Why You Should Buy Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring

reclaimed maple flooring
reclaimed maple flooring

Environmental considerations

One and a half acres of rain forest are lost every second. That is, to put it mildly, an unsustainable rate of consumption of the planet’s most necessary species of flora. Without trees the planet’s ecosystem cannot properly recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen. With fewer trees and more industrialization in the world creating more carbon emissions we are headed for disaster.

That is a good reason not to buy new growth hardwood flooring. You shouldn’t contribute to the chopping down of forests at home or abroad to get a new floor. The compromise is using timber from a sustainably managed forest as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. However, this not ideal because forests subjected to sustainable logging are being placed under a strain and by definition do not have their full capacity of life enhancing trees.

Much better is to use bamboo or cork flooring. Bamboo can be counted as a sustainable resource because it reaches maturity in seven years. It is a hardy plant that prevents soil erosion and doesn’t need planting. It can also been grown organically without pesticides. However the bamboo must be processed in mills or factories into bamboo planks or strand woven bamboo. This bamboo is then shipped primarily from China to the rest of the world to make furniture and flooring. Cork oak from which cork flooring is made is a renewable resource that grows extensively in the Mediterranean area. This makes transportation costs low for Europe but not for the United States.

Strand woven bamboo flooring is strong, dense and hard like hardwood flooring and has many environmentally friendly benefits but it is far from carbon neutral when you factor in the factory and transportation costs.

This is when it is worth returning to guiding principles. And one of those guiding principles for the green movement is recycling. Instead of importing bamboo to Europe and the United States why not locally source disused, unwanted, abandoned and long forgotten hardwood? A city produces a phenomenal amount of waste. Amongst that waste is often precious resources. Little did the average man on the street consider that due to be demolished houses both public and private would be a gold mine for recycling hardwood flooring and hardwood beams. Nor did they imagine that hardwood can be recovered from landfill sites, mind shafts, old barns, skips and park waste. And few would have thought to bring up dropped timber from canals, rivers and lakes.

All of this hardwood can be kiln dried and milled into hardwood flooring and other interior pieces.

The resulting reclaimed or antique hardwood floor after installation is eye catching and unique. It is full of character. Reclaimed hardwood flooring comes in grades of ‘rusticity’ which is a euphemism for blemishes. These reclaimed hardwood planks with saw marks, nail holes, worm holes and dents, however, when sanded and varnished can often be laid on a floor to create an effect akin to art. The patination of reclaimed hardwood is different to new growth hardwood; it is richer and deeper. Combined with the dappling effect of variously hued planks the colour is striking in reclaimed hardwood flooring.

From a practical point of view, the flooring is also more dimensionally stable than normal hardwood flooring because all the moisture has been kiln dried from the hardwood. Plus, the reclaimed hardwood has had many years to settle as a wood. Furthermore, reclaimed hardwood retains all of the strength, hardness and durability of a traditionally newly logged hardwood timber.

Factor in the incredible look of reclaimed hardwood flooring with all the benefits of hardwood flooring such as it is allergen free with the obvious environmental benefits of recycling and locally sourcing materials and you realize that if you need to buy a new floor, it has to be made of reclaimed hardwood.

reclaimed hickory flooring
reclaimed hickory flooring

Hickory

Hickory is the hardest wood native to Canada and the second hardest wood in the United States. New growth hickory can shrink a lot so reclaimed hickory is preferable because it is more stable. There are several types of hickory which are often combined in hickory flooring.

reclaimed black locust flooring.
reclaimed black locust flooring.

Black Locust

Black locust is incredibly hard. It is also highly resistant to rotting from ground contact. Black Locust is a very useful hardwood because it grows quickly and can flourish in poor soil due to nitrogen fixing bacteria on its root system. Sadly a blight of borer insects have killed many black locust trees in the States. Thus, it is much easier and cheaper to source reclaimed black locust timber than new growth black locust timber.

Reclaimed ash flooring.
Reclaimed ash flooring.

Ash

Ash is a dense and hard wood that has an elastic quality that made it a popular material for baseball bats. The sapwood is a creamy colour and the heartwood a nutty brown. Ash is a joy to work . It polishes to a fine finish. White ash and European ash is particularly well suited for flooring. Reclaimed ash often has less marks then other reclaimed hardwoods so is a good choice for those looking for a less 'rustic' reclaimed floor.

reclaimed oak flooring.
reclaimed oak flooring.

Oak

Oak is very dense and has a natural resistance to fungal attack because of its high tannin levels. Oak has a very attractive grain pattern that makes it a great choice for flooring. Reclaimed oak is often more beautiful than new growth oak because over the years oak builds up a deep glossy patina.

Comments 2 comments

Andy Cowan profile image

Andy Cowan 6 years ago from Shizuoka, Japan

I agree that the "patination" of reclaimed oak is rather special.


alexhd57 profile image

alexhd57 6 years ago

A worn hardwood floor just can't be beat so reclaiming old boards is a great idea!

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