What is Caribbean heart pine, and why is it so popular?
The heart is the center of the pine tree, where the wood is harder and more durable, and usually a deeper color. The softer exterior wood, surrounding the heart is known as sapwood. In the United States, heart pine is only available as reclaimed lumber, since there is a small portion of living longleaf pine forest remaining. True Caribbean heart pine (botanical name Pinus Caribaea) is native to Central America and Cuba where there is still a substantial living pine forest.
The beauty and luster of Caribbean heart pine makes it a popular choice for hardwood flooring. It’s available in many different colors, grades and finishes. Natural heart pine has a tendency to become richer and darker with age, and can feature yellow, red or copper tones. The “knotted” look of heart pine is also part of its appeal, lending a more natural look to any space. Heart pine floors will generally show less uniformity of color, especially in a larger space, than other hardwoods, which also promotes a more natural look and feel.
Of course, heart pine can also be used for ceiling beams and wall paneling. When selecting heart pine flooring, consider the percentage of heartwood vs. sapwood as well as the amount of variegation, including knots and resin streaks, to fit your budget as well as your desired look. Since heart pine is harder than sapwood, it is more resistant to dents and scratches.
Engineered laminate designed to simulate heart pine is another great option for a lower budget.
Heart pine floors are very versatile, and can be used in either contemporary or antique design spaces.
Here are some examples of heart pine floors in a contemporary setting:
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