6 Reasons to Use Reclaimed Wood

The United States has milled trillions of board feet of lumber since 1900. Three trillion feet, to be exact. Wood continues to be milled every year and continues to be wasted, too, since it makes up around 20% to 30% of the waste at the average construction site.

And while new wood has its uses and value, and while wood is in some ways a renewable resource, this young wood is not renewable in the amounts that we use. That is just one reason that reclaimed wood is superior to new wood as a choice for rustic furniture, solid wood table tops, and a variety of other applications. Here are some other reasons to consider rejecting new wood:

Ecological Responsibility

Every time reclaimed wood is used, there is that much lower demand on our forest resources. This not only preserves the trees themselves, but also the multitude of creatures who depend upon those trees for survival. While it’s important that the forests be cleaned out periodically, and not all tree-felling is harmful, the kind of mass harvesting necessary to sustain modern construction can have a devastating effect.

Cumulatively, the energy needed to harvest new wood is between 11 and 13 times as great as what is needed to use reclaimed lumber. This effect is not just the cutting of the trees themselves, but also the transportation, cleaning, processing, and distribution of the wood, as well. Using reclaimed wood also keeps it out of landfills, which is a net benefit to us all.

Decreased Costs

Reclaimed wood can save you quite a bit in your energy bills. Because of the cellular structure that develops in older, aged wood, it traps air far more effectively than new wood. This makes it a superior insulator and means lower energy costs for whatever building utilizes it.

Access to Exotic Wood

There are certain rare, yet highly useful, exotic woods that make fantastic building materials but are no longer allowed to be harvested for this purpose. The only way to use these woods today is to find old wood and reclaim it. Not only is it legal to use under these circumstances, but it often adds serious value to your property, as well.

Stability

One of the biggest benefits of using reclaimed wood is that it is far more stable than new wood. Over the course of its lifetime, it will have been exposed to constant humidity and temperature changes. Over time, humidity and temperature changes warp and alter wood. New wood has not yet undergone this process, but older reclaimed wood has. This means you’ll never worry that your wooden floor will start to buckle if you’re using reclaimed wood.

Strength

Old wood is simply stronger and more durable than young wood. When America first began harvesting wood for construction, only old-growth trees were cut because they provided the finest and most durable wood. The older the tree, the denser its fibers and the more reliable and sturdy it becomes. New wood is typically harvested from stands of new trees that are planted on purpose for such harvesting. This young wood simply can’t compare to the strength and durability of old-growth wood.

Historical Meaning

Reclaimed wood can come from anywhere. It could be from an old barn, a historic home, a factory, or a bridge. It has a character that new wood simply does not have, and this heritage is reflected in the beauty of reclaimed wood.

Reclaimed wood siding or table tops have deeper colors and more character than new wood, with a weathered look that makes it stand out from factory-made pieces crafted of young, new wood. Each piece of old wood is unique, and that not only makes your home and your pieces unique themselves, but also allows you to give a nod to the history and character of this wood.

These are just a few of the reasons you should consider using reclaimed wood for your next project, be it siding, flooring, table tops or any other type of furniture. You’ll be sparing the environment, putting something unique in your home, and celebrating the life and history of each piece of reclaimed wood.

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Francis Pitt

Francis Pitt

Francis Pitt has made a name for himself in farm-to-table organics, working at restaurants in Portland, Seattle and Burlington, Vermont. While he has a taste for the extreme, most of his restaurant’s top sellers are much more down-to-earth, regularly featuring mushrooms gathered from the slopes of the Cascades, and fresh wild-caught seafood from the Oregon coast. Inspired by trends in Portland, his latest restaurant offers the ultimate chef’s table: dinner begins in the morning at his island collective farm, and 4 lucky guests every week get to follow the food, literally, from the field to the plate! Francis is a firm believer that you are what you eat — do you really want to be a chemistry set?
Francis Pitt

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