In the wood flooring industry, the term ‘old growth’ continues to be the subject of interpretation and controversy. At Madera Floors we make it our business to know more about wood than any other company, and to educate our customers so that they can make more informed purchasing decisions. We frequently address questions about ‘old growth’ trees, especially in relation to reclaimed timber. In fact, we have talked with many consumers who thought the terms meant the same thing and were misled into thinking their old growth flooring was the same as our antique reclaimed flooring. Here we define some of the terms and address questions surrounding the mystery of ‘old growth’.
Old Growth refers to established forests that, up until the time trees are cut, have had little or no disruption. Advocates of cutting old growth timbers suggest that pruning selected trees is good for the forest. We disagree. Old growth forests maintain themselves through a natural process that does not include cutting into the delicate fabric woven by nature.
How Old is “Old” Growth? The actual age that determines “old” growth varies depending on the specie, but it refers to the age at which a tree has reached its maturity. For an eastern white pine, it is between 130-150 years, while many of the hardwoods reach maturity at 80 years. But, what is most important is that at maturity and thereafter the old growth tree is still contributing to the ecosystem in which it lives.
Virgin Growth refers to dense stands of various species of hardwood or pine trees that are indigenous to their habitat; they have never been harvested. Many virgin forests are protected, but tragically there are also many that are still being cut today for purposes that include mass-produced wood flooring. Essentially, virgin timber is old growth that has never been cut, while old growth may or may not be virgin timber.
Reclaimed Wood is also referred to as Antique wood, and for us the terms are interchangeable when describing the wood we use to make our floors. We agree that old growth flooring is beautiful; however, we prefer to reuse this majestic timber that was originally cut to build structures that have shaped our history in the United States and in interesting places all over the world.
“Deconstruction” is the core of the reclaimed wood industry. The emphasis is on utilizing materials that have outlived their usefulness and would otherwise be demolished, discarded or left to decay. Deconstruction helps to close the resource loop that we now realize is so valuable in this world of finite resources.In recycling this precious material there is a significant positive environmental impact.
Deconstruction differs from ‘demolition’ in that it is a painstaking process involving the selective dismantlement of building components. We work with experts who carefully manage dismantling projects to preserve the grand dimensions of the beams, posts and floor joists; this will be reflected in your floor as we work to maintain the superior widths and lengths of these ancient timbers.
Demolition, on the other hand, is unfortunately the more common method of taking down a building. Implosion or ‘wrecking-ball’ style demolition is relatively inexpensive and offers a quick method of clearing sites for new structures. Consequently this process results in significant waste and unusable material.
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Madera Floors is a state of the art wood floor company which serves all of Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. We are growing to encompass a staff of highly trained craftsmen who execute each job skillfully and meticulously.
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