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When choosing which type of wood to use for home projects, homeowners have numerous options. From cedar, fir, and pine to oak, maple, and mahogany, each kind of wood offers unique attributes with distinct characteristics. There is one wood choice that can be any species of wood, though. That’s reclaimed wood.

What is reclaimed wood? How does it differ from other wood sources? Better yet, how does reclaimed wood help the environment? Let’s explore why reclaimed wood boards are an excellent wood option for home projects.

What is Reclaimed Wood?

Reclaimed wood is lumber used to build one thing in the past, that is reused in a new project. It is all about giving a second life to wood, but not every piece of wood that is taken from one source and put toward another qualifies as reclaimed wood.

Post-Consumer Reclaimed Wood

The most common source of reclaimed wood, post-consumer reclaimed wood is rustic, distressed wood that has aged for years as part of another structure. It’s wood that was once used for another purpose – a barn, factory, fence, distillery, ship, or warehouse – and is now being salvaged and repurposed.

Post-consumer wood is worn and weathered and often showcases marks from nails, insects, and oxidation. It has abundant character, which makes is a popular choice for use a second time.

What Reclaimed Wood is Not

True reclaimed wood refers specifically to old-growth wood, not just any wood that finds a new purpose. This is why the term “reclaimed wood” is tricky.

For example, salvaged wood typically describes pieces of lumber that come from fresh-cut timber. A tree that is cut down to build furniture, with the smaller non-usable scraps sold off as firewood, is not how the repurposing process of reclaimed wood works.

When engineering products are made of wood, the manufacturing process leaves behind wood pieces, chips, scraps, shavings, millings, or sawdust. These leftovers, also known as wood waste, claim the title of post-industrial reclaimed wood. However, since they were not used to build something else previously, these scraps are not truly reclaimed.

Likewise, water reclaimed wood is not a true reclaimed wood, although it is an environmentally friendly practice for harvesting usable lumber. Lakes and rivers contain plenty of wood lost during log-driving operations. That wood pulled from the bottom of lakes and rivers is referred to as water reclaimed, river reclaimed, or river salvaged wood. Any wood gathered from the floor of water-submerged forest floors also falls into this category.

Upcycled wood is another term that might want to steal the title of reclaimed wood. Pallet wood that is re-used and upcycled to build something new is not the same as reclaimed wood.

The Age of Reclaimed Wood

Lumber from fresh timber is not reclaimed wood. One of the key components of true reclaimed wood is the age.

Reclaimed wood comes from a source where the wood has aged for years, yet is still strong enough to reuse. The age of reclaimed wood gives it a certain look – a rustic look with distressed or weathered features.

Did you know that distressing machinery exists to try and replicate the look of reclaimed wood? But no amount of artificial distressing can match the appearance of the natural wear-and-tear of real reclaimed wood.

A Wood Option Good for the Environment

Another critical component of reclaimed wood is where it is derived from and how it is sourced. The fresh, new lumber you see at the hardware store, is the direct result of cutting down trees. Reclaimed wood was already harvested years ago before the barn or bleachers it used to be a part of were built. The harvesting, milling, and transporting of the new wood are already done. Thus, using this reclaimed wood comes with environmental benefits including:

Decreases the Demand for New Wood – Reclaimed wood is recycled wood that does not require new trees to be cut down. It is old wood, not new wood. When you use reclaimed wood, you preserve our forests by decreasing the need for newly-harvested wood.

Reduces Landfill Usage – Reclaimed wood acts as a renewable resource. Using reclaimed wood keeps wood from ending up in a landfill.

Conserves Energy – Newly-sourced wood must be cut down, processed, and transported. This wood-harvesting process pollutes the air and takes up energy (and a lot of it).

Curbs Illegal Logging Practices – Reclaimed wood is a sustainable material. Using reclaimed wood shrinks the need for newly-harvested timber. As a result, reclaimed wood diminishes the customer base for new wood and dissuades illegal logging.

Preserves Animal Habitats – Animal life depends on trees, and less trees being cut down for newly-harvested lumber means more homes for animals.

Why Choose Reclaimed Wood?

Not only is reclaimed wood an environmentally-friendly wood option, reclaimed wood comes in nearly any species of wood. From softwood timber used to build fences and barns to hardwood lumber used to construct floors and decks, the reclaiming process is not restricted by wood type. Not to mention, since old-growth wood is a mature wood, reclaimed wood is known for its durability and stability.

If you are looking for a wood choice with plenty of character, beauty, and strength that has a positive impact on the environment, consider using Denver reclaimed wood for your next home project.