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Recycling Hardwood Floors: A Complete Guide

Recycling Hardwood Floors: A Complete Guide

Among the many benefits of hardwood floors is the fact that when you are ready to replace them, they can be recycled. Wood is an organic material that comes from trees and so it makes sense to recycle it as much as possible.

The best ways to recycle hardwood floors include sending them to your local recycling center, or you can also donate them to be reused by someone else for the ultimate sustainability result. Additionally, there are some non-conventional and creative ways to recycle hardwood flooring by up-cycling or re-purposing the hardwood flooring.

Best Ways to Recycle Hardwood Floors

When wood arrives at a recycling facility, it is sorted, separated, and prepared for processing. It is then placed into a wood shredder where it is broken down into various sizes depending on the intended future use.

The pieces produced from the wood shredder are screened and divided. Large pieces of the recycled wood are put back into circulation to make furnishings. Small wood fibers are used to make products such as animal bedding.

When you bring it to the recycling facility, wood can be recycled into wood chips or mulch.

Sometimes, the wood can be turned into biomass energy. Biomass is when excess wood is converted to energy through direct combustion or gasification to be used for energy production.

Check with the Manufacturer

Before you decide on how to recycle your wood flooring, check with the flooring manufacturer or the flooring store where you purchased the floors. Some manufacturers offer a recycling program for old or leftover wood.

Some of them will even send someone to your home to collect it. All you have to do is contact them to find out their procedures and prepare the flooring to be picked up, or deliver it yourself.

This is an easy way to get rid of your old floor in an ethical and easy way.

Unconventional and Creative Ways To Up-Cycle or Re-Purpose Recycled Hardwood Floors

Some other options for recycling hardwood floors, besides sending them to your local recycling center or having the wood planks picked up in a curbside bin as a bulk pickup, include some unconventional methods such as:

  • Give them to a friend or family member who is wanting to install wood flooring.
  • Donate them to a local salvage company or home renovators who refurbish old homes to flip them for a profit or rent them out to new tenants. Either way, they are always looking for inexpensive construction materials to keep their overhead costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality materials.
  • Donate them to charities that use building materials, such as Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps new homeowners build their own houses. The organization also operates a “Re-store” where they sell used construction materials at a very low price. Most Re-store locations accept used hardwood flooring.
  • List them for free or sell them on local online marketplaces like eBay. People tend to flock to free items, so if you want to get rid of your flooring and give it a new home quickly, list it for free. Otherwise, don’t feel bad about charging a small amount. Why not make a profit for yourself by selling it for a few bucks? Just know that this market tends to be saturated with plenty of free offerings, so don’t expect to make much money off of listing your flooring for a price. Still, if you do offer it for free, don’t be surprised if you get inundated with those wanting to come to pick it up.

The ultimate in sustainability is up-cycling or re-purposing wood. After all, it started as organic material in nature in the form of a tree before it was turned into floor planks that you had installed in your home.

Now that you’re done with the hardwood floor, it only makes sense to turn it into a new usable item instead of throwing it away, burning it, or sending it off to be recycled in a conventional fashion.

Be creative, and up-cycle or re-purpose the wood to turn the floors into:

  • Refacing for cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Shelving
  • Tops for a bench or table
  • Picture frames
  • Signs
  • Accent walls
  • Furnishings such as ornaments, tables, chairs, and TV stands
  • Panelboards that you can use for decking, lofts, or art canvases
  • Mulch, compost, coverings, or landscape surfaces for gardens, pathways, or children’s playgrounds.

A close up of a lightly colored hardwood floor

FAQs

Many people have a lot of questions about how to recycle their hardwood floors and the process of turning old wood flooring into something new. Some frequently asked questions about recycling hardwood floors include:

Can I burn used hardwood flooring?

If your wood floors have not been finished or painted, they are safe to burn. Some choose to use the untreated wood as firewood or for campfires.

However, most likely, your hardwood floors have been treated with a top layer of finish to make the floor shiny or adhesives underneath.

If the wood floors have been treated, they could release harmful toxins into the air when they are burned. If the wood is treated, do not burn it.

Can I sell my old hardwood floors?

Yes, you can sell your used hardwood flooring so long as you can remove them without damaging them. Be realistic about how much to charge or how much someone will pay for them, however, because many people give away used flooring for free.

Don’t expect to make up for the original cost or to make much of a profit if you choose to sell your old hardwood floors, as it is likely that they will be covered in marks and scratches that will need to be addressed by the new owners.

How much does it cost to remove hardwood flooring?

Expect to pay anywhere from $1.25 to $4.50 per square foot, or £0.94 to £3.40 square meter, to have your hardwood flooring removed and hauled away. This comes to approximately $250 to $900, £187.27 to £680.36 to remove a 200 square foot, 18.58 square meter, room of hardwood flooring.

Of course, prices are going to vary depending on your location. Be sure to get several estimates, at least 3 to 5, before deciding on which contractor to use.

What makes it difficult to recycle wood?

Pure, untreated wood is easily recycled or re-purposed into new crafts or furniture. However, the biggest issue with recycling wood flooring is that it is often treated with sealers, or has a layer of residue or adhesives on the backing.

Any flooring that is laminate, or treated timber makes it difficult to recycle. The other issue that makes it difficult to recycle wood flooring is that the size of the wood planks is bulky and difficult to transport.

Even if someone else picks it up to recycle or re-purpose the wood flooring, there is some amount of physical effort that goes into tearing up the flooring and preparing it to be picked up and hauled away.

Are there any reasons why I should not recycle or donate my used hardwood floors?

If your floors are heavily damaged, termite-infested, or moldy, do not try to sell them or give them away for reuse. At this point, they should be discarded.

You can read more about this in our guide here.

How do I find ideas for re-purposing hardwood floor projects?

Pinterest is a great source for finding unique and creative wood project ideas that offer a non-conventional way to recycle wood flooring.

These instructions and tutorials make it easy to turn your used hardwood flooring into something new, even a work of art depending on your artistic skill level.

What types of wood can be recycled?

Many types of wood can be recycled including softwood, hardwood, block board, oriented strand board OBS, chipboard, medium-density fiberboard MDF, and hardboard.

Even though plywood is considered to be a Class B wood that has been treated, it can also still be recycled as long as it is separated from other types of wood first.

Final Thoughts

When you are ready to switch out your old flooring, don’t pull up your hardwood floors, load up the car, and haul them off to the dump for disposal.

Instead, recycle them either by taking them to your local recycling center or finding a non-conventional and creative way to up-cycle or re-purpose them rather than simply tossing them out or burning them.