Vintage heart pine vs. today’s knotty pine

When I originally discussed using knotty pine in kitchens, there were comments expressing concern about the wood’s appropriateness in the relatively humid kitchen environment. When I was at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show last week, I ran into this company, Union Church Millworks of Covington, Virginia. They had some really gorgeous woods on display including “vintage knotty pine,” so I asked Kim Bennett Powers, the sales and consulting manager on hand, the knotty knotty pine question.

His response, which was very illuminating: In the 1950s, we grew our pine trees bigger… the centers got very hard as the tree aged, and we were able to use this center — it was called “heart pine” — for cabinets and other applications where we wanted hard, dense wood. It still looked knotty. Today, we do not grow our pine trees as big, so the wood never never gets as hard. So, much of the 1950s knotty pine really is a particular sub-category called heart pine.  Kim says that Union Church Millworks can still get you vintage heart pine for cabinets or panelling or even floors — it’s reclaimed from demolitions and the like. But it costs something like $12 a s.f. vs. $3/s.f. for plain old knotty pine. While we didn’t have a belaboured discussion about it, Kim thought that even considering the differences then vs. now, today’s knotty pine should do fine in a kitchen. That said, there are other wood species that have a knotty look but which are naturally harder.

One more thing: Woah, the woods they had on display for floors, paneling and cabinetry: Gorgeous!

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Comments

  1. ann says

    I have an old house. Although we have renovated, the front living room & kitchen are original knotty pine panel. Would like to re-do living room to freshen up wood panels. They have a beveled edge & 6″ panels. Wood is dark we have not touched wood since we moved in 34 years ago. Is murphys best way to clean it. Just want to freshen it up. Still love it.

  2. Roseann says

    We have 60’s pine paneling in one room but there’s a hole in the paneling where a heater used to be. Do you have a source for old pine paneling so we can repair it? I can send pictures. Thanks!

  3. Elisabeth says

    The cabinets in my kitchen have been painted with a redwood stain and avocado green paint. How can I tell that there’s knotty pine underneath? How do I remove the stain and paint to refinish?

    • pam kueber says

      I don’t know the answer to this, Elisabeth. And please note: Please be aware that vintage nastiness — such as lead paint — can be in old layers like this — consult with a properly licensed professional to assess what you have so that you can make informed decisions.

  4. Mona says

    We are building an outdoor kitchen and have some old reclaimed wood, mostly pine. I really wanted to use this lumber to build my cabinets. Can this old heart pine be sealed well enough to use in an outdoor kitchen? We will have a roof over the area but completely open sides. Also, we live in South Georgia. Thanks for your help!

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