Unique Recycled Hardwood Floors
Reclaimed wood creates floors that are truly one-of-a-kind and Mother Nature-friendly.
- By Jenny Nash
Filed under: Eco-Friendly Kitchen, Hardwood Flooring, Kitchen Flooring, Hardwood, Recycling, Flooring
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If you love the richness and warmth of wood floors but are concerned about depleting the environment, try reclaiming a bit of history to get those beautiful and truly unique floors without ravaging nature in the process. Using salvaged wood is the ultimate in recycling, and it's a growing trend that's not only eco-friendly but stylish, too.
Reclaimed wood was harvested anywhere from 100 to 300 years ago and was used to build railroad trestles, old barns, industrial warehouses and other structures. Wood salvaged from the demolition of these structures can have a new lease on life in your kitchen floor as well as its walls, ceilings, cabinets and countertops. Sustainability isn't this wood's only advantage; reclaimed wood is denser, more stable, adds instant history to your home and is the only source for such bygone species as heart pine and chestnut.
Reclaimed wood comes with plenty of history and character, which is what people value about reclaimed wood, says interior designer Elizabeth Schultz of DesignWorks in Bozeman, Mont. For one client's kitchen, Elizabeth used reclaimed Douglas fir from an old railroad trestle that ran over the Great Salt Lake.
"The colors of the planks vary quite a bit," says Elizabeth. "This is due to the effects of the salt in the air. Personally, I think this adds to its character. Part of the beauty of the trestle wood is its variation in color and that so many other wood tones such as cabinets, beams, furniture, etc. will easily blend or coordinate with it."
David Foky of Mountain Lumber of Ruckersville, Va., agrees with Elizabeth that the major draw of reclaimed wood is its looks. He cites its "wow" factor and calls reclaimed-wood floors "trophy floors," because they're so gorgeous.
"If reclaimed wood still had all these advantages but looked bad, no one would buy it," David says.
They're not just another pretty floor, however. There's also the eco-factor, and then the storytelling element. Mountain Lumber gives you a printed history of your floor. So if you're cooking atop planks from former Guinness beer barrels, you'll know it.
And if you've fallen in love with heart-pine flooring, salvaged lumber is the only way you'll have such beauty in your kitchen since the old-growth longleaf pine is no longer around in any quantity. The same is true for the beautiful American chestnut. Much of the reclaimed wood was originally harvested from the 1700s through the late 1800s, when the old-growth forests were exhausted. And that's not a replaceable resource since old growth equals slow growth. It grew slowly due to larger trees above acting as a canopy and limiting sunlight and rainfall. That slowly grown wood is much denser and stronger than other wood, such as that from sustainable forests, which grows faster.
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