Working with Old Wood
My wife and I are looking to build a new house on our existing property. We have an old corn crib and barn and are hoping to tear down the crib and possibly the barn to use in the new home. We like the idea of recycling wood, think the old wood will add character to the house and since I’m as tight as they come, l think it could also save us some money.
I talked with some neighbors who built a house out of 2 cribs and a barn they tore down. They said the workers liked working the the old lumber so well, they complained when they had to use some new boards because they were so crooked.
Another person told us the old wood will be so hard that we’ll probably have to drill it to get nails into it.
well, it all depends...
...to use in the new home. - - framing? paneling? a hunk of beam for the mantel? - provide an inventory of materials and what you think they are good for, and then we might be able to offer an educated opinion...
'save us some money'? - compared to what? - if the crib is sided in walnut and you have to have walnut paneling, you'll save money - if you demo and clean and use salvaged 2X4's for framing, unless you do it yourself and your time is otherwise worthless, you will not save money...
...workers liked working the the old lumber so well,...bet they were working by the hour, too -
...old wood will be so hard that we'll probably have to drill it... possibly, it all depends on specie - if the material is special enough, drilling holes would be a small price to pay -
bottom line from someone who has done a lot of 'salvaging', it's a dirty, messy, dangerous job - - reusing materials can produce dramatic features - - generally it is not a way to 'save money' -
how about just remodeling the barn into the house?
Don't remodel a barn into a house if you intend to save money. I went that route it was nice but not cost effective, it will be a time consuming hobby.
I did a bathroom where during the tear out I found a closet lined with t & g cvgf (clear vertical grain fir) and straight full 1" thick cvgf. I managed to save enough to build all the cabinets (vanity, linen drawers, tip out laundry chute door) but it didn't really save $$$ when I accounted for all the time I spent prepping the wood for use. Nonetheless, the advantages of working with this wonderful material would find me doing the same thing again if offered the chance. It milled like a dream and succeeded in maintaining the vintage style of the rest of the house. It was obviously new work but blended beautifully with the house so my goal of a remodel that didn't jump into your face as an out of place remodel was met. Where once stood a narrow (5' x 7') efficiency type bathroom turned into a 9' x 7' complete with clawfoot tub set into a nook and some design features that had the HO doing the ooh and ahh thing.
In all honesty, I think working with salvage materials would bump the cost above new but the results spoke for themselves...
I think David is giving you the straight stuff. Salvage as a money saver only applies if you are doing the salvage yourself. If you have the product salvaged and neatly sized/piled for the contractor to use, then yes... it can be a money saver.
Whereas if you PAY someone to remove a 2x4 from a barn and then cut it to size and install it into a new house, you're probably not saving any money. The 2x4 might be stronger and less likely to outgass or shrink/warp/twist/bend, but the price of labor would typically offset the $2.50 you would have paid for a new one.
Personally, my favorite use of salvaged wood is in visible forms: as flooring/trim/beams/etc. I'm no master wood worker, but I tend to feel that 100+ yo wood is less likely to move around as much as something that was a tree a couple months ago (although how you handle it has some bearing) and often is has fantastic grain patterns or character marks.
Also keep in mind how far off the old wood is from your new usage. For example, when talking about finished flooring, in some cases you can get by with simply sanding, whereas other times you might have to have the wood planed and a tongue&groove added. All of which will add to the cost. And if its going to be planed, you'll want to take more care in removing nails.
Personally I think the finished product is worth the effort. But if you are paying to have the work done, don't be surprised if the final price nears the price of buying new.
i have to agree with what everyone just said... and that come'n from a dude with over 50,000 sf under roof of nothing but building materials, hardware, & STUFF
yeah i save some money sometimes... i get to use better stuff and have a higher end finished product... but... if time were money as we're all told... you'll be $$$ behind...
yeah i love my 12 x16 heart pine beams.... my 10' french doors with the beveled glass.... but... if you have to move it more than 2x before you can use it... it just ain't worth it... i just spent a month clear'n out a warehouse (it was really a retail space that had become another one of my "store rooms") for the rent i'd passed up all the time i was use'n it for storage i could have purchased everything in there 20x over and never had to stop what i was doing to clear the space out (yeah i rented it... national chain and a long term tripnet lease)...
yeah junk is good... and it has value... and toss'n lumber that was grow'n when columbus got here is hard to do... but it isn't $$$ wise
Do you have to drill? I'm not certain, but on old fence posts anyway, I don't drill. I use hardend steel nails. maizenails.com makes the ones I use. The call them fluted shank masonry nails. You can get upto 4 inch length.
The problem with old oak is it's harder than steel. So the steel bends before it will go in. When you harden the steel, viola!
Recycling old wood saves trees. Chances are your going to have to spend the time tearing down the old building anyway.
I salvaged a bunch of nice white cedar from brother's 15 year old deck.
The builder boys get a bad wrap from the environmentalist for their unthriftyness. I suppose the builder boys mostly do what they get paid to do.
Do you have to drill?...I use hardend steel nails...
a good point - I hope I didn't sound too negative in my reply post - I've can see a lot of 'barn salvage' from where I'm sitting right now - - some of what I can't see is the sheathing on the room I'm in - former hay mow floor - ash and beech and maple - 1" thick and nailed with hardened 8d spiral - - I'm guessing that pneumatic nailers would work also, tho you might have to finish with a hammer -
when I see, 'save money', reality flags go up..."there's enough for everyone"
I work with old wood all the time.
You don't "make a difference for the good in this world" by making everyone else think like you do. You make a difference for the good, when you help people think for themselves. ~me
The only thing that's worth old wood salvage is for visible cosmetics, otherwise the time and energy it takes isn't worth it. You have to remember that your time is worth something. If you want to do it as a hobby and you enjoy the time you put into it, then that's another matter.
The only thing that's worth old wood salvage is for visible cosmetics, otherwise the time and energy it takes isn't worth it.
I agree. I've saved a lot of the 80 year old studs from my remodel, and there's some beautiful stuff there if you can work around the nail holes. But there's no grade stamps on any of it, so they wouldn't allow it for any structural uses, not that I'd want to. I do plan to make a few windows out of it, though.
As I said in another response to a similar question--make sure there aren't any insects in this wood or you could infest your whole house. Kiln drying will kill bugs, but that's costly and a pain too.