Reclaimed Wood Is Beautiful and Green
Some of the most-valuable wood available for builders was already part of a building
Whether it comes from a demolished factory, an old water tower, or a riverbed, salvaged wood is a great choice for flooring, cabinetry, millwork, and timber-frame construction. Former Fine Homebuilding editor Sean Groom takes a look at the burgeoning interest in reclaimed wood. Whatever its source, this wood comes with history, strength, and character. Even better, because it has already been harvested, it has a green quality as it is reused rather than discarded. Reclaimed wood can be expensive, but it also can add a great deal of quality to a floor or timber-frame structure. This article includes sidebars on buying reclaimed wood and the ingenious technique developed to harvest sinker logs from riverbeds and lake bottoms.
<p>They don’t make wood like they used to. Don’t take my word for it, though. Just compare a recently milled Douglas-fir 2×4 with a piece of the same species from a century-old building. The tightly spaced growth rings, straight grain, and harder, heavier feel indicate that the older wood came from an old-growth forest. When it comes to salvaged wood, envi-ronmentalists can use old-growth timber without any qualms. In fact, the boom in green building has fueled an explosion of reclaimed-wood purveyors.</p>
<p>From hippieish to hip</p>
<p>When the reclaimed-wood business was in its infancy some 30 years ago, it was the province of a small group of dedicated recyclers, wood aficiona-dos, and timber framers. Everyone involved in this small community knew practically everyone else.</p>
<p>The first real boom for reclaimed wood occurred around 1990, when efforts to protect the spotted owl and the relatively few remaining stands of virgin timber made old-growth wood hard…