Antique, Salvaged, Reclaimed, or Recycled – What’s the Difference?
In this era of nearly endless home remodeling materials, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with choices. Sellers of new and antique flooring often purvey thousands of products. The following aims to clear things up a bit by delineating the difference between three “hot” flooring styles: antique wood floors, recycled or reclaimed timber floors, and salvaged wood flooring.
Recycled or reclaimed timber floors are sourced from buildings that have been carefully dismantled, or other wood products that have served their original purpose. Every reclaimed timber company has its own methods of finding and refurbishing wood. Here at Viridian, we turn old shipping crates from all over the globe into stunning flooring, paneling and furniture. We also find strong, reusable wood in old barns, factories and even gymnasiums. People who buy reclaimed timber flooring often delight in seeing its life story writ large in unique markings and textures. For instance, our nail-edge old-growth Douglas fir reclaimed flooring shows iron oxide streaks where nails once were.
One benefit of using reclaimed timber is that it is often much stronger than newer wood products. Because older buildings were typically constructed of old-growth timber, their beams, siding and flooring show a very tight grain and higher structural values when compared with modern counterparts. Finally, because reclaimed timber has had decades to air dry, it usually has very low moisture content. (By the way, the terms “antique wood floors,” “recycled wood floors” and “reclaimed wood floors” are basically interchangeable.)
Salvaged wood flooring has not been previously cut into lumber or used for construction. One source of salvaged wood is old-growth stumps that were left in place when pioneer-era loggers swept through forests. These old stumps were often too large to be removed at the time due to insufficient technology. Today, salvaged wood flooring manufacturers have the technology and knowledge to transform these stumps into gorgeous wood flooring.
When comparing salvaged wood flooring to reclaimed timber floors, few consumers would be able to see any difference. Because salvaged wood often comes from old-growth logs, it has a strong, tight grain just like reclaimed timber. One potential visual clue for distinguishing reclaimed from salvaged wood: the patina, or color aging of the wood. Because reclaimed wood floors have had a previous life in another application, they have had more exposure to the elements and a better chance to develop a patina. Salvaged wood may not have had enough time out of the ground to develop a patina.
The bottom line for flooring shoppers is this: Antique flooring is basically the same thing as recycled or reclaimed flooring. However, salvaged wood flooring is different in that it comes from wood not previously used for construction.