When shopping for quality natural material for your flooring project, reclaimed hardwood can be a great option. Reclaimed hardwood flooring is eco-friendly, durable, stylish. In this guide learn more on benefits, risks, types and prices of a reclaimed wood flooring.
What is a Reclaimed Wood Flooring?
Also known as recycled or antique, reclaimed hardwood was previously used on other structures which have been dismantled and the wood is reclaimed for another use. Reclaimed wood is usually milled from old barns flooring and sidings, old beams and trusses or from timber pulled from bottom of rivers and lakes.
There are just many old structures where reclaimed wood can be sourced from. Locally in US sources include dismantled historical homes, barns, synagogues, bridges, ship wreckages and logs pulled from lakes and rivers, mines shafts and fences and more.
Besides flooring, reclaimed lumber has multiple other uses such as making of indoor and outdoor furniture, construction of decks, wall paneling, countertops and shelves among many more. Reclaimed wood has proven irresistible to many people including furniture sellers, home remodelers, home-improvement do-it-yourselfers and home builders.
Just like new hardwood, reclaimed flooring comes in varieties of types based on species, appearance and prices. In 1800s and early 1900s, common types of hardwood include red and white oak, hard maple, birch, chestnut and pine although not classified as hardwood.
How is a Hardwood Reclaimed?
Converting an old used wood into a premium wood is an involving process. To begin with, the piece of timber has to be inspected for quality. A sample may be examined for age and character. The recycled flooring manufacturer will also check for presence of metals, old paint, water damage and other possible flaws which are carefully removed before the wood is re-worked.
The sawn boards are kiln dried to remove excess moisture. Some timber may have been exposed to moisture or water thus important to stabilize moisture content so as to protect boards from warping and mold. During the process, moisture may be introduced to all pieces to a given level before drying them to a recommended standard.
Finally tongue and grooves are made into the planks. The flooring boards are prefinished at the factory or finished on site after installation. The wood is then packaged and stored ready to be shipped to various customers.
It is recommended NOT to stain a reclaimed hardwood flooring as that may change the wood patina. A contrast between the original color and stain may show through after wear. Once installed, observe normal hardwood floor care and maintenance guidelines.
Is reclaimed hardwood good? Yes, there are many benefits of a reclaimed wood.
1. Environment friendly
Choosing a reclaimed hardwood flooring helps conserve environment in a significant way. This is a completely eco-friendly sustainable way of preventing tree cutting and logging, deforestation and landfill waste.
2. Stable and durable
If you though new floors are durable than reclaimed ones, then the opposite is true. Antique wood has weathered for ages, the old trees adapted to climate changes over many generations which significantly made them to have strong and dense grain.
Reclaimed lumber therefore hardly suffer warping, swelling or shrinkage after installation, which is common in new wooden floors. Additionally, minor surface flaws such as scratches, dents and wear can be sanded and refinished.
3. Stylish and unique
Reclaimed hardwood flooring presents a unique look and perfectly imperfect character hard to find in new materials. The interesting grain patterns, color variations and unusual knots and swirls are irresistible to look at. This beats rustic, hand scraped and distressed looks popular in modern floorings.
While reclaimed flooring maintains high popularity, there is a risky side of it that every homeowner should be aware of. Here are disadvantages of a reclaimed lumber that makes it a risky venture:
1. Chemical Toxins
In the past or during the recycling process, the wood might have been treated with chemicals and paint which may contain volatile compounds such as, adhesives, insecticides, preservatives or lead.
Insecticides may have been used to kill bugs and adhesives used in binding weak points. Old paints contain lead or the wood may have been exposed to the heavy metal while at the bottom of the river or lake.
2. Pests & Bugs
Lumber can harbor pests some which you may not be able to discover when they are deep inside. These pests or bugs can infest the rest of lumber furnishings or assortments in your home. Infested wood may also become weak and permanently damaged in future.
Due to high popularity and demand of a reclaimed lumber, unscrupulous dealers may give false details about their products with a ploy of deceiving a customer. This puts credibility of most reclaimed wood products in question.
The cost of a reclaimed wood flooring may be higher as compared to new ones, this is due to costly and involving processes incurred by the manufacturers. Such costs are usually transferred to the final customers of the product.
To reduce risks and increase safety of a reclaimed hardwood flooring, here is what to do when choosing:
- Enquire and investigate on the sources of the wood. The nature of previous environment may give you a clue of possible dangers. You may also test the wood for toxins.
- Know how the wood was treated. Heat treated or kiln-dried wood is regarded safer than chemical treated. Heating is done to regulate moisture content and kill off bugs. It is usually marked “HT”.
- If you are not sure about the flooring material you have purchased, avoid installing in sensitive areas such as where toddler or puppy plays or near food and dining areas. When sanding and refinishing, always wear protective gloves and mask.
- Purchase your lumber from a reputable dealer with credible certification from organizations such as Rainforest Alliance or Forest Stewardship Council.
Reclaimed hardwood flooring is a unique way of transforming your space into something never seen before. This a heritage lumber that adds a story to your project. Use Recycled wood, conserve forest and stop greenhouse effect.