When this timber is reused it is called ‘Reclaimed Lumber’. It is wood that has been used before for a different purpose, such as decking, old constructions like barns, or even driftwood collected at the beach falls into this category. Usually, it is quite old, often being considered antique. Common reuses for this type of wood are making interior accessories like mirrors and picture frames, making furniture either as inlay detail or the actual piece of furniture itself, or it can also be reused for construction purposes depending on its quality.
During the industrial revolution there was a major detrimental impact on the forests, as the demand for building factories and warehouses became virtually insatiable. This meant that the natural resource was diminishing without the ability to quickly replace the original stock. Wood that was commonly used for building purposes included chestnut, popular, hickory and pine.
Another reason for using reclaimed wood is because of the fluctuation in availability of timber from different trees because there have been shortages that have been caused, not just by harvesting, but as part of the natural progression of disease and pests such as termites. This makes any finished product high on the list of any carbon footprint reducing strategy.
It also is thought that new timber that has been cut since the industrial revolution is not as durable as that cut before it. Many experts in this field claim that reclaimed wood will make a much more stable piece, because it has usually been subject to changes in humidity levels in its previous form. This means the new product will not warp as easily making it more suitable for furniture and flooring in homes with central heating. This has been put down to an effects on younger trees that had been taking in the pollutants from all the factories’ chimneys because there were no regulations on smoke pollution for many years.
There has been an industry built up around wood that has been reclaimed. It has roots that reach back as far as the 1970’s. After a slow start the idea of reusing materials from buildings has taken flight and grown alongside environmental concerns and the public demand for governments and industry to play their part in recycling.