Best Places To Buy Reclaimed Wood
Reclaimed wood is attractive and eco-friendly, but where do you get it? Here's a primer to help you locate a source online or in your neighborhood.
If you’re new to reclaimed wood, think of it as experienced wood. Recovered from old buildings, barns, fences and other structures, reclaimed wood withstood the ravages of time and nature for decades — perhaps a century or more — while developing a character that you simply can’t find in freshly milled lumber. Sometimes wood reclaimed from old buildings is an over-forested species that’s no longer common, or was milled with techniques no longer used because they’re considered wasteful.
Reclaimed wood combines character with the eco-friendliness of a recycled building material, so it’s no surprise that more and more people are using it. It can be turned into flooring, furniture, beams and other structural members, though wall paneling might be its most popular application.
There’s one catch, though: You have to find a source. If you run “how to find reclaimed wood near me” through a search engine, you might be surprised by all the options.
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Search “reclaimed wood” on Amazon and other mega sources, like The Home Depot, and you’ll get plenty of hits. But beware: Some wood purchased through large retailers isn’t actually reclaimed. It’s new wood that has been distressed, stained or otherwise processed to look older and more weathered than it actually is.
Real reclaimed wood is usually unstained, unfinished and riddled with nail holes. If the wood you purchase is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and bears its label, you can be sure it’s reclaimed.
You’ll generally also have luck searching locally through community pages like Next Door, Craigslist or a neighborhood Facebook page. Depending on your network, you may find what you’re looking for by posting a request on any of these sites and letting people come to you.
Ebay and Etsy are also potential sources for reclaimed wood. Instagram is one of the best online sources, according to Robert Kundel of Restorer Tools. Search “reclaimed wood,” click on any of the pictures, and the comments will often provide suggestions and sometimes links for suppliers.
A word to the wise, though: Purchasing reclaimed wood sight-unseen from an independent seller can be risky. You could end up with some partially rotted or insect-infested lumber. Reclaimed wood from a large dealer is more likely to be FSC-certified. Though some of it may be ugly, it will all be usable.
Don’t forget to figure in shipping costs when buying online, which are comparable to new lumber shipping. Shipping rates, calculated per-foot, are typically highest for small orders (five pounds or less) and most economical for orders exceeding 150 pounds.
Direct from Owner
Do you know of an old building in your community slated for demolition? Perhaps there’s an old, dilapidated barn on the outskirts or town. Contact the property owner, whom you can usually find by searching the property address at the county planning office, and negotiate.
You may find the owner only too happy to let you to haul away wood for free or a nominal price. If the owner happens to be a neighbor or someone you know, you may be able to barter with something other than your hard-earned cash.
Builders are aware of the value of reclaimed lumber. During a demolition, they’ll often take great pains to salvage usable flooring, interior woodwork, siding and structural timber. They may already be under contract with a distributor, but they may not. Either way, they’re often happy to sell to anyone willing to haul the wood away and save them the trouble.
You can approach this option in two ways. One is to cold-call contractors and construction companies in your area and tell them what you need. The other is to approach the contractor-in-charge on a demolition site. A contractor who doesn’t have what you need may be able to direct you to someone who does.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a local business that recycles used building materials, that’s probably the first place you should go, even before searching online.
Any material you find there will likely be de-nailed and ready to haul. And because you can examine it firsthand, you’ll avoid problematic wood with defects like warping, rot or severe insect damage. (Wormholes and minor insect damage are actually desirable as long as the insects are gone.)
A Habitat for Humanity Restore is a good source for used building materials and reclaimed wood. If there isn’t one in your community, there probably is within driving distance.
Reclaimed Wood Retailers
By far the most reliable sources for reclaimed wood are retailers that deal specifically with this product, and finding them is online is easy. If you’re lucky, there’s one in your area.
If you live near Peculiar, MO, you can visit the showroom at Elmwood Reclaimed Timber. If you live in Southern California, try Ganhal Lumber, which has outlets all over the area, or Box Kite Barnwood in San Luis Obispo.