Recycled Wood Floors and Lumber for the Home: Despite Weak U.S. Housing Market, Demand Grows for Reclaimed Wood

Wood Floors photoRecycling lumber is easier on the environment but can be harder on the wallet. Though more expensive than new lumber, there are good reasons for using reclaimed wood for construction projects and flooring.

Environmental Benefits of Using Reclaimed Lumber for Construction

Aside from the obvious advantage of having to cut fewer trees, reclaimed lumber benefits the environment in additional ways. While some energy-intensive processing is required to make recycled lumber useable, it’s significantly less than the amount needed to turn standing trees into building lumber.

Construction Benefits of Recycled Lumber

After years of lumbering in all parts of the United States, most of the construction grade lumber is from second growth forests, most old growth wood having been harvested long ago. Most reclaimed lumber that is salvaged from old buildings is from old growth trees. This means that it is denser and has straighter grain then new wood. Recycled wood is more stable than new wood; any warping or shrinking caused by drying happened long ago.

Pricing of Reclaimed Lumber for Building

The use of reclaimed lumber is easier on the environment, and less easy on the wallet. It may cost more than new wood because of the work that goes into preparing the wood for reuse. Most recycled lumber comes from old barns, factories, and warehouses, which have to be disassembled by hand to provide reusable wood.

Recycled Wood for Flooring

While business is down in construction and related fields, sales are still fairly strong for tongue and groove wood flooring reclaimed from old barns, homes and factories. People interested in building or remodeling green homes buy it because they like the idea of using a recycled product. As with reclaimed lumber, it’s not the price point that makes it popular as it can cost $3 or more per square foot than new flooring that has been prefabricated to look old.

Modern machinery, however, cannot precisely duplicate the look that a hundred or more years of wear imparts on a wood floor. It’s the patina and the random digs and dings that help make these old floors look warm and lived in. More and more homeowners are willing to pay a little extra to do their bit for the earth and bring the warmth and charm of old and mellowed wood into their homes.

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