Reclaimed wood is gaining significant popularity as a building material, finding its way into a wide range of spaces, including renowned establishments like Google’s offices and local coffee shops. Its appeal is particularly strong in commercial projects, thanks to its multitude of health benefits, sustainable attributes, captivating story, and breathtaking aesthetic.
At TerraMai, we receive a plethora of inquiries about reclaimed wood, and we thoroughly enjoy addressing them. To provide you with some valuable insights about reclaimed wood, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive:
1. What is reclaimed wood?
Answering the question “What is reclaimed wood?” may seem straightforward, but its definition actually encompasses multiple layers. Essentially, reclaimed wood refers to wood that has been salvaged or repurposed in various ways. It can originate from vintage buildings and structures, where the ethical dismantling of these old structures provides access to highly sought-after old-growth wood.
Additionally, reclaimed wood includes wood diverted from landfills, as repurposing wood waste into beautiful materials is another form of reclaiming wood. In other words, both previously used wood and discarded wood fall under the umbrella of reclaimed wood. The beauty of reclaimed wood lies in the fact that it eliminates the need to cut down new trees.
The allure of reclaimed wood has captured the attention of the design world, particularly in commercial projects. Its appeal extends beyond aesthetics, as it offers numerous benefits such as positive impacts on health, sustainability, compelling narratives, and stunning visual appeal.
Designers and architects have embraced reclaimed wood as a favored choice, seamlessly integrating its aesthetic appeal with responsible construction practices. Its rich textures, warm tones, and unique grain patterns not only add visual interest to spaces but also evoke a sense of timelessness and a connection to nature. Moreover, every project that incorporates reclaimed wood contributes to waste reduction, the preservation of natural resources, and the creation of harmonious environments that coexist with the surrounding ecosystem.
By opting for reclaimed wood, we actively participate in the preservation of forests and reduce the strain on our planet’s timber reserves. We breathe new life into discarded wood, transforming it into sustainable materials that possess unparalleled beauty and character. Reclaimed wood allows us to honor the legacy of old-growth forests and cherish their irreplaceable qualities. With each piece, we carry forward a legacy of sustainability and craftsmanship, creating spaces that resonate with history, elegance, and a deep respect for the environment.
Reclaimed wood boasts longevity and universal appeal (From Hospitality Design)
2. Where does reclaimed wood come from?
Reclaimed wood is sourced from various origins, using a range of methods. TerraMai, the leader in reclaimed wood, is committed to sustainability and uses diverse sourcing types to ensure a reliable supply of reclaimed wood:
- Post-Consumer Reclaimed Wood: This refers to wood salvaged from old structures such as buildings, barns, bridges, and warehouses. These reclaimed materials provide a connection to history and often showcase distinct architectural elements and weathered textures.
- Post-Industrial Reclaimed Wood: Wood waste generated during the manufacturing process of wood products, such as furniture, can be repurposed as reclaimed wood. By diverting this valuable scrap wood from landfills, we reduce waste and give it a second life as functional and aesthetically pleasing materials.
- Water Reclaimed Wood: Submerged tropical wood, known as sinker logs, and wood from forests submerged in reservoirs created for power generation fall under the category of water reclaimed wood. This method allows the recovery of valuable timber while supporting local communities and contributing to the conservation of rainforests. Choosing water reclaimed wood ensures the use of tropical hardwoods without supporting illegal logging practices.
- Orchard Reclaimed Wood: Wood sourced from orchards includes trees that are dead or dying, or those that have reached the end of their productive life. Repurposing these trees provides an opportunity to utilize high-quality wood that would otherwise go to waste.
- Forest-Floor Reclaimed Wood: This type of reclaimed wood involves repurposing rejected trees from forests. These trees may have been deemed unsuitable for commercial logging due to various reasons but can still be transformed into beautiful and functional materials. Water reclaimed is a safe option to obtain tropical hardwoods without illegal logging.
These various methods of reclaiming wood offer sustainable alternatives to traditional timber sourcing, reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact. By repurposing wood that would otherwise be discarded or left to decay, we make the most of this valuable resource and contribute to a more circular and responsible approach to construction and design.
Reclaiming wood from older buildings is one of the most common methods of salvage (New York Times)
TerraMai uses these supply sources to create a diverse range of reclaimed wood products, including paneling, siding, flooring, and decking, offer eco-friendly alternatives to new wood. These allow us to provide high-quality, beautiful wood that exceeds expectations. We maintain high workplace standards in our overseas operations, personally inspecting all facilities to ensure ethical practices and quality control.
3. What are some common problems with reclaimed wood?
When investing in reclaimed wood for your projects to avoid potential problems, it’s crucial to choose a reputable reclaimed wood company that prioritizes quality, customer service, and possesses deep wood expertise.
Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
- Sourcing Expertise: Select a company that has extensive knowledge and experience in sourcing reclaimed wood. They should understand what to look for when procuring materials, ensuring they are authentic, sustainable, and of high quality.
- Milling Expertise: The company you choose should have expertise in milling reclaimed wood. Proper milling techniques ensure that the wood is processed and prepared correctly for its intended use, guaranteeing dimensional accuracy and stability.
- Quality Check Program: A reliable reclaimed wood company will have a robust quality check program in place. This program should encompass thorough inspections and testing to ensure that the reclaimed wood meets the highest standards of quality, durability, and safety.
- Embrace the Character: Reclaimed wood is renowned for its character-rich appearance, showcasing the unique patina, weathering, and history of the wood. Instead of viewing these characteristics as issues, they should be embraced as the wood’s story and testament to its prior life. A reputable company will understand and appreciate the beauty of these distinctive features.
- Visual Representation: It’s essential to see photos and obtain representative samples before making a purchase. This allows you to visually assess the reclaimed wood’s appearance, including its color variations, grain patterns, and potential imperfections and ensuring you have a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and can align it with your design vision.
By selecting a reputable reclaimed wood company that prioritizes quality, expertise, and customer satisfaction, you can have confidence that the reclaimed wood material you receive will perform well in your projects. Embracing the unique character of reclaimed wood adds a touch of authenticity and charm to your designs, creating spaces that tell a compelling story while promoting sustainable practices.
4. Will it run out?
Often we’re asked, “When will you run out of reclaimed wood“? Despite having done this for more than 20 years (or perhaps because we HAVE done this for more than 20 years!), we just keep finding more and more and more.
Many people think that all reclaimed wood is decades or even centuries old, and this is largely why reclaimed wood might seem like a limited resource. While much reclaimed wood is old wood, some reclaimed wood is not. Many reclaimed wood sourcing methods are sustainable, meaning that these sources are enduring and continual. Reclaiming wood will remain as a valuable and lasting process.
5. Is reclaimed wood safe?
Reclaimed wood is generally safe for various applications, but it’s essential to consider factors beyond the wood itself, including finishes and adhesives used during reclamation and manufacturing.
One significant safety advantage of reclaimed wood is its low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. As a natural material, wood is inherently non-emitting for VOCs. Reputable reclaimed wood companies prioritize environmental responsibility and sustainability, opting for finishes with zero or low VOC content. This ensures that the final wood product emits minimal harmful toxins into the air, promoting healthier indoor air quality.
Beyond low VOC emissions, using reclaimed wood may offer health benefits. Studies suggest that being surrounded by natural materials like wood positively impacts human health and well-being. Wood’s calming effect, stress reduction, and connection to nature create a pleasant and soothing environment for occupants.
Safety also extends to responsible sourcing. Reputable companies prioritize reclaimed wood from old structures or sustainable practices like water reclaimed wood or orchard reclaimed wood. These sources are less likely to be exposed to harmful substances, ensuring safer materials.
Trusted reclaimed wood companies implement rigorous quality control measures. Thorough inspections and testing verify that the wood meets industry safety and performance standards.
To further ensure safety and environmental responsibility, consider certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These validate the reclaimed wood’s sustainability and adherence to high ethical benchmarks.
In conclusion, when sourced and processed properly, reclaimed wood is a safe and environmentally friendly building material. Opt for trusted suppliers prioritizing low VOC emissions and sustainable practices to enjoy the unique beauty and character of reclaimed wood while promoting a healthier indoor environment.
6. Does it install like new wood?
7. Is reclaimed wood expensive?
The cost of reclaimed wood varies depending on many factors, such as the species of the wood, it’s age, availability, sourcing method, and more. The price will also vary from company to company. However, you may find you’ll spend a little more than you would on new wood. Salvaging wood takes some extra work. Finding and securing sources, and the process of extricating, de-nailing, quality checks and remilling take a bit of extra care to ensure you end up with a quality material that looks great and installs well.
8. How do I purchase reclaimed wood?
There are companies that sell reclaimed wood and there are those that sell wood that looks like reclaimed wood. Ask questions about sourcing and get to know the company you are purchasing from. Reclaimed wood should have a reclaim story of where it originated and how it came to be a repurposed material. Post-consumer reclaimed wood can be FSC certified recycled for further verification. At TerraMai, we want to make buying reclaimed wood easy and have a dedicated national sales team to partner with you. We also have an eStore where many of our materials can be purchased.
9. Why is reclaimed wood so popular?
There are a variety of factors that have contributed to reclaimed woods’ growing popularity. One reason is the increased demand for using sustainable materials and using authentic materials with story. Sustainable design is a top priority for architects today, and that means choosing building materials that aren’t harmful to the planet. Reclaimed wood is inherently sustainable and requires far fewer resources to process it, making it a go-to choice for designers all over the world.
More and more people are looking for an experience and are choosing materials that align with their personal and brand values. Reclaimed wood can provide a connection through the power of story.
Many different looks from naturally distressed to clean and crisp can be achieved with reclaimed wood, but rustic design in commercial environments is best achieved with reclaimed wood. Similarly, biophilic design is more popular than ever, and reclaimed wood is arguably one of the best building material for creating biophilic spaces.
TerraMai’s Oak reclaimed from horse fencing creates an authentic rustic storefront for Lululemon
10. Why are so many top designers using reclaimed wood?
Starchitect firms like Perkins+Will have been using more and more reclaimed wood in their work. While designers use reclaimed wood for all of the reasons mentioned above (see Question 9), the intersection of aesthetics and sustainability is what draws many top designers to the material. Other designers, like Michael Green, are attracted to reclaimed wood for its character. Each piece of reclaimed wood carries a unique history with it, and this instantly adds verve and personality to any built environment.
The facade of Michael Green’s T3 building features beautiful reclaimed wood (from Dezeen)
11. How old is most reclaimed wood?
Age will vary dependent upon the source of the wood. Old growth wood salvaged from vintage buildings could be over 100 years old while post industrial wood waste may be much younger. No matter what its age is, salvaging wood and repurposing it helps minimize resources going to the landfill and negates the need to cut new trees.
12. How is reclaimed wood milled?
Milling reclaimed wood is surprisingly straightforward. The wood is inspected for damage and other quality issues and then stripped of nails and any other metal. Dimensions of the sourced wood will direct final dimensions of the milled material. Some planks may be removed if they are too thin or narrow. Additional steps are similar to milling new wood as far as equipment is concerned. How the material is defected and quality checked along the way will be company directed.
13. Does reclaimed wood require a lot of care and maintenance?
Like any wood, reclaimed wood will perform and look its best with appropriate maintenance. How the wood is finished, if it is an interior or exterior application, and level of usage will direct a care and maintenance program. With the right care, reclaimed wood can last decades. For more information, consult our Care & Maintenance guidelines.
14. Does reclaimed wood weather or change colors?
Depending on the species, milling, finish and the wood’s installation location, the wood may change a little or a lot. If the reclaim material’s weathered face is surfaced to reveal fresh wood underneath, there may be some color variation from plank to plank. This color variation may mellow over time as is true for teak. The initial color variation seen across the boards will homogenize over time such that all the planks become a more similar teak brown. Placement also matters; reclaimed wood used outdoors as siding or decking will weather more and faster than lumber used for indoor environments. A nice soft grey patina will develop if the wood finish is not maintained.
15. What wood species are available for reclaimed wood?
Almost all wood species can be reclaimed. The most popular are teak, oak, redwood, fir, pine, and cedar (especially Western Red Cedar). However, there are many exotic options, including peroba, cumaru, and acacia.
16. Is reclaimed wood environmentally friendly?
Reclaimed wood is one of the most environmentally friendly building materials in existence. Sourcing reclaimed wood is more energy efficient than harvesting new wood, and it also doesn’t require any living trees to be cut down. It leaves a minimal energy footprint while yielding maximum eco-friendly results. On top of that, some reclaimed wood can be FSC Certified Recycled and can earn points toward green building certifications like LEED.
17. Is reclaimed wood FSC certified?
While a lot of reclaimed wood is FSC Certified Recycled, not all of it can be. At first, that might seem bad, but that’s not necessarily the case. FSC certification applies only to post-consumer reclaimed wood. Post-consumer meaning wood that has been utilized by consumers in some manner like old buildings, bridges, fencing and other structures. There are many other methods to source reclaimed wood that prevent materials from becoming landfill waste but they do not fall under FSC jurisdiction.
From TerraMai: Reclaimed Lost Coast Weathered Paneling and solid oak tables are FSC 100% Recycled.
18. Does reclaimed wood prevent deforestation?
Using reclaimed wood helps reduce the demand for newly cut trees. Unfortunately, many new trees are still cut down and this demand can lead to deforestation. It is important that people are aware that some 18 million acres of forest are lost each year and to also know the impact that deforestation is having on the environment, wildlife and quality of life. Understanding this impact can help customers make informed purchasing decisions.
19. Will there be more if I need to add on to my project?
A project expansion or renovation can require material match the original installation, or a customer may wish to build many facilities with the same look. Large quantities of reclaimed wood can be sourced and continue to be sourced over time so that there is consistent and lasting inventory. Some sources of reclaimed wood will be quite unique and one-of-a-kind but many post-consumer and post-industrial sourcing streams will continue for the foreseeable future.
20. Is reclaimed wood just a trend?
Despite worries that reclaimed wood is just another fashionable trend, it’s not going away anytime soon. Architects and designers have realized the immense benefits that come with reclaimed wood, and the aesthetic is universal and timeless. Its high sustainability factor is another reason why it will be one of the most desired building materials for the indefinite future. As starchitects continue to use and find more ways to implement reclaimed wood into their designs, the outlook for continued growth is positive.
From Inhabitat: Advertising firm BBDO is one of many companies to use reclaimed wood in its offices
I hope this article has answered your questions on reclaimed wood. All in all, it’s a fantastic material that will remain popular for a long time. There’s nothing quite like reclaimed wood; the beauty and character found in reclaimed lumber are unmatched. Reclaimed wood not only enhances the look of a space but also helps to save the earth. What more could you want from a building material?