Reclaimed wood is your pal. Pete is, too. Choose Pete’s for reclaimed wood flooring.
The #1 best use for reclaimed wood: patching.
The patina that time gives to older wood is very difficult to replicate, so when your older floor needs replacement boards, the most attractive solution is to find boards that match the age (and, of course, species) of the floor you are patching.
The photo at right shows a patch where new wood was used to repair an older floor. The patch is sturdy, but it stands out like a red dress at a funeral. Reclaimed wood would have allowed the patch to blend.
Do you have more questions about the patching process? Hop over to our patching page.
But the problem is, reclaimed wood is not regular or regulated.
Like we explained above, reclaimed wood is old. Really old. Most of it has probably spent decades in one location, shrinking and swelling with the seasons, each board slowly conforming to the dimensional changes of the boards around it.
While those boards may have matched the standardized milling profile 70 years ago, it is too much to expect that they still have the perfect regular shape they had in their youth.
This may mean that you will need to rip down the tongues or slightly open the grooves of your reclaimed flooring to get it to match the tongue and groove profile of the floor you are patching (which probably doesn’t match any standardized milling profile any more either).
This is not a defect; this is simply the cost of getting a modern patch to blend into the existing color and patina of your old floor.
Reclaimed wood needs to be sanded after it's been patched in.
Even though reclaimed wood is sold with a finish on it it, it is highly unlikely that that finish will match the floor you're patching (we've actually had people return reclaimed wood flooring. Minnesota nice disappeared, and the usually gentle Scandinavians were angry because the wood didn't match the finish in their house).
While the wood fiber underneath the finish of the reclaimed wood is likely to be a nice color match to your old floor, the finish itself is almost certainly not.
And any wood that you patch into a floor will not be exactly the same height as your floor (the photo below shows just how much overwood there can be from board to board).
This is why you should always do any wood floor patching before you refinish the rest of the room - you'll get the best possible match in color and wood height if everything is sanded all at once.
Using reclaimed wood for whole-room installation is an extremely noble way to keep old floors out of the landfill, and reduce the need for new lumber harvest.
But it won’t be easy.
New 3/4” solid wood flooring is a 100-year product; properly maintained, hardwood floors should last 25 years between full resands and there is at least enough wood thickness to sand a solid 3/4” floor four times.
But even floors that have been torn out and thrown away after two refinishings have plenty of wood thickness left for at least two more sandings, so using reclaimed wood on your new-to-you kitchen floor can save the resources and keep our landfills empty.
But no good deed goes unpunished; you may be doing the earth a favor by using reclaimed wood, but installing and sanding it is going to be more difficult than working with new lumber.
The older the wood, the more distorted and out of true the boards will be. They will be difficult to fit together and you’ll need to sand aggressively to get the boards to be level with each other (look again at the photo of overwood above).
Maple will be more challenging than birch or oak because it is so much harder (and the older it is the harder it will be). But don’t let this scare you off! Just be realistic about how much work your project will involve, before you start.
Why is it so expensive?
We know you're frugal, and this upsets you. Reclaimed wood flooring is expensive because time is money. Removing an old floor without splintering it or destroying the existing tongues and grooves, de-nailing it and cleaning the crud off the tongues and scraping the old adhesive off the face and then storing it neatly takes time.
We do all this work so you don’t have to (your time is money too!) We do sell small quantities of reclaimed wood by the piece ($5 per square foot) so you aren’t forced to buy a full bundle, and you can return your unused pieces - which tends to keep the price reasonable when you are using small amounts to patch an existing floor.
If you are curious to check out our reclaimed wood flooring at the store, stop by! We'd love to talk to you if you're thinking about choosing reclaimed wood for your hardwood floor.