Tips for using reclaimed timber

reclaimed timber

Wood is a very versatile material that can be used in many different parts of the home. You will find that each piece of wood has its own unique attributes such as colour and grain, and highlighting this is a great way to showcase the history of the timber and that it is a sustainable choice. If you are creating a timber feature wall then using reclaimed timber will further add to its character.

What is reclaimed timber?

Reclaimed wood is the name given to any wooden material that has previously been used in a building or construction, and can be reused for something new instead of being burnt or thrown away.

When you are working with reclaimed timber there are a few things to take note of:

Check for bugs

Bugs are not often much of an issue with pallet wood, but if you are dealing with barn wood, then bugs are something that you need to take into consideration. If you are getting the wood from a supplier, then ask them if the wood has been treated either by kiln drying or chemically.
If the wood has been treated with chemicals, then you need to be careful not to breathe in the sawdust. When it comes to kiln drying, it means that the moisture has been removed and any bugs in the wood would have been killed off in the process. If you suspect that there are bugs inside the wood, you can use some insecticide to kill them. You don’t want wood bugs invading your home.

timber feature wall

It’s not straight¬†

So one problem that you need to think about when working with reclaimed wood is the fact that it might not be straight.  Wood that is aged is most likely crooked and warped, or has one end is thicker than the other. For some timber projects such as garden planter boxes, this can add some much desired character, however if your project is something like a timber ceiling or flooring then you will require uniformity in the wood. You can do some work on the wood with certain tools that will make it square and smooth again, or you can just use it as it is, which can give you a different effect.

Inspect it for remaining metal

Barn boards are nailed to the structure and you may find some nails have been left behind. This is also the case for pallet wood too. Give the timber a good check over for any metal as it can be very dangerous when you start to repurpose it. For example metal left in the wood can make the saw bounce when it hits the nail, not to mention it will also dull your saw blade too. Some people like to putty the nail holes before using the wood while others prefer to leave the holes open as it adds extra character.

Dirty wood needs to be cleaned

Barn and pallet wood that has been out in the elements for years will need to be cleaned. Most likely it has dirt and debris, and dead bugs on it. Dirt will just dull the sharp tools and create a mess inside your home. To clean old wood, you want to use a nylon brush with bristles to give it a rub down. This process will remove all loose dirt and bugs. For an even cleaner result, an air hose is good for this step of the process as it will remove the finer particles that may still be lingering.

Using reclaimed timber is very popular and can be used for creating a huge range of items, from accent walls and shelving, to outdoor seating and tables. One of the main reasons people enjoy using recycled timber is because of the aging process that has brought the timber character, and by using it for something new they love the prospect of giving the wood a new outlook on life. You can get reclaimed wood in all sorts of sizes and shapes and many different places. With endless ideas of what you can create and do with the wood, there is no doubt you’ll be hooked on the look for your next DIY project.

McKinnley James

Author: McKinnley James

Renovations expert for over 15 years and avid blogger.