"My wood floors lined the inside of wine barrels in a previous life." Can you imagine using that line at your next cocktail party? Reclaimed floorboards not only infuse your home with character and provide a conversation starter, but they also qualify as a very eco-friendly building material. Let's take a look at where they come from, where to buy them and how they affect your green home renovation.
Where do reclaimed floorboards come from?
Reclaimed floorboards may be salvaged from a variety of sources. Chances are, they weren't floorboards to begin with but served some other type of structural purpose. Common sources include:
- Old buildings that have been demolished or stripped
- Railroad cars
- Wine barrels
- Retired mills
What are common types of reclaimed floorboards?
Back in the old days, hundreds-year-old trees were hand-hewn into beautiful boards and other structural members. Modern forestry practices don't allow trees to age as long, and wide plank floors are a rare find. Additionally, many of the tree species that comprise reclaimed wood members are endangered or extremely expensive sources of wood today, including:
- Longleaf pine
- Heart pine
Reclaimed flooring advantages:
- Keeps old wood out of the landfill
- Prevents the cutting down of trees
- Contributes to LEED points
- Stability and durability
- Character and back story
- Wider plank options
- May be installed with radiant heating
- Some devious sellers make false claims about age and origin
- May contain nails or other metal pieces, making sawing difficult
- Shipping costs and use of fossil fuels
- Off-gassing from treatments with harmful chemicals
Where can you buy reclaimed floorboards?
You can't drive to Home Depot or Lowe's and purchase antique, salvaged wood floors. Though it requires a little more sleuthing, you can purchase reclaimed floorboards from a variety of sources:
- Architectural salvage yards
- Online suppliers
- eBay or Craigslist
- Directly from a building owner