A Timbery Tale: From Seed to Your Floor – How Trees are Harvested for Wood Flooring

Lumber farm in Moore, CA in 1911 


The process of turning a tree into the beautiful, shining hardwood floors you currently have is an interesting and involved process. Knowing this will help appreciate your floors even more. Come with Century Custom Hardwood Floors on this journey through time and space and everything in between.

First, the seed is planted in a government approved plot of land that is selected specifically for harvesting. The seed will grown into the tree of choice in anywhere from several months (bamboo) to several decades (oak). Once the tree has grown sufficiently to optimal size, it is then marked/selected for harvesting. Depending on the corporation that does this, a variety of methods can be used to cut down the tree, or determine which trees are cut. Clear-cutting will simply cut down every tree in a certain area. Selection will single out individual trees from among the entire group. Group selection takes mostly all the “undesirable” trees and harvests those, undesirable here meaning that the growth was stunted, not necessarily deformed trees.

The trees are harvested with a variety of logging tools by lumberjacks (yes, those still exist). If the trees are huge, then the lumberjacks will go “Evil Dead 2” on them and chainsaw them down. If the trees are thin and small, a special vehicle named a “buncher” is used. It basically looks like a regular yellow construction vehicle with a tree’s version of an iron maiden. Those trees have another thing comin’.  

They are then transported to the lumber mill for further processing. At the lumber mill the trees are de-barked using a giant pencil sharpener (actually just called a debarker).Afterwards one side is sawn off to make the log lie flat. They are sent through the mill on a conveyor belt that will then have the logs cut into smaller, strip-like segments.

These segments will then be inspected, either by hand of a fancy laser machine, and have all imperfection removed. Imperfections can range from discoloration to bark still left on by improper pencil-sharpening. Once all imperfections are removed and the strips meet the standards of their demise, it is then taken to a warehouse. In the warehouse the strips are a dried using one of two methods: air dry, or pre-dry.

Air dry is just like what you do with your towels, except you’re using tons of lumber. This can, and will, take several months to allow the lumber to reach an accepted moisture level. This level ranges anywhere from 3% to 8% in most cases. The other method, pre-dry, will achieve the same effect but in a drastically reduced time-frame by using a huge storage machine that will suck out all the moisture. From here the lumber is taken to a giant easy-bake oven.

The reason for putting the strips in the oven (in actuality called a kiln) is due to the fact that the lumber must be heated and essentially cooked to achieve maximum strength so the eventual hardwood floor segments are structurally stable and not cheap like your kid’s tree house. Once they’re heated, they’re allowed to cool and then sent off to the major flooring manufacturers to be further processed into fancy new hardwood floors, where they’ll be used for installation or refinishing.

Though it may seem complicated and lengthy, rest assured that all this is necessary to make your floors the best they can be. Here at Century Custom Hardwood Floors in Los Angeles, we recognize that our customers deserve the best in service and products. So whether you’re in elegant Beverly Hills for a brand-new installation, friendly Pasadena for a refinishing, or exciting Glendale for a buffing touch-up, call Century Floors for any and all of your hardwood flooring needs. We aim to please and exceed all of your expectations. You get what you pay for, so why skimp out on yourself?

Call (800) 608-6007 to schedule a free estimate, floor inspection & design consultation!