I get asked often about what widths our reclaimed flooring comes in and of course why does it come in variable widths. My goal for this article is to show you why reclaimed hardwood flooring typically comes in multiple widths and maybe knock off a few myths along the way.
Most of our flooring is going to come in multiple widths. Most mixes will be a set of sizes. For instance, our standard mix 3”, 4”, 5” and 6” widths. These are the most common sizes that we get. Wider widths are available, but typically at a higher costs. Before I get into that, lets answer a few questions.
Why Variable Widths?
The simple answer is that with antique barn wood, we are working with a limited resource. I see regular logging trucks going up and down the highway loaded with a woods full of wood on board everyday here in Michigan. Thousands of board feet of material to choose from. On the other hand, I rarely if ever see a trailer load of reclaimed barn wood. While it may seem like there are barns going down everywhere, the reality is there aren't a lot of people doing it because quite frankly, its a TON of work!
Since we are reclaiming these boards, we want to minimize waste in every board. Our goal is to try to remove the absolute least amount of wood to straighten a board in order to turn it into a salable board. The boards that we salvage are all that we have to work with. Its not like we have a yard full of 18” logs to choose from.
Typical boards that we find in a barn from 4” to 12” wide. So we only have a certain amount of wood to work from. It is possible to get the same width in smooth surface floors as they are sometimes re-sawn from large beams, but the wider the boards, and the more we have to sort, the more the cost rises.
The more we touch a board, the more it costs.
Why Are Wider and One Species Floors More Expensive?
Purely supply and demand. Wide boards are very rare in reclaimed wood. Even if we do salvage a wide board, chances are it will be bowed or cracked. We can still use the board, but we must split it and use it in 2 parts. For instance, a 12” board may have to be reduced to a 4” board and a 6” board in order to get the bad part out.
We don't have a large truck to select from, so we see fewer boards that meet the standard for flooring. It can be very difficult to commit to an extra wide floor because you really never know what you are going to get out of a batch of wood until the very last step in the process.
The same goes for one species. We would typically have to sort through an entire semi-load of material in order to get a single species floor.
The Wider The Boards, The More Waste We Get...
As I mentioned a paragraph ago, the more we have to sort, the more cost is involved. Our standard mix is 3”, 4”, 5” and 6” because those are the most common sizes we find.
In fact, to do an order of 2,000 sq ft. all 7”, 8” and 9” widths, we would have to purchase a semi-truckload, 12,000 board feet of material.
Plus there is no guarantee that we would get all that we needed from that semi load of material. We have to buy more material in order to get the desired widths. The more waste we have, the more expensive the floor.
I Am Confused, Isn't It A Big Puzzle To Put All Those Different Sized Pieces Together?
This is one of the greatest myths about multi-width reclaimed flooring. Some people envision a monster puzzle and walk away from using this flooring because they don't understand how it goes together. They imagine the nightmare of trying to figure out how to make all the pieces to fit together. See figure 1 for How to NOT to lay your reclaimed wood flooring.....
But there is a secret (well, not really)....while the flooring is multi-widths, each individual row is the same width row by row. See Figure 2 where I put together an example of how we would install reclaimed hardwood flooring.
For example, if you were using 3",4",5" & 6" flooring, you would keep all of your different widths in separate piles. As you lay a new row, you would choose 1 width and use it end for end in that row. All the pieces for that row will be the same like Figure 2.
So if you laid a row of 3", it would all be the same width in that row. If you laid 5" next, then it would all be 5" widths in that row. Row after row you decide which width looks the best and go with it. Here is a closer look at a real reclaimed wood floor that is both multi-species and multi-widths;
When we are installing the flooring, we look at the piles of flooring we have left and decide what to use next. But I like to create floors that don't have a pattern. There is a way of calculating exactly the amount of each width you would need in order to have a repeatable pattern in the floor, but I won't get into that here.
Isn't it beautiful? Ready to order yours?
Some Other Articles About Repurposed Wood Floors Made In Michigan.
I started my first business when I was 14 years old and have been working in my own businesses or family businesses ever since the. My parents placed a high value on education and instilled a strong work ethic. We fixed and built our own stuff including homes while I was growing up. I love to write and author both this blog and a blog on energy efficient lighting. I have 4 kids and live in Michigan. You can contact me below.