This is the fourth in a five-part series on an extensive renovation we completed on a home in Philadelphia. Read the first and second and third posts. Restoring the original floors of the home, one of the final phases in the process, also presented the greatest mystery. They were haphazardly covered with decades of dust and makeshift patches — carpet here and there, luan, oak flooring, linoleum and plywood. It was anyone’s guess what was left under there.
Once we exposed the entire floor, we found many broken, damaged and missing boards. Badly injured, but not hopeless — if we could find a supplier with matching floors for patching. And this flooring isn’t the kind you can buy at Lumber Liquidators.
So I went on a citywide search. After several unsuccessful stops, I tried Provenance, an architectural salvage resource in Fishtown. Their wood expert solemnly held up my sample to the light and examined it, weighed it in his hands, carved out shavings with a penknife and slowly nodded. He explained that we were dealing with early white pine — pre-Civil War — that was indigenous to the area but obsolete following the industrial revolution. That was when builders started importing the yellow pine that’s often still used today.
Truly fascinating — but where can I find more?? He pointed to a stack of reclaimed flooring a few feet away. “I happen to have some right there.” Jackpot.
Once the floor was patched and sanded, experience and several flooring experts suggested staining the wood before sealing for a uniform look. I discussed the options with my client and flooring contractor, and we agreed to simply seal it instead with clear polyurethane and let the natural color, contrasts and warmth of the aged floor shine through.
And we’re thrilled we did.