If you’ve seen a great hardwood floor that looks like it belongs in an antique home, you’ve likely seen a reclaimed wood floor. The most popular types of reclaimed wooden floor are barnwood floors. As the name suggests, barn wood is wood that was originally used for barns. Since they’re exposed to the elements for decades, planks from barns will assume a patina that is very difficult to replicate. However, it’s not impossible. That’s why you might not have seen legitimate barn wood. Instead, you might have seen distressed wood. There is a difference, and that difference can be important to how you make your flooring choices.
Distressed vs Reclaimed
Wood that was originally used for barns but has been used for a new purpose is reclaimed wood. It doesn’t have to come from barns. Any piece of wood that was once used for one thing and has been recycled can be reclaimed. Many flooring designers are cutting hardwood flooring planks from railroad ties, antique doors, and much more. In some cases, a reclaimed floor can just be a hardwood floor that was taken from one house and installed in another. The name implies that the wood has taken on a patina of age.
Over time, wood will pick up stains from day to day life, it will bleach and distort in the sun, and it will change colors as oils change. For example, oils from human hands will darken wood over time. So, a plank from an old door will be darker near the door knob. These can all be replicated.
When they’re replicated by a manufacturer or by the homeowner, they’re considered distressed. Distressed wood is wood that has been deliberately worked to look aged. Crafters will often brush the wood with wire brushes to introduce minute scratches. They’ll use uneven pressure when painting it, does it unevenly with paint thinner, and apply specialized stains. All of this will make a brand new piece of wood look like authentic barn wood.
Is There a Difference?
Besides the difference in creation, reclaimed wood is often more expensive than distressed wood. It looks more authentic, and you pay for that authenticity. Distressed wood, especially distressed wood from a company, will also give you better consistency. If you want to find more wood to match, you can do that with distressed wood. You can also customize how the wood looks. It might never look as good as wood that has had 50 years of aging, though.