Reclaimed wood flooring can be a perfect addition to a rustic-style home or cabin.
However, this type of flooring can also look great in contemporary interior designs due to its unique appeal.
Homeowners who are considering installing reclaimed wood flooring should be aware of its costs, advantages, and drawbacks.
What Is Reclaimed Wood Flooring?
Reclaimed wood flooring is a type of flooring made from wood that has already been used.
This wood was used for a different purpose or removed from a location where it was being replaced.
You may see that reclaimed wood flooring is also called recycled wood flooring.
This is because the wood may have been used for anything in its “previous life,” from a piece of furniture to a boat, trailer, or building.
Of course, reclaimed wood flooring isn’t just a bunch of old wood boards with rusty nails.
First, the nails are removed, and then the boards are sawn, sanded, and profiled according to the latest industry standards.
Some reclaimed wood flooring boards feature tongue and groove edges, making the installation much easier.
They come in a wide range of finishes, from scrubbed to waxed.
Reclaimed Wood Flooring Average Cost
The average cost of reclaimed wood flooring depends on many factors, such as the type, condition, and source of the wood, the size of your order, labor costs in your area, etc.
On average, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere between $6.65 and $26.60 per square foot for reclaimed wood. This price includes material and installation costs.
Reclaimed Wood Floor Cost Breakdown
To better understand the final cost of reclaimed wood flooring, you need to know what factors affect it.
The material (reclaimed wood flooring boards) typically costs between $4.75 and $19 per square foot.
You may wonder why there’s such a big price difference, so here are the determining factors:
- Original vs. smooth face flooring: Original face flooring is flooring with an authentic wood patina preserved. On the other hand, smooth face flooring is milled to remove the original outer face and expose a “new,” smooth face. Naturally, original face flooring costs more because it’s more challenging to manufacture.
- Wood type: The basic law of supply and demand applies everywhere, and reclaimed wood flooring isn’t an exception. Some types of wood are quite common, so their price is much lower compared to reclaimed chestnut or old-growth heart pine, which are very rare.
- The size of the boards: If homeowners want wide and long reclaimed wood floorboards instead of floorboards of random size, they’ll need to pay more. This is because larger boards are much more challenging to find and manufacture.
- Grade: Reclaimed wood flooring can have different characteristics, such as growth rings, nail holes, knots, heartwood content, wormholes, and grain orientation. All these characteristics affect its final price.
Simply put, if homeowners want to purchase reclaimed wood flooring at a lower price, they need to be flexible.
Another important factor that affects the final price of reclaimed wood flooring is labor (installation costs), which usually range between $1.90 and $7.60 per square foot.
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How much you’ll pay for installation depends on your location and the project’s size and difficulty.
Pro Tip: Get quotes from several contractors and compare the prices before hiring one. Also, don’t forget to check if your quotes include all installation costs.
Homeowners need to be aware that the expenses don’t end once reclaimed wood flooring is installed.
If you want to keep your flooring in excellent condition for a long time, you’ll need to maintain it properly and regularly. Besides keeping the floor clean, you should resand it and refinish it once every five or 10 years, depending on the wear and tear.
Where To Buy Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Regardless of where you’re located in the U.S., you can find a reputable and well-known supplier of reclaimed wood flooring.
These suppliers usually carry a wide range of options, so you can choose the wood type, length, and width.
A reliable supplier is always able to provide details about its reclaimed wood flooring. They should know where it comes from, its condition, how it should be installed, and whether or not it can be laid over radiant floor heating.
If you’re not sure what supplier of reclaimed wood flooring is the best in your area, you can always conduct an online search and read reviews.
Another option is to ask your family, friends, or neighbors for recommendations.
Homeowners can also purchase reclaimed wood flooring at salvage yards.
In many cases, floorboards found at salvage yards had been previously used for flooring and are sold in their reclaimed condition.
While purchasing reclaimed wood flooring from a salvage yard can seem like a great option, be aware of the work you’ll need to put in to prepare it for installation. Such flooring usually has cracks, nails, or painted sections you (or someone you hire) will need to take care of before the installation process.
Since most homeowners aren’t experts on reclaimed wood flooring, they may end up purchasing poor-quality wood.
If you want reclaimed wood flooring and don’t know what to look for, it’s always best to contact a professional. They can offer valuable tips and suggest where to purchase your flooring.
Ensure the supplier can answer these questions:
- Are the boards ready for installation or in their reclaimed state?
- Do the boards have tongue and groove edges, or do they require nails for the installation?
- Can the boards be laid over radiant floor heating?
- Where was the wood sourced from?
How To Install Reclaimed Wood Floors
Many homeowners decide to install reclaimed wood flooring themselves.
The first thing you should know is that you can choose an installation method depending on your preferences and the floorboards’ design.
The most popular methods are tongue and groove, face nail, and direct groove.
Regardless of the chosen method, the first step should always be laying out the boards on the floor.
Seeing how the boards look on your floor will allow you to arrange them for the best visual appeal.
For example, some homeowners may prefer to “hide” boards with nail holes and knots and install them in a place that isn’t visible. Others may enjoy this rustic style and decide to place it in these boards in the middle of the room.
Generally speaking, reclaimed wood flooring is installed in a non-repeating pattern. Of course, this isn’t a rule you have to follow if you don’t enjoy a random look.
Tongue and Groove Installation
As the name says, this type of installation is used for floorboards that feature tongues and grooves that fit together.
Each floorboard has a longer and a shorter side precisely machined to create a seamless and tight look when installed.
Tongue and groove installation can be completed in various ways, but it’s usually done with nails and adhesive. For that, you’ll need to use a floor-nailing gun and nail every eight to ten inches.
Additionally, you should apply adhesive to further secure the flooring. Ensure to keep the glue around half an inch from the edge of the planks.
Face Nail Installation
This installation method is suitable only for square-edge floors, with a layout that ends on a floor joist.
In this method, the first few rows of boards are nailed in place because maneuvering a floor nail gun close to walls can be challenging.
Professionals recommend a 32-inch nailing pattern with alternating rows.
Also, it’s a good idea to rack three rows at a time, wedging boards with triangular scrap pieces of wood screwed to the subfloor.
Pro Tip: Set the nails just below the surface so they won’t be exposed from sanding.
Direct Glue to Concrete Installation
If you want to use this installation method, you’ll first need to lay wood mastic according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Then, lay the flooring in a preferred layout and continue to weigh down and strap the boards as you go.
Keep in mind that you should allow the glue to set before walking on the boards.
A DIY installation is a great way to save money.
However, homeowners with no experience in this area may be better off hiring a professional for the installation.
A minor mistake could lead to damage and faster wear and tear of the floor. Considering that reclaimed wood flooring often features a hefty price tag, many homeowners don’t want to risk it with a DIY installation.
Reclaimed Wood Flooring Pros And Cons
Like other types of flooring, reclaimed wood flooring has its advantages and drawbacks.
Homeowners should be aware of both sides before deciding whether reclaimed wood flooring is the right option for them.
What Are the Advantages of Reclaimed Wood?
Here are the most important advantages of reclaimed wood flooring:
Quality, Strength, and Durability
Reclaimed wood usually comes from old-growth trees and has a proven track record of standing the test of time.
Such wood is strong and more durable than the rushed, mass-produced materials on the market.
While reclaimed wood is more expensive, if you decide to go with it, you won’t have to think about replacing it any time soon.
Another advantage of reclaimed wood is sustainability.
This wood is essentially second-hand wood that doesn’t increase the demand for newly-sourced lumber and doesn’t support deforestation.
Reclaimed wood is a renewable, eco-friendly option that doesn’t contribute to landfill waste or leave a carbon footprint.
Certain tree varieties were available 100 years ago but aren’t anymore due to their rarity, infeasibility, or endangerment.
In this sense, reclaimed wood flooring offers a wider spectrum of options, and you can get your hands on hard-to-find and rare tree species.
Plus, you can enjoy exotic woods guilt-free, knowing you aren’t contributing to deforestation but merely recycling.
Enhanced Property Value
High-quality reclaimed wood flooring can enhance your home’s property value, as many buyers appreciate its appeal and durability.
Therefore, such flooring can be a wise long-term investment.
Last but not least, reclaimed wood flooring features a unique identity other materials can’t match.
The aged appearance is a testament to the flooring’s history and strength, which many homeowners cherish.
Pro Tip: Consider the layout of the flooring to fully take advantage of its beauty and appeal.
What Are the Disadvantages of Reclaimed Wood?
Here are the potential drawbacks of reclaimed wood:
The biggest disadvantage of reclaimed wood is price.
Due to the extensive preparation process it undergoes, reclaimed wood is usually more expensive than virgin wood.
While you can mitigate the costs by prepping the wood yourself, this isn’t recommended if you don’t have any experience or the required tools and equipment.
Reclaimed wood has become a popular flooring option.
Unfortunately, many sellers take advantage of this and make false claims regarding the source of their products.
To avoid being scammed, purchase reclaimed wood only from reputable sellers.
When reclaimed wood isn’t properly processed, you may find hidden dangers like pests or nails in it.
This is another reason you should rely only on experienced, reliable sellers.
When To Use Reclaimed Wood Flooring?
There are no specific rules on when to use reclaimed wood flooring. It’s all about your personal preferences; if you enjoy a rustic appearance, reclaimed wood flooring can be a great option.
Many types of reclaimed wood flooring can also look great in a modern setting.
This flooring can be installed in living rooms, hallways, bedrooms, or home offices.
Reclaimed wood is versatile and can blend in with most styles.
What Is The Best Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Each type of reclaimed wood flooring has unique advantages and drawbacks, so it’s impossible to say one stands out as the best.
Professionals agree that redwood, maple, oak, and mahogany are excellent options.
Is Reclaimed Wood Flooring Cheaper?
You may be surprised to learn that reclaimed wood is usually more expensive than virgin wood.
This is because reclaimed wood needs to go through several processes to ensure it’s ready for installation and use.
Plus, obtaining certain types of wood in specific sizes is quite a challenge and costs more.
How To Prepare Reclaimed Wood For Flooring?
As mentioned, reclaimed wood needs to go through a certain process before it can be installed as flooring.
- The first step is de-nailing.
Besides removing the nails from the wood, this process also involves removing other metals like brackets, screws, and staples used to reinforce the wood.
Pro Tip: If you’re doing this by yourself, ensure to be very thorough. Missing a single nail or screw can cause significant problems in the later stages of the process.
- The next step is kiln-drying the wood.
This stage involves regulating the wood’s moisture to protect it from fungi and insects.
Kiln drying will efficiently remove any living organisms within the wood that could potentially cause its deterioration.
As you can imagine, this process is vital for producing high-quality, durable wood that will stand the test of time.
In simple terms, kiln drying is drying the wood in a chamber that can regulate humidity, temperature, and airflow to a target point.
Since the wood is slowly dried, this process also reduces the risk of warping cracking.
- The third step in preparing reclaimed wood for flooring is sorting.
Reclaimed wood typically comes in various sizes, grades, and species. Sorting the wood according to its size, condition, or other criteria can be very helpful for the milling stage.
- In the milling stage, the wood is milled to specific dimensions.
Milling reclaimed wood is similar to milling new wood, only in this case, the previous dimensions dictate its size to some degree.
- Now, it’s time to mold the wood with a tongue and groove profile, allowing a seamless and easy installation.
This is done with a molder (wood shaper) that cuts slots and shapes edges to ensure the panels fit together securely.
- The next step is sanding the wood, i.e., removing residual material or paint to create a smooth surface.
This process also lowers the risk of splintering and prepares the wood for finishing.
- The final step is finishing the wood.
The finish protects the wood and enhances its visual appeal.
The most common finish options are oil, polyurethane, and wax, and each has specific benefits and applications.
Keep in mind that finishing is optional. Some homeowners may prefer to use unfinished reclaimed wood flooring. But such flooring is at a higher risk of damage and faster wear and tear.
Can Reclaimed Wood Flooring Be Laid Over Underfloor Heating?
This depends on the flooring itself.
Some wood floorboards can be laid over underfloor (radiant) heating, while others can’t.
Your supplier must be able to tell you whether specific flooring is suitable for underfloor heating.
Is Reclaimed Wood Good For Flooring?
Many homeowners wonder whether reclaimed wood is a good flooring option, and the answer is yes.
First, reclaimed wood flooring is incredibly durable, especially compared to newly-harvested virgin wood. Namely, the longer a tree grows, the stronger it is.
In many cases, new lumber comes from farms that cut the trees from first-generation forests. These trees don’t have the strength of trees that grew for many years before being turned into lumber.
Another reason reclaimed wood flooring is a great choice is its sustainability.
Choosing wood that has already been used reduces the number of trees that need to be harvested to manufacture new wood flooring.
Eventually, this leads to reduced deforestation.
Finally, reclaimed wood is a great choice for flooring due to its exceptional appearance.
This wood has character and traps history that is impossible to replicate in newer wood.
Pro Tip: If you’re considering selling your home soon, you’ll be happy to know that reclaimed wood flooring can enhance the property value. Therefore, installing such flooring can be an excellent investment.
Get the Best Flooring
Whether you’re a fan of a rustic or modern style, reclaimed wood flooring can be a great option.
In addition, this type of flooring is eco-friendly, durable, and strong.
Although it costs more than other materials, reclaimed wood is an investment that definitely pays off in the long run.