Answer: Reclaimed wood is wood that has been used before but will be used differently from its original intent.
For instance, the wood siding from an old barn is reclaimed and repurposed for use as a new wood floor.
Reclaimed wood differs from new wood in that it has not been newly harvested. It was once used for other purposes, such as a barn, schoolhouse, temple, or other structure.
Not only is the practice of reclamation environmentally beneficial, it produces a floor with more beauty, character, and durability. Old wood tends to have more character and is more dense than newly harvested wood. You'll be able to see the difference.
Example: The difference in wood density between old growth wood vs. new wood. Old growth wood is more dense and therefore more durable and stable.
Photo Credit: Unknown, public domain
At The Vintage Wood Floor Company, we begin by finding the finest and most unique reclaimed materials on Earth. We look in the mid-West, we look in the old Amish towns in Pennsylvania, and we look in Europe, checking every source for authenticity and quality. We sort through every reclaimed wood board and make sure it visibly speaks of its origin and is able to withstand another century or two of use and enjoyment.
Salvaged wood is not the same as reclaimed wood. Salvaged wood is wood that has not been cut dimensionally for use (e.g. but into a plank for barn siding). Think of salvaged wood as drift wood that you might find along a beach; it's likely old, faded, gray, charming but is still a branch or stick. It's never been processed into a usable form and been used for anything.
We come across numerous 100-200-year-old barns that were poorly maintained and structurally unsound or otherwise have outlived their useful purpose, despite the fact that they were the pride of their communities for generations.
Example: What was once a part of a barn is now a new reclaimed barn wood floor. Exquisite.
The harsh reality is that the cost to make these structures sound again is often too high for their owners. We take these structures that would otherwise be razed and destined for a bonfire or landfill and save them piece by piece. We then re-use them for another purpose, like a floor, beam, or architectural accent, carefully repurposing the material for future generations to enjoy.
Instead of cutting down trees and creating more material, we use what’s already out there. There is enough forested wood in the United States alone to be re-used for our building purposes without cutting down one more trees, so we don’t. The result is a work of art, an antique floor that brings a past time to the modern world.