If you want wood floors, and you want to be “green,” the trend is toward choosing wood that is FSC-certified. That means the wood comes from a forest that is judged by the very strict Forest Stewardship Council to be operated in a sustainable manner. What does sustainable mean, anyway? It’s a way of meeting the needs of today without negatively impacting the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
But there’s an even more sustainable method of “harvesting” wood, and that is from old buildings or structures built up to 100 or more years ago. Resource Conservation Group is a Los Angeles company that sells such wood. They take down buildings all over the country from old whiskey storage facilities to New York apartment buildings to dairy farms in Washington and bridges in Texas.
According to the company, they “carefully dismantle each structure by hand, saving nearly 100% of the material. Even the bricks and tin roofing sheets are salvaged. With many of the buildings having been put together with bolts rather than nails, there is very little damage to the material during the dismantling phase. The larger beams are usually sold as-is and the other material is milled into flooring or used to create furniture of the highest quality.”
See the difference in old growth vs. new growth pine in the images above. Each ring on a tree represents a year of growth. The top (old growth) is tight and strong. The bottom (new wood you’d buy today) is looser and weaker.
You can find more reclaimed wood through the amazing WoodWeb lumber exchange.