Recycled Flooring

recycled flooringRecycling floor boards

Recycled flooring: Wood flooring is meant to last a century: new, reclaimed or recycled wood flooring. If, you are doing a remodel or know someone who is. Save the environment by recycling those unwanted flooring, giving something old new life again.

Using recycled flooring is a great way to save some money and help the environment at the same time. You can purchase the material from other home owners that are doing renovations. Or sometimes get them for free, by offering to remove it for free. Either way you'll be able to save yourself money and get the wood flooring you want. The trade off - tons of work involved. There's a reason why reclaimed and antique flooring is so expensive, it's not just because there old and hard to get, but all the work involved to turn them into usable beautiful wood flooring. 

8 steps on How to recycle wood flooring

recycled flooringCleaning, prepping, re-milling and installing recycled flooring

The process...

  1. Clean up your wood flooring boards. Remove any gunk and build that's on the edges. This is important because we want our recycled flooring to fit tight to each other, to minimize on gapping.
  2. Remove all nails and staples, especially along our cut edges. We don't want to plunge a saw blade into our recylced flooring boards and get hit by a hot piece of metal.
  3. Sort out your recycled hardwood flooring boards. Separate them by length and width(random width). Put aside any partial boards or boards that have been cut from previous installation. You can use these for ends or filler strips on the final row, nothing goes to waste.
  4. Re-mill your recycled flooring. Skim cut your tongue and groove to remove any dirt, glue or wood floor finish, using a router and the proper bit. If, you're recycling pine flooring or any flooring with square ends, re-mill the sides, so you have a clean edge to work with. 
  5. Square it up! Old pine flooring boards are sometimes not square or the sides are not parallel. You'll need to recut it, so your recycled flooring installation is easier and you will get a higher quality end result. You'll be able to make your recycled wood flooring joints tighter to each other to help reduce gapping.
  6. Plane your recycled flooring material. Rent a thickness planer and plane your recycled wood flooring to the same thickness. This will make it less work and easier to sand, especially with soft recycled hardwood flooring like pine flooring and spruce wood flooring, where the floor boards may have uneven thickness. Eliminate over and under wood, plane the floor boards to all the same thickness. You will be able to sort out unusable undersized boards in the process.
  7. Sort out any flooring boards that are to thin in thickness. Industry minimum sanding surface thickness is 3/32 for a tongue and groove system.  Omit any floor boards that do not meet the minimum requirements.
  8. Acclimate - Your recycled wood flooring's moisture content is acclimated to the previous home. It may lose more additional moisture after it is installed into your home. Properly acclimate the flooring boards in normal living conditions to minimize gapping.  Moisture content should be within 2% from subfloor to floor boards.

Performing all these task, will ensure that your wood floors perform at it's best and last a century.

recycled flooringRecycled pine flooring, sand and finished with Pallman Magic oil - white

Here are some images from our previous recycled flooring project: random width pine flooring

The home owners purchased 600 square feet of random width white pine flooring. We started the recycling process by cleaning them up, de-nailing and removing any staples or metal.

The recycled wood flooring boards were then ran through a thickness planer. They were planed down to 11/16, and any usable boards with a smaller dimension was sorted out for other uses.

We then milled the sides to our desired width. Since, the owner chose random widths, we ripped our floor boards varying from 3 inch to 6 1/2" width. Then, it was sorted by width, to make it much more easier, to pick and choose the recycled flooring board, when we wanted to use it.

Do a dry layout of your recycled hardwood flooring, step back and look at it. If, it looks good continue, if not, rearrange the width. Avoid cluttering a section with too many of the same size wood width.

Our reclaimed recycled wood flooring was installed with 3" 2d cut nails, that were nailed into the flooring joist.

If you will be using this face nail method, make sure you install these flooring over a plywood sheathing surface and not a plank board subfloor.

A plywood surface will give you a nice even finished surface compared to a plank board. Where as, you can end up with waves or an irregular surface conditions, if you don not install over a plywood surface.

Add a layer of 1/2 plywood sheathing over your plank board subfloor, before you start, with your face nailing floor installation.
When installing random widths, make sure the wood flooring width you are using can make a complete row, before cutting or nailing the wood floor boards in place. For more details see our reclaimed hardwood flooring page.

All your cuts (end) should land on a floor joist, as shown in the image above, plan out each and every cut. For help on planning out or setting up the layout, see our white pine flooring page.

fireplace frameFireplace frame scribed to stone hearth

A 6 1/2" fireplace frame was put in around the fireplace hearth. Stair nosing and thresholds were fabricated where needed.

After the recycled flooring was installed, the cut nails were set and the floors were sanded and stained with a Minwax Provincial stain.

3 coats of Bona - Woodline oil base polyurethane wood floor finish was applied to provide protection for the wood flooring.

recycled flooringTo keep with the theme, we used a rough board for the riser of his step
recycled flooringSand, stained and polyurethaned

Don't be so fast to throw out those good but old, unwanted floors. Sell  or donate it to someone that can give it new life. Recycling flooring is a great way to save the environment and save you money.  If, you have any questions send us an email.

Hire or contact a NWFA contractor for help, send us an email

Professional Development: G & S floor service

nwfa member logo
gandswoodfloors nwfa