How to use salvaged wood flooring

Lloyd Leadbeater advises on how to get the best from salvaged wood

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Original reclaimed timber flooring has a truly authentic appearance, which celebrates the marks, dents and scuffs of its age and radiates the richness of its historic past to add a layer of depth and warmth to the home. It also works exceptionally well with underfloor heating or in kitchens with range cookers, as the age of the wood means that it is stable and has already been acclimatised for centuries.

Timber harvested for architectural purposes hundreds of years ago was slow-grown, resulting in a tight grain. This ensures that the planks remain tough and of high quality, making them ideal for the demands of modern-day living.

Reclaimed timber can also be a good choice if you need to match existing floorboards to extend flooring into other rooms, or replace damaged original boards. Go for the thickest boards you can accommodate and then maintain them with a light sanding every 15 years or so, to bring the floor back to how it was when you installed it.

Unique history

Reclaimed flooring is often rescued from historic houses that are beyond repair, industrial buildings, factories or dockyards. The majority of available boards are Victorian, made from timber originally used as floorboards, joists, beams or close boarded roofs, but the wood can be more than 400 years old, sourced from anywhere in the world. The planks must be dried in racks to ensure they will not shrink, split or expand when fitted. They should be moisture tested before being installed, but with already so many years’ drying out, the wood is usually dry enough. In order to retain the patina of the reclaimed floor, the wood is passed through a drum sander and lightly brushed, leaving the aged marks undamaged.

Turgon flooring

Türgon specialises in handmade custom-finished floors, such as this basketweave oak pattern with teak inserts and a natural oil wax finish, priced from £204 per sq m

Care and attention

Personally, I love the look of a waxed floor but it does need more regular attention than other finishes. A fresh wax every year would be ideal. Water-based varnishes are a close second choice, and will last up to five years without doing anything other than sweeping.

Creative uses

I’ve noticed an emerging trend over the past few years of people getting more creative with reclaimed wood. Such examples are cladding walls to create an alternative focal point, or using it to custom-make a rustic-looking headboard.

Featured image: Salvaged oak boards from The Reclaimed Flooring Company. Similar boards are priced from £90 per sq m