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Review of Reclaimed Ash Flooring

Updated on October 20, 2010

Ash Tree

The ash tree or fraxinus is in the same genus or family as olive and lilac trees. Ash timber is popular because it has a distinctive light color, a long grain and it has an elastic quality. For these reasons ash flooring is nearly as popular as oak flooring.

There are 65 types of ash tree. In Northern America there is the White Ash, Carolina Ash, Black Ash, Green Ash, Pumpkin Ash, Blue Ash and Indigo Ash. The most important and most commercially used is the White Ash. In Europe it is the European Ash which is most often used.

Ash flooring

The main problem with ash in Northern America is that it is endangered. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was accidentally imported into the American continent in ash furniture in the late 1990s. It wasn’t until 2002 that people realized the extent of the emerald ash borer problem. So far the EAB has been confined to a few states in the Mid-West where it has killed millions of ash trees. Government regulations are attempting to stop the spread of EAB which threatens 7 billion ash trees in North America. This huge number makes EAB a more dangerous threat to tree life than Dutch Elm’s disease.

It is for this reason that it is a good idea to not buy new ash flooring but instead buy reclaimed ash flooring or antique ash flooring. The difference between antique ash flooring and reclaimed ash flooring is that reclaimed ash is ash rescued and recycled from a non-flooring source, such as a barn or wooden beam; whereas, antique ash flooring is ash flooring that was previously used for flooring. Because of renovation, refurbishment or demolition the ash flooring was no longer wanted and instead of being thrown out it was rescued, repaired and re-sold as antique flooring.

The sapwood of ash is a creamy color and the heartwood is a nutty brown color. Ash makes pale light flooring that is much lighter than other hardwoods. The light color makes a room look bigger and gives a room a modern, bright feel.

Recalimed or antique ash flooring

The advantage of reclaimed ash flooring is that it is a subtly different from new ash flooring. Reclaimed ash flooring has a deeper yellow/gold undertone.

Ash tends to shrink and warp significantly, especially when it is new. Ash can expand 7mm per square meter. Compare this to oak which only moves 3mm per square meter. This means it is vitally important to kiln dry ash flooring. Reclaimed ash flooring is more stable than new ash flooring because it has been kiln dried twice and has gained a greater stability over time because all the excess moisture has long since evaporated.

Ash is a very useful wood which is used not only for flooring but also for making tool handles, baseball bats and cricket bats. This is because ash is shock resistant. This high shock resistance makes the wood ‘elastic’. Thus, ash is an ideal material for a sport’s bat. This elastic property of ash is also useful for flooring. It makes ash flooring strong and hard and able to deal with the impact of pots and pans hitting the floor. This means reclaimed ash flooring is ideal for kitchens or children’s playrooms.

Another advantage of reclaimed hardwood flooring is that it is very hard. The Janka Hardness Rating of ash is 1,320 pounds force. Ash is harder than white oak and slightly less hard than red oak. It is a dense wood (20% of 670 kg/m3) as well. And finally, although ash has a low ground resistance and rots quickly if left outside, inside ash resists water well and is more suitable than other hardwoods for use in the kitchen and bathroom.

Ash is great to work with. It cuts easily, finishes well, is easy to stain and can take a high polish. Furthermore ash flooring is easy to install. It can be installed by glue or nail or in a floating installation. The elastic quality of ash makes it a good choice of flooring for homes with radiant heat.

Ash flooring with proper maintenance can last over 100 years.

White Ash of North America

White ash tree in America
White ash tree in America

Conclusion

Reclaimed ash flooring is slightly different to other types of reclaimed flooring in that it often has less of a ‘rustic’ appearance. This means reclaimed ash has less saw kerfs, nail holes and other blemishes. For people wanting to buy reclaimed hardwood flooring but not keen on the rustic look then reclaimed ash flooring is the perfect choice.

So to sum up, the ash tree in America is very popular but sadly endangered because of the Emerald Ash Borer – a wood boring beetle. Despite efforts at containment, the borer continues to spread and could end up killing billions of ash trees. Because of this it is a good idea to help ash populations by buying reclaimed ash flooring rather than new ash flooring. Reclaimed ash flooring looks stunning in a room and is hard, strong and amongst the best flooring types to deal with high traffic and heavy impacts. Ash shrinks and warps more than other hardwoods and so reclaimed ash flooring is a great choice because this effect is minimized. In short antique or reclaimed hardwood flooring is one of the best types of flooring available.

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