If you’re building a home and are looking for a classic, lasting, look for your project, you’ve probably considered salvaged and reclaimed wood to create your masterpiece. There are a number of advantages to using this type of lumber: it’s had years to dry and is less likely to warp or crack, it’s often less expensive, and features which are considered to be flaws in new lumber are desirable traits in old wood, evoking words like rustic, heritage, or antique. But once the decision has been made to use this type of wood, where can it be found?
First, it’s best to break that into two types of wood: salvaged and reclaimed.
Reclaimed is wood that has been old homes, barns, sheds, buildings, boats, pallets, and things of that nature.
Salvaged wood is wood that has not been used before – old forest growth, logs found in rivers or other waterways which were used to transport logs, etc. Often rivers and lakes can hide logs which are hundreds of years old and are perfectly preserved in the water, safe from conditions that cause degradation of wood such as oxygen and heat.
For reclaimed wood, the best places to look are:
- A building materials thrift store, home improvement thrift store, or Reuse Center. A great place to start would be a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They specialize in reused furniture, building materials, and household materials.
- Places selling lumber recovered from demolitions. Also try salvage experts or demo experts – they have to get rid of the wood they recover somehow and may be willing to cut you a deal.
- Freecycle groups. Networks of people in local areas who like to save money. Their sole purpose is to help each other get things for free. Try www.freecycle.org for a community of freecycle groups and find one in your area.
- Places that perform industrial processing of wood and wood pallets, and commercial woodworking firms. Some of these will include milling companies, furniture and cabinet makers, and wood flooring manufacturers and installers. They stock a lot of nice hardwoods in many different sizes (the trick may be finding the size you want!) If you ask for an owner or manager and are polite, you can usually work out a very nice deal.
- Lumber mills and lumber yards. These places produce tons of waste and have a huge respect for the value of space. These two things are a great combination for the would-be homebuilder. If you speak to the yard manager about helping them get rid of yard waste, you may be surprised at the pleasant results you’ll find.
For salvaged wood, the main places to start will be those who locate felled logs on forest floors and old forest growth, and those which specialize in logs that were found in waterways. These will usually be your local arborists or places that advertise salvaged wood – found online, or through local directories.
Try your local homebuilders association as a place that can provide you with some of this information. Also, phone directories and online directories will often keep lists of places who deal in this kind of wood. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) may be a good source too, as they may have records of companies and organizations who will be able to provide you with this type of wood.