Reclaimed. Repurposed. Recycled. However you re-name it, old wood is in high-demand. And for good reason — it’s an economical, sustainable and soulful alternative to fresh-sawn lumber. I recently salvaged some wood for the barn renovation, saving a few trees…and dollar bills too. Back in the day, my older friends like to recall, you couldn’t give away old flooring and barn wood. But the times, they are a changing — kids no longer walk ten miles in a blizzard to get to school and weathered wood is a hot commodity. Lumber suppliers recognize the new demand and their prices have risen sharply. But worry not, there’s a nifty gadget called the internet to help you locate a fair deal.
To find a nearby reclaimed wood supplier, start with Woodfinder.com or the BMRA’s (Building Materials Reuse Association) handy online directory. Many mills have flashy websites with up-to-date inventories and high-resolution pictures. Others merely list an address and phone number. But regardless of their web presence, it’s best to examine a dealer’s wood firsthand, if you know what I mean.
Once you're in the lumberyard, it’s smart to compare apples to apples, or in our case, reclaimed cherry to reclaimed cherry. For that reason, it’s useful to know the difference between square feet and board feet, the two units by which lumber is sold. Square footage is solely a measurement of the wood’s surface area, whereas board footage indicates its cubic content e.g. surface area and thickness. The last thing you want is quarter-inch siding at inch and a quarter prices. For an earlier post on selecting quality lumber, click here.
If you’re in the market for reclaimed construction-grade lumber, your best bet is an architectural salvage store. These folks specialize in dismantling old buildings and recycling any usable materials. Habitat for Humanity's ReStores are a terrific resource and Redo.org offers a directory of similar suppliers. Of course, there's always the Craigslist approach. For instance, I recently found some cheap tongue and groove hemlock flooring to install in the barn. Try searching the keywords "lumber" or "wood" and you'll be surprised at what's out there. Just make sure you're not in the personals section!
Images: Johnny Williams
RED BARN RENOVATION
• Red Barn Renovation: Where To Begin?
• Red Barn Renovation: Green Cleaning & Disposing Of Toxic Chemicals
• Red Barn Renovation: Energy Efficiency Tax Breaks
• Red Barn Renovation: Why I Bought A Wood Stove
• Red Barn Renovation: Hiring An Architect