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How do I Choose the Best Reclaimed Wood Floors?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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Reclaimed wood floors consist of wood that has been salvaged or recycled from old flooring, furniture, or buildings. Just like new wood flooring, reclaimed wood floors are expensive, so buyers should take the time to choose the best flooring for each project. It is important to choose a reputable supplier, take steps to make sure your wood has been responsibly reclaimed, and choose the right grade and thickness of wood for your project.

While many modern homeowners choose reclaimed wood floors to take advantage of their environmental benefits, salvaged flooring also provides a number of aesthetic benefits. These floors can be used to complete a historic renovation or simply to complement a vintage decorating style.

The first step to choosing reclaimed wood flooring is to find the right supplier. Architectural salvage facilities and wood floor distributors often offer a wide selection, and allow buyers to view different options in person before buying. While Internet retailers may make it easier to find exactly the species you're looking for, there are drawbacks to buying without seeing the material first. Like all wood, reclaimed floors may suffer from warping or water damage, which may not be disclosed by the retailer. Always buy from reputable suppliers and clarify return policies before committing to a purchase.

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Next, buyers should decide between engineered and solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood includes a thin top layer made from reclaimed wood. These floors tend to offer the best stability, but may cost more than solid floor planks. Stick with engineered reclaimed wood floors in basements or other rooms that may be subject to high moisture levels.

It's also important to compare different species and finish options when choosing reclaimed wood floors. Choose between thick and think planks based on room size and design intent, and look for colors and finishes that match your decor. One unique feature to reclaimed wood is the presence of nail holes and other signs of age. Some buyers like this rustic, historic look, while others prefer a cleaner, more traditional finish. Ask your supplier about the condition and texture of the floor before buying.

Confirm that all reclaimed wood has been dried in a kiln to kill off insects or mold. Excess moisture not only allows insects to thrive, but also leads to warping in wooden floors. Finally, inquire about the company's salvage process. Some companies may try to pass off new wood as reclaimed, so chain-of-custody information can be invaluable in spotting a forgery. Independent certifications programs such as SmartWood® or the Forest Stewardship Council seal of approval can provide valuable information into the source of reclaimed wood.

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