Trees and other green plants use the sun’s energy to change carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbohydrates and produce oxygen as a by-product. As plants decay, or are burned, they release the CO2 back into the atmosphere. Therefore, CO2 is literally locked up within every piece of lumber that is manufactured. The longer we can use, reuse, and recycle a wood product, the longer we can keep the CO2 from being emitted back into the atmosphere.
Flooring from salvaged lumber can add a very attractive feature to new home, or can integrate well into a renovation.
Softwood flooring planks can be found up to 24 inches wide, though at a premium price. The trees from which these boards came were most likely first-generation growth with large diameter trunks. Planing widths average 4 inches to 10 inches, and generally a variety of widths and lengths best suit a laid floor.
Commonly available softwoods include pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock. Homes built over a century ago would likely have had spruce and pine planks laid interchangeably. A fir floor will have a considerably different grain and color.
Most salvaged hardwood flooring is available at between one-half to equal the price of new hardwood flooring. Remember that if you replaced the longer, knot-free lengths with identical new material, it would be at least two to three times as expensive — if you could find it at all. Generally, salvaged flooring will be much longer and will give the finished product a quality appearance, as most new hardwood flooring pieces are shorter than four feet.