The current design craze around “barn board” type looks are sure driving the market. Suddenly, the distressed, knotty, weathered, discolored, cracked, punky, and pith look is “in”. This is the same wood that for years was automatically sent off as pallet material or low grade and chipped up.
But now people are willing to pay big dollars for that look. And it is available.
The reason the price is high is a supply issue. The standard lumber distributors have warehouses full of hardwood- and softwood-grade lumber all ready to go put up to national standards that are readily defined and understood. But there are no defined standards for “reclaimed wood” or “barn boards” or whatever other terms this is given.
What is so hard about stocking old wood? Given no standards of specie, grade, color, quality, or other distinctive differences. … who is willing to invest in that kind of inventory and lose?
The last half dozen years have caused many a manager to question the validity of the investment in their inventory. Now it may make sense to invest in inventory that is potentially one-of-a kind and not repeatable? Ughhhhh.
In the meantime, this desire needs to be filled! There are markets and there is product available. Finding the matches are the key to a successful business. What about moisture content? What about insect infestation? What about lead paint remnants? What about guano remains? What about mold?
Makes you think a little, doesn’t it? How can you get that same look without some of those problems and keep the price in line? Really, it is not that hard. Specify a species, or range of species. Describe the type of defect you want to see (knots, cracks, discoloration or not, etc). Or go to the this web site that the American Hardwood Export Council provides.
That site is based on the NHLA (National Hardwood Lumber Association) and gives you the “standard” grades to specify.
Then demand it to be kiln dried in a standard kiln (above 135 degrees F- may vary according to critters). Or at least “Heat Treated” and ask if that meets USDA standards. Old wood can still go back through that process.
Moulding or resurfacing the material will remove some of the paint, or other things that “stick” to wood. But you may lose some of the rough look that way. Many companies are now finding ways to put that look back on wood. Ask for it that way!
A proper final finish will also seal some of the order issues that come with “old” stuff. These are issues the millworker or paint contractor need to deal with. They are issues you need to deal with if you are the one installing the material!
We, at Lewis Lumber Products, are not necessarily experts in reclaimed wood. But we are experts in hardwood and softwood for interior use. We are glad to lend assistance in specification. Try us!