New is usually the word on your mind when thinking
about remodeling. But the folks at Heartwood Industries in Utica
think buying old can be the best way to achieve a fresh and
Heartwood Industries reclaims old and abandoned buildings-mainly
Kentucky whiskey distilleries-and recycles the wood into antique
"We take the whole building down," says Brenda
Worley, marketing director. "They’re all hand-dismantled in
order to preserve the wood, each piece taken part by
part-otherwise it would all end up in the landfill."
Worley feels that salvaging wood from one Kentucky building
to be used in others is one way to preserve a part of the state’s
heritage. She explains, "Whatever the building is made of is
usually antique wood. We recycle everything from the wood to brick
Founded five years ago by Ron Peech, Heartwood Industries
now ships products to 16 countries. Because of the unusual nature
of the business, it was featured recently on a PBS television
Heartwood customers range from homeowners and businesses
looking for something just a bit different to those who want
unique and expensive beneath their feet.
"Our wood has sold in Tokyo, Japan, for Universal
Studios and Disneyland," notes Worley. "It’s in the Hard
Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. We also do a lot of work in the Rocky
For intrepid homeowners seeking the novel sophistication of
antique flooring in their homes, Worley describes the different
Traditional country. This grade has a lot of character,
abounding with nail holes, knots, and grain variations. It is the
most rustic in appearance of all the grades.
Select grade. This is the company’s best-selling floor,
perhaps because of its inherent versatility. The flooring can look
rustic or contemporary depending on the style the homeowner is
hoping to achieve. It is a tight, close grain-80 percent
knot-free-with a varying amount of flat grain. A few nail holes
Distressed grade. This flooring was recently installed in
historic Talbott’s Tavern in Bardstown, as part of the inn’s
restoration project. It features the original circular saw marks,
nail holes, and other rough markings characteristic of the wood.
Rift grade. This is a very expensive cut of wood, a mostly
vertical grade with very little or no knots or nail holes.