How to Tell If Wood is Genuine Heart Pine

Having a wood accent in a home is something that has become very popular. It can be hardwood flooring, a wood accent wall, an accent ceiling, a coffee or dining table, but whatever it is, it is sure to be commented on. Beautiful wood accents of any kind are beautiful, sometimes unique, and sure to get many comments. A type of wood that people really notice and comment on is heart pine, and they wonder if it is genuine heart pine or not. But how do you tell if the wood is genuine heart pine?

To tell if the wood is genuine heart pine, you look at the grains per inch and the color. There should be 6 grains per inch, which you can see on the end of the plank. And the color of heart pine is darker and more consistent along the entire length of the wood.

how to tell heart pine

The beautiful color of heart pine is very unique, and helps make it easier to tell if the wood is actually heart pine or not. There may not be a way to tell what type of pine tree the wood is from, through heart pine most often comes from longleaf pine trees, but the wood is considered heart pine if it was allowed the right amount of time to grow. The age of the tree is what makes the grains in the wood that help identify it as heart pine and what makes it heart pine. In this case, more is better is a very true and accurate statement. Find out more about the age of the trees and how to identify real heart pine below.


Age of the Tree

The age of the tree before it was cut down is what makes the pinewood actually heart pine. A tree has two layers to it, the outer layers are sapwood while the inner layers are heartwood. The sapwood is essentially the tree’s organs. It is where water and food travel from the roots to the rest of the tree. The heartwood is kind of like the tree’s bones, but it’s also like a garbage can. It supports the tree while also collecting all of the waste at the same time. As a tree ages and grows, the inner layers, the heartwood inside of the tree, grows as well. To get true heart pine, the tree must be at least 200 years old before being cut down. This will make it so that entire planks of wood are heart pine and not just pieces of it. When a tree is that old, the outer layers, the sapwood, are barely there anymore, if it is present at all. Instead, the heartwood is mostly present, which is why you can get entire planks of it without any of the sapwood mixed in as well.

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Identifying Heart Pine

Identifying heart pine can be tricky. There are a few identifying factors, including the grains per inch and the color. Although these will help you identify heart pine yourself, it is still a good idea to get the wood seen by a professional, someone who deals with old and reclaimed wood a lot, to be certain it is genuine heart pine. When you cut a tree, the rings inside of it tell you how old the tree is. These lines alternate between light and dark shades. On planks of wood, you can see these lines on the ends of the planks of wood. Heart pine will have at least 6 grains per inch, if not more. This will depend on the age of the tree, if it was over 200 years old there will be more lines on the wood. It can be hard to count every single line since there are so many and they are so close together, but it is how people who work with old or reclaimed wood know that it is true heart pine.

Another way to tell if the wood is heart pine is by the color of the wood. Longleaf pine, which is the most common type of heart pine, has a beautiful red hue to it. This red hue is caused by the resin that is present in the wood. And the color is the same along the entire length of the plank, it is not splotchy besides for knots in the wood. The knots in heart pine should be very small. They should be no more than 1 ½ inches wide. This is yet another way to identify heart pine, though not every piece of wood will have knots on it. For more information about the color of heart pine and the knots in the wood, check out this blog.

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Antique or Reclaimed

Getting antique or reclaimed heart pine is the best way to be sure that you are actually getting what you are paying for. Any tree that is less than 200 years old is considered to be new heart pine, meaning it is not antique. Some companies sell Southern yellow pine, shortleaf pine, and other types of pine wood and claim that it is heart pine. Although you can get heart pine from these trees, it is not allowed to grow the amount of time needed to become true heart pine, and thus is not considered as antique. Antique longleaf pine is also much more durable and stronger than these other pines. Antique heart pine is found in old buildings that are being torn down or restored.

Reclaimed wood is found on river bottoms or floating in rivers. Because of this, and because of how strong the wood is, there are often marks from wear and tear on the wood. There may be nail marks, paint, and even rust stains. These markings will depend on what the wood was used for before being found in a river. You can find people selling reclaimed heart pine much easier than you can find people selling antique heart pine. This is because people tend to leave the antique wood in the house once they find it instead of risking destroying the wood taking it up. Reclaimed heart pine, once properly taken care of, looks just as amazing as antique heart pine.

Working with Heart Pine

One big reason that people love heart pine is because of how strong and durable the wood is. It’s not easy to scrape and holds up very well under many conditions. However, the strength and durability of heart pine makes it quite hard to work with the wood. The wood can split when nailed by hand and screws need pilot holes before you can actually use a screw. Heart pine also tends to have pockets of resin in them that melt and become sticky when machines are used on the wood, for example, a power sander. This makes the machines sticky and could make them stop working altogether. It is important to check the wood regularly for these pockets of resin if you choose to use any sort of power tool on heart pine. If you find one of these pockets, you can use a rag that is covered in paint thinner or turpentine to clean the wood and the machines. You will gently rub the area of wood and be very careful when cleaning the machines to prevent any accidents from occurring. However, this is only if you do hit one of the pockets of resin. If you want to avoid the mess and hassle of resin entirely, you can sand by hand, using sandpaper, or use a cabinet scraper.

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