GreenYour Wood floor
Choose recycled wood floors
Recycled wood floors are made from salvaged wood and trees that would otherwise go to the landfill. The wood is milled into a new floor without impacting the world’s forests.
How to choose recycled wood floors
Although recycled and reclaimed wood flooring is harder to come by than off-the-shelf varieties common in home improvement stores, this breed of sustainable wood flooring is becoming increasingly popular.
- Look for certified sustainable wood: Visit Smartwood for a directory of certified rediscovered wood products. The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program provides certification to identify wood products that have been sustainably collected from salvaged, reclaimed, or recycled sources. Look for Smartwood's "Rediscovered Wood" logo.
- Seek out local recyclers: Search your local phone book and the Internet for flooring companies that sell wood floors made from recycled wood. Use these key words: recycled wood, reclaimed lumber, reused wood or rediscovered wood.
- Do-it-yourselfers delight: Do the salvage work yourself and save money. Locate a structure slated for demolition and make arrangements to remove any suitable wood. Ideally, you want to salvage floor boards rather than just any wood from the structure since this wood will require less remilling and, therefore, use less energy. You’ll need to remove the nails and deliver the wood to a lumber mill for planing, kiln drying, and remilling to your specifications.
Find It! Recycled wood floors
With the unique beauty that can only be achieved through wood that's already lived a long life, these green hardwood floor options are a natural choice for the discerning, eco-friendly homeowner.
This company "harvests" wood from sources such as old water and wine tanks, mill buildings, old bridges, barns, and from the bottoms of lakes and rivers. Custom mill work available.
Eco-Timber offers flooring milled from old-growth lumber reclaimed from old buildings. Other wood floor products are salvaged from forests and cut from standing dead or wind-fallen trees.
Old Grain collects wood from barns, warehouses, mills, and other abandoned buildings. The lumber is then remilled into flooring and other products at the Carbondale, CO facility.
Before you buy
Although suppliers are available nationwide, choice of wood species in your locale may be limited. You’ll also pay a premium for recycled wood. The process of salvaging wood from demolition sites is time- and labor-intensive. In addition, most of the wood salvaged is originally from old-growth forests—a threatened resource—and is considered a high-quality product. You’ll pay between $5 to $20 per square foot, plus installation. In comparison, new oak flooring averages $3 per square foot.
Recycled wood needs to be properly processed before it is installed. The manufacturer should clean the wood and use a metal detector to find and remove nails. The wood should also be planed and kiln-dried to ensure it will not warp and that insects are destroyed.
Choosing recycled wood floors helps you go green because…
- They use existing wood products that would otherwise go to the landfill.
- They eliminate the need to harvest virgin trees from the world’s forests, protecting watersheds, wildlife habitat, and understory plants.
- They generally require less energy in their remanufacture than new wood products.
In 2003, the United States generated nearly 6 million tons of wood waste that went to landfills. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends reusing and recycling wood to divert it from landfills or incinerators, thereby helping to protect human health as well as land, air, and water resources. In addition, wood recycling prevents greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and reduces the need for new disposal facilities.
Wood recyclers divert wood from landfills and remanufacture it into new products. They salvage hardwoods, such as chestnut, hickory, cherry, and oak, from old houses, barns and warehouses that are slated for demolition. They also use trees removed from old orchards or urban areas due to disease or death. Others specialize in reclaiming wood from the bottom of rivers and lakes that sank decades ago during logging operations, although not all salvage projects are managed in a sustainable manner.
Using recycled wood also reduces the need to harvest trees from the world’s forests. For example, salvaging one million board feet of reusable lumber from an old warehouse can offset the need to harvest 1,000 acres of forest. The harvest of trees negatively impacts the earth’s biodiversity when habitat is destroyed and affects its ability to absorb greenhouse gases. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and "exhale," or release, oxygen. It's estimated that an acre of trees can grow 4,000 pounds of wood per year while consuming 5,800 pounds of carbon dioxide and producing 4,280 pounds of oxygen.
- recycled wood: Post-consumer wood that has been processed (usually by mechanical means) to be used in the manufacture of a new product.
- reclaimed lumber: Post-consumer wood that has been used for another purpose and is being salvaged for a new use. Almost all reclaimed wood is a high-grade wood as it was originally harvested from old-growth forests.
- reused wood: Wood products or materials that, after serving their original function, are used again in their present form.
- rediscovered wood: A term used by Rainforest Alliance’s certification program to describe wood that is recovered, recycled and reused.