By Katy Tomasulo For most flooring products, it's not hard to figure out where they've been -- from the factory to the dealer to the bed of your truck is pretty much a safe assumption. But flooring doesn't have to be predictable. A number of companies offer products that can make a statement unlike any other, thanks to a unique lineage, years of wear, and character that surpasses anything you'd find in a shrink-wrapped box.
The options for original flooring ideas are greater -- and closer -- than you may think. Some of the most unique products come from salvaged materials, many right here in the United States. Salvaged woods often are saved from dilapidated buildings that are either being torn down or in danger of being destroyed by developers. Timeless Timber even dredges its lumber from the bottom of Lake Superior. Much of the salvaged wood offers distinctive character qualities like rich patinas, knots, worm holes, and saw marks.
Often, buying salvaged materials also means getting wood of better quality than what you'll find today, thanks to old-growth timber that is stronger and more stable. In addition, many beloved species, such as redwood and chestnut, are no longer available as original material.
Salvaged flooring imported from overseas provides an even longer history, with materials that date back hundreds of years. Rhodes, Ragen and Smith, for example, imports all types of stone from European and Asian countries, much of which would otherwise be paved over in the wake of urbanization.
Like any one-of-a-kind building product, salvaged floors typically come at a higher price. But for customers looking to differentiate their homes, re-purposed materials can make a true conversation piece that's worth stepping up to.
Carlisle Restoration Lumber. The company salvages antique chestnut, which is no longer available new, from turn-of-the-century buildings, barns, and farmhouses in New England and the East Coast. The flooring offers a rich look with a pronounced swirled grain and also may contain some wormholes and knots. www.wideplankflooring.com.