Architectural Design: 8 Things Architects Ask When Considering Reclaimed Wood Flooring

As sustainability continues to gain increasing importance in the field of architecture for both existing structures and new home design, the use of reclaimed wood flooring has become a popular choice among buyers, including its use at the direction of architects. However, the availability and sourcing of reclaimed wood flooring materials for large-scale projects like those with large living room flooring material needs may pose significant challenges. Developing a working partnership with a manufacturer will be critical to any architect’s long term sourcing plan. Here we will review some considerations for architects through the lens of how a partnership with The Vintage Wood Floor Company will offer continued reclaimed wood supply for many years to come. This is a must-read if you are in architecture.

 8 Things Architects Ask When Considering Reclaimed Wood Flooring

You may run into a few challenges unique to reclaimed wood sourcing, the main being:

  1. Limited Supply: particularly for larger scale projects
  2. Sustainably Sourced: particularly from domestic sources
  3. Single Source Solution Supplier: one who is large enough to manage all size projects

One of the main challenges in sourcing reclaimed wood flooring materials is the limited supply. Reclaimed wood comes from various sources such as old buildings, barns, and factories, and the availability of such materials may vary depending on factors such as location, age, and condition of the reclaimed wood. This can make it challenging to find a consistent supply of reclaimed wood for large-scale projects, which require a significant amount of materials from one source. Choosing a supplier partner with onsite regular onsite material is key. The Vintage Wood Floor Company maintains the largest onsite reclaimed material inventory as a part of its milling operation in Anaheim, CA. If you are local, you are welcome to visit and see the entire process, start to finish. This is a rare opportunity where most suppliers must sub-contract many steps in their process. Here, we do it all onsite, all by our own hands.

Onsite Reclaimed Wood Inventory

Another challenge is ensuring that the reclaimed wood flooring materials are sourced sustainably (and domestically). Sustainability is a key consideration for architects and their client homeowners who prioritize environmentally responsible building practices. It is important to ensure that the reclaimed wood is sourced from reputable suppliers who have a long reputation in the industry and who use only US sourced materials. It may be tempting to choose off-shore suppliers but beware, from on time delivery to wood content, quality, and consistency; you may find yourself holding the bag as it were, if the material received isn’t to spec. The Vintage Wood Floor Company has been leading the reclaimed wood industry for a long time--nearly 20 years--and is owner-operated so quality is always measured by the person most invested in your success.

Responsibly and Domestically Sourced Reclaimed Wood

Despite these challenges, there are also opportunities in sourcing reclaimed wood flooring materials for both small and large-scale projects. For example, collaborating with local suppliers or salvage yards can provide access to unique and locally sourced reclaimed wood, but the thought of having to find and maintain a working relationship with many suppliers can be cumbersome for a busy architect with many projects. Also, smaller suppliers can often only offer smaller quantities which may have wide variability in material consistency and may not have enough similar material for your project. Additionally, collaborating with experienced suppliers who specialize in reclaimed wood can offer valuable expertise and guidance in navigating the complexities of sourcing. You have better things to do than chase more suppliers than necessary. With The Vintage Wood Floor Company, you have one contact for everything wood; new or reclaimed. With one order we can produce the many parts of your order and to your specifications. Everything we do is to order and to the client's specifications so there won't be any doubt as to what you'll receive.

Considerations for Specifying Reclaimed Wood Flooring in Different Climate Zones or High-Traffic Areas

When specifying reclaimed wood flooring for commercial or public spaces, it is essential to consider the climate zone where the project is located. Proper acclimation and moisture management are crucial to avoid issues such as warping, buckling, or shrinking of the wood. It is crucial to include in your scheduling 7-10 days of acclimation time, onsite, in the climate controlled environment where the flooring will be installed. Too many inexperienced installers fail to account for this in their schedules so it may be up to you to ensure this is planned for, or at the minimum called out. All of our reclaimed wood and new wood flooring is kiln dried to eliminate excessive moisture.

Ensuring Your Reclaimed Wood Has The Right Moisture Content Is Essential

Additionally, high-traffic areas such as lobbies, corridors, and public spaces require durable flooring that can withstand heavy use. Reclaimed wood flooring is known for its durability and stability because of it’s old growth wood density, making it an ideal choice for such areas. Our original face Timeworn Oak reclaimed wood flooring is an ideal choice for commercial and high traffic areas because of the intense character which hides dents and other excessive wear impacts. With our own in-house Finish Room, we can recommend the perfect durable finish appropriate for your project.

Proper installation techniques are critical in high-traffic areas to ensure the reclaimed wood flooring remains intact and performs well over time. Our floors are not floating floors, and we recommend both gluing and nailing. As with any high quality floor, regular cleaning is necessary to keep the reclaimed wood flooring in optimal condition in high-traffic commercial or public spaces.

The Vintage Wood Floor Company has its own in-house Finish Room to ensure thorough oversight of the custom finishing process, which is also done here onsite. We'll use the proper finishes for the intended use.


Installation Techniques and Recommendations for Reclaimed Wood Flooring in Commercial or Public Spaces

Installing reclaimed wood flooring in commercial or public spaces requires specific steps to ensure a successful installation. Proper subfloor preparation is crucial, including thorough cleaning, leveling, and moisture testing. Moisture barriers may also be necessary to protect the reclaimed wood flooring from potential moisture damage.

Acclimation of reclaimed wood flooring is essential to allow the wood to adjust to the environmental conditions of the space before installation. As mentioned already, storing the wood in the installed climate controlled environment for 7-10 days is recommended to allow it to match the space’s moisture content and stabilize prior to installation.

Working with experienced installers who are familiar with reclaimed wood flooring is recommended to ensure proper installation techniques are followed. Installation of a reclaimed wood floor requires as much artist as skilled technician. This includes using the right adhesives, fasteners, and underlayment, as well as paying attention to the specific characteristics of each reclaimed wood plank, such as irregularities in character and color. The most important part of proper installation actually occurs prior to installation; the layout. The best looking reclaimed wood floors are made in mixed widths and random lengths. This, with the variability and range of patina and character—which are unique to each plank—means a quality installer will inspect the unit of planks and plan a layout. This layout plan distributes the variation over the whole space. Inexperienced installers who are not accustomed to this variability may just start installing, resulting in clusters of similar boards, widths, and lengths.

How to properly layout a reclaimed wood floor

In large-scale commercial or public projects, coordination with other trades, such as HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, is critical to avoid potential conflicts or damage to the reclaimed wood flooring. Communication among the project team, including architects, contractors, and suppliers, is key to ensuring a successful installation of reclaimed wood flooring in commercial or public spaces. We recommend the flooring be installed as late in the project as feasible to minimize the risk of damage from worker and equipment traffic.

Proper Flooring Preparation Prior to Installation

Cost Implications of Specifying Reclaimed Wood Flooring for a Green Building Project

Specifying reclaimed wood flooring for a green building project may have cost implications compared to other flooring options. The material costs of reclaimed wood flooring may vary depending on factors such as the species of wood, availability, current demand, if specific widths and length are called for, and many other factors. In most cases, the cost of reclaimed wood flooring will be higher compared to newly harvested wood due to the labor-intensive process of sourcing, reclaiming, processing, and then finally making the final reclaimed wood into flooring. Simply put, there are more labor steps involved when choosing reclaimed wood than when choosing newly harvested wood. Always ask what the production lead times are with your supplier. 8-12 weeks for a custom reclaimed wood floor from a reputable manufacturer is common. Rest assured though, The Vintage Wood Floor Company clients tell us that the final look and benefits far outweigh the higher cost.

The higher cost of choosing reclaimed wood flooring is worth the final look

It is important to consider the long-term cost benefits of using reclaimed wood flooring. Reclaimed wood flooring is known for its durability and longevity, which can result in reduced maintenance and replacement costs over time. Additionally, some reclaimed wood suppliers may offer discounts or incentives for large-scale projects, making reclaimed wood flooring more cost-effective for commercial or public spaces.

Importantly to note; a reclaimed wood floor can often be easier to repair should any damage be incurred. This is because newly harvested wood floors “in a box” are made in lots and runs which are slightly different between each run. Add to this to the high likelihood of the flooring line or color model being discontinued at some point in time. A reclaimed wood floor is inherently varied, so replacing only the damaged planks is far easier because you do not have to exactly match planks. For those who are eco-conscious, the thought of having to replace an entire floor simply because a few damaged planks cannot be sourced should cause one to pause.

Repairing reclaimed wood flooring is easier than repairing new wood floors

When evaluating the cost implications of specifying reclaimed wood flooring, you and your client should consider the overall sustainability and environmental benefits of using reclaimed materials vs. the budget, and perceived value of the client to ensure there is a good fit. It’s worth mentioning again that reclaimed wood flooring not only reduces the demand for newly harvested wood, but it also diverts wood from landfill, reduces carbon emissions associated with logging, manufacturing, transportation, processing, and promotes the conservation of natural resources.

Reclaimed wood is more ecologically friendly

In Conclusion

Specifying reclaimed wood flooring in either a residential or commercial project requires careful consideration of numerous factors discussed, and several more. Working with a reclaimed wood flooring industry expert manufacturer and experienced installers is crucial to ensure a successful and sustainable installation. A good installation is a floor that could be enjoyed for generations. The unique character, durability, and environmental benefits of reclaimed wood flooring make it a compelling choice for green building projects, contributing to the overall sustainability and aesthetic appeal of the space. Developing a long-term relationship with a single source solution supplier is ideal for material consistency, and efficiency of your own time. A single source solution supplier who can manage all of your reclaimed wood needs for all project sizes is hard to find. Fortunately, The Vintage Wood Floor Company is just such a supplier, and the largest among the handful of suppliers who are. With nearly 20 years leading the industry, we are the largest vertically integrated producer of reclaimed wood flooring, wall paneling, and products anywhere. We do everything onsite, ourselves, with no sub-contracting. From a 500sf floor to 30,000sf project we have the material and production scalability to ensure your recommendation and reputation will be honored.

Our floors tell a story. What story can we help you tell?


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