Heartwood is Universal, Antique Heart Pine is Unique
All wood species contain “heartwood,” not just pine, and that’s where some misunderstandings start.
“Heartwood” is the innermost of four layers in the cross section of a tree, and it’s found in all trees.
But the heartwood in heart pine is dramatically different from that found found in other trees, and why it’s so special.
1. The first layer is Bark (inner and outer);
2. The second layer is the Cambium (typically a thin green layer under the bark);
3. The third layer is the Sapwood, or the growing section within the tree which is most susceptible to decay;
4. The fourth most inner layer is the “heartwood,” which is actually no longer a living tree component and is more resistant to decay, and usually much darker in color.
All “heartwood” is not equal, especially when we’re talking about antique reclaimed heart pine “heartwood.”
With prices ranging from $4-$18 per sq. ft. for antique reclaimed heart pine, depending on style, grade and width, you should confirm exactly what you are getting before you buy. You’ll not wish to be paying for reclaimed pine, sometimes described to potential customers as reclaimed heart pine, at prices equivalent to the actual value of Antique Reclaimed Heart Pine.
Antique Reclaimed Heart Pine has many cousins
So beware of imposters!
Work with an Experienced Reclaimed Wood supplier
Just because pine comes from an old building or is dragged from a river doesn’t make it “heart pine.”
“Heart Pine” isn’t always reclaimed or centuries-old to be called that, either. Many pines have local names, and many wood dealers will use the pine name that they feel will sell their products.
You may hear it called Southern Yellow Pine, Antique Yellow Pine, or just Heart Pine.
In some cases the heartwood of a number of pines are called “new” heart pine, though even that could be highly inaccurate.
The most prized pine wood was once called “The King’s Pine,” when this country was still owned by England, and was what Whole Log Lumber calls antique reclaimed heart pine. It’s a Longleaf pine, and yet not a softwood as is other pine. Heart Pine is notoriously slow-growing in the Southeast, and has the hardness of oak.
Heart Pine was the skeleton for sailing ships of the day and ultimately the backbone for the industrial factories that forged America’s reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse. Most of the 300-500 year-old trees were, for the most part, eliminated by around 1910 due to over-harvesting.
Some second and third generation growth stands are still being cut today, and is likely bought and sold as “new Heart Pine.”
In the wood of new heart pine, the heartwood that made old growth heart pine famous is not well discerned, as the trees haven’t had been allowed to grow large and develop old heartwood, which is a deep amber brown. Hence the name – “heart” wood. But you will see a lot of blonde or yellow in the wood as a marker to note here.
The virgin woodland stands of heart pine are now gone forever, although we are fortunate to have some preserves here in the Southeast. Today, truly authentic antique reclaimed heart pine can only be recovered from old buildings, factories and homes built over 100 years ago that are now being deconstructed.