Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sometimes It Just Works Out

Once I get an idea in my head it can be hard to shake it. That was the case with the flooring in the kitchen. The sort of traditional floors in my area were fir, and it just so happens I like the look of fir, so it would work out well if I put it in. I went to all of the floor places in town and they seemed to have everything but fir, and I do mean everything. Finally I found it at one lumber yard 2 towns over.

One of the flooring places I went to had a huge selection of flooring. They had just returned from a flooring convention and had bought some odd lots off the floor and were selling them at incredible prices. I started crunching numbers and these floors were looking really good. The only problem was they were all engineered or pre-finished floors. Now, there is nothing wrong with engineered or pre-finished flooring. They are supposed to be very good and very long lasting. The trouble was the grooves. I was going for a very traditional look and the grooves just wouldn’t cut it for the look I wanted.

I went to The Old House Web and posted a question on-line to get some clarity on the subject. I wanted to talk to people who had put in floors like this and I also brought up my desire for fir floors. I was told repeatedly that new fir floors will not be the same as the old fir floors I’ve seen in other old houses. The second generation fir is just not as hard and durable as the old growth stuff. Then someone posted a message about an EBay seller selling some fir flooring. I went to check it out.

It turned out this guy bought thousands of feet of 3X12 (3 inches wide, 12 inches thick, and as long as a house) fir joists salvaged from an old sawmill in Alaska. The joists are over 100 years old and hard as a rock. He mills them in to 1X6 T&G fir flooring and he is only about 300 miles away. It took a few months to work things out. When you deal with mill owners and others that don’t normally handle the retail end you have to be patient. With them it is about craftsmanship and not service. They don’t always get back to you right away. You just have to sort of let things play out. Anyway, he called me today and we agreed on a price and logistics. It will be milled to order and shipped to my front door for less a square foot than anything I found locally besides the cut rate engineered flooring. Sometimes it just works out.


derek said...

That sounds great. There are a lot of places that have salvaged fir floors, not that wide though. The 80 y.o. fir beams in my house, I can't even drive a nail in to it. My fil thought it was oak

Jocelyn said...

Grex- I swear you are my hero with this stuff! I agree with you on the patient part. We go to Owl Lumber and they are real craftsman there- you don't get all impertinent on them (not that I ever would)- they'll just turn their back on you. I love people with principles that can't be bought etc...
You really capture my imagination with the neat stuff you find.

Nick said...

Our floors are fir, and while they're coming up, they're going back down after the radiant heat goes in.

Our house is post & beam construction, all fir. Several (and I mean several, like 6 or 8) of the posts were totally rotted out at the bottom when I bought the house. I cut off the ends and resawed these 6x6 monsters on my bandsaw -- one of them is now our fireplace. Old growth fir rocks.