Reclaimed Wood 101: How the Salvaging Process Works

From demolition site to a home remodel, find out how the salvage process happens in the reclaimed wood industry.

reclaimed antique heart pine flooring engineered(Above): Reclaimed wood is a sustainable and environmentally friendly material to use in new construction or remodeling. Learn where it comes from and how you can put it to good use.

A common question is where do companies like Albany Woodworks get the reclaimed wood that they sell? An article from the Buildipedia article Understanding Reclaimed Wood: How the Salvaging Process Works explains the process and why it is so important to choose reclaimed wood for more reasons than one!

When you use reclaimed wood for any part of a home improvement or remodeling project, you’re giving old wood new life – and helping to preserve forests. Using older wood allows current virgin woods to be saved. As many home- and business owners choose reclaimed wood products to be more eco-friendly, these reclaimed products are becoming increasingly popular. What many people don’t know is how the salvaging process works.

Sources of Reclaimed Wood
The salvaging process begins with reclaiming wood from a variety of sources, including:
Shipping and crating materials.
Deconstructed buildings: Old houses, barns, & warehouses.
Wine casks. Made from old-growth redwood, wine casks feature rosy stains that perfectly accent any space.
Shipyards. Retired boats are full of wood waiting to be reclaimed

Reclaimed Beams in front of the La Pointe Krebs HouseStopping Landfill Waste or Incineration
Reclaiming lumber means to acquire the wood before it gets shipped to the landfill. This is often completed by scouting for lumber at shipyards, demolition sites, going-out-of-business sales, and building renovation sites. Often, desired wood is mixed with other waste, sorting is required. When this happens,  the high-quality pieces are separated from the waste and recyclable materials. This process generally involves:

  • Sorting the wood by hand;
  • Removing nails and bolts from the wood;
  • Banding units of wood together; and
  • Taking the leftover metal, plastic, and nylon to the recycling center.

The mid-grade pieces of wood that don’t make the cut are re-purposed and made into usable items, such as pallets. Low-grade wood is used as firewood or becomes bio-fuel.

RestorationCypress wall paneling reclaimed wood flooring
The highest-quality timber that’s salvaged is allowed to dry in order to stabilize. Once it’s dried, the lumber gets milled to remove its old, rugged exterior. This is when the lumber’s true beauty starts to appear. The reclaimed wood is then packaged and shipped to those who seek beautiful new tabletops, paneling, flooring, decks, counter tops, and more.

Interesting Facts about Reclaimed Wood

  • The process of producing reclaimed wood flooring uses 13 times less cumulative energy than that of producing virgin wood flooring.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that demolished buildings provide about 1,000,000,000 feet of usable lumber per year.

When it comes to reclaimed wood versus virgin wood, the choice is simple. There is no better way to acquire strong, old-growth timber or exotic woods and take care of the planet while beautifying a home or business.

For the full article, click here.

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