Looking for an authentic wood flooring for your home? Original, reclaimed or salvaged wood is a great choice of flooring for giving a period home a laid-back look, and, with its marks, dents and scuffs, it's perfect for bringing character to a contemporary home, too. So, whether you want to create a stylish period feel or an on-trend industrial vibe, choose the best salvaged wood flooring for your home with our expert tips.
Where does reclaimed wood flooring come from?
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.
Why choose reclaimed wood flooring?
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.
Available in a vast range of styles and finishes, parquet blocks are particularly popular, but boards from all eras are available. Be guided by the age of your home, and buy from a supplier that adheres to the Salvo Code.
Other than its pleasing aesthetic qualities, reclaimed timber can 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 the solid wood by giving them a light sanding every few years to bring the floor back to how it was when you installed it.
How much does reclaimed wood flooring cost?
Prices for salvaged wood flooring start from upwards of £25 per m² for a budget option, with average prices being upwards of £60 per m², depending on the wood species and its finish.
Can reclaimed wood be laid over underfloor heating?
Reclaimed wood is compatible with underfloor heating or in kitchens with range cookers, as the age of the wood should ensure its stability; in other words, it has already been acclimatised for centuries. However, solid wood doesn't conduct heat well and some softwoods create a thermal barrier, so choose thin (1.8cm) boards in a dense wood for a fast heat-up time.
Where can you lay reclaimed wood flooring?
Reclaimed wood flooring can be used in most spaces, such as living rooms, dining rooms, hallways and bedrooms, but it should be avoided in kitchens and bathrooms because the moisture may cause the timber to swell and crack. If you do lay salvaged wood flooring in these rooms, ensure that any splashes or spills are wiped up immediately and that rooms are well ventilated.
Bear in mind that timber flooring can amplify the sound of footsteps, especially in upstairs rooms, so you might want to use rugs to soften the sound.
As an alternative, you can get the look of solid wood in a bathroom or kitchen with laminate flooring, a cost effective, practical solution.
Maintaining and cleaning reclaimed wood floors
Maintaining solid wood floors by sanding them down and resurfacing to prolong longevity and appearance, and regular sweeping will prevent them from being scratched by grit or dust.
A significant scratch or dent might mean the whole floor needs sanding and revarnishing or oiling, so ensure high-heeled shoes are removed and use felt pads or caps under furniture, which should always be lifted, not pushed if moved.
Salvaged wood flooring that's been waxed will 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.