Written by: Tim C
Reclaimed wood furniture is furniture created with previously used timber that is recycled and reused to make a new product. The timber is typically salvaged from old structures when they are no longer in use, and as a result is full of character and history, making it perfect for creating beautiful, unique items.
Using reclaimed wood to create furniture has such a long list of benefits and results in products that are extremely special. Below is a breakdown of the 8 main benefits of using reclaimed wood and why reclaimed wood furniture is perfect for any home!
Old industrial buildings and other structures that reclaimed timber is taken from typically used wood from trees that were felled and milled in the previous century, and these trees would have been growing for much longer. Older trees have denser fibres as they have had the time to grow and reach their full maturity. Slow growth creates trees with more compact growth rings meaning the wood has a greater rot resistance and is less likely to splinter, split or warp.
You can see this clearly in the image below; the slow growth tree (right) is far more dense compared to the quick growth tree (left).
Wood grown today is produced very quickly to increase turnaround and therefore the trees are felled as soon as possible and have less time to reach their full maturity. Virgin wood is, therefore, weaker and more prone to damage.
As old-growth forests were decimated by overproduction in the past, there aren’t many sources to obtain this denser wood from today. Many ancient forests are protected due to their role in ecosystems, meaning it is virtually impossible (and ethically wrong) to acquire old-growth wood by felling historic trees. Therefore, the best source for old-growth, denser, stronger timber is reclaimed wood.
Not only is reclaimed wood furniture more durable due to the old-growth wood used in its creation, the fact that the timber has had a prior life makes it stronger too. Reclaimed timber has usually been exposed to the elements in its prior life and has therefore weathered over time, increasing its durability and resistance to warping or splitting*. Having spent many years as part of a building or structure, reclaimed timber has had plenty of time to expand and contract in its surroundings, meaning it has a massive head start on new wood that is prone to reacting adversely to slight situational changes.
Old timber has withstood years of fluctuating humidity and changing conditions and with this age comes a strength that quick growth, new timber just cannot match. Using reclaimed wood means using wood you know has stood the test of time and can do so for many years to come!
*However, like any natural living material you should still acclimatise your furniture to its surroundings and not subject it to continual high temperatures. Discover more about how to take care of your reclaimed furniture in our FAQs.
Mass-produced furniture can go out of stock, simply be made again to rigid specifications and be restocked looking exactly the same.
Reclaimed wood furniture, on the other hand, is not just limited edition, it’s one hundred percent unique. No one item is the same because no one plank of reclaimed timber is the same.
The crafting process of reclaimed wood products intentionally preserves imperfections in the wood to maintain the unique distinctions that each plank possesses. Knots, burrows, marks and small nail holes all show up differently on each plank depending on the tree the timber was taken from and the prior life the timber had before it was reclaimed. The natural grain and weathered look of reclaimed furniture is not manufactured in a factory but is the result of the timber being in use for years. This not only creates a popular patina style but increases the authentic personality of a piece of furniture.
The weathered, lived-in look of reclaimed furniture adds bags of character to any room it’s in. Natural intricacies, irregularities and patterns in reclaimed timber cannot be faked or recreated with virgin wood which means you know the rustic look of your piece of furniture is backed up by the prior life of the wood.
The specific look and character of reclaimed wood is enduring and versatile, complementing any interior style, which is why it is so popular. Whether your home is a country cottage or a minimalist apartment and whether it's modern or classic, adding the unique rustic character of reclaimed furniture will complete any look.
Reclaimed timber pairs beautifully with steel and other metals, instantly giving an industrial component to reclaimed furniture and making it all the more striking. The natural and rugged features of reclaimed wood, along with the variety of products it can be made into, mean there will always be a room that reclaimed wood furniture can add the finishing touch to.
The past life that reclaimed wood has lived is not only great for creating an authentically rustic look but is interesting in its own right. The story around making use of something that has served its purpose is an important one to tell and a powerful one to be a part of.
Every piece of reclaimed furniture has within it a unique history relating to its prior use and the imperfections and marks on the furniture visually allude to the furniture’s story. To be able to see and touch details on your furniture that date back years connects you to a part of history in a way you cannot achieve with new furniture.
Reclaimed furniture is special due to its inimitability but the journey that the wood has been on to get into your home also makes it all the more intriguing. The fact that most reclaimed wood cannot be traced back to its exact source doesn’t detract from the story but actually adds a sense of mystery and allows your imagination to run wild. Whether it be timber that constituted and supported the structures of 20th-century factories and mills, wood from the decking of a massive cruise ship that sailed the world or simply reclaimed planks from an old barn that sheltered animals and crops from the elements; the certainty that the wood has a story coupled with the mystery of the exact history is undeniably compelling. No matter where your reclaimed piece of furniture comes from, simply being made from such an interesting material means it’s sure to be a conversation starter.
The main benefit of reclaimed wood furniture is the positive environmental impact that using reclaimed wood has on the planet.
Instead of chopping down virgin trees, reclaimed wood reuses timber that has already been through the felling and milling process years ago and is fit for use again. As the world's biggest plants, trees play a vital role in ecosystems around the world, from producing the oxygen we breathe to storing carbon that otherwise damages the atmosphere. Trees also stabilise soil, which prevents flooding, and they provide habitats to countless species of animals, so keeping them in the ground is always the best option.
Forests in the UK currently cover only 12% of the land, which is seriously behind the European average of 40% - clearly we need to be planting more trees not chopping them down. Reducing the demand for virgin trees will help limit the impact that deforestation is having on the planet and aid the global battle with climate change.
Although wood is a regenerative and natural material and so is more environmentally friendly than other sources, it is always best to reduce our dependency on such an important natural resource, especially if we can.
Reclaiming perfectly usable timber is a great way to keep trees in the ground so they can do their job of making everyone’s lives better.
Not only does making furniture with reclaimed wood limit trees from being cut down, but it also stops wood that is on its way to landfills from going to waste.
The UK generated 4.5 million tonnes of wood waste in 2020 which is a shocking statistic that has terrible implications.
Not only is sending perfectly good wood to rot in landfills just an awful waste of material, it is also damaging to the environment. Wood decomposes safely in natural environments but the wood in landfills is contaminated by other waste which hinders the decomposition process.
Contaminated wood coupled with the sheer amount of it sent to landfills means vast quantities of methane gas are released into the atmosphere which is bad for both the environment and people's health. Reclaiming timber stops waste wood from rotting on landfills and prevents the contribution that this waste can have to climate change. Also, it is simply a great way to not waste a perfectly usable material. Being involved in the circular economy and knowing that your furniture purchase is part of this process will definitely give you a positive feeling every time you look at your beautiful reclaimed item.
The process involved in creating reclaimed wood has a lower impact on the environment than that of virgin wood from freshly cut trees.
The production method for virgin wood involves using millions of gallons of water for irrigating, a massive energy output for harvesting and an energy-intensive milling process, as well as emissions released from global transportation. Obviously, growing trees and felling them to be used in construction and production has been done for centuries and isn’t the worst process in the world compared to others. However, when you can avoid the negative aspects of wood production it will always be in the global interest to do so.
The reclaimed wood process skips all energy and emission-intensive steps that virgin wood goes through due to the fact that the wood has already gone through this process years before when the wood was produced for its original use. As reclaimed wood is taken from structures and simply re-milled for reuse, a fraction of resources and energy is used and therefore a fraction of carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere. The lower energy output for reclaimed wood reduces the carbon footprint of each piece of furniture that is made and therefore reduces the overall impact on the environment.
Are you upgrading your home or are in need of beautiful pieces furniture?
As you can see, the benefits of reclaimed wood are so numerous that there’s really no reason not to buy reclaimed! Whether you're looking to create your dream dining space or increase productivity with a new desk, check out our range of beautiful reclaimed wood furniture now.
Are you interested in learning more about reclaimed wood furniture? Check out our complete guide, which covers all aspect of what it is, where it comes from, what makes it special, as well as how to care for it.
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