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!