Let’s Chat About Reclaimed Wood

A typical day at Excelsior…

A customer enters the showroom and we greet each other.

Customer: I want to use reclaimed wood for my man cave/great room/feature wall. How much is it?

Me: Ballpark, it’s “blah, blah” per square foot.

Customer: Wow!

I thought it would be cheap, because… it’s used, like a used car or a second-hand clothing shop.

Me: Well, I understand. I can definitely see how it would look that way.

Customer: Don’t you get the wood for free?

Me: We don’t. Would you like me to explain the process?

Customer: Sure!

Me: First we source the material. It may come from an old barn, a factory, or wherever. We purchase the reclaimed wood for a fair rate. Often we must bring in about twice the amount of wood that we need to yield due to defects like large cracks, holes, and rot.

The wood may be 100 years old and sometimes older. We do not want to pass along material that is not usable to you.

Then our crew de-nails the material by hand using metal detectors. All of the metal must come out or it destroys our tooling. This can be a tedious and lengthy process. Sometimes I can’t believe how many nails are in a board.

Next, we kiln dry it. Sometimes the wood is already quite dry, being that it is so old. However, we recommend kiln drying it to help ensure there aren’t any living insects in the wood. The material usually dries in the kiln for about 3 weeks.

After that, the wood goes into our milling department. We generally perform five (or more) processes on different pieces of machinery to compete the milling.

If we are pre-coating the reclaimed wood, we sand it first. Then we apply coatings, be it stain or polyurethane or oil. It sits on the racks until it is dry.

It’s quite a process. Each board is handled many times. A lot of time and effort goes into making a quality reclaimed product. That’s why it is so valuable and the lead times are a bit on the lengthy side.

Customer: That makes sense.

Me: If the reclaimed wood works for your budget – Great! That’s wonderful! The material is ethical, gorgeous, and adds a wonderful story along with history.

If not, we have plenty of new options that have a rustic feel similar to reclaimed wood. They are typically more affordable then reclaimed, yet still beautiful and sustainable with great quality.

Here’s an example of new circle-sawn pine. We can use our milling processes to mimic the reclaimed look.

Customer: Good to know.

Me: Many of our customers choose to use the new more affordable wood for large expanses in their homes and reclaimed wood for special touches like mantles, shelves, and kitchen islands. It’s a great way to incorporate reclaimed wood and stick to your budget. In any case, we are happy to help!

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