The Art of Reclaimed Wood: Bringing Back Life

April 18, 2019

Reclaimed wood is one of the fastest growing trends in interior design. As people look for ways to include more environmentally friendly materials in their homes and commercial spaces, natural materials like wood that have had a past use become an ideal product.

Reclaimed wood is warm, versatile, and full of interest and history. Because it doesn’t rely on new cut trees or timber, it has less of an environmental impact. It’s also not a manufactured product, with all the chemicals and issues that entails.

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Reclaimed timber does have a rich history and a lot of personality. To go from old, abandoned or condemned buildings to new use is a long process, but one that helps capture all the unique properties of the wood, allowing it to be used again.

What Is Reclaimed Wood?

Making Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is wood that has been in use before, usually in a barn, outbuilding, or other rural structure that dates back to before the 1930s. These buildings are usually condemned, abandoned, or can’t be repaired and used in their current states. Rather than simply letting the wood be thrown away, it’s claimed, cleaned up, and given a new use.

Reclaimed wood often shows the patina, age, and wear of their original use. This may include old paint, nail holes, saw marks, or weathering. Some boards may show more of these characteristics than others, so it’s possible to choose a reclaimed material that has a more rustic appearance, or something that’s a little more modern in style.

The Process of Reclaiming Wood

old wood to reclaimed wood

Reclaiming wood is a multi-step process that transforms it from its previous condition into the milled and ready to use lumber that you may purchase. The wood is salvaged from old buildings, and usually consists of old growth lumber, including from trees that may not exist or be harvested from any longer, such as elm.

The lumber is received at the warehouse, where it is first denailed. This involves searching out and removing each nail or screw from the lumber, no matter how many that may be. It’s also given a thorough surface cleaning to ensure that there’s no dirt or debris on the wood. This also helps ensure a more uniform surface color and finish in the end material.

Next, the lumber is rough milled. This brings it all to a rough uniformity in thickness. Because the boards can come from many sources, rough milling helps group them and combine them for easier usage.

milling reclaimed wood

The lumber is then kiln dried. Even though this wood has already been in use, it’s been exposed to the elements for years. Properly dried wood is more stable and can will give you a higher quality wood product than wood just brought in.

Once the wood has been dried, it’s planed and ripped into various sizes. The wood can now be found in multiple widths, thickness, and lengths so it can be applied to large range of projects.

From here, the wood is molded and the finishing process begins.

What Reclaimed Wood Becomes

reclaiming wood

No matter what type of building or what use the wood may have had, reclaimed wood can now be used in a wide range of different applications. The wood can be milled, molded, and crafted to become flooring, wall panels, mantels, beams, stair treads, shelves, and cabinetry.

In some cases the wood may be sorted by species or by wear. For example, you may choose to use antiqued wood for wall paneling, or you may want to invest in a reclaimed white oak floor.

In other cases, different woods may be blended together to form a medley of colors and grain patterns within one area, such as a rustic floor or ceiling.

Reclaimed wood may show many of its original character marks, such as a mantel with saw marks and nail holes, or it may be more subtle in texture, having been sanded down and finished before install.

Regardless of the area you intend to install it in, or the style and finish of the wood, reclaimed wood will last just as long and perform just as well as new cut wood installed in the same manner. The difference is that reclaimed wood will have a history and character that new cut wood hasn’t had time to develop yet.

Invest in Reclaimed Wood

With its beauty and character, reclaimed wood is like nothing else available. It’s also a more environmentally conscious choice for people that want to use natural wood in their homes and offices.

From beginning to end, the material is given the care and attention it needs to become the perfect addition to any space. From tables and countertops to floors and cabinetry, reclaimed wood makes a statement anywhere that it’s installed. Consider investing in this versatile and unique material to capture its beauty for your space.

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