If you are thinking of building a tiny house trailer, a micro house, a cabin, or anything other than a McMansion of the new millennium, then chances are you already understand the satisfaction of having something that’s unique. And so when you build or when you renovate you look for one-of-a-kind materials. Unlike other materials whose appeal rests solely in their aesthetics, reclaimed wood has beauty, history, and character.
It isn’t surprising then that people are going to great lengths these days to find reclaimed wood that makes a stylistic statement about themselves and their homes.
In fact, Brad Kittel has built an entire business out of his concept “sustainability through salvage.” His company Tiny Texas Houses is an inspiration to me as he himself practices (and teachers others) the art of dismantling, pulling nails, sorting wood, and repurposing, in his construction.
So with his designs firmly planted in my mind and my own desire to keep our carbon footprint low and yet not sacrifice style and character in our tiny house I set about in March of 2011 to tackle my first rehabilitation project.
We were just wrapping up a few months stay in Georgia when my brother-in-law phoned me with some news that had him pretty siked. What’s interesting is that we had just had a discussion a few days prior about repurposing wood and reclaiming materials. I expressed to him how much I loved old hardwood and how rare it was to come across a decent sized lot. So knowing this he explained to me that a family friend was looking to remove his 70-year old barn and put up a new structure. My bro had spoken to the friend and worked out a deal that we could keep all the wood and corrugated metal from the old barn if we dismantled it ourselves and left the ground clean and ready for the next building.
With perhaps a bit too much optimism (hindsight is 20-20) we accepted and within days were out at the sight with hammers, crowbars, and shovels in hand taking an 1800 sq. ft. barn apart to save some metal and a heap of 80-year old heartwood pine 1”x6” planks.
We worked for two solid days removing one board at a time being careful not to split them or otherwise harm them. They had stood the test of time and I intended to bring them back to life for another 70 years or so!
While a physically exhausting project that seemed to drag on and on by day two it was after a little cutting, ripping, and planning that we realized the pine we had pulled would live again – this time as the tiny house floor.
And so with that I offer my Top 5 Reasons to Use Reclaimed Lumber.
- Recycled lumber is better for the environment. Consumers have an unbelievable appetite for wood and wood products. This appetite increases the global demand for wood products and therefore has put an enormous strain on our world’s forests. Not to mention the amount of off-gassing and pollution caused by mills and manufacturing plants when processing new wood.
- Salvaged wood has character. Ever run your hand along an old piece of furniture? Have you felt the lines and grains and even rough spots in the surface? It lacks uniformity and for that creates originality.
- No guilt when using exotic lumber. If you are like me you seek out unusual lumber. You love the richness of color and the seeming randomness of the grain. However, such wood harvesting puts a major strain on the environment. If you reuse this wood that has already been harvested though you are helping keep it alive, so to speak, and have no reason to feel guilty. If anything you are trying to right the wrongs of yesterday.
- Salvaged wood is a history lesson. Whether your beams are from old growth redwoods or your flooring is from old-world ballast planks, salvaged wood carries a story in each grain. Imagine the fun you can have telling and retelling how your kitchen table went from a barn in Amish country to a table for four in your home!
- Save on shipping. With the cost of gas rising each day shipping prices rise each day. If you aren’t buying new lumber you aren’t contributing to the shipping demands being made on our country right now. As we did, find someone locally who just wants their old wood gone. Capitalize on the world right around you.
So? Are you using reclaimed lumber in your project now? Have you used it before? If so, what kind? Tell us your story! And for more pictures of our barn removal please visit us on Flickr.