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Sweetgum for flooring

htra's picture

Hi all!

With all the wood gurus on here, I bet this is right up your alley.

We are putting a house on a very wooded lot. The footprint of the house is going to take out about eight to ten big Sweetgum trees. The original intent was to get enough usable wood to finish out some vaulted ceilings. However, I've seen some references to using Sweetgum for flooring as well. I've read that during drying Sweetgum will move around quite a bit. Once it's dry you mill it and it's ok after that. Is this true?

Anyone had experience with using Sweetgum? We're not going to use it for any structural needs, just finish. The owner thinks it's a cool idea, and is willing to pay the extra for using the on-site trees. The site is in central Florida.

Thanks for any help!





(post #60122, reply #1 of 9)

not to denigrate the expertise on this forum,  but you might post this same question over at 'Knots' - - there are people there that can tell you exactly what you want to know...

"there's enough for everyone"

(post #60122, reply #2 of 9)

I've never heard of "Knots". I'll go check it out!


(post #60122, reply #3 of 9)

I would add that you might also want to visit the "" and go to their "sawing and drying" forum.  Then maybe do a search for sweetgum and see what you get.  I did and got at least 10 listings that all looked instructive. 

(post #60122, reply #4 of 9)

Don't really use it, but I see a lot of it as trim in the homes we work in.

Apparantly it was very plentiful in the south and was shipped north during the building booms after  WWI and WWII.

I have seen it stained every color from a natural birch to pea green to mahagony to dark cherry.

It seems reasonably hard and has stayed straight.

probably make a nice floor.

it has a fine grain and has a medium amount of figure.

it lokks like it might be hard to machine for furniture but floor work is much more forgiving.

Post somepics when you get it done.

Mr T

Do not try this at home!

I am an Experienced Professional!

Remodeling Lead Carpenter w/ 20 years exp.

+ A Construction Engineering Degree

Located in Elmira, NY

Incessantly Whining Liberal

Sarcastic Smartass

Cunning Linguist

Family Man


. .

(post #60122, reply #6 of 9)

I dont intend insult , but we doze them and burn them mixed with some good wood to start it. Im in the South and we think they are useless. We are covered in them and dont use them. Ill keep listening .

Be no trouble for a band saw mill to take them down to size if someone found a use for them. We wont even weight the truck with um as firewood.

Tim Mooney


(post #60122, reply #5 of 9)

I've tried doing similar stuff with trees on my properties (old suburban home lots)  It's been hard to find a sawmill willing to deal with my trees because they fear metal objects hidden within.  Only place that would deal with my trees had a portable bandsaw.

Air drying time (after cutting to rough thickness) is a year per inch of thickness.  Kiln drying is faster, maybe a month? 

(post #60122, reply #7 of 9)

That's intriguing, and it makes for a nice personal touch in the house. I cut cypress and wild black cherry on my property in NE Florida. There is a saw mill less than a mile from me. Be sure to have them cut it "oversize" so that after drying and milling that you have useable size for what you want. Outdoor drying takes a long time and probably wouldn't work into your construction schedule. Kiln drying is a lot more complicated than I thought, but I found a forest product company in Boone, NC near where I am building to do it and then mill T&G. Nobody wanted to do the cherry, but I eventually found another mill to do it.

I've used both in a linen closet and surrounding my whirlpool. There is a great deal of satisfaction seeing something from the tree to the finished project. I have stories to go along with it also. Like how a chain saw works almost completely underwater, and when you cut a poison ivy vine you shouldn't stand in the water and not expect to get a rash in bad places.

If it's not a good choice for flooring perhaps a large slab could be used for a mantle or treads to a porch if it is a rustic house.

(post #60122, reply #8 of 9)

Thanks for everyone's input. Yes, we've found a portable sawmill, and have access to kiln drying. We have need for about 1200 sq.ft. of wood for a vaulted ceiling. We were going to put T&G Cypress up but then found out maybe we could use the Sweetgum. The contractor says he would always burn Sweetgums, but when I nosed around on the internet I found out Sweetgum may be usable. I gather the heart wood can be very pretty.

So, we may give it a shot. I'm beginning to have my doubts about using it for flooring. We don't have enough, for one thing, but I think using it on the ceiling is very workable.

If it pans out I'll post some pics.

Thanks again.

(post #60122, reply #9 of 9)

I've seen it as trim in some of the older houses (1920s?) up here in Massachusetts.  Must be the type of shipped north after WWI wood that was posted about by someone else in this thread.  Looks nice with a stain on it.