Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring – A GREEN Alternative

Much has been written about Bamboo as the green flooring alternative. It is true that Bamboo has many green aspects to it when used as a flooring product. This article explores another green alternative to flooring which is reclaimed hardwood flooring. Much as recycling your aluminum cans, newspapers, plastic bottles from your daily lives gives you a feeling of helping the environment, reclaimed flooring accomplishes this goal with the flooring that you are using in your home.

Reclaimed flooring is flooring that has been salvaged from old buildings, warehouses, factories and other buildings as they are being demolished. For years the buildings have been leveled and then materials such as the beams that supported the building and the wooden flooring in the building have been burned or land-filled to clear the site for the next project. Many times it is impossible to stop the razing of old buildings and many times it is warranted that they should be torn down. Reclaimed flooring allows the materials in these buildings to live on in another form in the homes that we live in.

It is really amazing when you look at the construction of buildings from the 1800′s and early 1900′s to see the materials that were used. Heavy heart pine beams 12″ thick and 16″ or more wide and many feet long were used to support these buildings. Floors were made of wood as well. Doesn’t it make sense that there is a lot of use left in these old timbers? Today there would be no way to find trees large enough to make the solid beams that were used years ago. The fact is that the trees just are not given enough time (hundreds of years) to grow as large as the virgin forest that were used back then to produce the materials used in construction of a factory. These woods have very tight grains and are of extremely high quality as their use in the supporting of a building or factory required a high quality as to be strong enough to hold up the building without failing. Many different species were used in the construction of these buildings including heart pine, oak, both white and red oak, hickory, chestnut (which is now extinct in the United States) and many others.

The process of reclaiming this material for use in flooring removing the material during demolition and sending it to a flooring re-manufacturer instead of the landfill or burning it. Once the material has arrived at the re-manufacturer it is inspected and nails, bolts and other metal objects that have been embedded in it during the construction of the building are removed. The heavy beams are then re-sawn into the boards that are required to make flooring. A single beam that is 12″ thick, 16″ wide and 20′ long will produce over 400 square feet of flooring. After the beam has been resawn into planks it is sometimes ripped to reduce it in width. For instance a 12″ x 16″ beam may be cut into 16 boards that are each 12″ wide and 7/8″ thick. These boards are then ripped into thirty-two 6″ wide boards. The boards are then typically taken for kiln drying where excess moisture that can cause bending or warping of the boards is removed during the kiln drying process. The boards are then taken to a flooring machine called a side matcher or moulder where the tongue and groove are machined onto each edge of the board.

After these processes have been completed the old beams that were destined for destruction are ready to be installed as flooring in someones home. Not only is the quality of the flooring exceptional, the color and character of the wood is something that you cannot find in new flooring. So in this case there are no sacrifices in quality or look necessary to be “green”. Quite to the contrary, in the process of being green you are getting a unique, beautiful conversation piece that is different than any other floor in the whole world. Many times the seller of the flooring can also provide you a history of the flooring showing what building it was removed from, when this building was first constructed, and maybe even a photograph of the building.

When you are looking for wood flooring in your home, please keep in mind the green alternative of reclaimed hardwood flooring.

Post time: 12-24-2016