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What is Timber Flooring?

By Eric Tallberg
Updated May 16, 2024
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Very little enhances a home or office more than the installation of timber flooring. Though technically, timber flooring is wood flooring, it differs from ordinary wood flooring in one important way: a true timber floor is constructed using recycled or reclaimed wood boards. In many cases, this reclaimed wood was originally cut and milled to side a barn, a house, a shed, or other utilitarian structure.

Sometimes known as barn board flooring, or plank flooring, among other descriptive terms, timber flooring is desirable for the weathered appearance that is the singular aspect of its appeal. Darkened nail holes, saw kerfs, worm holes, a stained patina, slight cracks, and even occasional ancient graffiti all contribute to the aesthetic appeal of a genuine antique wood floor. The old barn wood used in timber flooring may even, at one time, have had a part in true history. Antique wood, timber over 100 years old, is readily available for flooring.

Timber flooring is very often described as planking simply because one of its more distinctive features is the width of the boards used. Many times old barn boards will be 10, 12, or even up to 28 inches (29.4 cm, 30.48 cm, up to 71.12 cm) in width. This is especially true of reclaimed timber that was originally used as flooring in its first incarnation.

Many genuine timber floors are immediately distinctive by the width of the planking, the weathered patina, and the distinguishing grain. Reclaimed pine flooring will usually be knotty, and lightly cracked, with a particularly attractive slightly raised grain and, often different board widths. Reclaimed chestnut is prized as flooring for its rarity, and run of color, from light coffee to rich chocolate. Additionally, chestnut is a very hard, durable wood, able to withstand the punishment a typical wood floor must often endure.

Red and white oak are the woods most commonly found in timber flooring. Plank flooring made from recycled oak imparts a rich hue, with a subtle grain and superb durability. Recycled oak floors are also popular because of the availability of this particular wood. Affordability, always a consideration when looking to install timber flooring, is another attribute of reclaimed oak.

Usually, timber flooring is available at specialty lumber yards, or through independent flooring contractors. However, there are a respectable number of small distributors who will “harvest” reclaimed wood, and re-sell it, un-milled, for a reasonable cost directly to the homeowner. Many homeowners enjoy re-finishing their own recycled wood, and are able to fashion and finish it to suite their exact expectations.

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Discussion Comments
By anon240168 — On Jan 13, 2012

Timber flooring is most importantly an eco-friendly version of flooring. Installing timber flooring on the floors gives a very rich look. Timber flooring adds value to your home too.

By tlcJPC — On Aug 19, 2011

We have the neatest little thing in my small town known as the swap shop. This is a radio show that is done every morning.

People call in from the immediate area with things for sale and things that they want to buy.

At least once a week you will hear a person offering to give someone all of the old timber from a barn or an old home that needs to be torn down if they will just come and do the demolition.

Truthfully, this is not a bad deal. That wood and those boards are really pretty valuable.

Particularly in the old homes where there is antique tongue and groove hardwood flooring that can be reused, there is a huge value to tearing it out and reusing it.

This gives a lot of people in our small community the opportunity to have some really nice things in exchange for what they do have and regardless of what they don’t.

They don’t have a lot of money to compete with timber flooring prices. However, they do have a lot of determination and hardworking skills to put on the table.

By oscar23 — On Aug 18, 2011

I love the thoughts of having a recycled timber floor like this! I am not exactly a green fanatic, but I do think that we should do our part in saving the resources this planet has to offer.

I also think that continuously building new things when there are old things that can be utilized is a total and complete waste as well as a lack of imagination.

It is just plain smart, as well as a stretch of the imagination, to come up with ways that we can respect and honor the old in a new way.

I would love to know how to have this kind of timber transformed from the side of a barn into a beautiful floor. What kinds of costs are we looking at, and is it something that regular people can afford?

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