Wooden flooring instantly adds character and a warm richness to a room but laying down a new solid wood floor can be an expensive investment. Reclaiming the wooden floors, frames and beams from old buildings and upcycling the wood has very popular as the concerns over deforestation and sustainable wood resources continue to rise.
If you are attracted to the style of antique wooden floors but are concerned about the damage that the demand for solid wood causes on sustainable forestry efforts, salvaging wooden flooring could be the perfect project for you. The story and character behind old wood always adds a huge amount to your home and is something that cannot always be easily replicated with new wood. Each plank or strip of reclaimed wood has a story to tell and it is one that you can easily weave into your home.
Reclaiming one for the planet
There is a growing movement to salvage wooden floors in particular and there are some great social enterprise projects out there giving back to their communities, encouraging demand for salvage schemes and waste wood collections.
Re-useable wood can come from anywhere including: public buildings, such as village halls and community centres; schools; storm-damaged trees; small industrial units; barns and railways. The only places where it is restricted by law is around flooring from certain types of industrial sites where dangerous contaminants or toxic chemicals may have been used in processes and become absorbed into the wood.
Of course you have to know where the wood is coming from as it may have been sitting outside in a salvage yard, absorbing rain, insects and fungus, which you do not want to lovingly invite into your home. Buying from a reputable salvage company or second-hand timber merchant will ensure the wood has been de-nailed, properly dried, treated for pests and generally cared for. It should also prevent against historic practices such as the use of creosote or lead paint.
Why engineered wood is more eco-friendly
If you have decided that you definitely want a brand new wooden floor and do not want to use reclaimed wood, there are still some very eco-friendly options available. On the surface, engineered oak flooring appears identical to solid wood and resembles long strips of preassembled wooden floors. It’s only when you examine the underneath or the cross section that you’ll see the difference in the structure. It also tends to be much most cost-effective but if you can’t decide it’s good to know a bit about the differences before making a decision.
Engineered wood has become extremely popular as it is both cost effective and extremely easy to fit, using either tongue-and-groove or click-lock designs. It’s also far more environmentally friendly as it requires a lot less hardwood to create.
Most strips of engineered wood flooring consist of three or four inner layers that build up the plank, with around 4mm of solid wood veneer on top and can also be enhanced with underfloor heating much more easily than solid wood.