The Reclaimed Wood Process, Cost and Green Value
To restore wood for the process of reuse is called reclaimed. In the reclaiming process, you should either inspect the wood from the old house yourself, or find a contractor who specializes in this area. Here are some questions you should ask:
- Is the wood in good shape? In other words, is it salvageable or beyond repair? Often times to an amateur eye that old door may look hideous, but to a professional, that same door is a piece of lumber in excellent condition which just needs to be stripped and refinished.
- How much character can the wood have? Once it is refinished, it may not be perfect. For example, reclaimed floorboards may have some dark spots or nicks. Will this drive you batty or are you okay with a bit of old world charm?
- Have you thought about the amount of work that you will have to endure? To rip out floorboards, for instance, is not a quick, sledgehammer job. It is a tedious process of each floorboard being removed by hand so the wood is preserved in the best way possible.
Recycling wood can be quite cost-effective, especially if a spouse, friend or family member is doing the work for free or at a minimal charge. Home repair costs are driven upwards when hiring a professional contractor, so you should shop around for the best rates. Find a contractor who specializes in green construction and if possible, use word of mouth recommendations. A great untapped resource to find contractors are local fire or police departments – these men and women often do construction on the side.
Additionally, salvaged building materials are cheap in comparison to buying the new stuff. For example, an unfinished (not primed or painted), no frills pine door at Home Depot will set you back $80 (per door!). Compare that to the gallon of zero to low VOC paint stripper, steel wool and gallon of paint thinner you will need to strip all your doors, and the price could come to under $30!
Feel good about reusing wood from an old house because you are going green. If you decide to reclaim wood, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You are keeping material out of the landfill and setting a great example for your children and your community with environmentally friendly house plans.