Repurposing salvaged materials such as wood for flooring is good eco-friendly building practice. However, there are pros and cons to using reclaimed hardwood. Read on to find out what you need to know.
What is Reclaimed Wood?
Wood from trees that have been previously used as building materials in an ancestral home, barn, workshop, storeroom, or other timeworn building, and that find another purpose as a kitchen countertop, door, dining table, porch swing or flooring is known as reclaimed wood. People have been using reclaimed wood in homes for a long time, but it has recently grown in popularity due to the increasing awareness and demand for sustainable, environmental-friendly building, remodeling and design practices.
As with any other materials, there are advantages and disadvantages to using reclaimed hardwood flooring. It’s best to learn everything you need to know about reclaimed wood as floors, so you can decide if it’s the best choice for you.
Pros of Reclaimed Hardwood Floors
Using reclaimed hardwood for your floors is environmentally-friendly. In doing so, you are doing your part to contain deforestation by reducing the demand for newly sourced lumber. In addition, using reclaimed wood is sustainable since wood, if harvested responsibly, is a renewable resource, unlike natural stones such as marble and granite. Essentially, because you are recycling a renewable resource, utilizing reclaimed wood is even more sustainable, preventing good quality wood from ending up in a landfill. As an added benefit, using reclaimed wood can qualify your project for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, depending on the species.
Reclaimed wood that come from old-growth trees (have grown for 100 years, more or less) is stronger, and more stable and durable than first-generation trees (have grown for only 20-25 years), having spent several decades in the elements. They have already contracted and expanded numerous times due to changes in humidity and have finally settled into their final state, making for stronger planks that can stand up to wear and tear.
Reclaimed wood floors add character to your home because of their unique appearance. These kinds of wood usually have an old-timey look to them that add to their charm.
You can choose from a variety of wood species when it comes to reclaimed wood since old structures were built using a number of wood species located in and around the area. In addition, it is also now considered taboo to use exotic woods, such as American chestnut or longleaf pine, unless these come from reclaimed lumber.
Cons of Reclaimed Hardwood Floors
As a consumer, you would need to make sure that you are actually purchasing reclaimed wood. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous vendors who try to pass off a mixture of subpar, old and new wood as reclaimed hardwood to make a quick buck. Make sure to purchase reclaimed hardwood from reputable dealers
Reclaimed wood can be more expensive than regular hardwood flooring due to the high demand these days. Another factor that adds to the cost of reclaimed wood is the more intensive manufacturing process that it goes through in order to ensure that it is safe for consumer use.
Inexperienced dealers who do not carefully source their reclaimed wood can get wood that has been treated or come into contact with harmful chemicals which can contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs, adhesives, preservatives, insecticides or lead. Look for reputable dealers who can provide you with printed histories of your reclaimed hardwood, so you can verify its source and safety.
It’s common knowledge that pests make their homes in wood. Make sure to inspect the material for signs of infestation before you purchase it, such as asymmetrical holes in the lumber, the presence of bugs, or wood that crumbles upon touching. Make sure to work with dealers who kiln-bake all reclaimed lumber to ensure that pests are eradicated.