So what is reclaimed wood? What makes up the product itself, and where does it come from? We’re breaking all of that down and more today!
But first! Be sure to check out the rest of our blog if you’re interested in learning more about reclaimed wood, how it’s created, and why we believe it’s a far superior product to virgin timber.
Now, let’s dive in and better understand what reclaimed wood is.
What is Reclaimed Wood?
It’s simple, really. Reclaimed wood is a high-quality wood taken from various sources where it lived in its previous life. The process of upcycling or recycling with a creative purpose can sometimes be extensive, but the product derived from reclaimed wood is well worth the work that goes into it.
Reclaimed wood is often taken from the following places before being treated and used in your home or business.
- Old Barns
- Retired Ships
- Stock Farms
- Wine Casts
- And More
The place the wood is taken from will often determine what the wood looks like and what it’s used for in the future. Pallet wood can be used for reclaimed wood walls or ceiling panels, while retired ships and warehouses will offer large beams that work well for ceiling beams or mantels.
Common Uses for Reclaimed Wood
Designer homes, colleges, and other buildings that see value using wood offer more character than new lumber. Reclaimed wood is also often incorporated into restrooms or pubs and bars. The wood will often be used for tables, mantels, flooring, walls, beams, and other decorative places.
How is Reclaimed Wood Reclaimed?
If reclaimed wood is so great, then how exactly does one go about reclaiming it? Well, the process is extensive and robust, to say the least. First, the wood that’s going to be reclaimed needs to be identified. Here are some of the factors that we look for:
Type of Wood and Condition
The type of wood will need to be defined to know how valuable or rare it is. Some types of wood will obviously be much more common than others. Additionally, the wood will need to be checked for insect infestation, chemical contamination, and durability. All of these factors are weighed against each other to decide if the wood is truly salvageable or not.
When ordering reclaimed wood, it’s always critical to check the available quantity. We encourage our clients to plan for a 10% surplus to make up for any waste. We ensure that there’s enough wood that looks similar so that you can complete your project.
We always look at the age of the wood before taking it from any structure. In some cases, the wood can be 100s of years old, and it could have been even older before it was used in the structure that we find it in. This distinction of age is incredibly important because it will help determine the wood’s density and how well it will stand up to our process for reclaiming it.
Our Reclaiming Process
The process of reclaiming wood is stringent. It takes time and hard work. Here’s what goes into our wood reclaiming process.
Denailing is the process of removing all nails and metal that are inside the wood. In most cases, all surface nails will be removed before the wood makes it to our facility, but there are often still pieces of metal and nails sunk into the wood.
Because wood is often exposed to many outdoor elements and water, it can become waterlogged over time. We treat the wood and ensure it’s completely dried by placing it in a large, powerful kiln. By drying it in this kiln, we both kill any bugs in the wood and help make it more stable so that its conditions won’t change after it’s installed.
If you want your reclaimed wood to look beautiful but still be flat and ready for installation, you’re going to need the right tools and the right person to operate them. Our milling process helps to flatten the boards and make them square through special saws, planers, joiners, and more.
At Manomin Resawn Timbers, we don’t do the installation, but we’ve been working in this industry long enough to know who does a good job and creates beautiful homes and business with our reclaimed wood products.
Why Choose Reclaimed Wood?
Reclaimed wood will often cost more than virgin lumber. This cost is specifically because of the amount of work that goes into the reclaiming process, while the production of reclaimed wood will take less energy than the production of virgin lumber. Reclaimed wood will often take more time to produce, thus resulting in a higher cost. Check out our earlier blog post to better understand the cost of reclaimed wood. Here are some quick stats about reclaimed wood.
- Reclaimed wood takes 10x less energy to produce than using fresh-cut trees for lumber.
- Different names for reclaimed wood & lumber: recycled, repurposed, antique, distressed, recovered, upcycled, and distressed.
- Longleaf heart pine was once the most functional timber for construction during the Industrial Revolution, and the trees could take up to 400 years to mature.
- According to the EPA, there were 16.9 million tons of wood waste in the US in 2014.
The reasons you might choose reclaimed wood aren’t necessarily endless, but they sure are close. There are so many reasons why you might choose reclaimed wood instead of simply using freshly produced virgin lumber. Even if you’re not an environmentalist, you should appreciate the value added to our communities and world by cutting fewer trees down.
Benefits of Using Reclaimed Wood
Using reclaimed wood for a building or remodeling project isn’t for everyone. The process can seem difficult and slightly more expensive than virgin lumber. Still, as we’ve mentioned before, there are many benefits to using reclaimed wood instead of virgin lumber. Here are just a few of the benefits that make us at MR Timbers excited about reclaimed wood.
Reclaimed Wood Is Often Rare, Exotic, And Unattainable Elsewhere
The wood we reclaim from different buildings is often rare and exotic in ways that it would otherwise be unattainable from other places. Consider old-growth trees like the Longleaf Heart Pine we mentioned above. That specific tree could take as many as 400 years to mature. Because of that, there aren’t very many fully mature trees that are ready to be harvested. So, instead of harvesting new trees, we save the past and present forests by recycling the wood from past building projects.
Reclaimed Wood Can Help Your Building Achieve LEED Certification
LEED Certification is the process of ensuring that your building is efficient, earth-friendly, and high-performing. This certification isn’t necessarily standard for all homes and neighborhoods, but it has become much more popular. By using reclaimed lumber in the construction of your home, you’re choosing a building material that not only adds unique character to your home, but it’s also a safe and green alternative to using virgin lumber.
Reclaimed Wood Can Add Property Value
Because reclaimed wood is unique and is often used to create unique spaces, it can add significant value to your home. Reclaimed wood flooring is often a much stronger and longer-lasting material than many other materials that are often used for or in place of wood flooring. So, in the case of using reclaimed wood throughout a home, you’ll find that it adds a lot of value to your home.
Reclaimed Wood Adds Character
Beyond just adding value to your home because of the strength that reclaimed wood brings, the character of different pieces is also something to look for. Today’s new wood furniture and even the new wood floors can’t compare to the old-growth reclaimed wood that’s hundreds of years old. Old wood offers character shaped by its previous life. There really isn’t a way to get wood as characterized as reclaimed wood. There’s something special about being able to say that your wood floors came from a 100-year-old barn or warehouse. Old wood like that is beautiful and unique in color variation from anything you can get from lumber companies.
If you’re interested in learning more about reclaimed wood or seeing it in action, we’d love to hear from you! Our showroom is full of different examples of how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Reach out to us today, and we can help you or your home builder get started on the reclaimed wood selection process.