Botanical Name: Carya iillinoinensis
Color: The heartwood of pecan is reddish brown and striped with a deeper brown. The sapwood is white or off white with pink undertones.
Grain: The grain of pecan is usually a bit wavy.
Variations within Species and Grades: There can be significant differences in the color of spring and summer wood and completed flooring will usually showcase both colors.
Hardness/Janka: The Janka rating of pecan is 1820.
Dimensional Stability: Pecan has an average dimensional stability of 8.9.
Sawing/Machining: The high density of pecan can make it difficult to machine.
Sanding: The light colors allow marks from sanding to be easily seen.
Nailing: Nailing pecan can cause the tongues to split.
Finishing: It can be difficult to stain pecan.
Availability: Pecan is readily available. Pecan is actually part of the larger hickory group. Pecan hickory grows in the central and southern portions of the United States. The average growth of the tree is between 60 and 130 feet in height and a base diameter of over six feet.
The word pecan is derived from an Algonquian word that means “a nut that requires a stone to crack”. This durability attributed to the nut of the tree is found in the wood of the tree as well. Because of the strength of the wood, it has traditionally been used for handles, furniture, skis, ladder rungs, and other implements that need to be durable. Europeans were first introduced to the tree in the 16th century, and it was quickly transplanted throughout Europe and Asia. While it has gained some popularity throughout the rest of the world, pecan remains primarily a domestic tree. The pecan tree is possibly better known, and loved, as the bearer of the pecan nut. The pecan has long been a favorite food in the Americas, and it is a complete protein. The pecan tree is the state tree for both Alabama and Texas.
The Janka rating is one of the most accurate ways of determining the durability of any hardwood species. The scale has values from zero to 4,000. A rating of zero indicates the hardwood is much too soft to be used for flooring while a ranking of 4,000 means the wood is much too hard to be crafted into flooring. The Janka rating for pecan is 1,820. While this rating indicates that the wood is quite hard and can be difficult to process, it also means once it has been processed into flooring it is quite durable.
Pecan can be very difficult to work with hand tools. However, with skill it is easily machined and can be made into lovely flooring. While the light color is very pleasing, it is also easy to scuff during the sanding process. The means extra care must be given when processing the boards. Because the wood can be difficult to stain, it is usually offered in a natural finish. In addition, because of the hardness of the wood, nailing can be troublesome and screwing may provide better results. Drying the pecan lumber can be quite an undertaking. It has a high moisture content, which can lead to considerable shrinkage during the drying process.
Where to use
Because of the variations in color, ranging from the off-white sapwood to the rusty brown of the heartwood, the pattern in the flooring can be quite pronounced. This style typically looks best in a rustic décor. The hardness of the wood makes it ideal for locations of heavy foot traffic. As with other hardwood options, it is not recommended that one install the flooring in any location that will be exposed repeatedly to excessive moisture or standing water.
Care and Maintenance
While pecan is more resistant to damage than many other flooring options, care and maintenance are still important. The first step to maintaining the beauty of the new pecan flooring is preventative maintenance. All entryways should have mats covering the floor. This will protect the flooring from shoes before they are removed, as well as any loose pebbles and sand that are brought into the home. Upon arrival, shoes should be removed as soon as possible to prevent scuffmarks and indents from heels. Runners and rugs should also be placed in hallways and other high traffic areas. Although pecan is quite durable, heavy foot traffic may still damage the flooring over time. Placing pads underneath the legs of furniture can prevent gouges in the flooring when the furniture is in use or when it is being moved. Frequent sweeping, or vacuuming on the hardwood flooring setting, can remove the sand and grit that may scour the floor over time. Spills should be promptly cleaned to prevent any discoloration or damage to the stain. More specific instructions for cleaning the pecan flooring will depend on the type of finish chosen for the boards.
Many animals rely on the pecan tree for much of their food. The pecan nuts feed wildlife such as deer and squirrels and even rabbits, if the nuts have been broken out of the shell. The primary pest of the pecan tree is the pecan scab. Most of the diseases that are bothersome for the pecan tree affect the quality of the pecan rather than the quality of the wood. Pollination within a grove of pecan trees can be difficult if different varieties are not planted. Pecan trees are self-pollinating and have both male and female flowers. However, these do not usually bloom at the same time. In order for pollination to occur, multiple varieties that flower at alternating times need to be planted in close proximity to one another.