Why We Should Use Reclaimed Wood and What to do With It

What can you do with reclaimed wood? There’s definitely plenty of it going around and it’s not hard to find. Close to a third of all waste that is produced by construction and demolition is wood. Since the year 1900, the United States has milled over 3 trillion board feet of wood, so there’s more than enough reclaimed spruce and other types of reclaimed wood. There is no need to use new wood for many applications.

Why We Should Be Using Reclaimed Wood

That reclaimed wood you use on your table tops is not just for looks. National Geographic reports that about 30% of our Earth’s land is forest. Hardwood trees are highly valued for their excellent wood, yet it takes a hardwood tree between 40 and 60 years to reach its full maturity. Replacing these trees is difficult and time-consuming. But using reclaimed wood is a great way to protect our forests and trees, whether it’s restaurant table tops made from reclaimed wood or reclaimed wood flooring, which takes 10 times less energy to produce than fresh wood. Reusing our wood is the ecologically responsible thing to do.

But that’s not all. Reclaimed wood isn’t just environmentally-friendly. It’s also the answer to a world of cookie-cutter designs and big box stores. The character of old wood is unique and can’t be reproduced with new wood. Using reclaimed wood also gives you access to certain amazing woods from old growth trees that can no longer be harvested because of environmental regulations.

What Can You Do With Reclaimed Wood?

Whatever you need wood for, there’s a good chance you can do it with reclaimed wood. If you are a restauranteur, you can use reclaimed wood restaurant tables. If you are building a home, you can use reclaimed wood paneling. If you are a DIY crafter, you can use reclaimed wood for amazing and interesting table tops, rustic and unique nightstands, one-of-a-kind bookcases, or as the rustic backing to that mirror you found at the junk shop. Whether it’s table tops or bookcases, your reclaimed wood projects will look stylish and unique.

What Should I Expect When Using Reclaimed Wood?

There are some differences between working with reclaimed wood and working with new wood. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Treatments and nails. If you’re buying reclaimed wood, make sure the seller has properly treated it and gotten out any nails, screws, or even metal staples that might still be lurking. You can get the wood even cheaper if you do these things yourself.
  • Know that it might be warped. This doesn’t mean you can’t work with it. It just means you need to be aware going in. Wood that airs naturally will warp in unusual ways. You can avoid some of this by buying kiln-dried reclaimed wood.
  • Decide what to do with the roughness. Most reclaimed wood is going to have rough saw marks on it. You can either keep these or you can sand them off, but you need to note that they might be there.

Where Do I Get Reclaimed Wood?

There couple different choices here. You can try Craigslist or other classified ads. This is probably your cheapest way to find reclaimed lumber or reclaimed wood. It’s also the most time intensive and dangerous. You have no guarantee about what you’re getting and you’ll have to do all the work yourself to treat it, get rid of bugs, get rid of metal, and dry it. A better route is probably to look for reputable dealers in reclaimed wood who specialize in preparing it for use as table tops, cabinets, stools, or other commercial applications. They’ll have a system in place to get the wood ready for use and you’ll still be paying a lot less than using new wood for your project.

Using reclaimed wood is an ecologically responsible way of getting inexpensive and character filled lumber to enhance your business or home. Look for reclaimed wood in your area and see what kind of a unique look you can have your space.

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