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Modern Timber Craft: Authentic, Hand-Made Wood Pieces
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Design experts routinely recommend the use of reclaimed wood for clients building new homes. From major construction components to décor item, the beauty, versatility, and charm of old wood adds a unique flair to virtually any home. While some projects will work better with specific home designs, it will never be difficult to find places where reclaimed wood adds the needed feel to a single room or an entire home. Here are only a few of the many ways to use reclaimed wood when constructing a new home.

1.) Use reclaimed wood for flooring. Old wood can provide the look homeowners are seeking for flooring materials. Because reclaimed wood is available in a remarkable number of species, colors, and sizes, it is often the material of choice for flooring in one or more rooms of a home.

If you’re looking for wide boards with a lot of character, reclaimed wood products can include the nicks, gouges, and holes needed to make the floor appear as though it’s passed the test of time and still looks great.

Homeowners wanting the warmth of, for example, old-growth Southern Yellow Pine can often find the wood they need quite easily. If that variety of pine is not available in your region, suppliers can often arrange shipping from another area. Suppliers may also recommend alternatives that deliver the same type of look.

Of course, oak, maple, birch, and other wood species may also provide the look needed for your new home. Again, many of these woods are available in widths and lengths to meet a designer’s objectives and make your new home a true showplace.

2.) Fireplaces are always in vogue, which means your new home will need a fireplace mantle. New wood, stone, or even cast concrete are all possible options, but reclaimed wood delivers design choices for all types of fireplaces. Whether your new fireplace is intended as an accessory or a dominant feature taking up an entire wall, a reclaimed wood mantle adds a final touch that’s bound to attract attention from anyone entering the space.

As with reclaimed wood flooring, fireplace mantles created using reclaimed wood provide an unlimited number of options to select from. Reclaimed wood that’s been planed smooth offers the convenience of new wood but also the timeless beauty of woods that are no longer readily available from today’s lumber yards.

3.) Kitchen cabinets and other built-ins created using reclaimed wood remain popular, as the cabinetry can include custom features you want but can’t easily find when purchasing stock cabinets. Homeowners frequently reduce costs in other areas to ensure they get the kitchen cabinets, bath vanities, and other built-ins that make a design statement but also provide for the family’s needs.

Wood species like maple, oak, and birch are becoming increasingly expensive as consumer demand reduces the standing stock. However, reclaimed wood providers stock, or can obtain, many wood varieties  vendors of new wood can’t get. Cherry, hickory, pecan, and walnut are always in high demand and difficult to find, but your design and construction team may source the materials needed to construct your built-ins from a reclaimed wood provider.

4.) Construction elements, like solid beams, present issues for property owners and contractors. Yes, it’s possible to use a lam or boxed beam for your project, but reclaimed solid beams always look better. If you’re working with a local contractor and design team, ask them about using reclaimed beams that will look better without endangering the structural integrity of your new home.

Reclaimed beams from old barns, factories, or other large buildings often include the scars they’ve earned over the years, and those “imperfections” may be just what a designer needs to create that comfortable, warm feel you’re looking for.

5.) Reclaimed wood is ideal for a wide variety of décor items. Accent walls featuring reclaimed wood commonly add value, style, and ambiance for homes. Need shelving? Reclaimed wood is ideal for bookcases or any other types of shelves needed throughout your new home.

Consider using reclaimed wood to build a statement table or center island for your kitchen. This is one area where creativity and a willingness to explore different options can pay off handsomely. Those creations won’t be duplicated in other homes, and your décor will include items you’ll love for years to come.

6.) Barn doors are all the rage. However, many of the options look tacky when they’re installed. Using reclaimed wood for the doors means the wood will include a look that’s taken years to acquire. Of course, you’ll still need the hardware, but those items are readily available.

The other advantage of building your barn doors using reclaimed wood is customization. Most kits come in specific sizes that may not meet your home design needs. Discuss the benefits of sliding barn-style doors with your contractor or design team.

7.) Consider using reclaimed wood to build a room divider. Many homes include large spaces that are not always as functional as they could be. A room divider can break up a large space to create a smaller area to meet your family’s unique needs.

In some instances, a wall divider provides a great way to redirect traffic in a home. Perhaps you’re exploring ways to shield an area from occupants in another room. Today, for example, many more people work from home. That means you may want to keep that computer or printer out of sight without having to create a separate office.

Get Your Questions Answered Now

If you’re considering building a new home, now is the time to ask for advice. Reclaimed wood specialists welcome questions about the many ways you can include beautiful, reclaimed wood in your new home.

Don’t leave important design questions until the last minute. The wood you’re looking for may not be readily available if you wait until the last minute. Rather than taking that type of chance, contact the experts now to get an idea of which woods are currently available for your new home project.

Incorporating reclaimed barn wood into modern homes is one of the biggest trends of 2020. It can be used for flooring, cabinets, walls, furniture, and more, but only if it’s properly prepared and maintained. Unfortunately, most traditional wood finishing products and procedures aren’t a good fit for reclaimed wood, so homeowners and high-end contractors that want to jump on board with this trend need to do their research. Read on to get started.

The Problem with Traditional Wood Finishes

Part of the appeal of reclaimed barn wood is that it develops a beautiful gray patina over time. Traditional wood varnishes, oils, and waxes darken the wood, altering its appearance. Both water- and oil-based varnishes are designed to penetrate the wood fibers, darkening the wood and giving more earthy tones. Traditional waxes have an amber tint that’s great for new wood but causes reclaimed wood to lose its desirable gray patina. These products are best avoided if homeowners want to protect their investments.

A Better Solution

Now that they understand why traditional varnishes, oils, and waxes can’t be used on reclaimed barn wood, homeowners may be tempted to just leave it as-is instead of finishing it. That’s not a great option, though, since reclaimed wood usually contains pollen, insect pests, and micro-organisms that can be damaging to both the wood and the health of the home’s inhabitants if left intact. Reclaimed barn wood still needs to be finished, it just requires a slightly different process.

Clean the Wood

There are two ways to clean reclaimed barn wood without destroying its unique visual appeal. Homeowners can either use a dry brush to remove splinters, pollen, and pests or they can use a nylon brush and a small amount of soapy water. Either way, this step will require some serious scrubbing.

Never use sandpaper or mechanical sanders to clean up reclaimed barn wood. While dry or wet brushing will only get rid of splinters, dirt, and unwanted pests, sanding the wood down will completely destroy its beautiful patina. Some homeowners use 100 grit sandpaper to soften the surface lightly to prepare it for finishing, but those who want to go this route should tread lightly. Too much pressure can destroy the wood’s unique, vintage appearance.

Use the Right Wax

Traditional wood waxes alter the color of barn wood, so choose a product that’s specifically designed for finishing reclaimed wood. Renaissance Wax is a good option since it’s completely colorless and does not penetrate wood fibers.

Those who used soap and water to clean their barn wood should give it plenty of time to dry before applying the specialized wax to avoid sealing in moisture. Place them out in the sun for a few hours, but don’t leave them out for too long. This can cause the boards to bow and curl.

When applying wax, use a brush with short, natural bristles. Some homeowners use cotton rags instead, which is a viable option, but this technique can create complications due to the comparatively rough surface of reclaimed barn wood. Paintbrushes are cheap, so just pick one up while purchasing wax.

Apply the wax in a thin, even coat. Keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way. The entire surface of the wood should be covered, but homeowners should stick to applying a single layer of wax at a time and shouldn’t go overboard.

Polish the Wax

Once the wax has dried, it will be completely clear. The surface is now ready to be polished to a full gloss. Polishing the wax will both improve the wood’s appearance, without affecting its patina, and make it easier to clean since it won’t be ruined by fingerprints.

Maintaining Reclaimed Barn Wood

Waxing and polishing the wood should help it maintain its longevity, but homeowners will still need to put some minimal time and effort into keeping it looking its best. Maintenance tasks can be divided into two categories: preventative maintenance and restoration. Thankfully, both of them are quite easy.

Preventative Maintenance

The amount of preventative maintenance a barn wood piece requires depends on how it is used. Walls and floors can simply be cleaned periodically with a damp rag or a mop, protected from spills, and otherwise left to their own devices. They may require more frequent restoration than barn wood furniture, but they should hold up fine to normal amounts of wear and tear.

Preventative maintenance for barn wood furniture requires a little more legwork. Homeowners should keep their furniture away from direct sunlight and heating or cooling vents. UV light causes discoloration, while frequent temperature and humidity changes can cause the wood to split, shrink, or dry.

Use trivets under hot items placed on reclaimed wood tables, and place coasters under drink cups. This will help homeowners avoid heat and moisture damage. Those who live in exceptionally humid or arid climates may also want to purchase humidifiers or dehumidifiers to control water vapor, but that’s a good idea even if homeowners don’t have reclaimed barn wood furniture.

Periodic Restoration

Restoring reclaimed barn wood floors, walls, and furniture is easy. Just apply a new coat of specialized wax every five years, or pay attention to the polish on the surface and reapply wax as needed. Floors and frequently used furniture like dining room tables or coffee tables need to be refinished more often than walls and furnishings like chairs or decorative pieces.

The Bottom Line

Building with reclaimed barn wood is a great way to add visual appeal to both traditional and modern homes. It takes a little extra work, but it will pay off in the long run as residents and guests get to appreciate the unique gray patina and rustic beauty created by reclaimed wood surfaces and furniture. As long as they follow the advice above, most homeowners can clean, finish, touch up, maintain, and restore their own pieces using reclaimed wood sourced from nearby farms, homesteads, and other rural locations. All that’s left now is to source the wood and get started building.

Reclaimed barn wood has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years, not just in rural homes but in high-end city apartments. No matter where they live, homeowners will love the unique character and charm of reclaimed wood. Read on to find out about just a few of the reasons modern consumers are using it for everything from bookcases and mantels to flooring, wall decor, and more.

Unique Character

Every piece of reclaimed barn wood is a little different, but all of them have a weathered beauty that gives them character and draws plenty of positive attention. Many pieces of reclaimed wood display unique and interesting character marks that further increase their visual appeal. As barn wood is exposed to the elements for years, decades, or longer, it develops a beautiful gray patina that forms a perfect complement to both rustic and contemporary home decorating schemes.

As it ages, reclaimed wood only becomes more beautiful. There’s no replicating that ageless distinction using modern production methods. The only way to incorporate a genuine, unique rustic character into a modern home, condo, or apartment is to source the reclaimed wood from a local farm or a seller who specializes in finding high-quality barn wood.

Environmental Stewardship

Wood may be considered a renewable resource, but the practices associated with modern forestry are not sustainable. Using reclaimed barn wood reduces the demand for new wood, which helps to protect the forests. Eco-friendly homeowners don’t have to feel bad about destroying natural habitats for birds, squirrels, and other critters to bring a touch of natural beauty into their own homes when they use reclaimed barn wood.

Habitat loss isn’t the only problem with using modern wood. Transporting and processing felled trees also consumes a vast amount of energy. Using reclaimed wood can reduce energy use by a factor of 11 to 13, helping to preserve natural resources and protect the environment that every living creature, including people, depends on for survival.

Inability to Source Newly Cut Old-Growth Wood

Old-growth forests require centuries to develop fully. When the timber industry in America was in its infancy, irresponsible logging practices led to the destruction of most old-growth trees, which produced denser wood and larger planks that fetched more money for landowners, lumberjacks, sawmills, and distributors. Today, old-growth forests are protected. Even if homeowners don’t care about protecting forest diversity and natural habitats, they can’t buy genuine old-growth wood, even if they want to.

Reclaimed barn wood is almost always made from old-growth trees. The boards are larger and the wood is denser, which is part of why it was able to withstand the test of time and decades, or even centuries, of exposure to the elements. Homeowners who want to use old-growth wood can still do so without running into legal problems as long as they source it responsibly by buying reclaimed wood.

Strong, Durable Timber

Older wood is stronger and more durable than timber cut and manufactured in the 20th and 21st centuries. Builders and homesteaders chose only the strongest, stablest, and most durable pieces of timber, so what’s left now is the best of the best.

Antique barns were originally constructed using virgin timber that grew and matured for hundreds of years, often sustaining most of their growth before the Industrial Revolution began generating air pollution. These optimal growing conditions also help to explain the strength, longevity, and unique timbre of reclaimed wood.

Indulging a Passion for History

Every piece of reclaimed barn wood has its own unique history. Some pieces are sourced from family farms looking to modernize their facilities, while others come from century-old homesteads. Buying reclaimed wood helps to preserve links to the past and allows homeowners to indulge their passion for history while simultaneously protecting natural forest ecosystems against future degradation.

Some homeowners like to purchase reclaimed barn wood directly from farmers so they can meet the people who used it and hear their stories. Others buy from companies or individuals who specialize in sourcing reclaimed wood. Either way, they’ll get the benefit of knowing that they have a genuine piece of American history adorning their walls, bringing the past to life, and preserving a link to those who made this country great.

Wider Planks of Wood

Some pieces, such as mantels and deep bookshelves, require wide planks of wood that can only be sourced from old-growth trees. Newly harvested lumber isn’t even available in the widths associated with reclaimed barn wood. Homeowners can find incredibly large pieces of reclaimed wood, with widths up to two feet and lengths of 40 feet or more.

Since wide planks are in high demand, it’s easiest to source large pieces from a reputable supplier who knows local farmers and can find high-quality wood. Those who aren’t able to find a reputable local supplier may face long wait times and high prices, especially if they live far from the rural areas where reclaimed barn wood is typically found.

Stability and Longevity

Old-growth wood offers greater dimensional stability and longevity than newly harvested planks. Trees cut and harvested after many centuries were exposed to weather extremes and changes in climate over prolonged periods, which allowed them to create denser, stabler wood. This is especially relevant to homeowners who want to install reclaimed wood floors.

Even after being cut, reclaimed barn wood has continued to experience contractions and expansions due to temperature and humidity changes and has likely been exposed to at least a few inclement weather events. This makes it better able to handle the wear and tear of modern life, whether the wood is used for flooring, furniture, mantels, or other architectural features.

Good Return on Investment

If it has been responsibly sourced and properly finished, reclaimed barn wood holds its value very well. Once it has been installed in a modern home, it will provide an excellent return on investment. Its ability to withstand the test of time means that several decades from now, rare old-growth wood will be worth even more.

In contrast, newly milled lumber depreciates over time. It doesn’t age well, nor does it have the same unique character as authentic reclaimed barn wood. Homeowners who plan on leaving their properties to their heirs can rest assured that future generations will continue to enjoy the unique aesthetic beauty of reclaimed wood furniture and architectural features and that their estates will only continue to benefit from appreciation.

Re-Purposing Rare Woods

No responsible consumer or contractor would purchase newly milled, rare, exotic wood for a home improvement project. It’s not just environmentally irresponsible. It’s also illegal. However, purchasing reclaimed rare wood is a perfectly acceptable and guilt-free way to add value to any property.

Today, rare wood is hard to come by. When most of America was still composed of virgin forests, even rare woods were easily available and more affordable. Since quality timber gets its value not just from its inaccessibility but also its effectiveness as a building material, many buildings constructed with rare woods are still standing today and more of them are being torn down and re-purposed every year. Modern consumers will pay more for the wood than its original owners, but many buyers find that it’s worth the investment.

No Two Pieces Are Alike

Reclaimed barn wood doesn’t just get its unique character from the aging process. Since many historic barns were built before, during, or shortly after the Industrial Revolution, the wood used in their construction was not mass-produced. In some cases, it may even have been hewn and processed by hand.

Many pieces of reclaimed barn wood feature visually interesting surface textures, knots, and irregularities in the grain of the wood that are largely absent from mass-produced lumber. The originality of reclaimed barn wood is only improved upon when consumers buy individual timbers and create custom-made bookshelves, mantels, paneling, countertops, cabinets, and other types of furniture or architectural features.

Give Old Wood New Life

Were it not for modern homeowners’ newfound passion for reclaimed barn wood, this valuable, beautiful, and unique lumber would be left to rot. Using reclaimed barn wood for architectural features, flooring, and furniture gives it a new life while simultaneously adding to the visual appeal of just about any modern home.

This is especially true of distressed wood, which is popular among homeowners who want to create rustic interior designs with an authentic, eye-catching motif. Furniture made from distressed wood can, if finished and maintained correctly, last for centuries, so don’t be put off by the name. Ask suppliers if they have a source for high-quality distressed barn wood for furniture, accent walls, and other non-structural elements.

The Bottom Line

Every homeowner has a different set of reasons for investigating reclaimed barn wood as a building material. Whether they’re looking for high-quality, structurally sound timbers for framing a rustic-looking cabin, wide planks for making deep bookshelves, or distressed wood for fabricating unique, vintage art or furnishings, buyers should look for a reputable supplier in their areas who sources the wood from local farms. It’s the best way to incorporate a unique piece of history into a modern home.

Whether you’re building a new home, looking for unique décor options, or exploring ways to build furniture, the materials used will make or break the project. One of the best materials for those projects is reclaimed wood. When reclaimed wood is used, the results are certain to garner a great deal of attention.

What is Reclaimed Wood?

Reclaimed wood is, essentially, any wood that’s been harvested from old buildings, farms, retired ships, and even whiskey or wine barrels for reuse elsewhere. Dealers search for any sources of used wood that others can use to create new objects, remodel existing structures, or construct new buildings. That means there is an amazing variety of reclaimed wood in all lengths, widths, and thicknesses.

Discover the Advantages of Reclaimed Wood

It’s easy to purchase many types of new wood from suppliers, but new wood simply isn’t available in many sizes. Reclaimed wood is available in sizes that can’t be matched with new lumber. In the past, wood was milled or hewed into lumber that was both thick and wide. Trees that size can’t be found anymore, which means today’s new lumber buyers experience limitations that make some projects impossible.

Rare wood species are no longer harvested, but reclaiming lumber makes it possible to enjoy the grain, color, and beauty of those varieties. That’s especially important for restoration projects or when remodeling older properties.

Choosing Wood That’s Ideal for Your Project

Before purchasing any wood, it’s important to understand your project’s needs and why some types of wood are more appropriate than others. For example, the wood selected for an accent wall might not be appropriate for constructing an exterior door. Some reclaimed wood is better suited to indoor projects, as direct exposure to the weather might not be desirable.

Color is Always Important

Every variety of wood has a characteristic color that must be considered when selecting reclaimed wood for your project. Cherry wood, for example, wouldn’t be best option if you’re trying to match oak or maple trim in a home.

Of course, it’s possible to stain a wood to match another variety closely, but the results won’t always be what you expect. Color is only one aspect to consider when choosing reclaimed wood for a project.

Smooth or Rough?

A high percentage of reclaimed wood won’t be smooth. Barn wood, for example, is generally going to be quite rough. Wood used for constructing barns and other farm buildings was rarely planed. Smoothing the wood wasn’t seen as necessary. If your project requires a smooth surface, look for wood reclaimed from interior areas of old buildings that were milled smooth and, as a rule, used for interior applications.

Note that it’s entirely possible to plane older reclaimed lumber to create a smooth surface, but that will eliminate the patina that’s taken countless years to develop. If it’s more important to match a species rather than a surface texture, where the lumber was previously used isn’t as important.

Consider Where the Wood Will Be Used

Another important factor when deciding which reclaimed wood for a project relates directly to where the wood will be used. In areas where humidity levels are high, warping can occur with some woods. The wood selected for use in humid areas may have to deal with constant changes in humidity. Ask a reclaimed wood professional for advice when humidity levels will create issues.

Extremely dry conditions can also create problems. Wood that’s always been in a relatively damp environment may shrink and crack when used in an arid region. If you intend to use any wood in a very dry area, it always pays to ensure the wood is able to deal with hot, dry conditions.

When Durability is a Consideration

Barn wood used to cover a wall isn’t subject to wear. It will probably look much the same years after the installation is completed. However, reclaimed wood that’s used for a floor must be able to take a good deal of abuse without showing wear.

Durability is a benefit of selecting woods like Southern Yellow Pine, oak, maple, and birch for flooring. Those woods tend to be hard and easily take on the challenges when used as flooring. Antique boards may also be very wide, which is a requirement for many construction and remodeling projects.

Availability is Important

Some projects, like fireplace mantles, don’t require a lot of wood. A single piece is often all that’s necessary to obtain the look a property owner is seeking. That means finding the wood needed won’t be overly difficult. However, if the entire ceiling of a large great room will be covered with wood, it’s important to locate a sufficient quantity.

Suppliers may have access to large quantities of relatively common wood species, but woods like chestnut, walnut, and hickory may prove to be more difficult to locate. Even if a specific variety of reclaimed wood is available in one region, it may be scarce in another area. That means shipping would be required, and that can greatly increase the final costs. It makes sense to work with your design team, contractor, and reclaimed wood experts when determining which type of reclaimed wood should be used for a project.

Start Planning Now

When at all possible, plan ahead. Working with key professionals helps property owners determine the viability of specific projects and makes it easier to source scarce materials. That’s especially true when dealing with reclaimed wood.

If your project will require very wide or thick boards, it may take time to locate the wood needed. Matching existing wood is also an issue for owners remodeling an older home. It’s always best to use wood that closely matches existing wood during a project.

New home builders have a little more leeway, but they still need to consider which woods will be ideal for their floors, trim, fireplace mantels, or décor pieces. Discuss your ideas with a designer or your contractor and, when that’s been done, get in touch with a reclaimed wood expert. The antique and reclaimed wood experts are poised to find the wood you need.

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Modern Timber Craft
101 Hillside Ave, Eagleville, PA 19403
[email protected]
Call us: +1 (866) 999-6635

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