When you’re looking for a cost-effective way to bring hardwood into your home or office space, reclaimed wood should be at least one of your considerations. It’s an eco-friendly material for sure. It’s also about more than just up-cycling. It’s about making the decision to help keep perfectly usable products from ending up in a landfill.
Reclaimed wood is basically lumber that’s harvested from old barns, shipping crates, gym bleachers, wine casks and so forth. Then, new products, such as reclaimed hardwood flooring and counter tops are made from it. It can often be more desirable than virgin wood because it’s generally harder and more durable. The final products are truly unique and using reclaimed wood helps reduce deforestation.
Here are just a few ideas for using reclaimed wood in your own surroundings…
The lumber harvested to make reclaimed hardwood flooring often comes from old buildings that were built using old-growth lumber. Therefore, it’s generally harder, denser and stronger than floors made from virgin wood, and it typically has a straighter wood grain.
Like the options you might see in any flooring showroom, reclaimed hardwood flooring comes in a variety of blends, so it’s simple to find one that matches the style of your home or office. Use European beech reclaimed lumber for a bright modern look. Old-growth fir or pine with oxide stains, grayish-blue palette and honey tones is perfect for a look that reminds you of the French countryside. For a rustic atmosphere, choose reclaimed circle-sawn antique oak or a combination of red and white oak. If you want something a bit more eclectic, consider an exotic tropical blend, which offers sleek, contrasting hues.
Because of their affordability and durability, 4×8 veneer panels are a popular design option because they offer the look of hardwood yet don’t expand or contract with temperature changes or humidity. When you use veneer panels made from reclaimed wood, you help divert thinner pieces of lumber from landfills. The following applications are great for wood paneling.
• Cabinetry: If your kitchen or bathroom needs a facelift, reface the cabinets with veneer panels made from reclaimed lumber. The best veneer panels for these rooms are those that are secured to the substrate with strong glue that can withstand moisture.
• Walls: Veneer panels made from reclaimed lumber are available with cleat systems so they’re simple to install and remove as needed. Use the wood paneling along all the walls in a room, on an accent wall or along the bottom half of the walls in a room for a modern look.
• Fireplace: If you have a contained fireplace with a steel insert or doors, use wood paneling to frame the accent piece and give it a trendy look.
• Framing: Frames made of wood around doors and windows shrink and expand when temperatures change, which can create cracks that make your home or office inefficient. Opt for frames made of veneer panels to avoid this issue.
• Casework: Bookcases, shelving units, display cases and other storage solutions made of hardwood look beautiful, but they’re also heavy and expensive. Get a similar look without the extra cost or bulk with casework made of reclaimed wood paneling.
Every countertop and tabletop made from reclaimed lumber is unique and has a story to tell about its former life. In the office, use reclaimed wood for your work surfaces and the tables in your meeting rooms. At home, use the lumber to make side tables, end tables, coffee tables, kitchen counters or a dining room tabletop.
Decks are a big investment in your home, and using the right decking material can give it lasting power. If you’re planning to build a new deck or resurface a current one, consider using reclaimed tropical hardwoods. Because they come from tropical areas of the world, these dense hardwoods naturally withstand heat, rain and humidity. When looking into this earth-friendly option, look for deck boards that have a hidden clip system or eased edges.
It’s getting easier to find furniture made from reclaimed wood. If you’re curious, you can ensure the product is truly green by looking for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. When a product or business is FSC-certified, you can actually trace the material back to its source.
Companies that are truly committed to using reclaimed lumber will also back up their ecological claims with certifications from other green organizations, like the Rainforest Alliance. The best retailers that offer reclaimed wood products are those that can at least trace the lumber to the original source and at best tell you about its previous use.
As you dream of transforming your home or office, think of the different ways that you can also make it more eco-friendly.
Remember: If you can make it with new lumber, there’s a good chance that you can also build it with reclaimed wood.