The 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Hardwood Floors Over Carpet

Since the dawn of time, humans have argued over a very pressing issue: hardwood or carpet flooring? The debate continues to this day – some will praise the comfort a carpet provides while others prefer the more polished look of hardwood floors. But we hold a firm belief that, no matter what, hardwood floors are the way to go. Today, we’ll take a look at the five reasons why choosing hardwood is the best option for your home.

1. Hardwood floors are easier to clean and maintain.

Carpets are prone to holding dust, skin, and hair. To get rid of these stomach-churning particles, you’ll need to vacuum. If you want them eliminated almost entirely, a professional carpet cleaning service might be necessary. Luckily, hardwood floors don’t hold on to these particles. A quick sweep or mop will do the trick to keep your floor clean. We also all know the dreaded feeling of spilling a drink on carpet – it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the whole stain. With hardwood floors, just grab a paper towel or rag, and you’re good!

2. Hardwood floors are more durable and longer lasting.

As long as your hardwood floor is properly maintained, it can last for decades. Even a dent in the floor can be alleviated easily with a minor repair. They can be refined and polished to keep fresh and clean. Hardwood floors also take much longer to go out of style – remember shag carpets? Yeah, we’d like to forget that, too.

3. Hardwood floors are more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

While carpeting is usually manufactured with synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester, hardwood floors come from nature’s greatest gift: trees. They are produced naturally and created using the most abundant renewable resource in the world. You also have the option to research how sustainable your hardwood flooring really is using industry standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council and other like-minded organizations.

4. Hardwood floors can help you save energy.

Since wood is a conductor, hardwood floors allow the heat to pass through and circulate in your home, unlike carpet which acts as a barrier for hot air. This means longer-lasting heat, and consequently, less work from your furnace, and most importantly, lower heating bills.

5. Hardwood floors simply look more stylish.

Hardwood flooring is becoming trendier as the years go on. There is a seemingly endless amount of wood types, colors, and designs you can choose from that can bring out your inner interior designer. Different stains and polishes can help make your floors even more unique. Plus, a rug can really tie a room together.

Let’s face it: carpets are losing their popularity. If you want to keep current, hardwood flooring is the most logical option. For environmentally-conscious folk, there is nothing better for a home than a nature-friendly material like hardwood. And for those who love interior design, there are more opportunities to use your creativity and imagination, enabling you to put together a perfectly styled home. If you are currently building or planning on building a home, definitely think about installing hardwood instead of carpet – maybe, soon enough, this debate will end for good.

The Biggest Myths about the Lumber Industry, Debunked

When pondering over the current state of our environment, many people begin to envision a futuristic world consisting of chrome and steel. In this version of a future reality (often seen in post-apocalyptic films and TV shows), humanity has wiped out forests in their entirety. Land that was once full of life is now a desolate wasteland. Natural geography is vastly unrecognizable from what it was long ago. Construction and development needs are put above the ecosystem but now, it’s too late to go back and warn everyone of the dark path ahead.

We understand it is not easy to be optimistic. But remain calm! In reality, the forests of the world, especially in the United States, have proven to remain sustainable and usable for the foreseeable future. Specifically, the lumber industry though seemingly contradictory has created clear initiatives to ensure that this haunting vision of a post-apocalyptic world won’t happen.

Still, many misconceptions remain. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest myths about forest management and the lumber industry’s impact on our environment. We hope that by the time you’ve finished reading, your perception of the future will change for the better.

Myth: Cities and urban areas are taking over forests and trees

Fact: The volume of U.S. hardwoods has actually increased by more than 90 percent in the last half-century while forest acreage has increased by 18 percent. And despite a 165 percent growth in population since 1920, U.S. forest acreage has continued to remain stable.

Myth: The only easy way to obtain wood is through clear-cutting entire forests

Fact: The preferred method of harvesting hardwoods is in fact single-tree selection, as opposed to clear-cutting. With single-tree selection, trees are carefully selected for harvest, most of them aged to maturity. This careful removal of selected trees creates openings in the forest canopy, allowing more precipitation, nutrients and sunlight to reach the forest floor. Seedlings are then free to sprout and grow naturally. This results in a much more sustainable outcome than solely using the clear-cutting method.

Myth: Using steel, aluminum, and concrete for construction is better for the environment

Fact: Wood represents 47 percent of all raw materials used in the US, but the energy to produce wood products accounts for just 4 percent of the energy used to make all manufactured materials. In fact, using materials like steel, aluminum, and concrete require significantly more energy to produce, install and dispose of at the end of their natural life cycles as compared to American hardwoods.

Myth: Wood may have been a great choice in the past, but we’re in the future now

Fact: Sometimes, the oldest way is the best way. To this day, wood proves to be the best material for construction. Of course, we don’t use the same old tricks anymore — modern wood manufacturing processes have become extraordinarily efficient. Virtually every part of the log is used as lumber or valuable by-products, while finished wood products are reusable, recyclable and biodegradable. Forest sustainability organizations now reach far and wide.

The Verdict

American hardwood harvesting is efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. We know it sounds contradictory, but it is the truth using lumber from America’s lively forests can actually help save the world as a whole.

Frank Miller Lumber is dedicated to this idea of sustainable forest management. Our FSC-certified lumber is used in many projects that meet LEED standards and we continue to run a “zero-waste facility” at our sawmill. Not only does our lumber come out beautiful, authentic, and durable, it also adds to our mission of sustainability.

Hopefully, this cleared up a few misconceptions about the lumber industry and the use of wood products. Next time you build a new home or simply buy a new desk for your study, remember: you could have a role in saving the environment.

For more information on sustainability initiatives within Frank Miller Lumber and the American hardwood industry, go to our Sustainability page.

 

Woodwork Wednesday: User-submitted woodworking projects we feature on our social media!

Frank Miller Lumber social media followers who have been with us for the last year might have noticed some major changes in our activity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We are now more committed than ever to engaging more often with the community and Frank Miller Lumber customers across the nation and around the world. Something we did not expect to do was discover an extremely creative group of people who have a deep passion for woodworking.

Woodwork Wednesday was met with immediate popularity when we began the push for submissions earlier this year. We started by calling on our followers to send in their woodworking projects which, as of today, has given us a wide range of results: nightstands, bed frames, tables, chairs, and even a Star Wars lightsaber replica. Tapping into this woodworking community has also showed how important our lumber is for handmade furniture, decor, and passion projects, in addition to the large architectural projects for which we are known. It showed us that Frank Miller Lumber can be used from the smallest of projects (like a bunk bed set for grandchildren), to the largest, (like the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia).

All of us are amazed by the hard work our friends and customers from the Frank Miller Lumber community have put into these passion projects. It’s our goal to create an entire page on our website dedicated to all of the Woodwork Wednesday submissions and the stories behind each piece. For the remainder of this blog, we’d like to share some of our favorites so far.

The first Woodwork Wednesday submission we received blew us away and exceeded all expectations. Matt Carter from our own Union City, IN, created this unbelievable replica of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber using our retail store’s cherry hardwood. (See image above).

Bernie Spencer sent us a red oak constructed round etagere perfect for displaying decorations in any setting ― made with Frank Miller Lumber hardwood.

 

 

Ralph Walker from Columbus, Ohio, was featured for his folding chairs made with Frank Miller Lumber’s quartersawn white oak. Ralph built 16 of these at the time of this submission, with a plan to build 14 more. Not only were the chairs remarkable, but the photos looked equally spectacular!

 

 

One of the more endearing feats of construction that we showcased were Keith Mealy’s bunk beds built for his twin granddaughters, which could also be unbunked and used as single beds!

 

 

These are just a few examples we have showcased over the course of the last few months, which you can see through our weekly social media posts. It has been an inspirational experience seeing how much Frank Miller Lumber impacts the community with our wood in home projects,  and woodworking businesses.

Please send us your work via a Facebook message or our email (frankmillerlumber@gmail.com). We love hearing the stories behind some of them, so remember to include a quick description of the piece along with where the lumber was bought (which we hope is from Frank Miller Lumber!). Stay tuned in the coming months for a new web page including all past, present, and future submissions ― your work could be showcased and archived on the official Frank Miller Lumber website!

Keep on woodworking ― you continue to amaze us.

 

Specifying Quartersawn Walnut and Making Realistic Promises

While working with a well-known designer in New York I asked him to define the mission of a designer. He said that it is threefold:

  1. Create a design
  2. Convey the design to the client
  3. Make it deliverable

As an architectural consultant, I can help to make the job deliverable if it involves American hardwood, especially quartersawn American hardwoods. In trying to sync the specification with the realities of the resource, this first conversation can sometimes be disappointing. The specification looks so good on paper and in many cases the client has virtually unlimited funds, so how can it be that the spec isn’t deliverable? The fact is some hardwood specs are unattainable because of nature.

Boss Basic table made with Quartersawn Walnut | Riva 1920
https://www.riva1920.it/en/prodotti/tables/boss-basic/

Every tree is different and the client’s desire to see all the hardwood in their project looking exactly the same is often impossible. That disappointing first conversation, however, is free of acrimony or litigation. If a promise is made to supply that unrealistic specification and it doesn’t happen, acrimony and litigation are certain to follow. With that in mind, let me share with you the story of a specification of quartersawn walnut.

We recently turned down the opportunity to quote on a quartersawn walnut project for a hotel; the spec included FSC certification. Frank Miller Lumber is the largest FSC-certified quartersawn hardwood lumber sawmill in the world. There are only a handful of similarly-sized quartersawn hardwood sawmills in the United States. We currently hold the nation’s largest inventory of FSC-certified quartersawn white and red oak lumber. We occasionally produce some FSC-certified cherry and walnut as well. However, our ability to produce FSC-certified lumber is limited to the availability of FSC-certified logs.

The number of FSC-certified timber producers is steadily declining in the United States, not because FSC level sustainability standards are no longer being met, but because the cost of certification and its connected paperwork can make FSC certification a bit daunting to some timber producers, despite its merits. Since walnut represents 1% of the American hardwood resource, the chance of coming across FSC-certified walnut logs is extremely remote.

We had to turn down the opportunity to provide a quote on the hotel project. I wouldn’t quote FSC-certified quartersawn walnut for a small residence and there is certainly no way to quote enough to handle a hotel.

Another unrelated project recently was 30,000 square feet of quartersawn walnut flooring for the executive offices of a well-known firm I can’t name. This wasn’t FSC-certified, but the sheer volume of the project disqualified it out of the gate. Adding to the impossibility of the specification was the walnut flooring couldn’t exhibit any “natural characteristics.” That is the sort of specification that leads only to disappointment.

The advice I offer to everyone who is pondering the use of quartersawn walnut: Check your specs and expectations with mill representatives before you make promises that will go unfulfilled. Client conversations regarding broken promises are not just disappointing, but often acrimonious and litigious.

Built to Last – How Durable Is Wood as a Construction Material?

Just how durable is wood as a construction material? Consider Hōryū-ji, the Temple of the Flourishing Law, in Ikaruga, Japan. Recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site and a national treasure of Japan, Hōryū-ji was built in the year 711 as a Buddhist temple. It eventually came to be known as one of the Seven Great Temples. At over 1300 years old, the temple is one of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world.

Hōryū-ji is an expanse of many wooden structures with some of the wood structural elements being considerably older than the overall finished complex. A five-story pagoda on the grounds includes a central wooden pillar that is believed to have been felled in the year 594. It is so old that a fragment of one of Buddha’s actual bones is believed to be enshrined at its base.

The pure age of this beautiful structure is not the only testament to the durability of its wooden composition. Hōryū-ji is not just a piece of wooden history preserved in a climate controlled museum or protected in a glass case — it is a well-used, functional building. The temple has enjoyed continuous observance of Buddhist traditions for the last fourteen centuries. But it’s not just human wear and tear this beautiful wood building has tolerated — it is an ironman of environmental endurance as well. Since construction was completed, Hōryū-ji has survived at least 46 different earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater. When you take into consideration that this was all accomplished without the aid of modern construction equipment, computerized engineering or advanced synthetic material treatments, it is hard not to be inspired by this wooden marvel.

Wood is both a modern, high-tech, environmentally-friendly architectural construction material, and a proven building material of lasting strength, durability and beauty that is unrivaled by any other material on earth.

Sources:

http://www.horyuji.or.jp/horyuji_e.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hōryū-ji

https://gizmodo.com/5846501/how-japans-oldest-wooden-building-is-still-standing

Harvest a Tree, Save the Planet: Part II

American hardwoods are an environmentally responsible interior finish building material. From selection harvesting, forest acreage growth to renewability and animal habitat formation, American hardwood lumber is one of the best material choices that can be made by the design community.

Environmental responsibility goes beyond sustainability, however. Looking at hardwood as a construction material and its impact on the environment, it is a very attractive option compared to other building materials.

Unlike most other building materials, as hardwood trees grow, they are actively pulling carbon from the environment while producing oxygen. This sequestration of carbon is a long-term effect that locks away that carbon permanently. Over half the weight of a kiln-dried American hardwood board is captured carbon. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that each year U.S. forests remove the greenhouse gases emitted by 139 million cars, or about 13 tons of dust and gas per acre.

Wood represents 47 percent of all raw materials used in the U.S., but the energy used to produce wood products accounts for just 4 percent of the energy used to make all manufactured materials. Products like steel, aluminum, concrete, glass and synthetics require significantly more energy to produce, install and dispose of at the end of their natural life cycles as compared to American hardwoods. Wood removes carbon dioxide from the environment, requires less energy to process and manufacture, and has a much smaller carbon footprint than many other resources.

No one material is perfect in all applications. When wood is used, it has some distinct environmental advantages over other common materials like steel and concrete. Steel usage, for example, releases 24 percent more pollutants into the air and 34 percent more greenhouse gases than wood. Concrete usage requires 57 percent more energy consumption, causes 81 percent more greenhouse gas emission and 350 percent more water pollution than wood. Replacing 1 cubic meter of concrete with 1 cubic meter of wood saves approximately one ton of CO2.

Keep in mind that the United States controls approximately 9% of the world’s hardwood resource, satisfies more than 25% of the world’s appetite for hardwoods in furniture, flooring and joinery and there is more than twice the volume of hardwood growing in the United States as compared to 50 years ago.

 

Harvest a Tree, Save the Planet

OK, maybe don’t run out to the backyard and fell that beautiful oak tree that provides cool, shady relief during warm summer barbecues, but there is some truth to the idea that utilizing our hardwood resource like can be of benefit to the pale blue dot we call home. While there are justifiable concerns regarding the removal of trees across the planet, the American hardwood industry is a story of success with very real benefits to the environment.

Not all forestry practices are the same, and these varied approaches to harvesting wood can mean the difference between helping and harming the environment. When many people think of tree harvesting, images of forest destruction and clear cutting come to mind. For example, in some areas of the world, beautiful trees are burned to make way for cattle grazing, palm oil production or bamboo growth. The harvest of American hardwood is a very different endeavor with very different results. In the continental United States, there is an abundance of hardwood forestland, covering 279 million acres.

Approximately 80 percent of this hardwood forest land is controlled by millions of private landowners. From this private land, about 92 percent of all hardwood production is generated. It’s typical for these private landowners to harvest only once or twice in their lifetimes. In stark contrast to clearcutting, the harvesting of hardwoods is a selective process that means removing trees at the height of their maturity, after they have absorbed as much carbon as they will absorb in their lifetime. Once a hardwood tree is harvested and rendered into logs, boards and ultimately furniture, flooring or millwork, half the weight of the dried hardwood is carbon, captured forever. Unlike softwoods, hardwoods will generally propagate without the deliberate planting by a farmer. In selecting mature trees for harvest, the forest canopy is opened, allowing light and water to reach seeds the trees have dropped to the forest floor.  Hardwood trees are known to be “shade tolerant”, which means that they don’t require a great deal of sunlight to grow. In contrast, softwoods are “shade intolerant,” requiring the clear cutting of swaths of forest and replanting by hand to allow maximum light to reach the saplings.

The American hardwood industry is truly sustainable and renewable, driving forest growth. Through the diligent practice of sustainable forest management, in the last 50 years hardwood forest acreage in the United States has actually increased by 18 percent. From the American Hardwood Information Center: “According to the U.S. Forest Service, there were 119 percent more hardwood trees in 2007 than in 1953, with the growth-to-removal ratio of 2.00 (two new trees for every one removed)”.

The overall volume of American hardwoods has more than doubled in the past 50 years. What does all this forest growth mean for the health of the planet? Over the course of a year, 100 trees can remove 53 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Those same trees can also pull 430 pounds of other pollutants out of the air. This is in addition to the increased biodiversity of flora and fauna that comes with expanding, thriving forest habitat. So yes, removing a tree is good for the planet — when that tree is an American hardwood.  This precious natural resource adds beauty to the world in finished products and represents the ultimate in sustainability.

Trees and Humans

I am happy to be back with Criswell’s Corner in our new website.  My work in architectural and design outreach has continued unabated over these past months, but my writing has taken another hiatus.  Today I am inspired to write a bit about an evaluation I received recently after a presentation.  Generally, I receive great reviews even when my presentation is part of an eight-speaker day and some architects are there to hear about geothermal heating and roof systems.

As part of my presentation I contend that people generally resonate with wood clad environments in a way that they don’t with others.  I have asked over 4,000 architects and designers around the world to present an argument to the notion that a wood clad room is simply a better space.  No one has ever taken me up on that challenge.  It is very subjective and difficult to articulate, but I generally see people nodding their heads in agreement.

I came to the conclusion, rather unscientifically, that we as humans resonate with wood due to the similarities between trees and humans.  The evaluation I received that prompts this blog said that my comparison between trees and humans was “just silly.”  I will let you decide how silly the comparison is.

I say that trees and humans are mostly water.  This is true – trees are more than 50 % water and humans are 60% water.  I also say that we share the same approximate percentage of carbon, about 18%.  That number rises in wood as it is dried, to 50% of a board’s dry weight being stored carbon.  Trees and humans share a symbiotic relationship in the carbon/oxygen cycle of life and humans therefore depend a great deal on trees.  The last similarity between trees and humans is that we are all unique.

Having survived stage 4 cancer, I am now on the Patient Advisory Council for a brand new Cancer Hospital in Kettering, Ohio.  The council is comprised of current and surviving patients all of whom use their experiences to inform some of the critical interior design elements of the hospital.  When asked to evaluate a series of interior renderings of exam rooms and treatment areas, the consensus was that the spaces that showed the most natural light and wood were deemed the most conducive to healing.

Wood, even in finished applications, will always take on and shed water to some degree and that same wood will hold its captured carbon for the life of the products.  Data is being developed on the multiple beneficial effects of wood-clad environments on students, patients and office workers.  I would obviously disagree with the person who dismissed my comparison between trees and humans of being “silly.”

Welcome to the new home of Frank Miller Lumber

You’ve probably noticed a few changes around here lately.

We’ve worked hard over the past few months with the help of ruef, a design company in Dayton, OH, to create a website as unique and state-of-the-art as our company. This site launch is a part of a larger effort to rebrand Frank Miller Lumber. It represents our revitalized approach to communicating the true nature of our company – an Indiana sawmill and a leading provider of Premier American Hardwoods.

We even have a new logo:

You’ll notice the old-school typeface, which harkens back to logos of Frank Miller Lumber’s past. And the icon, which represents a quartersawn-cut log. When our salespeople walk into a room, people usually say, “Hey, it’s the quartersawn folks,” so we figured we needed an icon showing that.

When ruef started working with us on our messaging strategy, they helped our team express their opinions about the state of the previous corporate branding. The consensus of opinion was that the previous website let visitors with the impression that we are a flooring manufacturer, not a high-quality hardwood sawmill. We all agreed that we needed to go back to our roots (pun intended) and highlight what makes us unique.

So while you’re here, check out our state-of-the-art proprietary quartersawing process, a showroom of various hardwood applications, and read about our dedication to sustainable forestry. You can also tour the century-old history of Frank Miller Lumber with a timeline and vintage gallery. Keep checking this blog, Criswell’s Corner, which is written by various members of the Frank Miller team, primarily Criswell Davis, Frank Miller’s architectural marketing manager and an expert resource regarding American hardwoods in sustainable design.

We hope you like our new site as much as we do.

Bamboo vs. Hardwood

I have been asked several times recently about the benefits of bamboo for flooring applications.  I might get one question like that in a typical year, but over the past two months I have been asked about bamboo a half dozen times.  I don’t know if this is the result of a marketing campaign on behalf of of the bamboo industry or a fluke.  I was content to let the surge of interest in bamboo fade until I received an email this month from an American veneer manufacturer.  The title of the email was “Bamboo – a renewable, LEED certified Wood”.  The subtitle was “September Wood of the Moment: Bamboo”.

Let me make this point clearly: bamboo is not wood.  It is a grass.  From the Oxford dictionary definition of the word “wood”:
The hard fibrous material that forms the main substance of the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub. 

After referring to bamboo as wood twice in the email, the author added this note:   “Although bamboo is a grass, it still has the same consistency and color as wood”.  It is true that bamboo is a grass.  What is untrue is that it does not have the same consistency and color as wood. American hardwoods come in a wide variety of colors and grain patterns.  Bamboo comes in only a few colors and very little variation in grain pattern.

This grass is harvested and rendered into a flooring or panel products in China using resins and adhesives that are not regulated in any way.  There are over 1,600 different species of bamboo, only a few of which are suitable for flooring.  When the bamboo flooring industry tells you that bamboo flooring is “harder than oak”, that is a broad generalization.

Bamboo grows quickly and gains a LEED point in building due to its “rapidly renewable” nature.   Bamboo may be LEED certified, but it is not wood.  From the US Green Building Council web page comes this statement about bamboo as an FSC certified building product: bamboo is often used in many of the same applications as wood products, and is considered by the FSC to be a forest product despite its technical classification as a grass. Therefore, bamboo may be included in the calculations for both MRc6 and MRc7. If bamboo is added to the MRc7 calculations, all bamboo on the project (FSC or otherwise) must be accounted for in the value for all new wood-based components for the project.”

It is important to keep in mind that American hardwood trade organizations maintain quality control standards for hardwoods, there are no such organizations in China.  Quality can vary wildly in bamboo flooring, as can the amount of formaldehyde off- gassing in flooring due to the glue and resins used in rendering this grass into a wood – like flooring product.    All of the by-products of hardwood production is used in some way, while only about 65% of raw bamboo is used to make flooring.  The leftover is usually burned.

After hardwood in application has outlived its usefulness, it can be re-purposed or if sent to a landfill, will decompose.  Bamboo flooring, since it is mostly glue, will remain intact in a landfill almost indefinitely.

I represent the American hardwood industry as well as Frank Miller Lumber.  I am very proud to represent an industry that produces a sustainable and beautiful product that adds beauty to the world that will last for generations.  As a designer or consumer, there should be no reason other than short term cost savings, to choose bamboo over American hardwoods.  American hardwoods carry environmental credentials that are empirically verifiable.  Bamboo simply cannot stand up to that level of scrutiny.  If you are making design decisions about flooring for your residential or commercial project and you are thinking of bamboo, you need to ask yourself if you want a Chinese “grass and glue” floor or a sustainable American hardwood floor.  The answer will be obvious when you consider it in those terms.