For many homeowners, the idea of having a unique and original home peaks an interest. When buying a home, one may look for characteristics of history, culture, and charm, but if they end up buying a fixer-upper, then the desired characteristics may have to be created. This can create a multitude of do-it-yourself products, from furniture building to installing wood flooring. When choosing the materials for such projects, one may come across reclaimed wood – but many questions can arise when researching this type of material. For instance, what is reclaimed wood? And how can it be used to create a dream home? This article will go into the fine details of where reclaimed wood comes from, and why it is the best option to choose when creating with wood.
What is Reclaimed Wood?
Reclaimed lumber is timeworn wood that has withstood many years of stress and weathering, giving it a rustic appearance that new lumber is not able to offer. Although there is no consensus on how old the wood must be before it can be considered suitable for a reclaimed lumber project, the vast majority of reclaimed lumber was milled and installed over a hundred years ago. The lumber comes from old buildings, which are deconstructed very carefully so that as much material as possible is able to be re-used, as much as 50% can end up in the scrap pile regardless. Examples of where reclaimed wood can come from includes factories, warehouses, barrels, old barns, and shipwrecks. With plenty of reclaimed wood options to choose from, alongside the richness of the history of each piece, it is hard not to understand the true beauty that reclaimed wood contains both inside and out. But history should not be the main reason to choose reclaimed wood, so here is 10 reasons why reclaimed wood should be chosen over new timber.
1. ‘Old Growth’ Timber is non-existent anymore.
Although old growth wood is more dimensionally stable than wood that has been newly harvested, many countries have now implicated laws to protect such trees from being cut down. As a tree slowly grows, the denser the fiber becomes. This means that as the old growth tree ages into full maturity, they are typically stronger and larger, therefore becoming ideal candidates for housing projects. Since old growth trees are protected by strict laws and large fines, it becomes impossible to use. Reclaimed wood therefore becomes the perfect alternative as it is as sturdy as old growth wood, is just as appealing to the eye, and includes historical concepts that new timber does not have.
2. Originality is the way to go.
Nobody wants to blend in with the neighbors, especially when it comes to interior design. Buying products that are mass produced in large retailers only creates unoriginality but buying custom designs can cost an arm and a leg. Reclaimed wood will always be a one-of-a-kind product, where two boards of wood are never the same. This gives the consumer the opportunity to create truly unique furniture pieces, or custom wood designs, without having to worry about anyone else having the exact same thing! Reclaimed wood is 100% original and will have more distinction than any other retailer.
3. More Durable and Strong
If the consumer is looking for unique wood, but are concerned about the durability, then reclaimed wood should be a strong contender. Since reclaimed wood tends to be hundreds of years old, it has gone through many weathering conditions and other substances. Larger houses, warehouses and barns were built only using the strongest wood, so a lot of reclaimed wood comes from such materials due to its durability.
4. Wider Planks of Wood
Reclaimed wood beams in particular are known to be stronger and more stable than other manufactured wood due to its age. This gives contractors the chance to saw wider planks out of reclaimed wood in order to create other designs such as flooring, siding, or decking. Because aged wood is more durable than newly harvested, virgin wood that is more produced, the consumer has the option to use it for a varied amount of projects.
5. Repurposing Rare, Exotic Wood
Although ‘exotic’ wood is largely protected by lumber laws, and therefore not usable, exotic reclaimed wood is accessible for anyone. Rare woods, such as tropical blends of Asian and European hardwood will also add value to a property, which could be resourceful in flipping houses. The only way to obtain large quantities of exotic wood is through reclamation, so repurposing such wood can benefit in the long run.
6. Character and Cost Effective
Reclaimed wood is known for its ageless distinction and beauty. Each piece has its own story, its own part in history, and is unparalleled when it comes to comparing with other woods. From old barns, to a historical bridge, each piece is uniquely full of character and offers a great ice breaker for house events. The appeal of reclaimed wood for the actual cost it takes to buy such antique pieces is priceless – the history each piece of wood contains is distinctive and exciting.
7. You Have a Passion to Preserve History
Buying reclaimed wood helps support previous historical materials that otherwise would be thrown away because they are ‘old’. Just because reclaimed wood has been around for hundreds of years, does not mean that it is useless or worn. Preserving history is a key part of understanding what life was like previously, so being able to use it for future products is something that should be appreciated.
8. Giving Old Wood New Life
If you have an interest in conservation and would like to invest in materials that are reusable and repurposed, then reclaimed wood is the best wood to choose. According to the USDA, one billion ft. of usable lumber is produced from demolishing buildings, which means when you buy such wood, not only are you preserving materials, but you are also saving money and the environment by doing so.
9. Saving the Environment
The cumulative energy used to make virgin lumber in comparison to the reclaimed variety was found to be 11 to 13 times more. Virgin wood involves a process called felling, and the transporting and processing of this new wood creates a massive impact on the environment. If you use reclaimed wood as flooring, the cellular structure holds as a great insulator, which can save money on energy bills. Overall, reclaimed wood is a great example of saving the environment one small step at a time.
10. The Most Stable Wood of Them All
Lastly, old growth wood is more dimensionally stable than virgin wood. With the amount of variable exposure over hundreds of years, from rain to humidity, reclaimed wood is particularly desirable as it has sustained pressure for lengthy periods of time.