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Heart Pine 101

Heart Pine, also known as Southern Longleaf yellow pine or pitch pine, is a type of old growth pine known for its high content of heart wood. This gives it a tight growth ring pattern and a unique reddish-amber color. It has been used in construction and furniture-making for centuries, and was once prevalent in the southeastern coastal plain of the United States. These forests, which stretched from Virginia to central Florida and as far west as Texas, were home to trees that could grow up to 175 feet tall and took 150 to 400 years to mature.

Heart Pine was popular for its beauty and strength, and was used in many public and private buildings, as well as in plantations. It was also a key component in the Industrial Revolution, used in the construction of factories and warehouses across America. However, by the turn of the 20th century, most of these forests had been harvested, and today only about 5% of the original Longleaf Pine forests remain. This makes it difficult to obtain "new" Heart Pine, and even when available, it does not have the same character as antique Heart Pine.

The Hardwood Guys can supply, install, and refinish Heart Pine, Yellow, and/or White Pine for your project. Call us today for an estimate.

When shopping for heart pine, it is important to keep the following questions in mind:

  • Is the wood from the longleaf pine?

  • Is it truly antique? Or how old was the tree when harvested?

  • Is it 100% heartwood?

  • Are there at least 6 growth rings per inch?

  • What size and type are the knots?

When looking for heart pine, it is important to consider the percentage of heartwood in the wood. Heartwood is valued for its tight grain, which makes it stronger and more stable. Less heartwood means more sapwood, which is softer and more prone to scratches and dents. Longleaf pine has more resin than other species of pine, which contributes to its hardness and strength. Additionally, longleaf heartwood has a beautiful, rich red color. 100% heartwood ensures a consistent color, while less than 98% may result in visible streaks of yellow sapwood. Keep in mind that lesser grades of heart pine may still be labeled as such even if they contain up to 50% sapwood.

When looking for heart pine, it is important to ensure that the wood is from the longleaf pine. This is the best source of antique heart pine, and offers the strongest, most durable and stable wood with a rich patina and color. Some companies may sell Southern yellow pine, loblolly, shortleaf pine, or a combination of these and label it as heart pine. While these may still be pines and have heartwood, they do not offer the same qualities as antique longleaf pine, particularly river-recovered wood®.


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