We call wood deemed for demolishing as part of old buildings or even wood from old condemned furniture reclaimed wood. There are several advantages of reclaimed wood and some downsides as well. A much-debated question is the price of reclaimed wood.
Is reclaimed wood cheaper? You may ask. Many factors determine the final price of reclaimed wood like hidden costs involving retrieval, cleaning, restoring, and so on. Ultimately, the consensus is that reclaimed wood costs more than new wood. As a woodworker, you will find it useful to know the financial involvement before you use it.
We consider reclaimed wood more expensive than any wood that you may buy from a lumberyard or a hardware store. Why does it cost so much? You might ask. And you would also finally be worth it to have reclaimed wood.
There are many advantages to using reclaimed wood. One of the benefits of having reclaimed wood is that it has unique characteristics and it comes with a story you may not find in virgin lumber.
Reclaimed wood also has many other advantages like it being stronger, well-dried, and seasoned.
Cost of Reclaimed Wood
Let us consider why reclaimed wood costs so much. What are the factors that go into its high price? Factors that contribute to the cost of reclaimed wood are complex and many.
A few of the main factors that you might like to consider are the type of wood you are using, the end use of the wood, the condition of the wood, the source, and the quantity of wood that you are looking at.
These factors will determine the cost of reclaimed wood. Even if it is more costly than virgin wood, the price may fluctuate widely depending on these factors.
Reclaimed Wood Sources
One of the main determinants of the cost of reclaimed wood is where it came from. Let us have a look now at some of the major sources:
Reclaimed Wood Flooring
You will find that most reclaimed wood comes from the flooring. It is regularly sold across the United States for use in homes and offices. Old flooring might be ripped out to replace it with more contemporary or classic-looking flooring.
It can also come from old houses and structures like a barn that is demolished. Wood from the flooring is the most expensive category of reclaimed wood.
Reclaimed Wood Paneling
You may find reclaimed wood paneling in several locations and also in hardware stores and lumberyards. This category of reclaimed wood comes at a slightly lower price than that of flooring.
The reason for the lower price could be that it costs less to dismantle wood paneling than it does for wood flooring. Of course, the type of wood will also determine the final price that you pay for this category of reclaimed wood.
Reclaimed Wood Mantle
You can get wood mantles, beams, and other similar wooden structures and objects in reclaimed wood. Unlike wood flooring and paneling, you will find the cost of this particular price fluctuates significantly.
Unlike wood paneling and wood flooring, you will have to pay per piece rather than on a square foot basis.
For reclaimed wood beams and timber, it depends on the size of the piece and the type of timber. Here, you pay per length of the beam, but the price depends on the dimensions of that particular beam.
Reclaimed Wood Doors
Reclaimed wood doors are again a product that you have to pay for on a per-piece basis. You would do well to carefully check what you are getting. Wooden doors can come in extremely deteriorated conditions.
If you process the wood carefully and choose it wisely, you can create some beautiful doors and other wooden objects from reclaimed wooden doors.
The Process of Reclaiming Wood
Another important factor that adds to the cost of reclaimed wood is the cost of processing it. Whether you receive already processed wood or you process it yourself, ultimately the processing cost comes to you.
That said, it is good to know the particular processes involved in wood reclaiming. When we first reclaim wood, it comes in varying conditions of disrepair.
The wood could be rotted. It could have several nails, screws, and other metallic objects that you need to remove. Sometimes you need to treat the wood before you install it or process it further.
Here are some of the main processes involved in reclaiming wood:
Most reclaimed wood has a certain number of nails and other metallic objects in it. This is the initial process of reclaiming wood. When we talk about de-nailing, we don’t only allude to nails, but any other metallic objects that you might need to remove.
It includes hinges, screws, staples, brackets, handles, and knobs. De-nailing is a process wherein you have to be extremely thorough. Even a single metallic object left in the wood can damage tools and cause personal injury.
Milling and Sorting
The next process for using reclaimed wood is milling. We strip down the wood and size it into sections of fixed dimensions. For example, a door might be cut into smaller pieces that can be later used for flooring or wall panels.
Milling doesn’t take up too much time but it is a tedious process. After milling, we segregate the wood according to various sizes for us to see the available reclaimed wood for later use.
Kiln Drying and Treating
The final step of processing reclaimed wood is kiln drying and treating. Drying wood in a kiln is one of the mandatory processes before it goes to the consumer or a woodworker.
We place the wood in a dryer and bake it. The wood becomes dry which gives it its final dimensions. By drying the wood we ensure that the wood becomes dimensionally stable and it has less chance of deterioration later on. We may then add preservatives to protect the wood from pests, moisture, and rot.
Harvesting Reclaimed Wood
We undertake the process of acquiring virgin lumber by chopping down trees that we call harvesting. Similarly, with reclaimed lumber, we call the process of acquiring wood from various sources “harvesting.”
Harvesting reclaimed wood can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Since there is no fixed market for reclaimed lumber, while looking for it, you may end up in the strangest places.
Hunting for reclaimed lumber needs a particular knack. You can find reclaimed wood in some of the most surprising locations. Typically, you can find reclaimed in factories, warehouses, barns, old houses, and you can get it from discarded wine barrels.
If you buy reclaimed wood from a lumberyard, most sellers can provide you with information of the source. It helps you to know more about the material you are using. This in turn enables you to deal with it more efficiently.
Reclaimed Wood Pros and Cons
Reclaimed wood is typically stronger, dryer, and more dimensionally stable than virgin wood. It has a classic, aged appearance. These are a few of the advantages that immediately come to mind. But there are also a few downsides to using this type of wood.
So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of reclaimed wood:
Disadvantages of Reclaimed Wood
You cannot always be sure that you are getting legally-procured wood. Some unscrupulous dealers can lay false claims on their wood. You need to obtain valid certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Rainforest Alliance.
Costly Form of Wood
Reclaimed wood tends to be more expensive than regular lumber because of the processing involved. Reclaimed wood comes with a high retrieval cost.
Presence of Toxins
There could be some toxic material in the wood, particularly in very old wood. You would do well to test such wood for toxins.
Reclaimed wood could contain pests, affecting the quality of the wood. So, when you buy it, check carefully for pests.
There can be some nails and splinters in reclaimed wood. You need to handle it with extreme care
Advantages of Reclaimed Wood
We can use reclaimed wood for many purposes like flooring, furniture, cabinets, and more. Here are some of the main advantages that come to mind:
Reclaimed wood is the ultimate green solution because its use doesn’t involve chopping down trees.
Quality and Strength
Typically, reclaimed wood is stronger, harder, and denser than new wood.
Chance to Use Exotic Wood
When you use reclaimed wood you have a chance of getting some exotic woods that are otherwise banned. Mahogany, rosewood, and teak are some of the types of wood that you could possibly get from reclaimed wood.
Reclaimed wood has a classic appearance. If you or your end-users are interested in a distressed look, as a woodworker you can process the wood to retain the same look.
There is an added value to reclaimed wood if you can retrieve some information as to where it came from. For example, wood from an old condemned ship, railroad ties, or a demolished building from a particular era. It can make for some interesting discussions about the wood.
We always like to have things with a bit of background behind them. The same applies to reclaimed wood. Although reclaimed wood often comes more expensive than virgin wood, it is worth having for the many reasons we have mentioned here.
You will have to assess reclaimed wood carefully before buying and using it. However, in the end, the entire effort is worth the while. You get stronger and more durable wood because this wood has probably lasted several decades. It is likely to be highly durable.
There are many pros and cons to using reclaimed wood. But ultimately many appreciate the value of reclaimed wood for the multiple advantages mentioned here despite the extra cost.
Next time you have a woodworking project, perhaps you could try using some reclaimed wood. You can get some satisfactory results.