Pitch pine floors instead of oak floorboards
Often hidden underneath the average UK home’s floor coverings of carpets, laminate flooring and engineered oak, lies the original pine floorboards. In the flooring trade, they’re referred to as the subfloor. Up until the 1980s, ‘pitch pine’ floorboards were the first choice when a house was built, but over time, the preferred subfloor for builders became concrete on the ground floor and chipboard on the floors above.
If you do have a good quality pitch pine subfloor then you can sand and finish it. You will need to fill in the gaps between the boards with pine slivers, or a mix of filler and the sawdust from the standing of the boards. If you don’t fill the gaps you’ll have at a lot of drafts and dust.
If you’re not so keen on that orangy colour associated with pine boards, it’s not a problem. Nowadays, there are many ways of finishing and staining pine to achieve other looks.
For a Scandinavian style of light-coloured boards in pitch pine, like the finishes of Douglas Fir boards, you can either use a white stain onto the unfinished pine, then use a water-based lacquer, like Bona Mega Mat or you can buff in oil, like Osmo Raw.
If you’re looking for new pine boards, the Honduran Pitch Pine that we stock has been milled with a tung and grove system and comes without a micro bevel on the long edges or square-shouldered, as in this image.
The boards can be pushed up tight together with no gaps, unlike original Victorian pine floorboards. Our boards are 19mm thick 178mm wide and random widths from 600 – 2,400mm (mainly 2.4m lengths but a % of shorts allowed).
Properties of Honduran Pitch Pine
Honduras Pitch Pine possesses a lot of the characteristics of oak and other hardwoods, but is better value. It also has a natural resistance to termites and decay.
It has the strength and durability of Red Oak due to its heavy heart concentration and the tight structure of its grain.
According to the National Wood Flooring Association of American, pitch pine is 29 per cent more stable than oak and contributes to the efficiency of your heating system because wood is an excellent retainer of heat (although pitch pine is not suitable for underfloor heating).
Latin name : Pinus Caribaea
A yellow to red/brown coloured heartwood, it has small bands of lighter colour sapwood. The distinct contrast between late and earlywood bands gives it a flame figure on flatsawn boards. It’s both a hard and heavy softwood with high strength used traditionally in boat construction, exterior joinery and decking.
The boards are kiln-dried at source down to 7%-9% moisture content. However, to minimise movement, it is still recommended that the boards are stored on-site for at least 14 days prior to laying. All our products are sustainably sourced and EUTR certificated.
Ways to produce painted pitch pine floorboards
On many of our projects, we apply a painted finish onto pine floorboards because it is better value for the customer than painting on to unfinished oak floors and achieves a similar look. The pitch pine is resinous, which means the paint doesn’t soak too deeply into the floor’s surface. This makes it easier to sand back to reveal the pine again at a later date, which is an advantage.
The Farrow & Ball Floor paint colour in the image to the left is called ‘Down Pipe’. In this project, the Honduran pitch pine was supplied without a bevel. This means the floor needed a light sanding before painting, to even out any high boards caused by the slight difference in thickness after fitting. This is referred to as a square-shouldered board in the flooring trade. Another option is to go for bevelled-edged boards which visually highlight individual boards and the flow of the direction it is fitted. Our boards are now only square-shouldered however you could achieve this look buy quickly running an electric sander down the long edges of the board this could be time-consuming but in some cases easier than sanding the whole floor.
Painted floor finish with a coloured hardwax oil
In the picture on the left, the same Honduran solid pitch pine bevelled boards have been oiled with white Granwax hardwax oil. When my customer used the white hardwax oil, they needed to apply more coats of oil than if they had used a Farrow and ball floor paint. This is because the opacity of the hardwax oil is more suitable for giving a Scandinavian look which shows more of the grain on the pitch pine rather than the look of a solid painted block-colour. However, it was worth the effort as they unfortunately scratched the floor while moving in and because of the hardwax oil, they were able to resolve it much easier than with a painted board, by gently buffing in some more oil with a cloth.
Please feel free to contact us at Wholesale Wood Flooring Ltd if you have a project where you are considering using Honduras pitch pine.