Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Is reclaimed wood right for your house?


If you're one of many homeowners who like to have green features, you may consider reclaimed wood.

This lumber was part of another structure once upon a time, is still in good condition and can be used again. Homeowners find various uses for reclaimed wood, including countertops, stairs and hardwood flooring. When it comes to necessary fixer-upper repairs revealed by a property inspection, used lumber can find its way into many parts of your home.

However, having this unique lumber in your home is not always an easy task, and there are certainly some costs to be weighed in addition to the benefits.

Pros of reclaimed wood
Of course, one of the key advantages of reclaimed wood is you're giving old lumber a new life and aiding in the reduction of deforestation. The wood can come from many places, including old barns, warehouses and even boxcars. Regardless of where it originates, used wood gives you peace of mind no new trees were harmed in the making of your home.

Reclaimed wood also tends to be sturdier than freshly logged lumber. Much of the wood homeowners have in their properties comes from tree farms, where the trees grow faster to get the wood on the market. Reclaimed lumber, on the other hand, could have been more than a century old when loggers cut down the tree, which means it's stronger than freshly logged wood.

Another key benefit related to the age of reclaimed wood is you can sometimes get your hands on wood types that are no longer available. Due to extensive logging, some trees, such as redwoods, are under government protection and cannot be logged. While you may want to be a eco-friendly homeowner, that doesn't mean you wouldn't like the look of an endangered lumber in your living room. If you can find wood from a building that existed when these were available for lumber, you can have a unique home feature.

Speaking of uniqueness, that's one of the first things homeowners notice about reclaimed wood. It is typically seen as a way to add character to your home. If you know where the wood originated, you have a story to tell when guests visit.

Cons of reclaimed wood
One of the first challenges you'll encounter when putting used lumber on your home improvement checklist is finding the wood at an affordable price. For some wood types, reclaimed lumber is in short supply, especially if you're looking for lumber from a tree that is now protected. If you can find it, you'll have to pay a premium. Some homeowners are using old shipping pallets and crates as a more affordable alternative.

In addition to finding the wood, you'll need to locate a reputable seller. Given the popularity of reclaimed wood, some dealers will try to pass off blends of new and used wood to buyers. Do some research before you decide to go with any seller.

While you're asking questions about dealers, also research the lumber you're considering. Many wood treatment regulations have changed over the years because previously use solutions have now been designated as toxic materials. This can include lead paint, volatile organic compounds and insecticides. Be sure to check with your supplier to determine the risk associated with the wood you want to purchase.

Also, ensure the supplier retreated the lumber. The process involves cleaning the wood, checking for nails and several other steps that ensure it's ready to be installed in your house. Keep in mind the process may take longer for older, rarer wood types.