The detail of your project and the aesthetic you want to achieve will help to determine which is best for you.
New wood is new wood harvested directly from trees.
Reclaimed wood has been used before and is being used again.
Using reclaimed wood helps to reduce deforestation and reduce waste going to landfill.
It is usually more robust and has more character, depth and colour variation than new wood.
New wood is more readily available than reclaimed wood but should come from sustained forests.
Reclaimed wood and new wood are both beautiful in their own right. Both products are warm and can be environmentally sound options for various projects.
Is reclaimed wood better for the environment?
Reclaimed wood can be ecologically superior to new wood because it does not depend on harvesting new trees and is being reused rather than wasted.
The sustainable nature of reclaimed wood makes it the ideal choice for projects with sustainability as one of their core goals.
Responsibly resourced reclaimed wood helps curb deforestation.
When harvested responsibly, reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that reduces landfill waste as well as the use of environmentally hazardous chemicals, which are often used in the manufacture of new products.
Furthermore, many of the steps required to prepare the salvaged wood require 13 times less cumulative energy.
What about provenance?
Designers and architects do not only choose reclaimed wood because of its ecological benefits.
Old reclaimed wood is soulful and rich with provenance, stories and history.
It is a romantic idea but an important one, too, that the history of your materials brings authenticity to your project.
That element of storytelling is vital in creating a groundbreaking design.
When designers choose reclaimed wood for a project, they know it has lived before, bringing a magical feeling into a space.
Does reclaimed wood improve well-being?
Tactile materials like old wood invite us to reach out and touch them.
Their warmth, texture and smoothness add a space’s soothing sensory dimension.
The soothing feeling that wood breathes into space is more than an aesthetic.
Biophilia, the attraction we feel to nature, has a biological basis.
Feeling well when connected to nature and other life forms is human nature.
Is reclaimed wood hardwearing?
Reclaimed wood is usually stronger than new wood, making it an ideal choice for flooring.
Depending on its age, reclaimed wood can be up to 40 points harder than new wood on the Janka hardness scale.
Older wood was more often harvested from the heartwood of old-growth trees, whereas new wood often comes from first-generation forests.
Is new wood easier to source than reclaimed wood?
Sustainable maintained woodlands ensure a steady supply of raw materials to construction, design and manufacturing industries.
This means that new wood is more readily available than reclaimed wood.
Because there is more new wood available than reclaimed wood, new wood can usually be sourced more quickly, making it a predictable and reliable choice for projects with tight deadlines.
As well as being faster to source, more specific criteria can be set for new wood, with more sizing options available when the wood is harvested to order.
If you choose to use new wood for your project, you must choose a reputable supplier.
How do I know my supplier of new wood is reputable?
Many certification options are available, but here in the UK, the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) has a pioneering certification system that enables businesses and consumers to choose wood and other forest products made with materials that support responsible forestry.
PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) is a company which endorses national forest certification systems.
Their website offers a search tool which lets you check the sustainability credentials of companies manufacturing wood products.
Can new wood be made to look older?
Expert craftspeople can mechanically age new wood or chemically age new wood to help it look like it has a history in every grain.
New wood can also be effectively stained and colour treated to help it blend seamlessly into any project.
While the look and, to some extent, the texture of reclaimed or older wood can be replicated in new wood, the strength of old wood is usually far superior to that of newly harvested timber.
It is fair to mention that some unique traits of any reclaimed and antique floor won’t be able to imitate.