3 Things to Look For When Buying Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed American Cherry

So you love the look and the story of reclaimed wood and have the perfect place in your house for it: an accent wall of reclaimed barn wood or perhaps a farmhouse table crafted from reclaimed heart pine.  We often meet customers shopping for reclaimed lumber at our mill shop outside of Athens, GA and enjoy guiding them thru the process of finding the perfect wood for their space.   Here are some of the things we discuss and anyone should consider before buying reclaimed lumber:


1. Has the wood been de-nailed?  Nails and wood go together like peanut butter and jelly, unfortunately nails and saw blades don’t, so it’s important that every piece of wood be inspected with a metal detector and every nail removed by hand.  Of course, you can do this yourself if you have a metal detector, chisels, pliers, hammers, and a crow bar or you can purchase it from someone who has already taken the time to do this.


2. Has the wood been kiln dried?  The majority of the reclaimed lumber we sell is over 100 years old and during that time the wood has absorbed moisture from the atmosphere (especially in Georgia!). Additionally, the wood can become a home for bugs like powder post beetles, carpenter ants, and termites.  Fortunately, kiln drying reclaimed lumber solves both of these problems at once.  Dry kilns combine extreme heat with dehumidification to remove the excess moisture from the wood while also killing the bugs.  Purchasing reclaimed lumber that has been kiln dried ensures that your wood won’t gap, crack, or check once it comes inside your air conditioned/heated home and also ensures that you don’t invite any unwanted house guests.


3. What’s the wood’s resume?  The wood from your neighbor’s deck they just replaced and the wood from a turn of the century textile mill are technically both “reclaimed”, but the later has a history, a story, and obviously a much different look.  Our reclaimed heart pine flooring, for instance, is made from beams that were once the floor system is a yarn factory built in 1901.  Knowing that old growth, long leaf pine takes at least 250-300 years to mature, the trees that produced the lumber were saplings in the early 1600s!  It’s not always possible to know where every piece of reclaimed lumber came from (and there are other ways wood shows its age like patina and growth rings), but its always good to find out as much as you can about the lumber you are purchasing.


If you have more questions about reclaimed lumber or want to discuss your specific project with us please use the contact form on our website, send us an email, or give us a call at the mill shop.  You are also welcome to stop by for a visit-we are located just outside Athens, GA and open to the public on Tuesdays from 8am-5pm AND Fridays from 8am-3:30pm.

WoodworkingColleen Tatum