shutterstock_269357174One of the flooring options that has grown in prominence in recent years is reclaimed hardwood flooring. Here at Floor Coverings International of White Bear Lake, MN, we’ve seen an increase in requests for this floor covering as people become more interested in ecofriendly flooring options. Aside from the sustainability of reusing old wood, reclaimed hardwoods have a plethora of other good qualities. All the same, Floor Coverings International believes in informed consumers, and as such we created this post to highlight both the advantages and drawbacks of reclaimed hardwood flooring, so that you can decide whether it is the right flooring choice for you.

Cons of Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring

  • Due to the popularity of reclaimed hardwood flooring, some unscrupulous dealers may try to pass off subpar or new wood as authentic reclaimed wood. This is the reason that it is important to work with experienced professionals, like the designers at Floor Coverings International, who know the most trusted dealers of reclaimed hardwood.
  • Reclaimed hardwood flooring can be pricier than regular hardwood flooring due in part to the high demand, but primarily to the more intensive manufacturing process. There are often small pieces of metal embedded in the wood that need to be worked out carefully, and which can damage equipment made for working with new wood.
  • Sometimes the wood species of reclaimed hardwood flooring is misidentified because inexperienced dealers have to cut into the wood to identify it. Professionals who know what they are doing, though, will not have to resort to this sort of method.
  • Dealers who do not carefully source their reclaimed wood can get wood that has been treated by, or come into contact with harmful chemicals, which leads to the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). To avoid this, make sure there is little to no distance between your dealer and the person who collected the wood. Good dealers can provide entire printed histories of your reclaimed hardwood in order to verify its source and safety.
  • Reclaimed wood that is not kiln baked can have pests and bugs living in the wood. Any reputable dealer will have kiln-baked all reclaimed lumber.

Pros of Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring

  • Reclaimed hardwood flooring is a great sustainable flooring option. Buildings and construction that use recycled materials can qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Recycled hardwood counts towards credits in the ‘materials and resources’ section of LEED Certification. By using reclaimed hardwood flooring you can avoid depleting non-renewable resources and prevent good quality wood from ending up in a landfill.
  • Another aspect of reclaimed hardwood that makes it such a popular flooring choice is the unique and beautiful look of it. The colors in the wood can vary strongly based on age and exposure, adding character to the wood. Some people describe reclaimed hardwood flooring as having a ‘wow factor.’
  • People who install reclaimed hardwood floors have many more choices in wood species than people who only look at new wood, because many types of wood have died out or become so scarce that they are heavily regulated. If you want floors made of longleaf pine or American chestnut, you’ll probably only find it if you’re looking at reclaimed wood.
  • Reclaimed hardwood flooring gains its character not only from its unique look, but from its unique history. Many people find the story of where their reclaimed wood comes from to make it even more valuable. As we mentioned before, some dealers will provide printed histories of the wood that will go into your home, with fascinating tales of the industrial revolution or bucolic American farm life imbued into your very floor.
  • Reclaimed hardwood flooring is much denser and stronger than new wood, because it is old growth virgin wood. This means that it had hundreds of years to grow slowly in the shade of larger trees, protected from sun and rain. Many of these trees were harvested at 200-400 years old, meaning they were much older and stronger when they were cut down than new wood that has had very little time to grow. Another reason for the strength of reclaimed wood is the lack of air pollution while the trees were growing, prior to the 20th century, as most reclaimed hardwood was harvested during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Reclaimed lumber also tends to be much more stable than new wood. Hardwood floors are notoriously temperamental, reacting to moisture and temperature fluctuations by warping and contracting. Reclaimed hardwood flooring has had over a hundred years of exposure to these sorts of humidity and temperature changes, making them able to be used with radiant heating systems.

If you think that reclaimed hardwood flooring might be right for you, contact Floor Coverings International ofWhite Bear Lake today for a free in-home consultation!

Photo: Johnny Adolphson