Unique Recycled Hardwood Floors

Reclaimed wood creates floors that are truly one-of-a-kind and Mother Nature-friendly.

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Basement Reclaimed Wood Floor Reclaimed wood floors take center stage in this rustic-inspired kitchen with wood cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and a large island with pendant lighting.

In the 1970s, some hardy and enterprising people started realizing that some good wood was being thrown away. So they offered to cart it away from demolished structures such as mills and warehouses (and even scraping it from the bottom of Lake Michigan), saving wood destined for the dumpster and reusing it for building or renovating homes and businesses. The business has been growing every since, David says.

With numerous dealers to choose from, potential buyers should do their homework first. Reclaimed wood has often had more than one previous incarnation and it behooves the customer to know just what those past lives entailed. The quality of the wood, says David, depends on its source.

"We would never reclaim wood from a tannery, because all the toxic chemicals used in the process permeate that structure," David says. "There should be a connection between the people bringing down the lumber and the people selling it to you."

Those people should also kiln-dry their wood, heating it to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time, for two important reasons, says David.

"That wood could have been out in the rain for two years," he notes. "And the other reason is to kill any bugs. The blight fungus that killed the American chestnut could still be in there. Run screaming from any dealer who doesn't kiln-dry their wood."

David stresses protecting your beautiful floor once it's laid down, too. Moisture and grit are the two things he warns against, and a professional-grade polyurethane coating can take care of both worries.

And, since there are no industrywide standards on the grades of wood, you should select a company that publishes its grading system so you have on paper or in a computer file just what is promised.

The Reclaimed Wood Council is working on standards for the industry, but in the meantime, buyer beware — even better, be a researcher before buying.

Lumber Love
Bill and Betsy Peabody of Lake Sunapee, N.H., put reclaimed Douglas fir floors throughout most of their timber-frame house at their architect's suggestion. Betsy says that they were sold by the color and richness of recycled wood, as well as its softer qualities.

"It's easy on your legs," she says. The Peabodys built the house not once, but twice. They were just starting to move in when the newly finished house burned to the ground.

The Peabodys, their son (who built the house) and the architects, O'Neil Pennoyer Architects, repeated the whole process again, reclaimed lumber and all, and moved in a year later. Barring any other such unfortunate incidents, their floors have perhaps as much as another 100 years of use — and beauty — in them, enough for several generations.


Reclaimed Wood Council

Duluth Timber Company

Mountain Lumber

Goodwin Heart Pine Company

Appalachian Woods

Push Hard Lumber Company

Pioneer Millworks

The Woods Company

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