Reclaimed wood offers a unique, durable, and environmentally friendly alternative for flooring, woodwork, or building. However, there are some problems with reclaimed wood you should be aware of before you embark on a project.
Problems to Look Out For With Reclaimed Wood
Beautifully restored reclaimed wood adds something special to a building or room, but sourcing good quality stock comes with some serious potential hazards and pitfalls. Working with a reputable professional wood reclaimer can help you avoid problems.
1. Nails and staples
Old nails, pegs, and staples are time-consuming to remove and can cause cuts and scrapes and put you at risk of a tetanus infection.
At E.T. Moore, denailing is a top job for us as professional reclaimers. We spend hours inspecting “new” wood with hand tools and even metal detectors. We know a missed nail can seriously damage a saw and even endanger the operator.
Not only do wood-eating pests like termites damage wood, but bringing untreated reclaimed wood into your house risks spreading the infestation to your existing furniture and walls.
Avoid barn and pallet wood in particular in favor of higher-quality recovered woods.
3. Mold & Mildew
Reclaimed wood may also contain less visible hazards to your health: Mold and mildew: Reclaimed wood that has been exposed to high levels of humidity or moisture may expose your family to mold or mildew spores.
This can lead to respiratory problems, especially among children, elderly people, or asthmatics.
- Bacteria: Wood that has been used in barns may be contaminated for decades with bacteria from animal waste. Exposure to untreated wood can cause bacterial pneumonia or other illnesses.
- Reclaimed wood that could be infested with mold or mildew or contaminated with bacteria needs to be professionally treated. It is important also to work with companies that can store reclaimed wood long-term in dry conditions, preferably indoors.
4. Cupping and Warping
Excess moisture also has the potential to cause reclaimed wood to warp or cup. Make sure the wood you choose is a good-quality stock that has been dry stored since it was reclaimed.
At E.T. Moore, we specialize in recovered long-leaf yellow pine and other high-quality heartwoods that are naturally resistant to warping.
5. Variable Grades and Quality
The biggest challenge in using reclaimed wood is sourcing enough wood of a consistent grade or quality to meet your project needs or to match existing stock.
- Higher-quality woods can be hard to find in wider grades
- Milling techniques and standards may have changed, and
- Woods acquire a particular grain or patina as they age, weather, or wear that can be difficult to replicate. To have the look of that era, it needs to come from that era!
The Best Source for Flooring and Lumber
As the world’s largest producer of vintage heart pine products, E.T. Moore can work with you to source the best products for your project, depending on your particular needs:
- Flooring: Stock of rare woods such as white oak can be hard to find. An 1850’s floor will be very different from a 1950’s floor. With a huge inventory at our five-acre Richmond site, it’s likely we can replicate what is needed for the best possible match.
- Lumber: Lower-quality lumber can sometimes be poorly milled or not be available in the grade you need. We are experts at sourcing rare or obscure lumber products. And, with more quality lumber in stock, our customers know what they are getting at the start of a project, allowing them to deliver work of the highest quality on time.
- Beams: Finding large beams or varied lengths for large projects is a challenge, especially high-quality old-growth timbers that have been properly stored. We know the value of old timber, which means we can supply significant numbers of 30-40 foot structural beams — turning architectural impossibilities into possibilities!
- Mantels: it takes time to source and finish just the right piece of wood for an eye-catching mantel. While other suppliers may be able to source largely unfinished pieces, we have mantels up to 11 feet wide ready for final finishing to meet your needs.
At E.T. Moore, our experience and our deep inventory of well-seasoned reclaimed heart pine and other woods allow us to match the needs of the most complex and demanding projects for our customers, again and again. We’d love to help meet yours.
Click below to learn more about our reclaimed flooring and lumber products!