Types of Reclaimed Wood Flooring
1. Barn Wood Flooring from Siding Boards or Timbers
After selecting and cleaning high quality barn boards or creating new boards by slabbing barn timbers, it is best practice to remove all metal artifacts from and kiln dry all reclaimed barn wood before running it through milling machinery. This leads to clean, precise cuts and prevents the machines from gumming up with sawdust that has a high moisture content or getting dulled or damaged from saws cutting through metal artifacts. The drying process also ensures that the wood will not shrink after installation, which is especially important in new floors. Lastly, kiln drying sterilizes the wood, eliminating any insects or microbes, while lowering the moisture content to a level, 6%–8%, that prevents future issues with insects or microbes.
- Back-out: The backs of each board are given back relief to ensure that they lay evenly and flat and can breathe to prevent cupping.
- Skip-plane: The boards are skip-planed to leave a percentage of the original surface texture, depending on how rustic the look you are going for is: 100% clean, 25% original, 50% original, or 100% original.
- Straight-line-rip: For those who prefer equal widths instead of random widths for their flooring, the boards are straight-line-ripped to the same width.
- Tongue & Groove: The boards are given their joinery profile, which is generally tongue and groove.
2. Barn Threshing Flooring
3. Previously Installed Wood Flooring
Reclaiming wood from remodels or renovations is also a popular choice and a good way to reuse flooring material that still has a lot of life left instead of allowing perfectly viable wood flooring to end up in a landfill. Homeowners can also save money by using material from their own projects for new flooring. There are many hardwood flooring gems that can be saved from the land fill or that are hiding under carpet that was installed later in a structures life. A few examples would be finding 100 year old Douglas fir floors under shag carpet, or 5000 square feet of maple from a gym floor remodel. This flooring material can be carefully dismantled and reused in new projects if it is in good condition and still has large enough dimensions for new finishes or milled profiles.
The original surface finishes of these planks and their milled profiles can be left or modified to suit individual needs. Depending on how rustic you want the reinstalled flooring to look, the surface finishes can be sanded or planed and then refinished. When considering repurposing previously installed wood flooring, there are a few important things to look for:
How thick is the flooring? If the floor is older and has already been sanded and finished more than once, check the thickness. Some floors that were installed with thin planks (i.e., 3/8") and have been sanded and refinished, may be too thin to reuse since the flooring will likely need to be sanded and refinished in the new project. If there are visible tops of nails or staples it is likely too thin.
Was it hiding under carpet? Installing carpet over wood flooring can damage wood, especially if those doing the installation were not considering the potential for reusing the wood. Staples and perimeter tacking strips generally cause little damage as the holes be easily filled. However, carpets such as shag were notorious for squeaking unless they were screwed down roughly every 3-inches. These large holes require filling when using the wood in a new floor. This process is time consuming and gives the flooring a different look with all of the filled screw holes, thus making the floor less than desirable for a reclaimed project.
Why Choose Reclaimed Barn Wood Flooring?
Besides the rustic appeal and natural variations in reclaimed barn wood flooring, there are several practical reasons why homeowners, contractors, and architects prefer its qualities:
Durability: Since many barns that are suitable for reclamation were built during times when old growth old growth lumber was plentiful, desirable characteristics such as tight growth rings add to not only the beauty but the durability of flooring.
Sustainability: Sustainable wood products have been steadily rising as more and more home and business owners request green choices for their projects. Since reclaimed barn wood flooring is green, it qualifies for LEED points. With new environmental consciousness as well as regulation around the harvesting of old growth forests, reclaimed barn wood provides a sustainable means to getting all of the benefits of old growth lumber.
Character: Most request that their reclaimed barn wood flooring retain at least some of its original surface texture. Common surface texture percentages are: 0% original (100% clean), 25% original, 50% original, or 100% original. Customizing surface textures allows for a floor to showcase the desired level of character.
Uniqueness: No two barn wood flooring planks will be the same. While it is optional to color match floor pieces to achieve a more consistent or diverse look, each individual board has its own unique characteristics and story to tell.
What to Expect From Barn Wood Flooring
When buying a reclaimed barn wood floor, it is important to understand that the qualities that make the flooring popular include character marks from an historic life, weathered coloring, occasional insect trails, and nail holes. A reputable source will not only acquire high quality barn boards but inspect and sort the pieces used in a flooring project. Many barn wood flooring retailers also mill their own flooring out of the boards, but it is possible to buy barn wood from one source and then find a milling shop to give the boards their final surface texture and milled profile.
Some tradesman specialize in working with reclaimed barn wood floor and have learned the ins and outs of working with the intricacies of the material. If searching for someone to install the floor, it may be a good idea to ask if they have any experience with reclaimed barn wood flooring. However, the installation of barn wood planks that have been properly selected for quality and accurately milled should be very similar to other types of hardwood flooring and any professional installer should have no problems finishing the project.
The demand for reclaimed barn wood has led to many wholesale and retail supply chains sprouting up. These chains include scouts looking for historic standing barns, crews dismantling the barns, shipping companies, milling facilities, and retailers. Generally, retailers receive either milled or raw barn siding boards from those who are finding, buying, or dismantling the barns. Original barn owners will sometimes contact retailers directly and offer to sell their wood. We have developed a business model that includes every element of this supply chain, from finding and dismantling the barns to custom in-house milling at our retail facility. This ensures that our end flooring product is of the highest quality and suitable for a wide range of projects.