Let’s all do our part to reduce the waste that goes into our landfills. We need to learn to reuse things we already have instead of constantly buying new stuff. New is not necessarily better. In the case of salvaged wood; old is actually better and may even be cheaper. So the next time you have a remodeling or restoration project, think about using salvaged wood.
Wood can be salvaged from old houses, barns, bridges, and industrial sites. The woodwork in older homes is unequalled in beauty and durability. The emphasis a few hundred years ago was on craftsmanship, something you do not see as often these days. The millwork, mantels, windows, and fireplace surrounds can all be reused. Flooring and beams provide a rustic touch to newer homes. Old barn boards can be recycled into flooring and wall paneling.
Most salvaged wood is from old growth forests. It is often 100-200 years old. By reusing this wood, we take some of the burden off the last of our old growth forests. We are using wood much faster than we can grow new trees, so anything we can do to save our resources will benefit us all in the long run. Old wood has a color and patina that cannot be reproduced. The natural aging process and oxidation varies depending on whether the wood was used in interiors or was exposed to the elements.
Old exterior wood takes on a beautiful silvery hue with the original color visible underneath. Most interior wood retains its natural color, but it mellows with age and wear. Most of the time salvaged lumber will have scarring from insects, nail holes, cracks, and other signs of wear. It is still durable; just has some character. Old wood is prized for its durability, straight grain, and patina.
Furniture makers also love to work with salvaged wood to make one of kind pieces of furniture. Old mantels can be reused in new construction. I have even seen them used as spectacular headboards for a bed. Even if you don’t have a fireplace, the mantels can be used as an architectural detail. Smaller pieces of wood become picture frames and may be used by crafters to make interesting birdhouses and other small pieces. The idea is not waste anything. Our forefathers were not wasteful and it is becoming apparent to many of us that they had the right idea.
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