When it comes to reclaimed oak flooring, it doesn’t get much better than our most popular offering: naturally fumed oak. Named after the process by which it develops its rich color, naturally fumed oak is a subcategory of reclaimed oak flooring lauded for the slow process through which it ages and develops its unique characteristics.
Fuming wood has been used and perfected for centuries. In the late 19th century, farmers noticed that oak boards stored in a stable had darkened and hardened because of the ammonia fumes from the horse urine. Because of the unique and desirable characteristics it bestowed upon the wood, furniture makers began attempting to replicate the process. It was perfected in the mission style furniture line by the Stickley family business started in 1898.
Naturally fumed oak isn’t an abundant type of reclaimed lumber — and that’s a good thing. We specifically source the re-purposed timber from locations that have provided ideal conditions for the lumber to fume while aging. One of those sources includes the rafters of a retired WWII-era chicken farm operation called Chicken Haven located in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Originally built using red and white oak timbers and lumber, the wood was fumed deeply during the decades of operations.
Chicken Haven initially began as a small chicken farm and grew into a large business that utilized a mill in order to offer chicken feed to the Wilkesboro community in North Carolina. The sprawling operation required multiple buildings and a mill, all of which has been out of service for about 15 years now. This historical site now provides us with a stunning supply of lumber heralded for its ideal features.
The process by which naturally fumed oak develops its patina is a slow one, which is why this type of reclaimed oak flooring is so hard to come by. The lumber’s long-term exposure to low levels of natural ammonia reacts with the wood’s natural tannins, creating a dark and rich tone that can’t be found in any other kind of reclaimed wood. Naturally fumed oak develops from a slow process that requires very specific conditions.
As a result of this slow and arduous process, the wood is penetrated much deeper during this fuming process so the reclaimed oak flooring features a rich bronze color, stained appearance and enhanced grain patterns. The longer the re-purposed lumber is naturally fumed, the more unique features the oak flooring has. This slow process combined with the lumber’s origins from old growth forests ensures the quality and durability of our product and provides our customers with a rare, dense grain that isn’t typically seen in standard lumber.
While naturally fumed oak is a beautiful addition to any home, it’s often replicated through stains and artificial processes. The use of naturally fumed oak comes with the added benefit of re-purposing otherwise unused lumber. So when considering which re-purposed lumber to be used in your next home, remember that it doesn’t get much better than naturally fumed oak.