Hardness Rating: Heart Pine

Heart Pine Flooring Derives its Character from Age

You can’t walk into a lumber store and pick out a fresh bundle of Heart Pine planks. That’s because the tree from which Heart Pine lumber is made – the Longleaf Pine – was such a popular tree for homebuilding and factory building that the Longleaf forests were nearly gone by the year 1900.

Thankfully, this resilient wood has endured through the ages in old homes, factories, mills and barns. Reclamation companies have been able to salvage many original Heart Pine planks, restore them and introduce them to the market again. It’s safe to say no two Heart Pine floors look alike, as every board seems to have its own characteristics, shaped by time. But generally, Heart Pine features a blend of warm reddish heartwood and blond sapwood, with visible knots.

Here are some things you should know about Heart Pine flooring:

Name: Heart Pine wood comes from the Longleaf Pine tree species(Pinus palustris) and derives its name from the Longleaf’s large heartwood center.

Origins: The Longleaf Pine was once abundant throughout the Southern Atlantic states, but overharvesting has left less than 3 percent of the original Longleaf forests intact. Reforestation efforts are underway on private and agricultural property, but these trees are extremely slow-growing initially. Immediately following its seed stage, the Longleaf Pine enters a grass stage, in which it spreads roots but doesn’t grow upward. That stage may last up to seven years, during which time it is susceptible to fungal growth. Only after that stage will it begin to grow upward, and the tree won’t produce fertile seed cones until approximately 30 years after it begins upward growth.

Janka Hardness Rating: With a Janka Hardness rating of 1225 out of 4000, the Longleaf Pine species is considered a soft wood with hardwood qualities. The Janka Hardness scale is used to determine a hardwood’s resistance to dents, dings and scratches. The test, which uses a 2” x 2” x 6” piece of a wood specimen and a steel ball, determines how many pounds per square inch of force will make the steel ball embed halfway into the wood. That result leads to the wood’s Janka Hardness rating. Woods at the low end of the scale will show more evidence of dings compared to those at the top. However, woods at the very top of the Janka Hardness Scale could be too difficult to cut for home applications.

Installation: Heart Pine wood is strong, stiff and has moderately high shock resistance. Reclaimed wood may require sanding and usually requires a deep-sealing coat of stain, tung oil, wax or polyurethane to protect the wood from stains and water damage.