The reclaimed wood trend has been surging for years now and shows no sign of stopping. Reclaimed wood is wood that was previously used for a different purpose; it is used for a new purpose. That new purpose could mean something such as turning a barn roof into hardwood flooring. It could also just mean taking an antique floor out of an antique home and putting it in a new home. Either way, the wood is said to be reclaimed. There are dozens of different sources of reclaimed wood. One of the most exciting trends is whiskey barrels.
In the United States, bourbon legally must be aged in new, oak barrels. The barrels are typically white oak charred on the inside. Tennessee whiskey has similar constraints and is often aged in new, white oak barrels. Since the barrels must be new, they can only be used for the purpose of aging bourbon once. That means that bourbon companies produce hundreds of barrels that they can’t reuse. They can be used for many different things. There are entire websites devoted to making furniture out of used whiskey barrels. Another option is flooring.
Barrel staves are a lot like hardwood flooring planks. They’re thin planks of wood that have been milled to smooth and finished. In this case, the finishing was done by whiskey instead of polyurethane. The charring process also adds a depth of color to the wood. The barrel staves simply need to be flattened out. They’re then ready to be turned into flooring.
A person who makes barrels is known as a cooper; they will often mark each barrel with different bits of information such as serial numbers, wood type, thickness, etc. These are known as coopers marks. They’re typically on the outside of the barrel. When barrel staves are used as flooring, you can leave the coopers marks, have them removed, or simply use the other side of the wood.
Many people choose to flip the wood over so that they can get the great look of the charred oak. Others choose to leave some of the coopers marks visible because they provide an authentic and rustic look. Leaving the marks is ideal if you’re installing the flooring in a bar, dining room, or anywhere else that might benefit from rustic authenticity.
Wine barrels can also serve the same purpose. Depending on the type of wine, the vintner might not be able to reuse barrels. They also might have a more diverse selection of woods.
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