Old Wood, New Life
One constant in a new timber home is its architectural link to the past—an unmatched quality that speaks of craftsmanship and style. What if you were to take this concept further and build all or part of your house with reclaimed timber? You’d have a pretty cool house.

Joe Cannon, vice president of purchasing for Idaho-based Trestlewood, which sells reclaimed wood products, gives us the lowdown on building new with something old.

Q: What characteristics should consumers look for when buying reclaimed timber?
“Of course, I’m a little biased, but I maintain that reclaimed timbers are about character. I recommend finding a source of material that you’re comfortable using and then adjust your project to fit the wood’s characteristics. You’ll want to use timber that has a look you like, but you also need to be flexible and reasonable enough to work with what’s available.”

Q: How much more expensive is reclaimed timber?
“Reclaimed timber can be twice as expensive as new wood; however, if you search hard enough, there are bargains to be had.

Q: Obviously, some people will want to use reclaimed timber for structural support, but others will want to use it decoratively. Regarding the latter, what areas of the home are most popular for reclaimed timber?
“Reclaimed wood can be used on everything from kitchen islands to basement bars. But we typically see decorative timber used for entry areas, great rooms and dining rooms. In other words, you’ll find it in areas where there’s a lot of traffic and where the “wow factor” will be the greatest.”

Q: What if new home buyers are worried about stability? How does reclaimed timber compare to newly cut wood?
“Reclaimed timbers have dried and cured over a period of several decades, so they’re unlikely to twist or move after they’ve been put into a new home. Of course, much depends on the quality of the reclaimed wood you’re purchasing.”

Q: With that in mind, how do people know if they’re buying from a reputable reclaimed-wood dealer?
“You should ask how long the company has been in business and get references. You also should ask your general contractor or builder if he’s had any experience working with wood from the company you might buy from. If it’s within your budget and you have the time, it also can be helpful to visit the company’s facility to make sure it has the types of material you’re most interested in using.”

Read the full story in the May/June 2006 issue of Timber Home Living.