanks for the advice. I have talked to finishers, but around here the standard finish is stain and poly. SYP is common, but the only finish on any wood floor is poly. Of course, I can do whatever I choose, but I can't get advice from anyone. I was leaning more towards the Woca or the Osmo hard wax oil. Do you think the oil finish would be more durable for the kitchen? Seems to me it might because it's not just sitting on the the top of the wood but absorbed down into the grain.

The tung oil I may use on my hickory countertops, but I had pretty much decided against it for the floors. I know many people say they have tung oil floors and it's actually Waterlox or a similar vanish, which I had looked at as well.

All my other decisions come so easy, this one is killing me. Thanks for your help.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

After 15-16 years with eastern white pine floors throughout our house, I can say that water isn't a problem if spills are quickly wiped up. On the other hand, a flooded basement or a leaking toilet unattended may create the expansion and popping problems Reno describes. Such water-based expansion is characteristic of all wood flooring, however, not simply pine.

And if you have (or anticipate) very small children, who have a tendency to spill things, it may be good to rethink.

My intuition about the wax or oil finish (as opposed to water-based poly) is that it may be a greater maintenance and renewal finish than poly. Be sure to investigate how long an application of such finishes lasts and when it must be renewed before making a final decision.

So the answer about wood floors of any kind is: it all depends!


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

We have heart pine floors throughout our home that were milled locally, kiln dried, and acclimated for about a month before installation in our log style style home. We chose to use pure tung oil on them since I did not want any toxic substances used in our house, and I did not want the headaches involved with refinishing in the future.

We've been in our house almost two years and the oil finish has held up just fine. At some point I will re-oil sections of the floor at a time, but despite hard use and several cats throwing up hairballs, our floor is still water resistant and looks beautiful. I do need to apply more tung oil in my immediate kitchen area at some point in the near future. Not because my floor is deteriorating, but I do a lot of cooking, canning, freezing, etc. and haven't always kept a throw rug down. The oil needs to be replenished because of all the wet activity. Someday I will get around to it.

It is developing a "patina" from living a life here. There are some gouges or scrapes in the wood, but they are not noticeable unless looked for. We have very little movement at all in the floor. In other words, we don't have gaps opening up, but we also had an excellent installation job done. All in all, it is a rich and very beautiful floor. NO regrets. It's awesome looking. I would have hated scratches in a polyurethane finish, and I feel because the floor is just natural wood with a natural oil finish, that it simply does not scratch easily.

It was not easy finding someone who had experience installing a "real" wood floor. I can't tell you how many "installers" we talked to who wanted to glue the floor down, polyurethane it only, and those that wanted the work but obviously knew nothing about this type of floor.

Someone who only installs laminate will not understand how to properly install a true wood floor. We did eventually find a young man who's specialty was installing reclaimed wood floors, so he understood natural wood, and he did an excellent job. I had to wait three months to get him...that's how much he's in demand. I talked him into applying the tung oil for me and we paid him well to do it. I was happy about that since at the time I was tung oiling all of our trim, baseboards, and doors.

I did considerable research before deciding to tung oil our floor. I used only the tung oil from the Real Milk Paint Company, and initially mixed it with citrus solvent to get it to soak into the wood really well. This company will answer any questions you have and their website has a great deal of information on how to finish wood floors with it.

Tung oil finish is NOT the same as pure tung oil.

The beauty of tung oil is that it is easily repaired and recoated. You can spot treat areas without having to do the whole floor. It is completely non toxic and does not outgas. The floor can be coated with an oil based urethane if so desired in the future, but I will never consider doing that. I love the tung oil.

I ran into lots of naysayers who tried to push me into the poly route, the Waterlox route, the Monocoate route. As I said earlier, I did a great deal of research (months worth) and went with the tung oil. I would do it again in a heartbeat.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Virgil- Thanks again. I know that oiled finish will require more maintenance than poly, but I think the maintenance will be easier for me to keep up.

Sandy- Thanks for the info! I was originally looking at tung oil and ordered samples from RMP Co. Then started getting scared and thinking I needed something more durable. How many coats did you have put on? Did you just thin the first coat with citrus solvent? Thanks for the help.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Many years ago, I did floors with the original formula Minwax. In making your choice, do some samples that can be viewed before starting on the actual floors.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

What a crazy timely thread for me.

Sandy - I've been going through the same struggle. I currently have 3300 S.F. of 12" yellow pine sitting in the house to acclimate and STILL haven't made a final decision. I'm torn between tung oil and Rubio monocoat. Do you remember why you eliminated Rubio?

What I like about the monocoat is that the colors are pre-integrated so I don't have to stain the floor first.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Wide pine will shrink and expand with the seasons. And 9" of movement (which for flat-sawn pine is like 1%) will be concentrated at one seam. That is why you do narrower strips, to spread that movement over more joints dividing it into smaller amounts, and it becomes negligible. To me a 1/9" gap at every board all winter would not be acceptable. The old-timers could get away with wider boards because the virgin timbers were slower-grown and stable; if quartersawn the movement was greatly diminished. If you nail down the wood tightly in hopes of stopping the movement, you will only succeed in getting it to split at the nails. If you want a lasting soft wood floor, you have to go with reclaimed material, like they sell at Mountain Lumber.
Casey


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

This is so very timely for me too. I am just beginning my research on all these options. May I throw a new question into this group? We were planning on oiling our new hardwood floors with WATCO danish oil, which is tinted a dark walnut. We liked WATCO because it is made with linseed oil and not tung oil. We don't want tung oil because of nut allergies and tung oil is coming from nuts. Being that floors have been oiled by much simpler generations than ours, we thought it would be a simple process. Is our thinking that we can apply several coats of the WATCO danish oil wrong?


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

cullygirl- I'm the OP and I'm still undecided on my floor finish. UGH ! I know I want a penetrating oil, but can't find enough information to finalize my choice. I'm still looking at Pure tung oil, Waco, Monocoat & Osmo. So if anybody has any insights on those I'd appreciate it. :)

To your question, I never really considered WATCO. But I think I researched every floor finish possible. From what I did read on it I believe it is similar to Waterlox, it's a penetrating oil with varnish. I think Waterlox recommends
3 initial coats. But for touch ups you do have to do some sanding to get the edges to blend the old finish with the new touched up area, I would assume the WATCO would be the same, but again I haven't really been considering these types of finishes so I'm not the best person to give advice.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

I installed a southern yellow pine floor in my wife's office about 5 yrs ago. We found some junior high bleachers made of this stuff in 18' long by 8" wide boards, bought the boards, planed one side to remove the old finish, and routed an 1/8" bevel into the edge of each board. We liked the look of an old style floor (hence the beveled edges) and the bevels make any shrinkage of the boards hard to detect. For the finish, I hit the floor with a colored dye (wiped off shortly after application) to make the grain stand out, stained the floor, and then used 2 coats of DuraCoat Sealer (a Sherwin Williams product) as the finish. The floor is beautiful, and is holding up well. I'm now in the process of finishing my office, and will do the same with the remaining 300 sq ft of yellow pine I have left.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

We are in the middle of installing a combo of SYP and heart pine. It is only 5" wide and has acclimated for over a year. We have experimented with waterlox on the boards for a year now too and plan on finishing with the waterlox. I was wondering your thoughts on not using waterlox? And if u wanted any information about our test boards with and without stain, I would be happy to share.

The picture doesn't really offer much justice to how beautiful the floors are looking. We are not babying them and love the knots especially. We are actually going to be doing some foot wearing and hand distressing before finishing. I'm jealous of your wide planks and would have loved to have gone that route. Anyways, budget and expansion were the reasons for our choice.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Mommyto4- Your floors look great!! I would love to hear your thoughts on stains/ finishes and Waterlox as well. Please share! :)
We have friends that finished theirs out with Waterlox, (no stain,) and they like it ok. We have considered it. But I wanted something that was easier to touch up and with not quite as strong fumes. But I still haven't ruled anything out. Except Rubio Monocoat, I was disappointed in the way the color samples came out on the SYP. The clear would be ok, if I decided not to stain.

So are you staining first? What color?


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Sweet tea, thanks, it is a very slow process. We (meaning DH) didn't get anything done during this week and hopefully can find time to make progress on the floors this w/e.

Thus far, our samples of the waterlox have looked just beautiful. It seems very easy and diy friendly. We are planning to use a 4:1waterlox to stain ratio. We have achieved some very nice color samples with minwax. Yes, the smell is very strong & we r using the low VOC. I believe their other (not low voc) is supposed to smell even worse. However, I think for a small touch up it would still be ok. I believe with windows and a fan venting a touch up area, it would be fine.

I have read a few blogs and others experiences and they rave about hand sanding a small area and touching up with waterlox.

We had per finished, shiny Brazilian cherry floors in our last home. However, beautiful, immediately after cleaning they were a PITA to keep looking nice. DH would get down and inspect and stress over every scratch and dink, it in not worth it:)

So, we are looking for a much lighter and more distressed floor this time. We now have 6 boys and need to have floors for our life and something we don't have to "cry" over each little mark. We figure with the knots and adding our own distressing, we will just welcome whatever comes to the floors. My sister came over with heels on and was taking them off and DH says, "no, walk everywhere, all around & drink me up!"

Our samples have given such beautiful colors, but we of course are still having a hard time making a choice. We want to go light, but worry about regretting it if we stay too close to natural. We decided to match our stairs to our built-ins and some of our cabinets. They are a darker stain with a little reddish undertone. We are working to have the floors go with that, so it seems the natural looks good, but we want a little more tone than that. Also, in our samples, when we use the stain, it seems to enhance (blacken) the distressed and knotty areas. We both like that look too. Seems we need to be somewhere in the golden and warm colors, but not ORANGE (my fear).

It is such a hard choice with choosing the finishes. I would like the woods to look "older" and I just don't think I would be as happy with the poly finish/look. We need this to be diy and it seems to be working out that way.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Mommyto4- Thanks for the info. So, you are mixing the stain in with the waterlox? Do all coats have the stain mixed in?

We're thinking along the same lines as you for the floors, I'd rather have them distressed a little now before I finish them, I think they'll look more authentic with the stain settling in the dents and dings- and then I won't notice every ding later.

We're looking at something in a mid tone, probably not natural, although sometimes I think that would be the easiest, but I like my woods to look a little richer like old pine, probably more like Early American, but it really depends on what I choose to finish them with. We're planning on hickory countertops and they'll be finished with one coat of dark tung oil and then mineral oil, so don't I want the floors to clash with them.

I agree, it's so hard getting woods to all go together!


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

I have been reading and researching this for 2 years now and from everything I read...

Seems that it is recommended and agreed by most that it is best to:

1- Mix the stain into the waterlox using at most a 4:1 ratio
(1 part stain : 4 parts waterlox)

2- ONLY mix stain in the first coat

3-do not reapply coats until ready for next coat

There is a lot of information on the waterlox site and also you can find a lot of DIY'ers that have shard their instructions on line. Of course (like everything) you will read about people who do not like it too. We have found the vast majority to have had success and be happy.

A few things we have learned when sampling. Make sure you sand the sample boards. I didn't do this at first and it does not take the stain the same as it does when sanded. I bought a container of waterlox original (low voc) and also the satin finish coat for our samples. I used measuring spoons and wrote on the back of each sample what satin and ratio I was using. We would apply with a little foam brush. So, our first coat we would apply usually a 4:1 ratio, sometimes 6:1 or 8:1; a mix of waterlox:stain. We would wait 24 hours and then apply a coat of plain waterlox original. Do not be alarmed as it is very shiny after doing this. We DO NOT want ours to be shiny. So, then the next 24 hours we applied the satin finish top coat by itself and it got rid of the shire and looks beautiful. Waterlox recommends for the pine to use 3 coats original and then the 4th/final,coat to be the satin. We are still trying to figure out if we should do 3 or 4 total coats. The 3 total seem fine, but we don't want to cut corners either. Just wish I knew if they are being over kill with the recommendation of 4 coats. After all they make more if we do the 4 coats;)

Have fun mixing the stains too. I mixed some with 2 or 3 colors and then wrote down that ratio and then I would still take only 1 part of that stain mix and add 4 parts of waterlox. I understand that it is not intended to get a super, dark floor with the waterlox. Our samples definitely did produce some looks that were way darker than we wanted to use in our home.

I wish I would have kept all of our small boards, but we ended up sanding down the ones and reusing when we knew it was one we weren't liking. I'll get some pics together of what we do have.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Going to try this, not sure how well the colors are going to show. The second board from the left is waterlox only. Wow, just noticed the toes;(


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Let me know if you would like stain details on anything. You can tell on the middle board in this picture that we missed applying the stain/waterlox on the edge where it is lighter. We are possibly leaning towards the middle or the one above it.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Mommyto4- those all look so good! Such hard choices! I like your pick. The one in the middle looks like a good color for what your were describing you wanted. I like it! What color stain is on it? Also, if you don't mind sharing, what color stain is on the one just to right of it? I like it too.

Maybe we'll both get this figured out!

Did you guys lay your own floors? How'd that go?


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

We have wide plank SYP. So far the biggest issue is we have a gravel drive. Some small bits of dust will stick to your shoes and will slowly dull/whiten the floor. The person that stained them used DuraSeal Antique Brown. My painters came in and a lot of sheetrock dust ended up on the floor and was walked into the flooring. I had to redo all the floors using the DuraSeal Renovator and it looked better than new. We have about 5900 sq foot of the flooring. So it was not cheap to redo it. We moved in about 1 month ago and the gravel dust is causing the same issue as the sheetrock did. It is mainly in a few areas, so a complete redo isn't required.

I am considering getting a floor buffer and looking at the Woca cleaner options. I tried a small car buffer on a couple areas with the bona cleaner and it did ok, but I think some oil needs to be added back to keep it happy. After some more wear and tear it will look aged like I wanted it to, so maybe I should just try to mitigate the issues as much as possible.

This post was edited by paarlberg on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 16:40


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Parrlberg those floors are gorgeous!!!! Love them!!!

Yes, DH is installing the floors himself and it is time consuming. We have the dining, family & foyer yet to go. And may end up doing a small office/sitting room attached to the master, it there is enough flooring. Previously this room was going to be carpet.

Sorry for taking so long about the stain color. The sample with the knot is a 1:1 moisture of minwax stains. It is half part Early American and half part Golden Oak mixed together. And then 1 part of the mixed stain to 4 parts of waterlox on the first coat only. I will have to get the other formula. It is a mix of three different stains (insert eye rolls from my DH, lol).


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Ditto what Reno suggested. Speak with site-finished flooring specialists.

And, like Paarl, they will strongly advise DuraSeal over Minwax.

Beautiful, natural wood!
~bgj


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Here is a picture after they came back and used the renovator product on the floors. It is almost the exact same angle.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

mommyto4- Thanks again for the stain info.

Parrl- I'm not familiar with Duraseal, is it just a stain or a type of finish? I'll have to look it up. I love the antique brown, and your stairs look great too! What size are your planks? 8" face or 10" They're face nailed correct? I wish I was to the point of worrying about drywall dust. Maybe in a couple weeks. :) Hopefully your refresher coat will hold up well!


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

My first floor is 10" (actual 9.125") the second floor is 8" (6.875). Duraseal is a brand. The first floor was face nailed with cut nails by hand. I was happy for that task to be completed. Used a palm nailer to get them close to the surface, then finished with a couple taps of a hammer. We have about 3500 face nails on the first floor.

The person that did the staining put one coat of the duraseal and that was it. It is what they do all the time and usually holds up. I think the gravel dust is my biggest issue, it dulls the finish in the main traffic areas. I would probably recommend a top coat of something to make it a little easier to maintain.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Paarl- Thanks for the info, we're trying to decide between the 8" or 10" inch planks from a local mill. Did you face nail the 8"'s at all? Have you noticed any difference with cupping, or gapping between the two widths?
We will have a gravel drive so that is something I'll have to think about.
UGH! I wish I could get this floor decision made. :)


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

We didn't face nail the 8". I am not seeing any difference in cupping. We did have some gaps to start, that was part of the authenticity of an old looking floor.

We got ours from a local vendor, Vintage Pine Flooring. They had great prices and were local.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Here's a different look with SYP. 7" wide planks with a shiplap edge, 1/8" edge bevel, face screwed to the substrate, 1 coat of red wood dye, 1 coat of Washington cherry stain, and 3 coats of Duraseal Polyurethane.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Second pic


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

Paarlberg
Thank you so much for the pictures! I am just starting this process and did not plan ahead enough! I am buying a home in Boston that was built in 1830. All but 2 of the rooms have beautiful original pine floors (I call pumpkin pine, not sure if that is a technical term). I want to put hardwoods in the other two rooms before I move in and thought pine was not available anymore.

I am excited to see your beautiful floors! Can you tell me if the flooring you bought was `new` or if it was reclaimed/antique etc? Also, the restorer product, was that something special or just something you had to do once you had the dust issue

Thank you!

K


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

I haven't read through all the posts, but the nails are what eliminate refinishing, not the wood.


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RE: Southern yellow pine floors- thoughts? finishes?

I'm not sure if this was covered in the earlier posts. Here is a description SYP taken from another online source:

"With a hardness rating approximately twice that of its northern counterpart Eastern White pine, Southern Yellow (SYP) is sometimes called "hard" pine and is well suited as use for flooring. The strong grain pattern in SYP is all the character you get in our beautiful Select grade that will complement any warm accented décor.

SYP is also available as a special sort called Heart pine which is even harder and has more character."

Yellow pine and Yellow Heart Pine are a very popular flooring material where I live in the Florida Panhandle.


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