I spent way too much time yesterday surfing for info on flooring options for my old house. The kitchen floor is desperately in need of some TLC, but it sure is hard to find replacement 2 1/2 inch heart pine. It seems as if everyone wants wide boards or 2000 square feet. After toying with the idea of painting the floor and not worrying about what the replacement boards were I found this article: Flooring Options for Period Homes which suggested that painted floors were quite common for less public rooms like bedrooms. My kitchen might be the most public room in my house!
Old House Online has a great set of links for period flooring sources which I wish I had known about before I spent hours looking on my own!
Antique heart pine, contrary to popular belief, is as hard a flooring option as oak and was used at Mount Vernon, Monticello and virtually every home until about 100 years or so ago when oak became a popular choice. Now, finding reclaimed heart pine means saving flooring from homes about to be demolished or barns and factories suffering the same fates. Some old growth heart pine is reclaimed from logs submerged in rivers.
Back in the day these floors were usually either left bare, rubbed with linseed oil or varnished. Today polyurethane finishes or tung oil are the most popular choices.
If I can get the heart pine I want I will try to get the kitchen floors refinished by a non-sanding method. See an example here. I’d love to replace the yucky wall-to-wall upstairs, but that will have to wait. . .