You’ve probably heard about reclaimed hardwood flooring a lot lately. Maybe you’re wondering what it’s all about.
What is reclaimed wood flooring, and why is it so popular right now?
Where does reclaimed flooring come from?
There are many sources of reclaimed wood. Some reclaimed wood floors are made of driftwood and sunken logs. Some reclaimed floors are repurposed from older flooring that still contains the original layers of finish. Some reclaimed wood flooring is made from beams in old buildings, or from structures like barns and fences.
The whys of reclaimed flooring: Eco-friendliness and style.
Installing reclaimed flooring is, in a way, an act of recycling. This is why it’s a good choice for people who want to be as eco-friendly as possible in the construction of their buildings or residences. Installing reclaimed flooring can give a business LEED credits.
Reclaimed flooring also gives the room in which it’s installed an aged, antique look that’s desirable for certain styles and purposes.
Very old reclaimed wood is also desirable because it was likely harvested from the virgin forests of the U.S. This means that the wood came from trees that grew for hundreds of years––trees that might not be as abundant anymore.
How can you tell distressed-looking wood apart from reclaimed wood flooring?
Because of the huge demand for reclaimed wood, companies and distributors sell what’s called distressed wood. While it may look old, this type of flooring is usually not actually made of reclaimed timber. In these cases, newly harvested wood is made to look older by being purposely damaged.
There are also hardwood floor stains that can help you achieve an antique look in floors.
The main way you can tell real repurposed wood apart from distressed-looking wood is by assessing its appearance. As the wood ages and is exposed to UV light, the amount of pectin it contains increases. There’s no way to achieve increased pectin other than through the natural aging process.
The dangers of reclaimed wood flooring
Although reclaimed wood is considered desirable for its look and age, there are some dangers that can possibly come with installing it as flooring.
If the reclaimed floor previously served as a floor, it might be impregnated with oils or contaminants that will interfere with the adhesion of the new finish. Also, some old paints and finishes contained lead and in this case, refinishing the floor could release dangerous substances into the air and you should follow the strict guidelines for refinishing. The first thing to do is test the old paint or finish for lead. This is why it’s crucial to hire a hardwood floor contractor to work on your reclaimed floors, rather than attempting to DIY.
Reclaimed wood that contains nails can also damage the equipment used on it, like floor sanders and saws. The process of removing old nails to prevent this from happening can be costly.