Saturday, February 28, 2015

Where Quality Meets Craftsmanship

Albany Woodworks is a pioneer in the antique reclaimed lumber industry, and the premier manufacturer of quality, virgin-growth Longleaf pine flooring, rustic beams, plantation shutters, and custom doors. Our innovative process, including the development of the necessary tools derived from a previous era in lumber manufacturing, has made the company what it is today. The floors produced by Albany Woodworks are gorgeous and durable.

Albany Woodworks uses old world craftsmanship and solid materials to make your design a reality. From castle doors to French doors, period or traditional, any style of door for entryways and exterior or interior installations can be achieved in Antique Heart Cypress and Antique Heart Pine, in addition to other fine woods. Plantation shutters, raised paneling, cabinetry, custom windows, porch flooring, custom siding, wall paneling, wainscoting, and architectural moldings can also be created.

Antique Heart Cypress, known as the “wood eternal,” is exclusively from reclaimed virgin growth materials that were lost during the frenzy of logging that lasted from the late 1800s until the last “great grandfather” trees feel in the mid 1920s. There are several names for cypress, including Tidewater Red, Louisiana, Gulf, Southern Cypress, or Bald Cypress. For thousands of years, the forests and basins were undisturbed, allowing these stately giant trees to slowly grow to heights of 80-150 feet with trunks as large as 15 feet in diameter.

Heart Cypress is known for its beautiful coloration and unsurpassed rot resistance and has been revered by craftsmen and wood workers for more than a century. Albany Woodworks utilizes these and other woods, including NuHeart Pine and American Hardwoods (Red Oak, White Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, or Black Walnut), for your projects. The company has been bringing new life to reclaimed antique lumber for homes, businesses, and historic restorations for many years.

Whether your project needs are for new construction or remodeling, you can have the splendid solid wood, wide plank flooring you have always wanted. During your visit, take a tour of the original Albany Woodworks mill and see the origins of your order in the beam yard, a storehouse full of rare, well-seasoned, full-length antique timbers ready for production at your request. You can bring your plans and get advice from CEO Richard Woods and his friendly staff.

If you are remodeling an old home or building a future family heirloom, Albany Woodworks can help you create the unique environment of your dreams.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Enviromental Message Of Kermit The Frog


(Above): Kermit the Frog, born in the swamp, taught us to appreciate nature before it was cool to be green.

From the Muppet Wiki website:
Bein' Green, originally titled Green, is one of Kermit the Frog's best-known songs. It was written in 1970 by Joe Raposo for the first season of Sesame Street, and has since become an American standard.

In the song, Kermit expresses his ambivalence about his color, noting that green "blends in with so many other ordinary things" and wishing that he were some other color instead. During the bridge, Kermit realizes that there are some powerful associations with the color -- "green can be big, like a mountain, or important, like a river, or tall like a tree." In the end, he decides that he's happy to be green -- "it's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be."

The song was described in a Children's Television Workshop press release as "a frog's poignant realization of his own dignity and worth."  The song has been viewed as a powerful message in favor of environmental consciousness.

(Above): In 1970, good guy Kermit taught children about environmental consciousness the same year the EPA was founded.

The song appeared on The Sesame Street Book & Record and has been recorded numerous times since, both by Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire as Kermit, as well as by musicians like Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra, demonstrating the song's universal themes. Bein' Green is not just for frogs. "It's not easy being green," a paraphrased lyric from the song, has become one of Kermit's catchphrases.

(Above): Kermit sings Bein' Green.
From Green Education: An A-to-Z Guide edited by Julie Newman:
A number of television shows have sought to engage children in sustainability issues, primarily through the educational nature of the medium.  Sesame Street offered a range of story lines supporting environmental responsibility.  Oddly, the catch phrase "It's not easy being green" came from a song by Kermit the Frog about accepting individual differences, yet the slogan transformed over time into and ironic yet engaging claim for environmental sacrifice.  Maintaining a safe (and clean) neighborhood was core to the message of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, a message expanded globally by the superhero activist Captain Planet.

Why Should We Save Old Wood?

"New is good, old is bad" We hear this mantra in our society every day. Somehow your home is substandard if you don't install vinyl windows and vinyl siding. The replacement product industry claims these products are "no maintenance, energy efficient and will last forever". From my prospective, nothing could be further from the truth. "No maintenance" simply means you can't maintain them. In general anything claiming to be a "replacement product" is something you probably have to replace over and over again.

We have truly become the poster child for throwaway societies. In the 1990's Arizona State University students led by archaeologist Bill Rathje conducted a study of landfills across the nation called the Garbage Study. By core drilling these sites they were able to look at what's been dumped over many years. Diapers? Paper? Plastic? No, our landfills are choked with over 30% demolition and construction debris. Old growth lumber is one of the biggest portions and the product we can least afford to discard.

Most homes built before 1945 used old growth lumber in their construction. From a lumber standpoint a tree becomes eligible for old growth status when it reaches 60 years. Most of the trees American logging companies clear-cut for construction lumber range from 8 to 20 years old. Ask the kid at the big box lumberyard what that two by four is made of and the answer will usually be "white wood". What is white wood?  Is it pine, hemlock, spruce or fir?  I do know this, the construction lumber of today is so high in moisture content and made from such young trees is just twists and warps in your walls as it dries down to around 12% moisture.

Treated lumber is even worse. All construction lumber is supposed to be kiln dried to 18% moisture content. Treated lumber is made with the worst Southern Yellow pine available, dried to 18% moisture, then pressure treated without being re-dried. The moisture contents in these sopping boards ranges from 30 to 40%. I can't tell you how many time I've cut into a treated piece of lumber and been squirted in the eye.

So why is old growth lumber better than new growth. Once a tree reaches 60 plus years old it has survived droughts, excessive rain, heat waves and cold spells and becomes much hardier. Most people know that the rings in a tree stump can tell you how old a tree is. The more rings per inch the older the tree.  Old growth wood is stronger and more rot resistant than new growth. I can't tell you how many historic houses I've pulled the 1950's aluminum siding off to find the original old growth siding and trim. After repair and a good paint job this wood will last another 100 years and can yet again be restored. I call that a lifetime product.

The bottom line is, repairing old growth wood saves time and money while retaining the architectural integrity of your old house.

Memoirs Of An Old Growth Forest

(Above): Antique Longleaf Pine cross-section with historical dates of interest recorded within it's rings.  Click on photo for larger image.

From The Longleaf Alliance website:
In a little over 150 years, the Longleaf pine forest transitioned from a forest that dominated the southern landscape to one of near anonymity. Although remnants of this once great forest abound, they are often only noticeable to the ardent observer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sinker Cypress: Treasures Of A Lost Landscape


(Above): Beautiful Sinker Cypress from Albany Woodworks makes for a warm and welcoming interior installed in our customer's home.  To find out more about adding Antique Sinker Cypress to your home, visit our website here

From the Country Roads Magazine article Bald Cypress written by Wendy Wilson Billiot:

Deep in the swamp, the darkness of alluvial mud creates a reflective canvas on the surface of the still water, mirroring the images of bald cypress that tower above picturesque waterways throughout Louisiana. The statuesque trees are a staple of Louisiana wetlands and have deep utilitarian value to humans, wildlife, and the environment. As such, this stately tree was recommended as Louisiana’s official tree by a Baton Rouge fourth-grade class in 1962, with an official act of proclamation following in May 1963.

The term “bald,” an apt descriptor, comes from a unique winter event that sets this cypress apart from other conifers, which are evergreen. Unlike other conifers, the bald cypress’ needles turn a dark, burnt-orange in the fall before dropping off the branches during winter, leaving the tree “bald.”  Able to thrive in standing freshwater, bald cypress grow wild in Louisiana’s swamps. They also grow on the fringes of freshwater lakes and ponds, and can now be seen as landscape features on dry ground.

Cypress trees were once an historical construction mainstay for Louisiana natives and settlers. Heartwood of old-growth cypress contains cypressene oil, giving the wood valuable characteristics that enable it to thrive in the South Louisiana climate. The oil renders the wood rot-resistant, making it an ideal boat-building material; in the past, it was used to build pirogues as well as larger bateaus and skiffs. Also termite resistant, the old wood was ideal for building homes; and Acadian-style homes still standing today are proof of the lumber’s durability.

In the early twentieth century, timber and lumber companies harvested hundreds of thousands of acres of cypress trees, which resulted in the depletion of the old-growth “virgin” cypress. In the heyday of cypress harvesting, the felled logs were floated out of the shallow swamps into deeper lakes or canals. En route to the lake, logs sometimes strayed from the tow and sank to the bottom, abandoned; however, the wood is so rot-resistant that these logs can still be found intact.

Having fallen to rest beneath the murky swamp water, these trees, called sinker cypress, are highly prized and valuable. The beautiful wood used today to make craftsman-style furniture and cabinetry comes from these ancient, hardened logs. The most coveted type of sinker cypress, called pecky cypress, gets its name from the pecks and elongated burrows in the wood caused by a fungus that attacks the heartwood. These imperfections give the wood a unique depth of character not found in any other native wood.

Several other features set the bald cypress apart from other native trees, one of which is the shape of the tree base, called buttressed. Rather than jutting straight down into the water (or ground), the base flares out. From this flared base, a large taproot dives deep into the soil from which other roots branch outward under the mud before turning upward, eventually reaching above the surface of the water to form curious structures called cypress knees.

Scientists speculate that these aerial roots allow the tree to breathe, although this has never been definitively proven. Other theories suggest that the cypress knees provide a heavy-duty anchoring system, offering the tree protection from hurricane-force winds. The cypress knees and deep taproot hold the tree firmly in place, preventing it from being uprooted in strong winds. Another feature of cypress’ wind-resistance is the flexibility of its branches, which bend and sway in the hurricane winds unlike pine trees, which snap and break under the same conditions.

Because of their stability, healthy cypress groves across coastal Louisiana once provided protection from hurricanes by slowing down storm surge and buffering the gale-force winds.
However, due to the erosion of barrier islands and the loss of coastal wetlands, these cypress groves are not as abundant as they were thirty years ago. Louisiana loses approximately eighteen square miles of wetlands annually, which allows for saltwater intrusion into freshwater swamps and marshes. This intrusion poses a continual threat to these magnificent trees since native cypress are not naturally salt tolerant. On the bright side, plant researchers have developed a salt-tolerant strain of the tree, which is being used in coastal restoration projects across the southern parishes.

Cypress are often ghostly and ethereal looking, with smoky-colored wisps of Spanish moss draped across their branches. The trees provide shelter to wildlife like owls, squirrels, raccoons, and birds. Furthermore, the cones contain seeds that feed various swamp birds and mammals. Fishing spiders fish from the base of the trees, while bass swirl among their roots. The height of the trees offers a safe haven for birds of prey, like osprey and bald eagles, which make their nests among the feathery branches in the fall. Due to the steadfastness of these trees, the eagles return year after year to the same nest, assured their homes will have survived hurricane season.

This month the trees are bald, but next month the needles will burst forth, emitting the green scent of spring and the promise of new life. Along with that promise is the hope for successful conservation efforts and a newfound appreciation for the splendid bald cypress. Just like its need for freshwater, conservation and appreciation are paramount in securing the future of this unique tree for future generations to enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Is Reclaimed Antique Heart Pine Cost Effective?

From the article What is Heart Pine Flooring & How Much Does it Cost?:

Heart pine ages very well over the course of years. As a character wood, the wear that the floor receives is thought to improve its aesthetics. This makes it ideal to install sooner, rather than later. This also makes it a very sound investment. Individuals who install heart pine floors can feel confident that the floor they have installed will last the lifespan of their home.

Most wooden flooring requires some kind of stain, followed by a clear coat to help seal it against water damage. Heart pine already has a rich red or golden color. This means that staining it is a purely optional exercise, and it is one most homeowners choose to forgo in favor of the natural look of pine. This makes it significantly easier to install, compared to other forms of flooring as it only requires the sealing clear coat.

This does not include the cost of installation or the clear coat. However, pine flooring tends to be less expensive than similar wood brands because it does not require staining in the same way other floors do. The staining process tends to add a lot of cost per square foot to wooden floor costs in general, so being able to skip this makes pine flooring a much more affordable proposition.

Heart pine is distinguished from sapwood. It comes from the deepest parts of the pine tree and is selected for its depth of color and relative durability. The deeper woods of a pine tree are darker, carrying a red or gold tint to them, and this is why heart pine doesn't require stain in the same way other wooden floors such as oak or birch do.

Reclaimed heart pine is distinct from fresh heart pine for its "character." Character in a floor is defined as the patina of natural scratches and stress it acquires through use over the years. Pine is specially noted to compress and compact in a favorable way, giving it a more aged, antique look instead of simply making it look worn out. Fresh heart pine will develop this character over the course of years of use, but reclaimed heart pine floors come with this from the outset. This is why it can sometimes be considered higher quality while being a recycled flooring material.

Heart pine flooring is extremely beautiful form of wooden flooring, and its popularity has never died down.  Installing heart pine can considerably raise the value of a home. Because it ages well, it's very attractive for homeowners looking for a long-term purchase. It also appreciates in value over time as it develops character, making it an excellent investment.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What to Expect With Reclaimed Wood


From the This Old House article What to Expect With Reclaimed Wood by Eileen Colkin Cuneo:

If you own an old house, you already know the satisfaction of having something that's unique, and when you renovate, you look for one-of-a-kind materials. Unlike other materials whose appeal lie in their looks, reclaimed wood has beauty and history.  Not surprisingly, people are going to great lengths to find reclaimed wood that makes a stylistic statement about themselves and their homes.

Using reclaimed wood in a renovation requires more legwork than just stopping at a home center for lumber, but there are four strong arguments for using reclaimed wood:

1) It's environmentally friendly. Reclaimed wood isn't grown on farms, which often cultivate only trees that grow fast, but aren't supportive of an ecosystem. Yes, it represents a tree that's been cut down, but at least it's getting another life in your home.

2) It has an age and character that cannot be mimicked. Old wood likely grew in a natural environment where it had to fight for nutrients and sun, making the wood strong and durable. Aging also brings out the color in the wood.

3) Most old-growth wood is no longer available. Regulations prevent many species of tree from being harvested.

4) It has its own history. How many people do you know who have olive-oil barrels on the outside of their houses?

And buying reclaimed lumber continues to get easier—and in some instances, less expensive relative to the escalating cost of new hardwood.