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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

End Grain Wood Block Flooring

We have a client for which we're considering end grain wood tiles. Long known for durability and comfort, they are not often seen or used in residential spaces. We'd love to hear feedback from anyone who has - or any professionals who can weigh in on this topic. Thanks!

From Kaswell:
The basic theory of Wood Block Flooring is centuries old. The ancients used the end-grain of logs as "chopping blocks" because the tough end-grain surface could withstand the pounding of hammers without splintering. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, end-grain wooden blocks were first used in the USA for paving streets.
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.
I have been waiting to do this type of instal for years. I know of a master setter somewhere in Chicago I think that use some kind of a resin for filling between the wood pieces and I believe he sets them almost like tile.

The example above is not edge grain.

I believe I read the article in Fine Home Building if I'm not mistaken or perhaps on their web forum.

Are the edge grain blocks going on the second floor, main floor over slab, basement....?

Some kind of resin will be needed since sanding the edge grain always tears away the summer growth wood faster than the winter. You might find working with some kind of wood petrifier first might help.

I would love to see some play by plays and still want to do this in my basement office.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 7:31AM
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John, I am especially thinking from a usability standpoint as well as cost. It would be installed on the main floor of the living area and kitchen. The herringbone picture I wasn't sure about (you think it's blocks?) but the other one is edge grain for sure.
    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Those are gorgeous. Saw something similar, but less well done on tv once. Just weighing in to see what the experts have to say. I'd love to keep this in mind if it's a stable option.
    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:10PM
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John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.
Checked out the second picture and that is more the look. But the install I saw was a little more rough with a resin system. When interviewed the builder mentioned that it took quite some time to work out the kinks.

I would think this would be a sanding nightmare on site and might be why the photo you show has a matt or flat finish to it.

I would make a large scale mock up and test drive the concept before going all in. Once done maybe subject the test sample to a couple freeze thaw cycles to see how it handles thermal movement.

2 Likes    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 12:22AM
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The Palace of Versaille uses these extensively. It would be interesting to know how old they are.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Cancork Floor Inc.
I've seen old houses in Germany and France use both the herring bone and the end cuts. In Europe, the wood would have been aged oak. Or in Northern Europe it would have been Walnut (Germans love black walnut!). The oak would have been allowed to age and harden before something like this would have been attempted. An unseasoned wood is going to be a "tough go".

I would look for a flooring expert who was educated in Germany, Austria or Switzerland (perhaps even the Scandinavian/Baltic countries) in this technique. The reason I say this is these 3 countries still have a 7 year apprenticeship/meisterschaft system. A Meisterbauer or Master Builder will have (A) trained on these floors, (B) Repaired these floors, (C) Installed these floors, and (D) know everything there is to know about every form of wood that is available for this floor - and which wood is NOT allowed for this floor. And if he is a true Meister, he would have written exams on floors just like these AND he would be certified to TEACH other's how to do them (in the Germanic coutries at least).

BTW: Versailles would have had carpenter assistants (read: 12 year old boys...who were not paid) on their hands/knees sanding with shark skin to remove the imperfections. Then the same boys would have been put to work with bee's wax to finish the floor. Labour costs would not have been an issue.

The floors at Versailles will have aged beautifully over the first 200 years because of the efforts of the staff of the Palace and the knowledge of the team that would have had a set routine to keep them going (how to remove bee's wax; when to remove it; what time of year is best to remove it; what to use when cleaning...etc.) would have been common knowledge for the house staff at the time.

But I digress.
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 3:53PM
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Great History; Thank you so much!!
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 4:32PM
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The Stuttgart State Museum for Natural History in Germany, www.naturkundemuseum-bw.de, has these floors nearly throughout as far as I can see. My husband was very impressed. This museum and its floors have been there since I was a child. I guess that speaks for itself. They are beautiful.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Have you heard of Everitt & Schilling Tile? Not sure it it is just wall applications or for floors as well though...
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 9:55PM
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Those wood tiles are really neat. They wouldn't fit in any of my projects but I would love to see them installed.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 10:08PM
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Studio S Squared Architecture, Inc.
Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles has these floors throughout, and they are amazing. HOK was the architect, I believe.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 10:10PM
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