Antique Flooring: Better with Age?

by Marcus Pickett

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While the idea of reclaiming and reusing salvage wood might be a new concept for some, it is a fact that antique flooring is becoming big business. Maybe it is the one-of-a-kind look that makes antique floors so popular; perhaps it is the environmentally-friendly aspect of reusing wood rather than cutting down living trees. Whatever the reason, reclaimed wood is growing in popularity. This popularity can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, antique wood flooring is going to cost you more than your standard wood flooring project. On the other hand, you should wind up with not only a unique floor, but one that is highly coveted and, thus, highly valuable.

The Look of Antique Flooring
New lumber can be treated, stained, and finished to have a variety of different looks. One thing that new wood cannot do, however, is make itself old. Antique flooring has a rustic, weathered look that is difficult to impossible to mimic. Depending on how and where this wood was aged, the look of it can be dramatically different from both new lumber and other reclaimed lumber, as well.

How to Find Antique Wood Flooring
Antique wood flooring manufacturers reclaim wood from a wide variety of different places. The easiest way to salvage old lumber is to take it from a building that is set for demolition. Many times, condemned houses, sheds, or barns contain useable wood that has been worn and weathered. Before a structure is demolished, the wood that is fit to be saved can be taken. If it meets the standards of those who reclaimed it, the lumber can then be sanded and refurbished to be used in a new structure.

Some antique flooring actually comes from trees that were meant to be turned into boards many years ago, but never made it to the mill. Logs were often sent from the woods to the mill by putting them into a river and letting them float down stream. Logs that were lost on this journey many years ago are recovered today by pulling them up from under the water. River reclaimed wood is exceptionally unique in appearance, and its rarity makes it a very valuable commodity.

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Basic Antique Flooring Facts

  • Although hardwood is the most "coveted" wood in modern times, antique flooring is usually a variety of pine. Many pine species were so heavily harvested in the past that they are not readily available anymore.

  • Different grades of antique wood flooring are much the same as any other lumber. Stronger, knot-free boards are the highest quality and the most expensive. Likewise, especially long or wide boards are more expensive because they are hard to find and difficult to mill.

  • Antique flooring is available finished or unfinished and can be stained or clear coated for a more natural look.

Prices of Reclaimed Wood
Antique wood can get very expensive due to its rarity and the time it takes to make it usable again. How much more expensive will be a natural function of just how rare and how intensive the reclamation process is. As already mentioned, antique wood flooring should make your home more valuable and possibly even easier to sell, but it's not an investment opportunity in the sense of "paying for itself." If you're going to install this type of flooring, the primary reason should be for your own satisfaction and enjoyment.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.