As you read any home design magazines, or search online resources or forums that talk about home décor or staging trends, one of the trends that will catch your attention is the growing popularity of reclaimed wood for various designs and accessories. Because reclaimed wood is repurposed from previous use, it is viewed as more environment-friendly and greener option than having to cut down new trees. With the emphasis on ecologically sustainable options for furniture and flooring, it is not surprising that reclaimed wood has seen a surge in popularity lately.
There are many benefits to using reclaimed wood, but you also have to be cautious of some of the possible downsides of reclaimed wooden furniture and flooring. Some enterprising people have cashed in on this trend by deceptively marketing their products as “reclaimed”. Before buying anything labeled as reclaimed, ask for a certification from a reputable organization such as the Forest Stewardship Council or the Rainforest Alliance.
Depending on the source of the reclaimed lumber, it’s possible that there are some toxins or chemicals in the original wood itself, or as it is treated and prepared for reuse by the manufacturer. Chemicals, paints, preservatives, adhesives, insecticides, lead, and other compounds can cause problems for you or someone else you live with. Obtain full disclosure on what toxins may be present in the reclaimed wood, and apply the appropriate precautions.
Usually, furniture or flooring options made from reclaimed material have a higher price tag because of the process entailed before it is ready for reuse. However, you may be able to avoid having to pay more by doing the reclamation yourself, that is if you are knowledgeable or have had some prior experience with it.
Regarding the strength and quality of the wood, reclaimed lumber is hard to beat. Reclaimed wood can be up to 40 points sturdier on the Janka hardness scale compared to virgin wood, mostly because it is procured from old-growth trees instead of the usual first-generation trees for virgin wood. Some reclaimed wood is taken from old barns or structures and have stood the test of time and other elements.