The charm of an antique floor is hard to define and impossible to replicate.
Antique wood holds records of a past life; from beautiful patinas to historic human imperfections and smooth sections which have been corroded by the touch of a thousand hands through the centuries. Whilst all our antique woods are reclaimed from places across the globe, they only truly become antique once they have been around for upwards of 100 years.
Restoring is of the utmost importance, as these time-consuming processes assure they are ready for the next stage in their lifecycle – after this we work the texture by hand and slowly build up finishes that allow the wood to breathe.
Celebrating the best and most interesting tales of antique wood is a joy for everyone at Woodworks, and here are just a few of our favorites.
Rich in character and texture, it is hard to beat the rustic charm of antique original face elm.
In the 1970’s much of the elm population was devastated by Dutch Elm Disease and because of this most Elm today can only be reclaimed from private residences, old barns and public spaces.
Our Antique Elm was discovered in an Armoury in North Manchester. The elm comes from the original ledge and brace doors and from the floors in the main dining room.
The building was built in 1884 and served as a training base during the First World War, with it sitting within the building until the demolition phase, where we were lucky to become the custodians of this antique material.
The restoration took over nine months to complete and was painstaking challenge for our artisans. Using delicate hand repairs and hand polishing they expertly bring the very best out of this ancient surface.
Within the Elm’s surface you’ll find the most perfect imperfections from a past life.
We crafted this genuine antique wood into random width planks, continuous Versailles, chequerboard, fingerblock, Parquet de Ardeche and Parquet de Versailles.
The inevitable reaction to anyone encountering Woodworks’ Ruskin antique oak panels for the first time is to reach out and run their hand over texture.
It’s not just the deep, rich patina, or the undulating surface which hints at the centuries of history contained within. It’s about wanting to make a connection with something so full of natural character and beauty.
Ruskin has been crafted from French Oak up to 400 years old, which has been restored to ensure that it will be enjoyed for a many more centuries.
It took some finding, but we managed. Then we went further, allowing our artisans to hand-restore it, enhance its original patina and lambent warm hues, and imbue a deceptively smooth, eminently sophisticated finish.
We burnish, burnish and burnish again – up to nine times in total – to reach the lustrous finish characterizing these history-packed parquet panels and planks. Then, for good measure, we polish the Hardwax Oil finish once more. It’s the least we can do to respect such treasured wood.
Reims is a city rich in medieval and modern history.
It was the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France and where Germany offered an unconditional surrender at the end of World War II. Throughout the streets, there is narrative on every corner.
It is also home to some of the world’s most renowned champagne producers, which is where this wood floor begins its lifecycle.
Above the plains of Champagne, vast forests provided the history-steeped wood which we were privileged to obtain.
The wood is grown is often known as Argonne Oak and the oak is some of the best in the world due to being slow grown in poor-quality sub soil. This means the texture and structure of the oak is incredibly impacted, with a fine grain.
Reims is Antique Oak that was extracted from outbuildings of an old chateau in the city, bearing witness to centuries of use, capturing tales of the past within its wide grain pattern and natural imperfections.
The rich, dark, antique oak has now been sympathetically restored while retaining characteristic nail holes, pit saw marks and natural movement that make this timber unlike anything the manmade world can offer.
We’ve taken nothing away from the natural aged patina and time worn edges of these quarter sawn boards either, meaning they can add a quiet confidence to any project they are used in, laying your surfaces with character and individuality.
Oak of this kind is as rare as they come, and due to its exclusivity, it’s in high demand, so be sure to get in touch to hear more about the intricate tales this wood holds.
Jarrah is the Aboriginal name given to Eucalyptus Marginata.
By the 19th century the South West of Western Australia was full of huge stands of massive Jarrah trees. However, due to over exploitation, it’s very rare to still find the size of tree that were once was so common.
The tree grows up to 130ft with a trunk up to 10ft in diameter and can live to be 1000 years old. When fresh, Jarrah is quite workable but when seasoned becomes so hard that conventional wood-working tools are near useless on it, requiring an extensive arsenal of skills to craft correctly.
Jarrah is a slow growing Australian hardwood known for its durability and strength our ancient Jarrah floorboards have origins starting over 500 years ago.
Within the reclaimed boards you’ll find all manner of features which we have restored using a plethora of fine crafting skills. From large nail holes to longer weather cracks, each element tells tales of a previous life at the heart of former buildings.
The knowledge we have about the importance of conservation and protecting our natural resources makes it more important than ever that reclaimed wood such as Jarrah is valued.
Given that this wood has already been around for hundreds of years, we feel privileged to be able to extend the life of such high-quality wood.
The story of our Dutch East Indies Teak begins in the early 1800s, when Dutch traders sailed across vast oceans and settled in what is now known as the Republic of Indonesia.
The influence of the Dutch settlement is still very much prevalent in architecture in Indonesia today. Colonial homes were almost always the preserve of the wealthy Dutch, Indonesian and Chinese elite, the architecture being a fusion of Western and Indonesian heritage.
Our Dutch East Indies Teak floors have been crafted from flooring salvaged from these homes when they were undergoing modern renovations.
During the full restoration process at the hands of our English artisans, extra care was taken to ensure that the original patina was left intact, bringing a truly unique feel to this reclaimed floor.
In the 18th century, Capability Brown created a style that would come to epitomize Englishness in gardens, or more accurately, parklands. Known as “England’s greatest gardener,” his signature ‘natural’ look is associated with many of the country’s finest stately houses.
In it the tree became a star.
Planted to take pride of place on its own and not just part of a wood, sometimes requiring hundreds of thousands of trees to create his characteristic expansive vistas.
Our English Estate Oak came from trees from one of the incredible 170 plus ‘gardens’ he designed back in the 18th century.
We acquired the timber from fallen trees that came down in a storm over 20 years ago and took it back to our English workshops where we left the lumber to dry until early 2018. After this long wait, we crafted them into random width boards which retain the natural imperfections, undulating texture and watermarks.
This rare wood is parkland oak because it was allowed to grow wild, and as a result it requires more skill to use on floors, with the restoration stage requiring the use of our most impressive and careful handcrafting techniques in order to rejuvenate the oak.
No two boards are ever then same, and each tells its own unique tale about the challenges of nature it faced throughout the centuries.
The patina shines through, making this wood floor the perfect selection if you’re looking to add true British history to your project.
We even crafted a bleached version of this floor, granting the wood a modern, fresh look.
Pitch Pine is one of our North American woods, which we have reclaimed from a variety of interesting sites across the United Kingdom, including old churches, hospitals and warehouses.
The people that understand woods see the magic in Pitch Pine – it is an understatement to refer to it as being a pine. In reality it is more akin to a tropical hardwood and saturated with a unique resin.
This is a wood that you will never tire of looking at as it really is full of incredible grain patterns. It is also noteworthy that this is a dense timber, harder than oak and as strong as steel.
Ever since Charles I landed at Charlestown (Charleston) in the 1560s this has been a wood valued by the navy – shipped across to the west coast of Great Britain and used to build our industrial heartlands in the 19th century.
Woodworks have crafted several Pitch Pine floors which have tremendous widths and lengths. Being able to reclaim antique woods with such impressive dimensions is a rarity, and we feel privileged to work with antique woods of this size.
The wood is cleaned and restored to keep the original patina intact and extra care has been taken by our experienced artisans to not disturb the intricate details left by centuries of history.
Packed with a charming heritage, these reclaimed woods will perfectly complement period restorations and contemporary interior projects, whether used as flooring or wooden wall cladding.
We don’t own these, we’re simply custodians, looking after them until new owners claim the wood flooring and gives them a new lease in life.
Grown across the Alps and other mountainous regions of Europe, Swiss Pine is a wood that typically experiences the harshest of weathers and coldest of temperatures, making this one of the most resilient woods we have.
The tree grows very slowly, living up to 1,000 years, so you can only imagine the tight and plentiful growth rings inside.
Throughout history the use of the Swiss Pine family has been documented.
Many carvings in Val Gardena, Italy have been created using this wood, it was the field sign of the Roman legion in 15BC and still features on the coat of arms of the German city of Augsburg to this day.
Our Swiss Pine flooring is crafted using wood that hosts all manner of natural and reclaimed features through each board. We restore the original patina by hand and polish the surface at every stage in order to bring out the very best in the surface, transforming it into beautiful genuine antique flooring with soul and feeling.