By Bonnie Phelps, WIR Contributor

There is a lot going on in pine floors.

Once you’ve made the decision to install Southern Yellow Pine flooring in your home or office, you can either hire a contractor to install it for you or you can choose to install it yourself. Before your order your wood, it’s helpful to know a few things about Southern Yellow Pine flooring.

Character is Built In

dark pine floors

Pine can have a lot of character, with or without knots, with the stain really affecting the look and contrast piece to piece. Southern Yellow Pine can have both tight and open grain (or even a few curly grain pieces). Unlike other wood flooring, SYP flooring shows a lot of movement and color variation. It’s interesting to see that every plank grew in its own way, which only adds to the uniqueness of a space.

Pine Flooring vs. Hardwood Floors

You also need to know that pine floors are NOT like oak floors, because SYP is a softwood, not a hardwood.  Pine floors age and wear differently, but this only adds to the character. Some folks prefer letting the floors age on their own, some prefer a hand-scraped look that ages more quickly. Don’t fear dents in the floor…every dent tells a story.

Taking a Stain

The darker stains really show contrast. For example, stained vertical grain pine can look like exotic hardwood. If you want an even stain, it’s a good idea to seal your floor first. That’s because stain absorbs at different rates due to varying density in the grain. The tighter grains will absorb less stain than open grains. This variation showcases the unique character of the wood. If the flooring includes parts of the heart of the tree, you could also get a beautiful red tone that peaks through the stain.

pine floor stairs

Drying and Acclimating Your Floors

It’s important to have pine flooring dried down to about 8-9%, then let it acclimate for a week or two wherever they’re going to be put down. The reason this is important is because you don’t want cupping in your flooring and the wood will adjust itself to its new surroundings. The dryer your environment, the longer the wood will need to acclimate.


Common flooring terms you will hear:

  • Clear Wood: Free or practically free of blemishes.
  • Heart Content: The higher the heartwood content, the stronger the wood and the tighter the grain.
  • Kiln Dried: Lumber dried in a chamber with a controlled temperature, humidity and air flow. You want floors to be less than 10% moisture.
  • Knot Content: How many, how large and how tight the knots are in a piece of lumber.
  • Tongue & Groove: A joint between two boards in which a raised area on the edge of one board fits into a corresponding groove in the edge of the other to produce a flush surface.
  • Wide Plank Flooring: Lumber for flooring that is wider than 3”.

chevron pine floors

Step-by-Step Instructions and Resources

  • If you are installing over concrete floors, the Wide Plank Flooring blog is helpful.
  • If you are installing over subfloor and joists, the Family Handyman website has great instructions, photos and diagrams.
  • For visual learners, this 7 minute YouTube video will give you a general overview of the process and shows you how to properly stack your planks during the acclimation period.
  • If you want your floors to have a distressed look, this 4 minute YouTube video shows you a simple and inexpensive method for achieving this result.