In many parts of the US, wood was once the most common building material. Builders in the past preferred wood because it is easy to work with, cheap, strong, and abundant. In addition, wood has character and features that would be hard to replicate with other materials like stone.Some of these features include knots and growth rings. Among trees, wood from the oak tree is highly valued because it is hard, incredibly strong and resistant to insect and fungal attacks. According to the National Council for Science and the Environment, there are about 600 species of oak trees.

What is reclaimed wood?

Reclaimed or antique wood is simply wood retrieved from its original site for reuse elsewhere. In most cases, reclaimed wood is more than 100 years old and comes from old houses, barns, industrial plants, coalmines, retired mills, and warehouses that were built during the Industrial Revolution in America.Trees that were cut to construct structures during this period include oak, walnut, chestnut, poplar, and pine.

reclaimed french oak wide planks

Some of these structures are still standing today and the wood is still in good condition. In fact, one can use this wood to build a wide range of household furniture items like chairs, tables, and kitchenware. This is in addition to cabinetry and kitchen flooring. This type of wood is usually of high quality because it came from trees that had been growing for hundreds of years.

How much does reclaimed oak flooring cost?

The cost of reclaimed oak flooring varies from one retailer to the next. Factors such as character, quality, and patina of the reclaimed oak wood also play a big role in pricing. With this in mind, expect to pay anywhere from $3.75 to $15.95 per square foot. However, if the wood comes from a historic building, prices could be considerably higher because of the wood’s association with its former structure.

Tips on buying reclaimed oak flooring

If you have never bought this type of wood before, hire a licensed and insured reclaimed wood flooring contractor. He/she will help you choose quality reclaimedwood. Shop around and compare quotes from different retailers. This information is largely free and you are unlikely to come across a retailer asking for money to part with a quote. If you are environmentally conscious, buy reclaimed wood that comes with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This will earn you Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) credits under the “certified wood” category.

Should I buy reclaimed flooring on eBay?

Although you can buy reclaimed wood from eBay, you should be cautious because it is not easy to verify that what you see is what you will get. To start with, find out from the seller his/her source of reclaimed oak wood. In general, retailers of reclaimed wood get their products from other sellers or from structures that they have torn down. Secondly, find out the cost of shipping the wood flooring to your home. Thirdly, find out how long it will take to deliver the wood you are buying (delivery lead-time).

Finding reclaimed oak floors locally

Instead of buying oak flooring on eBay, you could buy the same locally. If you live in any of the Mid-Atlantic States, the South, or Pacific Northwest, you can easily find many old structures built with oak wood. Approach the owners and ask them if they would be interested in selling the wood. You could also buy this type of wood from neighbors or relatives demolishing old wine barrels, cabinetry, and flooring.

reclaimed oak flooring

Preparing reclaimed oak floorboards

Reclaimed oak flooring should undergo thorough preparation before reuse. To start with, identify and remove metals such as nails, ironwork, and screws. Since some metallic objects could be embedded deeply in the wood, use a metal detector to identify them. You should also remove old paintwork.

After this, put the wood boards in a kiln for drying. Kiln drying brings the level of moisture content in reclaimed flooring down to a reasonable level (about 8 to 9% moisture content). In addition, it sterilizes the wood by killing insects that could have bored their way inside. The rule of thumb is to raise the kiln temperature slowly from 140 degrees to about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

To ensure proper sterilization, set the kiln temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it on for 24 hours. After sterilization, plane the wood boards and then use a Weinig moulder to apply the groove and tongue profile. However, you can skip this step if you would like to reuse the floorboards without further modification. You could apply a coat of high-resin tung oil over bare spots to give your flooring boards a rugged look. For a more refined look, use a water-based polymer when preparing reclaimed oak floorboards.

All in all, reclaimed oak wood is a popular, highly sought-after raw material because of its history, character, texture, color, and environmental sustainability. Common sources include old barns, boxcars, and coalmines.

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