Reclaimed Wood: What It Is and What You Should Know About It

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 01 Oct, 2015
What Is Reclaimed Wood Reclaimed wood is a sustainable material used in new construction or in remodeling projects. It’s a processed wood retrieved from an original application with the intent for it to be reused. Simply put it’s old wood used for a new purpose. Reclaimed wood is often rescued from old houses, old barns, factories […] The post Reclaimed Wood: What It Is and What You Should Know About It appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
Our collections of reclaimed wood boards are organized into groupings in our shop

Our collections of reclaimed wood boards are organized into groupings in our shop

What Is Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is a sustainable material used in new construction or in remodeling projects. It’s a processed wood retrieved from an original application with the intent for it to be reused. Simply put it’s old wood used for a new purpose. Reclaimed wood is often rescued from old houses, old barns, factories and warehouses. Or it may come from other sources including box cars, shipping crates and wine barrels.
Using reclaimed wood is not a new concept, but we’ve seen a surge in its popularity with the focus on green building.

What You Should Know About Reclaimed Wood

When you use reclaimed wood you give old wood new life, and preserve forests by not using virgin woods. Instead you use older wood that is perfectly usable.
Reclaimed wood has a story and offers a slice of history. The reclaimed pieces you see in a home, hotel, bar or other building may have came from a dismantled distillery or a farmer’s barn. The use of historical wood gives the designer a range of colors and grains to work with in creating a unique look. When you see reclaimed wood used in an application you can pick up on clues of its previous use by the holes, bumps or variations in the grain and colors. Hand-hewn beams may still bear the saw marks from when it was originally cut. Other pieces of reclaimed wood may have a color or patina created from weathering over many years.

How Reclaimed Wood is Acquired and Processed

When salvaging wood part of the process is finding it before it is taken to a landfill. This can mean scouting for demolitions or building renovation sites. Some sorting must occur to find the high quality pieces of wood, and this may mean sorting wood by hand, and removing nails and bolts.

Quality

While reclaimed wood is used it’s not the typical used wood you might find leftover from a project. It’s aged, and recycled, and was harvested many years ago. Sometimes the wood is even mostly intact, such as with large beams. Other times it may be re-milled and sawn into planks. But regardless it’s of a higher quality you won’t find today. Most reclaimed wood is from an era before today’s construction and milling methods. The wood was taken from mature trees that grew slowly over hundreds of years. It grew in a natural environment for many years where it became stronger and more durable; aging also brings out colors in the wood. Planks and beams created from old growth wood is larger and wider than the lumber of today. The age and character of reclaimed wood can’t be duplicated as old-growth wood is mostly no longer available.

How We Use Reclaimed Wood

Take a look at our website, and you’ll notice several projects where we use reclaimed wood. Here are a few:

Colorado Cottage reclaimed wood wainscot option

Our Colorado Cottage decor package is a floor to ceiling log siding treatment along with wainscoting and accent logs you can use to change the style of the interior of your home. We use reclaimed wood or barn boards for the wainscoting in this package.
 
 

Cleaned reclaimed wood countertop in a raw, pre-pour state in our shop

We make custom countertops and bar tops which are made from reclaimed wood from old barns and factories. We finish them with a durable high gloss resin to make them long-lasting and resistant to stains and wear and tear. Their durability is proven after years of high use in many of the hotels and restaurants we’ve installed them in.
 
 

Real barn board paneling is used behind the desk in this hotel room.

J. Thompson Builders has helped in the building of the Stoney Creek line of hotels since 1997. In 2009 when we opened our custom fabrication shop we were able to take over engineering all of the interior trim and finish work for the hotel line. Their newest hotel is located in Independence, MO. We used reclaimed wood throughout much of the building. You can see examples of that in this piece about our involvement in building the hotel.
 
 
 

The reclaimed wood countertop immediately after installation in the hotel

Stoney Creek Inn commissioned us to create a bar top to match an upper bar already installed in their hotel. We made the bar top from 100+ year old reclaimed wood. By using reclaimed wood we matched the style of the other bar top while also using a product which is hardier than newer woods.

 

 

Buyer Beware

Some may try to make a quick buck off the reclaimed wood trend by selling lower quality or fake products. Make sure the wood has been properly treated. Do your research to ensure you are buying from a reputable resource.

Bottom Line

When choosing whether or whether not to use reclaimed wood, the choice is as simple as knowing with reclaimed wood you are acquiring strong, old-growth wood, and you are also taking care of the planet while giving your home or business a unique, beautiful style.
Next Steps

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