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Reclaimed wood flooring wins out in home renovation

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So it should be a no-brainer that we put in new wood floors. But that’s not what we’re going to do. Nope, because Martin and I love the look of old, wide-board floors, we are opting to put in far more expensive, reclaimed wood planks. And we have support in this decision from Rudy Rzeznikiewicz, a self-described “mean old miserable coot” who sells those old, wide board planks at Brooklyn Restoration Supply in Brooklyn, Conn.

“No. 1, the wood was a better wood back then,” he says. “It was slow growth and had a tighter grain. Also, it’s not going to warp on you. Anything it was going to do it has already done over the course of the 200-plus years.”

A site called Reclaimed Lumber explains why the old growth wood is better than the newer, fast growth lumber:

Consider the hardships of growing in an old-growth forest. A tree grown on a tree farm doesn't have to compete for space and light, and it will be harvested before it gets very old, so its growth rings will be widely spaced. But a tree that grew in an ancient forest had to compete with other trees, so it grew more slowly. That's why old-growth timber is strong and its rings are dense.

Rudy has two chicken coops packed full of old-growth planks that he’s rescued from area houses and barns that were being torn down. There are thousands of such lumber restoration businesses that "harvest" wood from old buildings around the country (although only one Rudy). But a growing number of companies have begun to rescue old-growth timber that comes from some unlikely spots.

One is called Timeless Timber, which “harvests" this highly prized lumber without eroding the environment because our source isn't a forest. Instead we plumb the chilly depths of America's lakes and rivers searching for these treasures.”

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