Why Reclaimed Wood? Discovering the Beauty and Sustainability of Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood. If you’ve browsed the pages of architectural magazines, viewed the recent architecture and design awards, or simply looked at the built environment around you, you’ve seen it. Reclaimed wood flooring, reclaimed wood paneling, reclaimed wood siding, reclaimed lumber — it’s everywhere.

Reclaimed wood makes a statement, turns heads, captures attention, enhances well-being, and improves the environment. It’s more than a design trend. The use of reclaimed wood is an intentional choice for the environment and building inhabitants; it’s an integral aesthetic and meaningful design component.

Here is why reclaimed wood has become the design material of choice.


Reclaimed Wood Has Proven Performance

Whether it’s the durability of wood flooring or the warmth of wood siding, reclaimed wood is a prime choice for many award winning buildings and designs. It can enhance and complement just about any design style. When designers choose reclaimed wood, they may be seeking a material that can show its history through a rich patina, circle sawn markings and nail holes but reclaimed wood can also have a clean or eclectic aesthetic. Either way, there is a soulful nature and meaningful story to discover.

TerraMai reclaimed wood materials are routinely specified by top architects and designers, including Gensler, HOK, IA, Stantec, CallisonRTKL, Perkins+Will and hundreds more. TerraMai reclaimed wood products can be found in projects for Google, REI, Lululemon, The Coca-Cola Company, HBO, Stanford University, The Ritz-Carlton Company and Amazon – just to name a few.

1 Hotel in Miami, Florida is cladded with TerraMai's Lost Coast Reclaimed Redwood Paneling

Lost Coast Weathered Paneling pictured here at 1 Hotel in Miami, FL was winner of Interior Design's Best of Year Award 2015, Best of NeoCon 2015 - Gold for Wall Treatments, and HiP award for Workplace Wall Coverings


CallisonRTKL wins 2017 Shop! Gold Award (Service Retailer) for Capital One, Union Square, NYC featuring TerraMai reclaimed Mission Oak Solid Paneling.



CallisonRTKL wins 2017 Shop! Gold Award (Specialty Retailer) for REI Uline, Washington DC featuring TerraMai reclaimed Dirty Face Flooring.


Reclaimed Wood Possesses Beauty and Story

Reclaimed wood adds instant authenticity and personality to a space. Today’s designers are embracing an aesthetic that embodies the organic natural beauty of wood that carries with it a greater impact for the built environment. Occupants instinctively respond to wood flooring, siding, paneling, stairs, beams and furniture with positive emotional and physical reactions. Reclaimed wood has an additive effect. Sometimes the wood’s prior history is visually evident meaning the wood is character-rich but even when it has a clean aesthetic, reclaimed wood brings powerful stories of repurposing wood and utilizing what would have otherwise been discarded and wasted. These stories enrich and enhance the wood's natural beauty and create a deeper experience.

Reclaimed rePLY Paneling at Microsoft.


Reclaimed Lost Coast Weathered Paneling encircles the booths and reclaimed oak tabletops help deliver a dining experience at Happiest Hour in Dallas, TX.


Reclaimed MC Walnut Paneling at Toyota’s headquarters in Plano, TX.


Reclaimed Wood Promotes Sustainability

Reclaimed wood offers a range of sustainability advantages over new wood. Reclaimed wood reduces the devastating impact of deforestation, keeps valuable resources from being landfilled and thoughtfully repurposes wood that has been deemed unworthy. Other advantages include much lower emissions than associated with the logging, transport and processing of new wood.

Through a number of sourcing methods such as older wood structures slated for demolition (factories, barns, bridges, etc), orchard salvage, vasts forests submerged under water in reservoirs, forest floor salvage, and off-cuts from manufacturing, TerraMai ensures large quantities of wood are found and put back to good use. Seeking reclaimed wood through these many avenues ensures plentiful inventory and variety. Types of reclaimed wood include teak, acacia, pine, redwood, oak, walnut, douglas fir, cedar, peroba and many other varieties from around the world.

Old growth wood is incredibly stable and durable. Because of the tightly packed growth rings, old growth wood is denser and thus, more physically durable with better rot resistance. Old growth wood is less likely to splinter, split or warp versus new growth wood. We humans have mostly decimated our old-growth forests worldwide. It is important to protect the remaining old growth forests as they are biodiversity-rich, are necessary for regulating water flows and they influence climate patterns. Fortunately, billions of board feet of this material are still in service and will become available for us to reclaim for generations into the future. Reclaimed wood that was harvested and milled decades ago, offers a stability unavailable in new, even kiln-dried, wood. When looking for old growth wood, the best ethical source is reclaimed wood.

Reclaimed Solid Teak at the High Line, NYC.


Reclaimed Douglas Fir Stair Treads.


Reclaimed Dark Horse Paneling makes for a standout store front.


Sourcing, Milling and Shipping of Reclaimed Wood

In addition to strategic and sustainable sourcing, milling reclaimed wood has far less impact on the environment than new wood sourced from freshly cut trees. Traditional methods result in deforestation, enormous amounts of energy output for harvesting, millions of gallons of water for irrigating, and a energy-intensive milling process.

Reclaimed wood side steps this environmental harm. Many of the steps required to prepare the wood have already been accomplished. TerraMai reclaimed woods are milled as close to the source as possible, both domestically and overseas. TerraMai continues to develop a sourcing network of mills and shops throughout the U.S. and abroad. This network is unmatched in the reclaimed wood industry.

TerraMai takes active measures to reduce shipping and to supply LEED-eligible regional wood products to all parts of the U.S. – form New York, to Miami, to Chicago, to San Francisco, etc. This practice also allows TerraMai to take advantage of local and regional knowledge and expertise and to support local communities both in the U.S. and overseas.

We only work with overseas operations that meet our high standards for workplace conditions and technical excellence. We personally, and repeatedly, visit every facility we work with overseas.

NYC Fifth Avenue Apartment Lobby with Reclaimed Acacia Metro Paneling.


Teak Engineered Flooring at AT&T’s Flagship Chicago Store.


Reclaimed MC Walnut Paneling at Shore Club.


Reclaimed Wood from TerraMai Is FSC Certified

Many of TerraMai reclaimed woods are certified recycled by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC), the world’s premier forest conservation organization. TerraMai’s FSC certification assures clients that our products are authentically eco-friendly (TerraMai’s FSC number is SCS-COC-001014). Several forms of wood reclamation are outside the jurisdiction of FSC. For example, underwater reclaim and orchard salvage. TerraMai is working to have alternate forms of reclamation verified as reclaimed. Preventing useful material from being landfilled and underutilized is our goal but we recognize the importance of third party verification.

Reclaimed Mission Oak Engineered Cowboy Coffee at US AmeriBank in Florida.


Reclaimed Wood Qualifies for Green Building Standards and Certification Credits: LEED, WELL and LBC

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program was created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is a nationally recognized rating system for sustainable building. TerraMai materials can help a projects earn points toward credits in several LEED categories. Which credits, specifically, depends on the product and the project. TerraMai has been a USGBC member since 2003.

Both the WELL Building Standard and Living Building Challenge (LBC) have a biophilic design focus in which reclaimed wood is a logical solution for bringing nature into a space.The WELL Building Standard, developed by Delos and introduced in October 2014, is a performance-based system for measuring and certifying features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being.

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a rigorous sustainable building standard created in 2006 by the Living Future Institute. LEED, WELL and LBC were all created to work harmoniously with each other.

The majority of TerraMai solid-wood materials and the wear layer on many of our engineered materials are certified recycled by FSC. Look for FSC certified new wood plywood substrate on much of TerraMai’s engineered materials.

TerraMai is committed to using zero and low-VOC finishes and adhesives to meet LEED EQ low emitting materials and WELL’s VOC Reduction and Toxic Material Reduction requirements. The majority of our materials have been tested and are in compliance with VOC test requirements for the CDPH V1.2 standard or they are in compliance with LEED’s inherently non-emitting sources requirement.

Per LEED BD+C: New Construction I v4 - LEED v4, Low-emitting materials

Inherently non-emitting sources

Products that are inherently non-emitting sources of VOCs – specifically stone, ceramics, powder-coated metals, plated metals or anodized metals, glass, concrete, clay brick, and unfinished/untreated solid wood flooring – are considered fully compliant without any VOC emissions testing if they do not include integral organic-based surface coatings, binders, or sealants.

Reclaimed Acacia Metro with custom finish on the Wellness Wall at Symantec


Reclaimed Mission Oak Engineered Flooring and Paneling at Station 101 in Boston, MA.


Reclaimed Long Plank Teak Siding at Onward in Seattle, WA


How to Become a Design Hero with Reclaimed Wood

Award-winning designs are sparked by inspiration and carried forward by accurate information. TerraMai’s in-house wood experts are standing by to partner with you on your next design project.

Whether you’re retrofitting a small or massive commercial space, designing the next jaw-dropping hotel lobby, or visioning your project on the cover of Architectural Digest, we’ve got you covered. TerraMai’s experts know reclaimed wood, and can answer questions, provide ideas, and are ready to supply you with free samples of reclaimed wood.


Get in touch with a reclaimed wood expert today

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