Where to Find Reclaimed Wood


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We consider wood that we get from a demolished building or structure as reclaimed wood. It is different from lumber in that salvaged lumber can be wood that has not been used but stored for several years. On the other hand, reclaimed wood will always be well-used.

By reclaimed wood, we mean lumber that served a particular purpose in a structure or building. It existed in a building or structure sometimes for over 100 years. It has now been removed for reuse. Although there are many downsides to reclaimed wood it is generally looked upon as a responsible and viable way of using lumber.

Some people like the vintage or rustic appeal of reclaimed wood and will preserve its distressed appearance. Reclaimed wood is a highly sustainable option, and you can get it very cheaply from the right sources, sometimes free.

Reclaimed Wood Explained

Reclaimed Used Wooden Parquet Flooring Pattern

Before we go into the finer details of reclaimed wood, let’s take a closer look at what it is. We can consider reclaimed wood as recycled wood. It can come from different sources like old structures, barns and houses, discarded wooden barrels, warehouses, and decommissioned ships.

After many years of a building being in existence, it may face demolition for many reasons. For example, you may demolish a single-story building to create a high-rise. It is not necessary that the wood used in a building be damaged or defective. You can get good wood out of such buildings.

One of the main attractions of reclaimed wood is that you get access to an abundant quantity of air-dried wood. It will be seasoned and occasionally rare.

Reclaimed wood holds a special attraction because of the history behind it. When you use reclaimed wood, you feel that you are holding a piece of history in your hands. The ages and unique appearance of the wood make it attractive to all those who use it.

Where to Find Reclaimed Wood

If you decide to use reclaimed wood for your latest woodworking project, it is a great decision. But it can be confusing to know where to start using reclaimed wood. After all, there is no organized market for this type of wood. Or, so you may think.

There are several sources of reclaimed wood. It’s all about going to the right places. When you go to certain sites you may even find that you can get reclaimed wood free.

For example, a property owner may find it difficult to dismantle and dispose of their old wood. But if you do it for free, you may land yourself some highly discounted or even free wood for your projects.

Let’s say a homeowner who wants to convert their old wooden windows to aluminum sliding windows. They will discard all the old wooden frames. If you are there at the right time, you can just pick them up for a song or even for free.

Here are some regular sources of reclaimed wood:

Classifieds

Sitting at home you can go through the classifieds in your area or your local newspaper. You may find offers for disposing of old wood. Even if you don’t see something today, do not despair. Keep checking over a few days or weeks. Something is bound to turn up.

Another way is to place an ad in the classifieds. You can mention exactly the type of wood that you need. It’s a good idea to throw in an offer to extract the wood for free.

Construction Dumpsters

You can take a look at construction dumpsters for reclaimed wood. Keep your eyes open for buildings that are about to or are being demolished. You can have a chat with the people in charge of the demolishing or the property owners. Stake your claim over the wood as it becomes available.

What to expect:

You may find window frames, door frames, plywood and other engineering wood, pallets, beams, planks, and floorboards.

Local Farms

There is always a bit of old wood lying around on a farm. You would need to meet the farmer. Ask if they need someone to dispose of their old scrap wood. Then, it might just be your lucky day, as you might get some reclaimed wood from the farm.

What to expect:

You can get fence posts, poles, beams, planks, barnwood shiplap, doors, and window frames.

Broken Fences

As you move around the countryside, you might see some broken fences. You can approach the owner to inquire if and when they decide to repair them. If there are some pieces of wood lying around, you can carry them away with their permission.

Some of the wood from the posts, gates and fences can impart a unique, distressed look to your woodworking projects.

What to expect:

You can get gates, posts, and parts of fences.

Grocery and Other Stores

For smaller pieces of reclaimed wood, you can look towards groceries and other stores. You can get discarded wooden pallets and crates. With the increased use of plastic, wooden packing boxes are fast becoming a thing of the past.

A grocery store might have a few of these wooden items in storage, awaiting disposal.

Scrap wood and lumber cuttings for firewood

What to expect:

You can expect to find wooden crates, packing boxes, and pallets.

Your Neighbors

Look around your neighborhood and find deteriorating wooden structures. It’s possible that your neighbor is as tired of looking at a leaning wooden shed as you are.

They might have no use for a shed that is completely deteriorated. You can help them by ripping down the shed. You may not only get some good reclaimed wood, but you can also make a few nice wooden items to present to your neighbor as a goodwill measure, thereby cementing your relationship.

Lumber Yards

You may be surprised to know that many lumberyards have a separate section featuring reclaimed wood. You can get wood cheaper but it may not be as cheap as if you had paid for it through the other sources we mentioned above. And, they are not giving it away free!

These are a few sources of reclaimed wood. When investigating these sources, we are sure that you will find some more sources of reclaimed wood legally and cheap.

Uses of Reclaimed Wood

Here are a few things that you can do with reclaimed wood:

Beams

You can make beams to adorn your home to impart a rustic or antique look. Although such beams may not serve any structural purpose – it is merely for decorative purposes.

Decking and Siding

Building a deck or wooden patio out of reclaimed wood can add a classic touch to your outdoor space. You can make an entire structure out of reclaimed wood. Add a finish to it or leave the distressed condition of the wood to add to its rustic appeal.

Flooring

Coming to indoor applications, you can make some great hardwood flooring out of reclaimed beech, oak, or maple. Add a few structural components to your home to give it the rustic appeal.

If you sand the wood lightly but leave the character marks or the patina on the wood, it can look uniquely rustic. You can sometimes experiment by mixing contemporary and antique.

Feature Walls

Even if you have modern décor in a room, you can make one wall up using old wood. Add a bit of special lighting and wall hangings and it can look classy. Make the wall look like a traditional log cabin to render the room warm and welcoming.

Furniture

furnuture made of reclaimed wood

There is no limit to the types of furniture you can make from reclaimed wood. Beautiful antique furniture that might be hundreds of years old can be priceless. You can create the same effect by building furniture out of reclaimed wood.

Wood Mantels

If you have a fireplace, or maybe not, a wooden mantel always adds a classic touch to a home. And, what better way by adding a vintage touch than using reclaimed wood to make it?

These are some of the ways that you can put reclaimed wood to good use. With this information, you can surely manage to use your creativity for even more than what we have mentioned here.

Pro and Cons of Reclaimed Wood

There are many advantages and disadvantages of using reclaimed wood. Here are the main pros and cons that come to mind:

Disadvantages of Reclaimed Wood

Toxins

Because you don’t know about the source of the wood. Whether it has been treated with toxic chemicals or not. It is important to be aware of the possibility of toxins.

These may appear in the form of antiseptics, insecticides, pesticides, and lead. You need to be particularly cautious while using old-sourced wood that has maximum possibility of containing lead. It is because many years ago, people were not aware of the poisonous nature of lead.

There were no laws in place like today regarding the use of lead paint and so on. It is always advisable to get old painted wood tested for the presence of lead.

Pests

Pests tend to infest old wood. The core of the wood could be destroyed by pests and concealed. So, you need to be very careful to strike the wood to check for its solidity and look for boreholes and channels made by pests.

Legitimacy

If you buy reclaimed lumber from traders, then there could be legitimacy issues. Many traders lay false claims on wood. They might call it reclaimed although it may not be so, and perhaps even illegally obtained. Therefore, you need to confirm the legal status of such wood.

Hidden Dangers

In reclaimed, you never know where you may have nails and screws sticking out. So, be careful when handling reclaimed wood.

Price

You may end up paying more money for reclaimed wood because the seller may realize its value and hike up the price. You may also have to pay for demolishing and extracting the wood and taking out nails and screws. It all adds to the price of the wood.

Advantages of Reclaimed Wood

Environmental-friendly

One of the primary advantages of using reclaimed wood is that you know that the procurement process did not involve chopping trees.

Quality and Strength

Wood that has lasted for decades is likely to become extremely dry, hard, and dense. Reclaimed wood is more likely to be procured from old-growth wood rather than the lumber that we get nowadays.

Multiple Uses

You can push your creativity to the limit with reclaimed wood. Build all sorts of wooden items like chairs, cabinets, furniture, flooring, tables, windows, doors, and more.

Appearance

Unless you are looking only for modern looks, reclaimed wood looks great at any given time. You can use distressed wood to add to the appearance, particularly for flooring, furniture, and as part of wall paneling.

Interesting History

Reclaimed has always a story to tell. If you recount the story behind the wood, it can add to the value of the wood. For example, maybe your wood came from old railroad sleepers or an old house from the American Civil War. It makes an interesting topic for discussion.

Possibility to Use Exotic Species

If there are some banned woods like ebony, teak, and some varieties of mahogany. You can get some of these species from reclaimed lumber without feeling guilty.

Summary

We hope that you have gained a lot from what we have written here. When you start using reclaimed wood, it ushers in an entirely different feeling. You can work with added passion.

You need to know where to find reclaimed wood. Once you develop some reliable sources for this category of lumber, you probably even save a bit of money while doing your woodworking project in saved material cost.

Another aspect of using reclaimed wood is that you revive condemned wood. Try using some reclaimed wood in your next project and you will find it to be a great experience.