Several months ago I took my wife out to dinner at a nearby restaurant called Dawt Mill. The main room of the restaurant, built from what remained of the 1800’s mill, still has the original floors. At nearly 120 years old, they’re worn and weathered with age, and absolutely gorgeous.
I love that look – authentic, full of character, every board unique and with its own story. Of course, I don’t want to wait around for 100 years for my floors to look like that, and I also don’t want to pay $30/square foot for that reclaimed floor my designer is telling me about. Most people don’t.
That’s why we went to so much effort when we designed and crafted our Vintage Loft Collection of hardwood flooring. We want everyone to be able to bring that kind of floor into their home. Here is the Vintage Loft story.
We started by going to dozens of old warehouses, lofts and barns taking pictures of genuinely old original wooden floors, studying and documenting not only how they looked, but how they aged. After researching the optimum wood to use, we chose European oak logs from Germany and France. German and French oak logs don’t split in the center like American oak, so we were able to create planks 8 ½” wide and up to 8 feet long, much like the old timber floors from over a century ago. (In fact, in a typical box of Vintage Loft, you will get three 8-footers, along with a five and a three).
Next, we use a bandsaw to rip these large logs into cants (picture a railroad tie sized piece of lumber). While we would then typically kiln dry the cants, for Vintage Loft we saw them while still green (not dry) into veneers. That way when the veneers dry, the knots shrink slightly more than the surrounding grain, creating a texture that is normally seen only in century-old reclaimed floors.
Another thing you see in old floors like the one at Dawt Mill are the faded saw marks. Since most rustic floors in the 1800’s just needed to be durable, not pretty, the saw marks were never smoothed out, or planed. We’ve fine tuned the amount of saw marks in our Vintage Loft floors, and as the green veneers are kiln dried, the appearance of the saw marks softens naturally.
Another feature that at first had us stumped was the bevel on the edges. The standard approach in the industry is to cut a 45 degree bevel, but we just could not find any old floors that looked like that. Rather, the edges are chipped and nicked over the years, as floors settle and edges are exposed. We worked with our handcrafters to develop a new hand-beveling technique that replicated this look while still keeping it smooth enough for you to walk on in your socks.
So, when your Vintage Loft floor is installed, it will look both as good as new, and like it’s been there for one hundred years. We hope you are as proud of the Vintage Loft Collection as we are. We liked our Vintage Loft so much we covered the floor of our own office with it, so we get to enjoy it every day!