Local, dead timber recycled into hard wood floors

By: Britni McDonald Email
By: Britni McDonald Email

POSTED December 10, 2013-- 6:15 p.m.

Thousands of trees die in Wisconsin every year. Four of them are now in a Madison house. They've been turned into floors instead of being thrown away.

"If they're going to die, let's use them and put people to work," said Jim Birkemeier of Spring Green Timber Growers.

Birkemeier's been a forester for nearly 40 years, taking wood from trees in the area that are dying because of growing problems like emerald ash borer, infesting and killing off thousands of ash trees in the state.

He makes the dead wood like new for renovations like this one on Punky Egans newly bought home, built in 1979.

"I'm sitting in my almost finished living room with a brand new floor," said Egan.

"This worth a 100 times what firewood is worth or wood chips are worth," said Birkemeier.

"It all flows together in the floor. Jim is an artist in putting this together," said Egan.

"Most people are getting the engineered laminate flooring that's all fake and it's mostly made it China," said Birkemeier.

This wood is local.

"I think it's important to use all the material we have in our own front yard," said Egan.

It's recycled.

"Our floors are always a reflection of the natural forest that's right outside," said Birkemeier.

And it puts people to work.

"For every 50 trees that are going to come down for whatever reason, we can put a person in a full time rewarding job at a good wage rate," said Birkemeier.

"I love it because there's so much variety in the grain and types of wood and colors it. I love the floor," said Egan.

A project like this takes about two weeks. Egan hopes to be moved in at the beginning of the new year.

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