Hardwoods come in a great many varieties. Humans have an affinity with trees; they have been our friends and one of our earliest sources of fuel, shelter and food. Trees play a major role in religious stories and most countries have a tree as their symbol. The most recent twist in the tale of trees is global warming: we are now discovering that our willful destruction of forests is causing global repercussions. By removing one of the biggest sources of carbon recycling from the planet we are endangering the balance of the weather systems around the world. It is time to stop chopping down new trees and to start re-using the hardwood that we have thrown away.
There is a wealth of hardwood to re-use. House demolitions, major refurbishments, park waste, old barns, abandoned mine shafts, old wine barrels and a hundred other sources produce a wealth of hardwood that can be re-used. One of the best uses for reclaimed wood is to make reclaimed hardwood flooring.
The unwanted hardwood is kiln dried and then cut into flooring planks. The resulting reclaimed hardwood flooring has the advantage of being a lot more stable than new hardwood flooring because the wood has had a long time to become accustomed to changes in humidity. Moreover, wood that has been around for a long time develops a rich patina that cannot be emulated with varnishes on new hardwood floors.
The environmental benefits of reclaimed hardwood flooring are obvious. It is a type of sustainable flooring that helps to stop deforestation and climate change. It also has the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions from transport as often hardwood can be reclaimed locally and made into flooring locally.
The only downside of reclaimed hardwood flooring is that often it is ‘rustic’ in appearance. This means that it has a number of ‘attrition features’ such as bolt and nail holes. Also the wood might be backsawn rather than quartersawn. The solution to this problem is to re-use old flooring. This is often called antique flooring.
By re-using hardwood for our flooring or other purposes we are helping ourselves, because a world with few trees would be a depressing place to live, not to mention a hot one.