Tips on Ordering and Installing Reclaimed Wood Floors

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Tips on Ordering and Installing Reclaimed Wood Floors

Did you know that Reclaimed Wood floors can come from beams, floor joists, wall paneling and other building materials that are as old as 200 years!

But that is what most people love about it.  Not only is the floor filled with history but with most beautiful color and character too which is a definate advantage when thinking about the perfect floor for your project.  But Reclaimed wood can also have some disadvantages.

Many people see a Reclaimed wood floor when it is completely installed and finished…it looks beautiful.  But what about all the hard work that went into making it look that way both from the manufacturer and the installation crew.

When considering a Reclaimed wood floor it is so important to understand the company that will be manufacturing the wood for you.  After all the installation company can make beautiful wood look even more beautiful when the installation is complete, but if you receive low quality reclaimed wood even the most talented installers will have a hard time turning it into a timeless wood floor that you will be satisfied with.


1) Where does their Reclaimed wood flooring material come from in the country?  The procurement practices for Antique wood will determine the overall look and stability of your floor.  For example Reclaimed Oak from down south will look completely different from a Reclaimed Oak Wood floor made from material sourced from the Ohio River Valley which is where the BEST Oak grows.

2) What type of material is it sawn from?  The best reclaimed wood floors are crafted from thick timbers like carrier timbers, beams, wall paneling, thick floor boards and joists.  This material tends to provide the most stable boards and will maintain the character without compromising the integrity of the board.   You do want want your floor sawn from beams with mortis and tenon holes unless you can be assured that this is cut out before it gets to you.

3) Is it kiln dried? It is often assumed that old reclaimed wood does not need to be kiln dried because it is so old…that is not the case and can cause major problems with a wood floor.  It can mean negative movement in your floor like cupping or crowning, and even worse can result in insect infestations.  Your Reclaimed wood must be kiln dried to ensure stability, performance and no unwelcome visitors.

4) What widths and lengths can I expect when the floor arrives?  Reclaimed wood floors have alot of character and color, if you have short boards and narrow widths your floor will look unnatural and busy.  Reclaimed wood is also a finite resource –  after all it takes 100-200 years to make it – and people often think they are stuck with whatever a building produces, but that is not always the case.  Through careful procurement practices you can get only the best timbers that will yield the widest and longest boards and maintain that when you are crafting the wood floor.  An average width of 6-7″ and an average length of 5-6′ long is the best.

5) Are the boards straight-line ripped?  It is important that your reclaimed wood floor boards are straight when they arrive, this is done through a straigh-line ripping process prior to milling.  Although long boards can sometime have a slight bow to them because of the length the straighter the board the better your floor will look and the better the installation will be.


Understand the character. Reclaimed wood will present nail holes, knots, knot holes, bug holes, checks, cracks.  Many times the checks or cracks can go the length of a board and in small sections go through the thickness of the board.  Occassionally the tongue and groove may be missing from the boards in small sections.  But if you purchase the material from the right company this character has been tested and is meant to be in your floor.  Remember that each board part of an overall floor and you do not want to scrutinize each board too much on its own.  Remember its an Antique floor, it looks quite different from White Oak, or Red Oak and that character is meant to be there.

– Think about board placement.  Because there is so much character in a reclaimed wood floor you have to balance out the board placement so that the colors blend, the character is spaced throughout the floor and not all in one spot.

Maximize your lengths.  If you ordered from the right company you should have nice long lengths in your reclaimed floors, hopefully up to 10′ – 12′ long.  These boards are very rare and hard to come by so don’t cut them up.  Some simple trimming to end-square the boards should be all you need to do.

Sanding is optional.  Depending on the quality of the floor sanding the floor may not be required.  This also depends on the space the floor is installed in and the customer preference.  Recaimed floors will have rough spots, mill marks and other character, some customers love this and want as much as possible.  Others with small children may want to lightly sand this to smooth it out.  Before you sand, install the floor and have a discussion, you may be able to eliminate or minimize the need for sanding altogether.

When the floors are made right and installed right you get customer comments like this:

Polito Reclaimed Oak Flooring

—–Original Message—–

Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:11 AM
To: Dan O’Neill
Subject: xxx Home/ xxxx , California

Dan I just wanted to show you a few photos of the job Steve Martin did and let you know how please we are with the product and the work Steve did. As to the product, it looks just great.  It is exactly the look I wanted. As to the work performed by Steve I don’t know where to begin. Pride in workmanship is the best way to describe his work. It clearly was not my floor going in but it was his. I felt like he installed a piece of furniture in my home. He spent the time to make it right, picked the right pieces for the right location all with an eye towards perfection. When you told me: ” He was “The Man” you were right. He was always available by cell and was always on time. One more thing: he even made lemon bars for my wife one day when he learned she loved lemon bars. If you are ever in SD you are welcome to come by.  Take care.



If you are looking for a reclaimed wood floor we are here to help!  Call us today or request one of our FREE color brochure!

If you are looking for an installer in Southern California contact Steve Martin at Fusion Flooring.  You can visit his website or email him at

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