Ripping out the carpet and replacing it with hardwood floors has always been on the top of your remodeling wish list, and the day has finally arrived. Now, however, you have to battle your conscience as you contemplate all of those trees that will have to be cut down. Horror stories abound describing the consequences of deforestation. How will you ever be able to enjoy that beautiful new oak flooring if every time you walk across the floor you feel personally responsible for global warming? Is there no choice but to settle for laminate?
Do not give up yet! Reclaimed wood may be the perfect solution. You are one of a growing number of people seriously concerned about the state of the environment and how it has been affected by the loss of so much of our forests. All over the world, this has fueled a rapidly growing interest in finding old lumber and reusing it. Right now, industrial recyclers are scouring the countryside, searching for old barns, log cabins, and houses that were built around the turn of the century. Others are focusing on wooden-hulled ships and there is even salvage work being undertaken at old logging sites where timber was lost, some of it underwater for years, as it was being loaded for transport to the sawmills.
Tracking down and dismanting old buildings is just the beginning in a very labor-intensive process. Whether the boards were exposed to decades of wind, rain, sun and whatever else Mother Nature could cook up or were interior walls, each piece must be thoroughly inspected. Any evidence of rot or damage has to be cut out. All hardware is removed and every nail must be located and painstakingly pulled out without creating any more damage than absolutely necessary. To make sure there is no moisture left in the wood, it is then kiln-dried, which also kills any dormant insects that may be present. As arduous as this process is, bringing reclaimed wood to market is still more resource efficient than producing the same quantity of board feet from fresh timber.
Environmental consciousness is not the only reason for the rise in popularity for reclaimed wood. Because most of this wood came out of old growth forests, it is superior in quality and appearance. Reclaimed wood is often harder and denser than new growth wood which makes it less vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity and decrees the likelihood of cupping or warping. All of these reasons make reclaimed wood a responsible and sound choice. However, what puts it over the top is that freshly milled lumber simply can not rival it in beauty and character.