The Difference Between Recycled and Reclaimed Hardwood Floors

Rod Lorenz

Concerns about climate change and nature preservation are increasingly causing consumers and builders to seek eco-friendly flooring options in their homes.

Recycled and reclaimed floors both qualify for that distinction. Because they’re made of previously used wood, no trees need to be cut down to create a beautiful floor for your home. 

However, despite their shared “greenness”—and the fact that the two terms are used interchangeably—recycled and reclaimed wood aren’t the same.

Recycled Hardwood Flooring

Just as with other recycled products, recycled hardwood floors are something new made from something that has become waste. Previously used wood is turned into new flooring.

Because recycled hardwood flooring is a fresh, manufactured product, you can find it in a wide array of styles, colors, sizes, and other hardwood characteristics. That makes it easy to use recycled hardwood to achieve the look you envision.

Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring

Reclaimed hardwood floors are made from wood such as ceiling beams, walls, and doors. They are taken from falling-down country barns and other dilapidated buildings. That old wood is repurposed by different processes into usable hardwood flooring.

The intent is to maintain the appearance, character, and uniqueness of the original wood as much as possible. People drawn to this type of hardwood flooring are typically attracted to the romanticism of the past. They don’t want a new look; they want an antique, rustic look that recalls history.

That doesn’t mean reclaimed hardwood floors are limited in their style, color, and other aspects of appearance. It’s simply a matter of finding old wood that has the characteristics you’re after.


If you’re seeking a sustainable hardwood floor option, both recycled and reclaimed hardwood flooring can provide that for you without sacrificing your aesthetic goals. The choice will largely depend on whether you want a “new” or “old” appearance.

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