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Why You Should Buy Reclaimed Oak Flooring

Updated on October 20, 2010

Oak in the Past

Oak trees are become rarer and rarer. Because trees of the quercus genus are so useful, beautiful and strong they are too prized. Oak trees are being rapidly depleted around the world because oak is such a good material to make furniture and flooring. Oak has an historic position in the myths of many countries and is a symbol of national pride for many countries.

There are about 600 species in the oak family. The genus is native to the northern hemisphere and includes both evergreen and deciduous varieties that stretch from the cold latitudes to tropical Asia to the Americas. The most recognizable quercus is the oak with the serrated leaves and acorns held in cupules.

Oak is a very dense wood that is strong and hard. It has a high tannin content and as a consequence of its tannin content it is very resistant to fungal and insect attack. Combine the oak’s strength and resilience with its attractive grain markings especially when quarter sawn. Since the Middle Ages oak was extensively used in building construction and for furniture. The British House of Commons has interior paneling made of oak. Pedunculate oak (quercus robur) and Sessile oak (quercus petraea) were used to build naval ships.

Great Oak Forests

The Foloi oak forest in Greece. Something magical.
The Foloi oak forest in Greece. Something magical.

Oak Today

Today oak is still extensively used for flooring and furniture making as well as for making timber frame buildings. Red wine, sherry, Scotch, brandy and bourbon are still aged in oak barrels.

With this high demand for oak it is no surprise that oak tree numbers are declining at a rapid rate. The red oak borer insect has affected 38% of oak used for lumber, cooperage and veneer in the USA, typically reducing the value of the oak timber by 40%.

In the past large areas of Europe were covered with temperate deciduous forests in which oak trees often predominated. Only a tiny portion of these ancient forests now survive today because the need for agricultural has meant that Europe has no room for great forests.

The Benefits of Reclaimed and Antique Oak Flooring

This is so sad. Deforestation still continues today in the Americas, Asia and Europe. You should consider the future of the oak and refuse to buy new growth oak products especially oak flooring. The solution to buying new growth oak flooring is to buy reclaimed oak flooring. Because oak was so commonly used in the past there is a vast supply of unwanted oak to be taken and recycled. Many old houses have oak flooring that can be salvaged from re-fittings and demolitions as antique oak flooring. There are many suppliers of reclaimed oak flooring who can install beautiful oak planks in your house. The advantage of reclaimed oak flooring is that time has given the oak flooring an incredible stability that can withstand much greater differences in humidity compared to new oak flooring. All the toxic VOC glue has long since off-gassed from reclaimed oak and antique oak flooring thus making it a green interior design option. Furthermore, reclaimed oak has a rich patina created by time. It is a patina that cannot be imitated by varnishes.

In 2004 Congress voted the oak the national tree of the United States of America. It is also the national tree of England, Estonia, France, Germany, Moldova, Lithuania, Poland, Wales, Bulgaria and Serbia. This shows the importance of the oak in the national psyche of many countries. The oak harks back to a time when many people’s countries were covered in great forests. And of the many beautiful hardwoods of the forest it was the oak that was king. It was the oak that people chose to represent the strength and resilience they most wanted to achieve as a nation. If we cut down all the oaks then we symbolically shore ourselves of our own pride in our strength and fortitude.

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