One of the reasons I am such a fan of wood flooring is that it is the only renewable flooring option available on the market. I was shocked when I learned that hardwood floors have a service life of a hundred years and that there are floors in parts of the United States that are over 300 years old and floors in Europe that are over 700 years old! Simply put, hardwood flooring is built to last and comes from a resource that can consistently regenerate itself and continue to produce new raw flooring materials.
The fantastic thing about wood flooring is that it can be recycled, reused, or reclaimed. By reclaiming a wood floor, you can extend the service life of nearly any type of hardwood flooring. What I appreciate most about reclaimed hardwood flooring is that it has a history. A reclaimed hardwood floor’s historical significance is found in the details like where it comes from, during which time it existed, and how its unique texture, patina, and character are entirely unmatched by any other hardwood floor – it simply cannot be replicated.
Reclaimed wood is not just a hot topic or design trend, and it is a historical artifact with its own story to tell. When I began looking into reclaimed hardwood flooring, I wondered how much there was to learn about reclaimed floors. What did I need to know before starting on my journey to find one? One of the most significant pieces of information that I came across was that there are three main types of reclaimed hardwood flooring.
Post consumers recycled or antique reclaimed wood is a wood fiber or wood that was reclaimed after serving its original intended purpose. This wood has likely already served as a floor somewhere else. There is also salvaged wood, which comes from logs that have been salvaged from sources such as waterways, urban trees, or post-agricultural trees. The third and final type of reclaimed wood is pre-consumer recycled wood. This wood or wood fiber is constructed as a by-product from a secondary manufacturing process. This means that it has likely been regenerated from a previous hardwood floor to create a new one.
Besides learning about the different types of reclaimed hardwood, I was also curious about where it is sourced from. I learned that some reclaimed products are sourced from an old building and have quite the story to tell. Some of the most common species of reclaimed wood include American chestnut, maple, longleaf heart pine, oak, elm, cypress, walnut, and even Douglas fir.
It is essential to know precisely where your reclaimed hardwood is coming from, as many who have entered the industry are new and not as knowledgeable about how well-kept the floor was or if there are any potentially dangerous elements, such as lead paint, that were used on the floor. However, I have found that a responsible reclaimed flooring manufacturer knows how to correctly identify and prepare reclaimed hardwood so that you and I have minimal health risks when living with our historical floors.