ProsReclaimed oak makes beautiful and long lasting flooring.
Reclaimed oak is more stable than new oak.
Reclaimed oak flooring has a richer patina then new oak flooring.
Reclaimed oak flooring is more environmentally friendly than new oak flooring.
ConsReclaimed oak flooring planks often have saw marks, worm holes and other 'blemishes'.
The oak tree has a special place in the national psyches of many countries. Many countries have chosen the oak tree as their national tree. These countries include the USA, England, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Wales and Bulgaria. The Estonian coat of arms has the distinctive serrated leaves of the oak around the shield. In the great forests of Europe and Northern America the oak used to be a common sight. In the sadly all but vanished great forests of Europe the oak predominated.
The wood from oak is particularly useful. It is very dense and hard. The high tannin content in oak makes it naturally resistant to mold, fungus and pest attack. The grain of oak is especially beautiful when quatersawn. Oak has been used since the middle ages for building and ship construction, interior design and furniture making. The paneling of the British House of Commons is made from oak. Today oak is still widely used for flooring, furniture, veneer and for making barrels for wine, sherry, whiskey and bourbon. Oak is as popular today as it was 200 years ago.
However, oak is not as easy to source as it was 200 years ago. Many of the great forests have all but vanished. In the States the red oak borer has affected 38% of all oak trees reducing the value of the wood by up to 40% for cooperage, lumber and veneer. In Europe all the great forests have been sacrificed for agricultural land.
It for these reasons, that people should not purchase oak flooring. Oak flooring maybe strong, durable and beautiful but the remaining oak trees should be carefully husbanded and their numbers increased and not decreased. Rather consumers should consider buying reclaimed oak flooring. Because oak was very popular as a building and flooring material there is plenty of oak that can be reclaimed or recycled. It is now easy and cheap to install reclaimed oak flooring. The oak has come from gutted buildings and buildings set for demolition. The oak has also come from landfills, from building waste, from pulled up flooring and even from the bottom of lakes and rivers. In short, urban environments are gold mines for finding and recycling useful materials and oak is no exception to this rule. All the oak that is reclaimed is kiln dried and then re-milled into flooring planks.
The advantages of reclaimed oak flooring are: that it is more environmentally friendly than new growth oak flooring; that the resulting flooring is more stable because the reclaimed oak has had many years to become acclimatized to local humidity levels; and finally, that the patina of reclaimed oak is richer than newly cut oak.