There has been a lot of discussions about the advantages of vintage hardwood. It is a popular flooring solution because it offers qualities unmatched by modern flooring. What makes it so sought after? Is it really that good or is it just some kind of fashion trend to its antique appearance which will eventually pass away?
There are two kinds of vintage. First, there is the reclaimed flooring made from old, authentic timber which at some point has been used on some project and then there is the modern version which is only made to look old but in reality isn’t.
The only thing those two types of vintage really share is the appearance. Vintage flooring looks antique and worn, distressed. For some, this is a great advantage because it speaks of uniqueness and character. For others, the non-uniform appearance is a turn-off. Reclaimed timber, though, is the only one of the two offering special properties. The “modern vintage”, as we like to call it, simply imitates the first with no redeeming qualities to really make it stand out.
What Makes Reclaimed Timber So Good?
Exclusivity - The list of benefits goes on and on but the main reason people are seeking it is the fact it is unique. Even more so, this kind of flooring has been used previously somewhere and proven its quality. When you buy a fresh new floor all you know is it has been cut down from some forest and milled until you made your purchase. On the other hand, reclaimed flooring comes from some old place with its own character and personal story. You now have something special - a literal piece of living history in your own home! It is something not everyone can have which only makes it more desirable and therefore – valuable.
The value of the property - The uniqueness of “real” vintage, as well as its rarity, makes the price of any property with such a floor increase substantially. Keep in mind that getting your hands on reclaimed wood can also be hard and expensive. The scarcity is a double edged sword.
Durability and strength - As previously mentioned, part of the charm of reclaimed flooring lies in the fact that the timber used in its creation is harder to find. To add to this, the trees used in its creation are much older and mature than the ones from which most modern flooring is made. Age allows the wood to become stronger and overall more durable due to the constant exposure to the elements.
But that’s not all. After being cut, that wood has been used somewhere. This allows the material to become even harder to the point where a reclaimed lumber is up to 40 points tougher than a virgin alternative according to the Janka hardness test. Reclaimed timber is much, much less likely to warp or shrink when exposed to moisture or temperature changes.
Environmentally friendly - Make no mistake, most of the well-renowned and respected flooring companies have to keep certain standards when it comes to how wood is grown and cut. They need to act responsibly in order to operate and be successful.
However, it is an undeniable fact that we are living in a world where people don’t care enough for Nature. We are exploiting resources, polluting and destroying, decimating habitats. In such a world it is good to know that you had no part in the cutting of another tree, even one grown for that very purpose.
In the end, reclaimed floors offer incredible quality, uniqueness, unmatched durability and additional value to your home. With so many benefits there have to be drawbacks. Naturally, if a floor has been used before you can expect that will have marks of some kind. Some may dislike that while others will love it as part of its charm. The production of reclaimed wood can also be more expensive since it requires additional preparation and the prices will reflect that. The most serious disadvantage, though, is that you can never know how the wood has been treated so it’s possible to find traces of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) on it.
Reclaimed flooring is one of those luxury alternatives which require a fat wallet. Of course, not everyone can afford that so the people are seeking alternatives. The cheapest way is by imitating the distressed look only real reclaimed wood has by artificial wearing. Achieving that image, however, will also come with a price. Modern vintage will require you to invest more resources than standard flooring.
Techniques Used for the Creation of Vintage Look
Distressing the floor can be done by hand with or machine. If the ageing is done by a machine it is also known as distressed. Distressed floors are cheaper and less popular than the hand scraped alternatives. The main problem with distressed floors is the fact that certain patterns can be tracked across the surface so it is pretty easy to spot that the wear is artificial.
Hand scraping, as the name suggests, is done by hand. There are several methods to achieve that. Some are roughing the floors, denting or scooping while others are sanding unevenly or scraping. Since the hand scraping includes more labour it is naturally more expensive than the machine alternative.
Prefinished or Unfinished?
Most people prefer to get prefinished hand scraped floors because of the convenience. Those are usually easier and faster to install while the unfinished alternative requires a bit more preparation. Also, keep in mind that sanding an unfinished hand scraped floor can destroy the very texture you are paying for.
Between Modern Vintage and Reclaimed Hardwood?
All in all, a reclaimed floor offers your home a lot but that is also reflected in the prices. If you can afford it, go for reclaimed wood and you won’t be disappointed.
If you are on a tight budget but you enjoy the specific look, you can go for modern vintage flooring but it will cost you more than a regular one with no real advantage to show for it.