The Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring Blog

Big Tree Programs Across The Country:

If you have ever walked beneath the canopy of an old forest, or stood next to the trunk of a large tree, you understand that there are few sites as humbling, breathtaking, and imposing as that of an exceptionally large tree in person. They are living organisms that are as big as buildings.

Champion Cucumber Magnolia Tree, Big Tree, North Canton

Champion Cucumber Magnolia Tree in North Canton, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Rod Covey)

But big trees are important for reasons far beyond spectacle.

They are a reminder that our very breath is interwoven with the forests, which are the lungs of the earth.

They are symbols that constantly invite us into meditations on time, value, and beauty.

In an effort to discover, celebrate, and care for these trees that mean so much, the non-profit conservation group American Forests began maintaining the National Register of Big Trees in 1940, which lists the national champions of every tree variety in the United States.

A champion tree is defined as the largest recorded living specimen of a certain variety of tree within a geographical area.

Following the lead of American Forests, every state in the country now has its own Big Tree Program to recognize the champions within its own borders. Even some towns and counties are getting in on the celebration.

Big Tree Programs are usually entirely voluntary endeavors, and anyone can submit a tree that they believe to be of noteworthy size. And just because you don’t live in the woods doesn’t mean you aren’t near a Champion. In fact, you are probably more likely to be near one. Champion Trees are usually found outside of forests in cemeteries, parks, and back yards where they have been spared from lumber harvesting and allowed to grow with little or no competition.

Celebrating the big trees reminds us that trees of all sizes are a gift and resource to be treasured and used responsibly.

Check the links below to explore your state’s Big Tree Program. Check out the Champions of your state and be sure to submit if you know a tree of impressive size!

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New Deal, New Dam:

When the Great Depression finally began to subside not only had the Tennessee Valley been economically ravaged by the Great Depression, but severe and continual flooding had compounded depression with destruction.

The region finally received the attention it so desperately needed in 1933 when, urged by the tireless efforts of Senator George W. Norris, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act as part of his New Deal. The act created the TVA, and the mission to relieve and modernize the struggling area was underway.

The TVA’s first major project was to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Clinch River with the dual purpose of controlling the flooding and generating electricity to modernize the Valley. To honor the efforts of Senator Norris, the dam was named Norris Dam, and an entire city was constructed to house the workers who built it and named Norris, Tennessee.

The City of Norris

The TVA planned, designed, and constructed the city of Norris to be a cooperative, cutting edge, and sustainable community for the workers building the dam. The city pioneered greenbelt design principles, and was built on the ideals of stewardship and innovation for the betterment of society.

The Norris Houses were the first all-electric homes constructed. They were also built with locally sourced stone and lumber, and the entire community was connected by walking paths. The city of Norris was an icon of the New Deal experiment.

The New Norris House

The completed New Norris House on a snowy Tennessee day.

The New Norris House

In 2010, under the auspices of the US EPA’s People, Prosperity, and Planet student competition, a multi-disciplinary group led by The College of Architecture and Design at The University of Tennessee decided to see what would happen if the Norris experiment were revisited, and the tenants of stewardship, innovation, and sustainability were re-applied to housing design today.

The result of this bold sustainable design experiment is the New Norris House. Sitting on the lot of an original Norris home, the house and its engineered ecosystem reduce energy consumption, carbon emission, and water use to a fraction of that of the average modern home.

In addition to being a masterpiece of compact design, the house features reclaimed building materials, a rain water collection system, and high-efficiency mechanical systems. The house has received the LEED Platinum Certification–the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest level of sustainable achievement.

The New Norris House is a stunning example of how true green practice must go far beyond just doing our recycling. The building materials we use, the way we design our structures and their surrounding environments, and even the way we think about our interaction with the spaces we live in are all opportunities to make (or reduce) an impact.

To learn more about the New Norris House and the team behind it, visit their website here, and follow them on facebook here.


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Oil-Based Polyurethane, Water-Based Polyurethane, and Natural Oil?!  Huh?

Nearly as important to the character of a room as the wood you put into it, choosing the right finish option is the all-important final step in creating your envisioned hardwood flooring experience. Finishes roughly fall into three categories: Oil-Based Polyurethanes, Water-Based Polyurethanes, and Natural Oils. We’re going line them all up and see how they compare in terms of look and feel, application, durability, reparability, cost, and environmental impact. Continue reading

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animals and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has declared August “Tree Check Month” to encourage the public to examine trees for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle. The beetles bore through tissues that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree, starving and weakening the tree until it dies.


“The sooner we can find infested trees, the sooner we can save non-infested trees,” said Rhonda Santos, USDA-APHIS’s ALB public information officer, said in a statement. “We’re asking the public to be aware of how to detect ALB infestations, to check their trees and report any suspicions.”

Signs of beetle infestation are dime-sized exit holes, shallow scars in the bark, sawdust-like materials in the ground or branches, dead branches and the beetle itself.

More information on the Asian longhorned beetle as well as how to report infestations is available here.

Source: Hardwood Floors: The magazine of the National Wood Flooring Association. See original post here.

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One of the most recognizable ways the mystique of the American barn is incorporated into interior design is through the use of reclaimed beams.  Their size, shape, and texture present a three-dimensional display of history that demands attention by jutting into the foreground of a space. Not surprisingly, the story behind these beams is as fascinating and antiquated as their appearance suggests.

As farmers tamed the American frontier, one of their first and most critical steps was clearing large amounts of land for pasturing animals and growing crops.  In addition to creating necessary open space, this selective deforestation also supplied the farmers with the raw building materials needed for the structures that would support their families and enterprises. In addition to large amounts of fieldstone that were used for the foundations of barns and houses, they also utilized the felled trees by transforming them into the iconic beams that framed the most important structure on the farm—the barn.

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Whether you are deciding on the flooring in your new home or replacing existing flooring, you know that there is a vast array of options available to you. Often, the sticker price of a flooring option becomes the deciding factor. However, there is one flooring option that is not just an expense—hardwood flooring is actually an investment.

Here are three important reasons why:

Lifetime Cost

While less expensive up front, a carpet floor requires a significant amount of maintenance to last for not so long of a time. Keeping a carpet floor in good shape is going to mean not only busting out the vacuum at least once per week, but also having it professionally cleaned every year or so. In exchange for your constant upkeep and yearly expense, a carpet floor can only be expected to last from ten to fifteen years before it will need replaced.

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In addition to the obvious beauty that a hardwood floor adds to any area, it also serves the homeowner as an investment that pays dividends in the long run. Once you have decided to invest in your home, it must be decided which type of hardwood flooring will be the wiser investment for your particular situation.

Olde Wood customers have the choice of ordering either a Solid or Engineered hardwood floor. While indistinguishable to the eye, the two options are very different, and in some situations one may be a better choice than the other.

Solid Hardwood

Also known as “lifetime” hardwood, Solid flooring is exactly what it sounds like—the same solid board all the way through each wide plank. A Solid floor can be re-sanded and re-finished several times. Although how often re-sanding is needed will vary based on wear levels and taste, every twenty years is a good rule of thumb. Using this number, a Solid hardwood floor can be expected to easily break the century mark.

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Turning waste into new products is not a new idea. As long as man has been using things, he has been re-using things. Thankfully, this old idea has become a modern standard, and being Green is a fundamental part of being socially conscious. From the sleeve around your coffee cup to the plastic of your cell phone case, old materials being given a second or third act has become commonplace in our lives.

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Buying a hardwood floor on look alone can sometimes get you in trouble later down the line. We’ve broken down a few hightlights of different species of wood to help you make an informed decision for your future investment.

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There are many species of wood used for hardwood flooring. Navigating your way through the descriptions of each can be a daunting task. In this post we will take a look at some of the language used to describe the different characteristics of each species.

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