Walking the planks: Custom wood flooring from Carlisle Wide Planks


Carlisle Wide Plank Floors offers the type of broad floor boards that were common in the past. (Courtesy of Carlisle Wide Plank Floors)
June 13

For remodelers of old houses, a new showroom in Georgetown offers the type of broad floor boards that were common in the past. Carlisle Wide Plank Floors has relocated from 33rd Street NW to a second-floor storefront behind Cafe Milano, where the company’s reclaimed, stained and natural woods are on display.

From white-washed ash to dark “Cup of Joe” oak, the flooring is available in numerous domestic woods at larger sizes than standard hardwood. Planks range from 4 to 20 inches wide with typical boards measuring 8 to 10 inches wide, compared with the average 21 / 4-to-3-inch-wide strips used by most builders. Lengths range from 2.5 to 16 feet, and every order is custom-milled.

“We provide the longest, widest center-cut planks in the industry,” says Carlisle executive Chris Sy.

Recycled heart pine, oak, chestnut and “barnwood” — a mix of pine, hemlock and spruce — are available for homeowners seeking a rustic look. Rift and quarter-sawn oak, birch, hickory, cherry and walnut offered in various finishes suit contemporary spaces as well as older homes.

Herndon homeowners Luke and Stephanie Nguyen spent $50,000, not including installation costs, to replace carpeting in their 2001 home with Carlisle’s 6-, 8- and 10-inch-wide walnut planks.


Reclaimed, stained and natural woods are on display at Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. (Courtesy of Carlisle Wide Plank Floors)

“We didn’t want a generic floor with the same size patterns,” says Luke Nguyen. “We wanted a lot of character, with knots and wormholes in the wood. Each board is different, and, looking at the floor, you can guess what the tree went through in its lifetime.”

Part of the flooring’s appeal is its continuous look. “Wider floor boards make a space feel larger by dramatically reducing the number of seams,” says Sy. “This helps reduce the busyness of a room and simplifies the space.”

Founded in 1966 by physics teacher Dale Carlisle, the flooring company is headquartered in Stoddard, N.H., and crafts its products according to centuries-old techniques. The wood is cut from the heart of old-growth trees — “the oldest, driest and most dimensionally stable part,” says Carlisle’s District design specialist Adam Gibbs — and mostly air-dried outside before being milled and finished.

“We treat every board like a piece of furniture,” says Gibbs. “Each plank is handled and inspected by at least 23 people before it leaves our facility.”

The company’s top-grade “heirloom” boards, sawn from the bottom portion of the tree, have fewer imperfections than its “original”-grade planks cut higher up the trunk. Heirloom-grade, 8-inch-wide white oak flooring costs from $17.35 to $19.95 per square foot, depending on the product.

For budget-minded homeowners, Carlisle offers solid and engineered wood flooring in 4-, 5- and 6-inch widths at $8.99 per square foot. The engineered wood is topped by 3/16 of an inch of white oak, a thicker layer than similar products, and it can be sanded and refinished in the future.

Carlisle Wide Plank Floors, 3251 Prospect Street NW; 202-339-9799 or 800-595-9663; by appointment.


Rift and quarter-sawn oak, birch, hickory, cherry and walnut offered in various finishes suit contemporary spaces as well as older homes. (Courtesy of Carlisle Wide Plank Floors)

Deborah K. Dietsch is a freelance writer.

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