As more and more people re-evaluate their impact on the planet, environmental awareness and conscious consumption have increasingly been on the rise.
The use of natural material is at the top of the agenda — with designers, professionals, and homeowners embracing “greener” lifestyles and finding brilliant ways to incorporate organic textures whilst maintaining a more current aesthetic.
Besides being good for the environment, natural materials are durable, improve the microclimate of indoor spaces, and look stylish regardless of interior design and changing styles.
For many, this means not just using sustainably sourced products, but ones that last for decades without being shipped to the landfill.
Reclaimed timber, also known as salvaged, re-worked or antique wood, is the epitome of the world of natural materials and for obvious reasons. Not only is it the most renewable and sustainable resource you could possibly choose, but it evokes a profound sense of nature, has therapeutic properties, and ages beautifully, developing a wonderful patina over time.
Reclaimed wood flooring, reclaimed wood cladding, reclaimed wood siding, reclaimed wood beams, reclaimed wood stairs, reclaimed wood furniture — it’s everywhere… and it represents impactful stories of repurposing and making use of what would have otherwise been abandoned and wasted.
What are reclaimed floorboards?
The use of reclaimed timber to finish and decorate both residential and commercial buildings isn’t a new concept, but it’s seen a surge in popularity especially with the green building and remodelling boom.
Reclaimed flooring (often oak, chestnut or pine) is simply “upcycled” wood finish with a past life used for a new purpose.
Perhaps it was a storage crate, wine barrel, retired ship or a part of a building, typically an old barn, factory, warehouse, and it is of good enough quality to be milled and fashioned into new antique floorboards.
Discovering the beauty of reclaimed floorboards
For many, the true beauty of reclaimed timber is in its rich history as well as distinctive charm, beauty and narrative. Used in and around the home, the flooring provides whispers and echoes of the past and looks beautifully aged yet timeless. It is these character qualities that make reclaimed floorboards popular throughout the UK.
The use of sophisticated, warm wood textures lends a rustic look that almost seamlessly connects your living space to the natural world. For some, it’s more than the aesthetics — it’s the conservation element that makes reclaimed wood their number one choice for their next interior project. Still others, it’s its durability and strength that captures their attention and makes reclaimed floorboards a meaningful design component.
What goes into a reclaimed wood floor?
Unlike virgin floors from freshly cut trees, milling reclaimed floorboards have far less impact on the environment.
Traditional methods involved in the creation of floorboards can be a depleting process requiring enormous amounts of energy output for harvesting and an energy-intensive milling process.
The process of designing reclaimed floorboards bypasses this environmental harm. Many of the steps required to prepare the salvaged wood to relieve pressure on our forests and uses 13 times less cumulative energy. Having already survived through decades or even centuries growing in clean, pollution-free air and soil, the wood has also matured within the projects it has graced and taken on the glow of many years of exposure to the elements too.
This makes reclaimed wood flooring even more sustainable, as no extra trees need to be felled to create a beautiful wood floor with a look and feel that cannot be duplicated. After saving the wood from the demolished site, manufacturers set about reworking the old wood planks into exceptional reclaimed flooring, removing the nails and bolts, cleaning and finishing the wood, mostly by hand, and dried in a kiln to sterilise and ensure it is dried down to the proper moisture content intended for interior application.
Here it undergoes a plethora of delicate restorative and transformative techniques to obtain a good top and a good bottom. A lot of skill and creativity gives the wood a new lease on life, making the manufactured floorboards ready for yet more decades of experience in the heart of a newly built project.
Throughout the process of extending the service life of old timber into new floorboards, the wood retains carbon, keeping potentially harmful gas locked out of the atmosphere. This alone, makes reclaimed wood sit in a very strong position of what a truly, naturally sustainable product is all about.
Being recycled between key stages of its lifecycle and lasting for generations whilst ageing gracefully within the built environment makes reclaimed floorboards instrumental to the circular economy model. These environmentally friendly credentials also mean newly reclaimed floors can last another 100 years — meaning low energy and waste manufacturing as well as an overall happier and healthier planet.
Benefits of reclaimed floorboards
The use of reclaimed timber offers a wealth of natural beauty and eco-friendly benefits. Some of the main advantages include:
It is the timber prior history that enriches and enhances the natural beauty of reclaimed floorboards. Each plank embodies a distinctive characteristic while benefiting from the patina of old age growth. Reclaimed wood flooring creates a deeper experience and adds instant authenticity and personality wherever it is laid.
What’s more, its exceptionally tight grain, unique knots and swirls, rugged texture, organically weathered colour and patina adds a touch of “traditional allure and depth” to an interior environment, especially when paired with more modern furniture and objects.
Strong and durable
Aside from its aesthetic qualities, floorboards constructed from reclaimed timber are incredibly strong, dimensionally stable, and physically durable with better rot resistance than most newly harvested woods — being up to 40 points harder on the Janka hardness scale.
When old residences, warehouses and factories were built in and around the UK between the 18th-20th century, only the most stable and durable lumber cut from trees that grew for hundreds and even thousands of years were used so they could stand the test of time. The process of undergoing years of natural tempering and weathering means the matured wood has reached a point of being completely dried out and less prone to splitting or splintering.
Additionally, it is this great structural sturdiness that makes reclaimed floorboards a desirable option for high-traffic areas as it is able to better handle the wear and tear of everyday life while looking good for many years to come.
As previously mentioned, reclaimed timber prevents the need for further depleting our natural forests by cutting down trees.
Knowing you’re using floorboards that would otherwise be unnecessarily burnt or enter landfills is an environmentally responsible choice that effectively contributes to the reduction of carbon footprint. Furthermore, wood that has already been harvested and treated restricts the need for refining chemicals which have a devastating impact on the environment.
Top companies that specialise in reclaimed wood in the UK
The scale of environmental degradation is disheartening, in Europe as in the rest of the world. Our planet continues to suffer a great deal from the paradigm in which goods are bought, owned and disposed of.
As consumers become acutely aware of sustainable practices and corporate responsibility, the demand for products and services with lower environmental impact has gained momentum — and, in fact, consumers often demand — companies do better. The timber flooring industry has felt pressure to adapt to new ways of thinking about sustainable manufacturing by finding that elusive balance between people, profit and the planet.
Today, a growing number of companies are seeking out innovative ways of reutilising salvaged wood as well as new ways to make operations less harmful to the environment. More importantly, businesses are placing sustainability as an essential component of their corporate social responsibility plans and business strategies.
In implementing “Cradle to Cradle” solutions to improve their carbon footprint and providing safe and sustainable flooring options for a variety of needs, there has been a significant change in relation to environmental conservation. Ahead, we take a look at some of the leading businesses specialising in reclaimed floorboards in the UK.
1. The Reclaimed Flooring Company
The Reclaimed Flooring Company is proud to be the leading provider of the finest quality custom-milled floors for residential and commercial properties across the United Kingdom. We have spearheaded the quest for timeless, character-filled old wood with lasting value and are now market leaders in this specialist industry.
Part of Reclaimed Flooring Company core values includes bringing life back to this magnificent, unique material and turning it into something truly beautiful that carries a unique legacy. In a sense, our in-house team of highly skilled craftsmen integrate specialist finishing techniques and colouring processes to accentuate the unique qualities and innate beauty of reclaimed floorboards.
Whether it is reclaiming large beams from 17th-century barns, historical monuments, colonial homes or simply reclaimed old oak wine barrels, each antique board is hand-worked by highly-skilled craftsman to create a beautiful time-worn look and feel that will illuminate and bring character to any property.
Our work demonstrates the dedication to social, economic, and environmental responsibility. We recognise that forest certification preserves our nation’s past, and furthers its present goals for sustainability. All our flooring products are in compliance with VOC test requirements and qualify for LEED points under the materials and resources category, guaranteed to last.
2. Authentic Reclamation LTD
Bringing reclaimed building material to the whole of the South East including Surrey and South London, Authentic Reclamation has been sourcing and supplying reclaimed building materials to the building, landscaping and private sectors for more than 30 years. Based on the Kent and Sussex border, the timber company houses an extensive stock of authentic reclaimed materials to bring design dreams and visions to life.
3. London Reclaimed Flooring
Located within 15 miles from Central London just on the outskirts of North London, London Reclaimed Flooring specialises in lifting and collecting all types of salvaged timber from a wide range of period properties, as well as supplying environmentally responsible timber products ideal for creating truly one-of-a-kind interior aesthetics.
With projects ranging from small home developments and conservation to retail stores and restaurants, this leading company in the Architectural Salvage & Reclamation business believes that antique floorboards not only accentuate the look and feel of your home or architectural project but are an essential link to ecological and environmental advances.
4. Encore Reclamation
After years of using contacts in a demolition business to source substantive and sustainable old pine and oak flooring for friends and family, husband and wife duo setup Encore Reclamation in the hopes to serve a wider range of designers, homeowners and professional businesses across the UK.
Located in the heart of London’s East End in a former Spratts dog biscuit factory, the company makes sourcing reclaimed building materials a fast, fun and financially viable process. If you’re on the lookout for character-rich reclaimed floorboards to give even a new build old soul, Encore Reclamation takes special pride in supplying premium quality products for any interior design and architectural project.
Established in London’s East End, LASSCO has dealt in reclamation since 1979. Bridging the gap between the demolition trade and architectural design, the company connect customers with rescued relics that make for fascinating interiors. Since its inception in the late 1970s, the company continues to be one of the UK’s leading providers of custom reclaimed floors with a showroom and design specialists in London’s East End.
By choosing only the finest reclaimed antique wood, Salvo is the marketplace for architectural antiques, garden, decorative, salvage and reclaimed building materials that bring out the inherent richness of nature.
Following the principle of “Reclaim, Reuse, Repeat”, Salvo helps designers and homeowners alike create buildings that will impress and last by providing demolition alerts, a worldwide directory of salvage-related businesses, as well as online platform where they can buy from trusted Salvo Code dealers.
7. English Salvage
English Salvage works passionately to bring a historic era to retail and restaurant spaces, film set constructions, and residential projects. Quality and craftsmanship come first, and every process starts with sourcing the highest-quality timber and continues with precise milling that enhances the distinctive charm of each and every board — ensuring that you receive the most beautiful outcome for your architectural project.
8. Lawson’s Yard
Established over 70 years ago by Thomas Lawson senior, Lawson’s Yard is passionate about re-purposing material, reusing waste and minimising resources. Combining time-honoured techniques with modern machining, the Ormskirk-based company transforms salvaged and pre-loved lumber to consistently produce the finest quality reclaimed flooring, cladding, doors and furniture — ensuring that each final product is unique to each project and in keeping with a scheme’s design, ethos and heritage.
9. The Main Company
Passionate about bringing you the highest quality, The Main Company has an outstanding reputation for crafting high quality reclaimed flooring ideal for both commercial and residential spaces. Nestled in the heart of Yorkshire, the company specialises in engineering reclaimed & rustic wood flooring.
A combination of knowledge, unrivalled passion and craftsmanship ensure that they deliver floors that have a story to tell and are meticulously handcrafted and restored to bring out the stunning patinas and rustic features that suit every space.
10. The British Wood Flooring Company
The British Wood Flooring Company is one of the UK’s largest reclamation companies with a large stock of original, authentic and bespoke salvaged, reclaimed and upcycled timber including; antique wood flooring, Parquet block, Parquet de Versailles and bespoke solid wood floors for residential properties and mixed-use commercial projects.
With knowledge and exceptional experience in installing, refurbishing and finishing wood floors, The British Wood Flooring Company works closely with clients at every stage of the design process to complement their individual needs. From London townhouses to country cottages, new-builds and period properties — each board is created with alchemy to give a stunning and unique finish to every interior design environment.
Procured from retired ships, old barns, homes and commercial buildings of all kinds, reclaimed lumber wins points for sustainability.
With its everyday practicality, each one of the floorboards has its own character, offering a true one-of-a-kind design finish for both old and modern settings.
Reclaimed floorboards in the UK have transformed a wide array of interior design and architectural projects — from London Victorian townhouses and period properties to modern farmhouses and new-builds — and the fact that no new trees have to be harvested to design the flooring makes them one of the most sought-after salvaged building materials.