Reclaimed wood is, basically, wood that has been used once before. You can find it in old barns, homes, warehouses, forts, and other old buildings, and also in boxcars, boats, barrels, crates, and other wooden items. Wood is reclaimed when these places and things are demolished, updated, or otherwise falling apart. Reclaimed wood is great not just because it’s a form of recycling or upcycling, but also because it’s a way to own pieces featuring woods that may no longer be available. Reclaimed wood also has a unique character all its own that wood harvested in the present day just can’t replicate. If you’re interested in adding some furniture with both a rich history and a rich look, here are a few tips for buying reclaimed wood furniture.
Make Sure It’s Right for You
Reclaimed wood has much to recommend it, but you should be sure it has the look you’re going for. Reclaimed wood can be reworked into any style, from rustic country-style to modern reclaimed wood furniture. Nevertheless, its chief quality and appeal lies in its imperfections. Reclaimed wood can be sanded, stained, varnished, and protected, but it mostly retains all the nail holes, scratches, and environmental damage it acquired in its original life. For example, “wormy” American chestnut reclaimed wood may show the holes that worms and beetles ate into it. At one time, these holes were considered flaws, but they’re now viewed as charming features of the now-rare American chestnut wood.
Measure Twice, Buy Once
Most mass-produced modern furniture is ready to assemble or features parts that one can remove to fit the piece through a doorway, through a corridor, or up a staircase. Keep that in mind, because sometimes reclaimed wood dictates the size and shape of the final piece of furniture, and you may not be able to break down the piece to bring it in your home. Measure not only the room but also the path to it, and bring the dimensions to the store. Of course, if you have the means, the carpenter can work with you to produce a custom-made reclaimed wood piece that meets all your needs.
Find a Reputable Dealer
All that sounds great, but there a few things to watch out for as well. Safety codes and quality assurance weren’t standardized in the past, so not all wood is good. Some reclaimed wood can contain toxic materials, such as old glues, lead paint, preservatives, and insecticides that are long out of use because they were proven to be unhealthy. If not kiln-baked, reclaimed woods also run the risk of containing termites, carpenter ants, beetles, and other wood-boring pests. Finally, be sure that the reclaimed wood is what the dealer claims it to be. In one of the more important tips for buying reclaimed wood furniture, seek respectable recommendations for reclaimed wood dealers and furniture makers, and look for claims of shady dealings on the dealers’ part.
Any other questions about reclaimed wood furniture, whether modern or rustic? Contact us! We’re happy to answer all questions.