Recycled Hardwood Flooring Back from the Ashes

Reclaiming and recovering antique lumber and restoring it into beautiful recycled hardwood flooring is a complex process that involves a good eye along with an understanding of wood qualities. Once upon a time, the factories and homes that we get our wood from today,  got torn down and burned because our builders and landowners didn’t recognize the wealth of natural resources we were stewards of at that time.  And while deconstructed old homes and buildings may yield a vast quantity of recycled wood materials to choose from, they must be carefully selected with a final product in mind. At an intermediate stage of the process, a trained awareness can avoid pitfalls and maximize useability, when choosing materials that may ultimately become recycled hardwood flooring.

Deconstruction comes first – with a velvet hammer. Skilled craftsmen carefully pull up old floor boards, or pull down casements and paneling. They consider the width–is it wide enough to keep? A new tongue and groove will be necessary, and that will cut down your available width, if your plan is to use it for recycled hardwood flooring.

Tips for Buying Recycled Hardwood Flooring

There are two main types of recycled hardwood flooring that you will be choosing from:

(1) Recycled hardwood flooring that has been flooring before and is restored to new beauty and usefulness. New tongue and groove will be milled on either side of the length so the floor boards will fit snugly together. These boards may yield a more narrow product but may prove excellent for reclaimed wood paneling.

(2) Recycled hardwood flooring that has been cut into random widths, or even single widths (some call planks), that have been recently milled from old framing joists, roofing beams or structural members that represented the first use of the antique lumber.

With either of these options, make sure your reclaimed hardwood flooring has been kiln dried, unless you know for a fact that it’s been under the cover of a roof for many years and has not been exposed to moisture. Moisture content up to 11% is acceptable and in many cases desireable, as reclaimed wood by it’s nature is a drier material than freshly harvested wood.

If  antique lumber was used as a floor before, you might check that no unacceptable oil or environmental pollutant has been absorbed by the grain into the wood with a scent that might be difficult to live with.This can be the case when working with antique maple floors.

Understanding Grading of Recycled Hardwood Flooring

Recycled hardwood flooring by some suppliers could be construed as “any wood from any source,” even hardwood pallet material,  being used and recycled, instead of going to the landfill. And that’s great. I personally hate to see anything wasted.  But when you are paying a premium for an antique, reclaimed or recycled hardwood floor, you want to be sure of what you are paying for.

Recycled hardwood flooring by other suppliers may refer to reclaimed second-growth material, harvested within the last 60 years or so to build military bases, factories, and buildings after WWII, that are now being removed and replaced with modern facilities.

Recycled hardwood flooring, when sold by Whole Log Lumber, is usually referred to as reclaimed wood flooring. We prefer “reclaimed” because we deal only in high quality reclaimed antique lumber, not second-growth or younger woods sometimes indicated by the term “recycled.”

Choices for Recycled Hardwood Flooring

After splitting hairs here about choosing recycled hardwood flooring or reclaimed, there are still other choices to consider: Will you buy solid floors or engineered? The benefits of both will be taken up in other articles. We already touched upon single-width planks or random widths choices; and styles, colors and species. There are so many choices available! Whole Log Lumber has answers to your questions. We will assist in all your recycled hardwood flooring needs. Call us today at 866-912-WOOD.