Common Species Found in Reclaimed Wood – Deborah Lynn Ferrier

Eye catching canvas of reclaimed timbers, hand hewn slab siding, and barn wood

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Eye catching canvas of reclaimed timbers, hand hewn slab siding, and barn wood
Each piece of reclaimed wood that we come across at Distinguished Boards and Beams has its own unique origin story in virgin North American forests. Our wood is sourced from reclaimed 18th, 19th, and early-20th century structures throughout the United States and Canada. From massive Douglas Fir timbers that originally held up factories in the Northwest to hand hewn logs from old growth Chestnut trees that used to dominate eastern forests before they were nearly driven into extinction, we continue to see reclaimed wood that is as fascinating as it is rare.

Reclaimed Wood Species Characteristics

Heritage reclaimed wood species must be placed within the context of their historic lives. Besides its old growth, naturally air dried aesthetic and functional attractions, one of the draws to reclaimed wood in new architectural projects is the reality that species readily available 100-200 years ago are simply not easy to come by on the modern lumber market. For example, acquiring old growth Douglas Fir in the 6” by 12” dimensions that were commonly used 100 years ago are expensive and rare to come by, if at all, from today’s lumber mills. This is due to a number of factors, including availability or laws preventing the harvesting of existing old growth trees.

Species Are a Reflection of Local Historic Forests

Historic structures were often built from more than one tree species, depending on timber availability and its intended purpose in the construction. The abundance of virgin old growth forests in North America during the times our reclaimed barn wood, timbers, logs, and flooring were sawn allowed for discerning loggers and carpenters to select the cream of the crop from their local tree varieties. In effect, the diversity of wood found in historic buildings is usually directly related to the diversity of the local historic forests they were built from. Using local lumber saved much time and money for the vast majority that could not afford the expensive pre-railroad lumber transportation costs. Sawmills were one of the first industries to be established in any newly settled area. As sawmill technology advanced, settlers were also able to build or buy their own small mills and cut their own lumber. By the 1900s, transportation from west to east especially had become incredibly low. This allowed for more mixing of western species like Douglas Fir in the midwest and the east and vice versa.

Identifying Heritage Reclaimed Wood Species Can Be Challenging

Identifying specific reclaimed wood species can be challenging even for the experienced eye if the original aged patina is still intact. Looking at the grain characteristics, coloring, and growth ring density aids the process, and can usually at least determine if the piece is a hardwood or softwood. There are times when the species is not definitively revealed until the original patina is planed down. It is also important to keep in mind that most heritage reclaimed wood products are from old growth trees and will therefore have old growth characteristics. Having solid understandings of common tree species used in historic North American construction and their defining characteristics can narrow down the process of correctly identifying reclaimed treasures from North America’s architectural heritage.

Why Reclaimed Wood?

Before steel beams, concrete, and tempered glass were widely available, wood was the primary building material as it was strong, relatively inexpensive and abundant. Many of these woods that were once plentiful are now only available in large quantities through reclamation. Antique barns serve as one of the most common sources for reclaimed wood in the US. However, obsolete commercial buildings such as factories and warehouses are other good sources for reclaimed material. Historic buildings constructed up through the early part of the 19th century were typically built using whatever trees were growing on or near the property. Antique barns commonly contained a mix of hard and softwoods.

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Old timber is sourced from disused or dilapidated structures that are no longer needed whereas new wood comes from tree plantations created specifically for mass producing lumber products which may or may not be managed in a sustainable manner.

Reclaimed wood will typically be stronger than new timber. Experts in the field suggest that the strength, stability and durability of older trees is directly tied to the lack of air pollution during their 200 to 400 years of growth.

Reclaimed barn wood is often sought after for its visual appeal and unique character gained through evidence of its previous use. Some pieces will even have dates and initials carved into it. No two pieces are the same and there are no guarantees of an exact match whereas it offers charm and uniqueness with history attached to it whereas new wood, freshly cut wood or mass produced pieces will have a very uniform look and very little, if any, character unmarked. Some will even have dates and initials carved into the pieces.

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Often reclaimed timber beams can be sawn into planks wider than what is commercially available today. Reclaimed lumber can also be more stable than newly cut wood because it has been exposed to changes in humidity for far longer. This allows it to be used with radiant heating systems with low temperatures and even distribution.

Why the variations in reclaimed barnwood species?

Historically, when landowners cleared forested land prior to the construction of the barn, trees would be felled on the designated site. Within the grove of trees, multiple tree species would be present. These trees would then be hand sawn, band sawn, and hand hewn into lumber that could be used in the construction of the barn or other farm related buildings.

Determining Wood Species

At a high level, it is best to determine if the wood is soft or hard. Hardwoods (see example on the left side within the image) will be noticeably heavier in terms of weight compared to softwoods, will reflect tight grain and will be more difficult to penetrate. Soft woods (see the right) have some easily identifiable characteristics including lighter weight, visible sapping, and the ability to fairly easily press a finger nail in to an end cut.

To do more than ‘best-guess’ the identity of a reclaimed wood species, the process involves examining its visible characteristics such as its grain, texture, color and any markings. Identification of the wood’s species can be helpful in understanding its inherent properties such as strength, durability, stability and flexibility. Additionally, understanding the history of the material’s use can be helpful in order to be able to assess its suitability for reuse.

Various types of reclaimed hardwood and softwood, including some of those native to the US and available today, are presented next with information to aid identification.

Hardwoods

Oak

(Genus Quercus)

Oak is far and away the most requested reclaimed hardwood and is prevalent in timber format and in siding planks. Oak hand hewn timbers are not only visibly appealing but are also durable. Home owners often cherish the rich light brown tones of oak beams. Often these beams will include mortise pockets that accentuate the craftsmen ship that went into the shaping of the beam.

Reclaimed oak siding is extremely versatile as it can be applied for interior and exterior uses in a numbers ways. As exterior siding, it has the attributes necessary to withstand the elements while continuing to retain its unique aesthetic character. Interior uses can also vary. Milled ceiling material and wall treatment from oak siding has become increasingly popular.

With regards to hard wood flooring, oak is long lasting and provides a timeless look. Blending white and red oak results in subtle but interest color variations. With reclaimed material, minor knots and nail holes at character to a floor that is unmatched by the mass production.

High quality oak is commonly found in barns throughout the east coast and the mid-west. Although antique barns constructed out of hard woods will contain may different types of tree species, Oak is generally the most prevalent. Oak will be found within the timber frame of the structure as well as within the barn’s siding, roofing boards, and flooring.

Oak is a tree or shrub with approximately 600 species. It is native to the Northern Hemisphere and includes deciduous and evergreen species in Asia and the Americas. The US contains the largest number of oak species, with approximately 90 species. Early US settlers recognized oak from experience with its European subspecies. Soon red, white, black, scarlet, willow, post and pin oak varieties were being cut and transformed into material used to construct barns. The two most common US varieties are White Oak and Northern Red Oak.

Oak is strong, hard and particularly resistant to insect and fungal attack due to its high tannin content. It also has appealing grain markings, particularly when quarter-sawn.

Identifying White Vs. Red Oak

Distinguishing between white and red oak is difficult. Eric Meier has a very helpful post on the wood-database.com that is worth reviewing.

Although similar in appearance, it is possible to tell if oak is red or white by cutting a thin slice off the end of an oak log and holding it up to the light. If specks of light cannot be seen through it then it is likely to be white oak.

Exposed to the open air over the years, the oxidization of the wood grain of White Oak often imparts golden brown accents. Its colors typically vary between creamy white to medium brown.

It was a common choice by early settlers as a utilitarian hardwood suitable for uses where strength and hardness was required, such as house and barn framing, barn threshing floors and other types of timber framing. It was also used for flooring in minor rooms in colonial America instead of more formal, finer-grained White Pine and Heart Pine floors.

Elm

(Genus Ulmus)

These trees spread over most of the Northern Hemisphere, inhabiting regions of the US and Eurasia, and southward across the Equator into Indonesia. Historically, they reached great sizes and ages. Since its identification in 1921, most mature elms of European or US origin have died from Dutch elm disease. In response, some disease-resistant cultivars have been developed. To learn more about Dutch elm disease, please see the American Phytopathological Society’s article on the subject.

Elm lined street

Elm lined street

To some, reclaimed elm is viewed as a secondary alternative to oak, maple and beech because of the common appearance of worm holes. However, elm is extremely versatile due to its unique characteristics. Because elm is not prone to splintering, it is a fine choice for bar, counter, and table tops. Additionally, elm is great for benches and chairs. Elm also adds exceptional character to a hardwood floor that is comprised of a mix of hardwoods.

Elm is reputed for its strength and flexibility. The wood’s grain is interlocking and is thus resistant to splitting. It is also resistant to decay when permanently wet. The density of Elm varies between species.

Elm’s interlocking grain and resistance to splitting led to its significant use in chair seats. Hollowed trunks were widely used as water pipes during the medieval period in Europe due to their decay resistance and due to its often long straight trunks. Historically, Elm was also used for bridge piers, including the Roman versions of London Bridge. However this resistance to decay in water does not extend to ground contact.

Today it is valued for its rapid growth, strength, flexibility and resistance to wind damage.

American Elm is present in Colorado and Texas. It is an extremely hardy tree. Trees in areas unaffected by Dutch Elm disease can live for several hundred years. It has unique properties of rapid growth, adaptation to a broad range of climates and soils, strength, resistance to wind damage and a vase-like growth habit requiring minimal pruning. It is capable of attaining a great size in a few centuries, especially when open-grown.

Beech

(Genus Fagus)

Beech is a thick trunk tree found in the eastern portion of the United States. It struggles growing in polluted urban areas. Mature trees can be greater than 100 feet in height.

Reclaimed beech is popular for furniture making as it offers decent workability. With it light tones and wavy grain, beech can provide interesting contrast to a mixed hardwood floor.

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Beech can be found in hand hewn beams and barn siding planks, but it is not as prevalent as oak and its identity is often confused with oak and is often viewed as an alternative to Maple.

Beech is generally not as sought after compared to other hardwoods as its appearance can be viewed as uninteresting. However, it does offer strength and density.

Maple

(Acer Saccharum)

Maple is prevalent in barns in the north eastern portion of the United States as well as around the Great Lakes. Beyond being the source of everyone’s favorite breakfast syrup, Maple is a favored choice for flooring and is often found in old basketball courts and bowling alleys. When considering kiln drying, Maple dries more slowly compared to other hard woods. Touches of curly maple planks within a mixed hardwood floor can add exceptional beauty!

Ash

(Genus Fraxinus)

There are several varieties of Ash. Black and White Ash is found in the north eastern portion of the United States, while Blue Ash is found in the Midwest. The Pacific Northwest features Oregon Ash. In fact, most baseball bats being produced today are made from Ash. Although considered to be more of a utility wood commonly found in tool handles and shipping crates, reclaimed Ash can be useful within a mixed species hardwood floor.

Poplar

(Genus Populus)

Poplars are rapid-growing, but relatively short-lived trees. Poplar species native to the US include black cottonwood, aspen and balsa wood.

Reusing Poplar is generally limited to siding applications and flooring. The color variations of poplar are not an issue as the original red or grey face of the barn wood siding acts as a mask. As far as flooring, poplar can provide a welcomed amount of contrast to a mixed hard wood floor. Within these mixed hard wood floors, the inclusion of poplar is generally limited to a relatively small amount due to its color variations.

Because poplar does not grow especially thick, it is rare to see a poplar beam or timber. Generally poplar is found in barn siding planks.

Poplar has a straight, uniform grain and medium texture with a low natural luster. Its heartwood is light cream to yellow brown, occasionally with gray or green. Its sapwood is pale yellow to white and not always clearly differentiated from heartwood. It sometimes has mineral stained colors ranging from dark purple to red, green to yellow, and is known as Rainbow Poplar. Colors usually darken with exposure to light. Its heartwood is moderately durable to non-durable and is at risk of insect attack.

Poplar is sold as a hardwood timber, used for plywood but its relatively poor reputation is undeserved as its flexibility and its close grain give it a balance of properties that have made it highly desirable for a number of applications (similar to those for willow) since antiquity. It was renowned for a durability similar to that of oak, but with a substantial reduction in weight.

Walnut

(Genus Juglans Nigra)

With its varying tones ranging from a rich tan to a deep chocolate, Walnut is a favorite among craftsman and homeowners a like. To the craftsman, Walnut is extremely workable in addition to its beauty. As it relates to flooring, Walnut generally will not provide extremely wide planks. Walnut is not commonly found in agricultural buildings as all portions of Walnut trees are toxic to horses.

Hickory

(Genus Carya Ovata)

Hickory is commonly found on barns in the eastern portion of the United States and has greater density than Oak and Maple. Color tones can range from light tan to deep rich brown. Due to its characteristics, milling Hickory can be a challenge as it is known to dull blades. Because of its strength and durability, reclaimed hickory is a popular choice for flooring.

Chestnut

(Genus Castanea Dentata)

Before the Chestnut blight of the early 1900s, American Chestnut was extremely prevalent in the eastern part of the United States. Now considered by many to be the holy grail of reclaimed wood, antique Chestnut offers unique color and often exceptionally wide planks. Before the blight, it was common to see tree trucks with diameters greater than 5 feet and overall heights greater than 50 feet. Even more sought after is wormy chestnut, which has the worm holes caused by the blight. To learn more about the history of chestnut blight, please see this article from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

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Softwood

Douglas-Fir

(Genus Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Reclaimed Douglas fir beams and timbers are highly sought after for several reasons. Douglas fir timbers can be greater two feet thick and can be greater than 40 feet in length.

Many reclaimed Douglas fir beams can be put back into load bearing situations, including traditional timber framing. Reclaimed Douglas Fir beams and timbers are ideal for new timber frame projects as the risk of shrinkage and overall movement is far less when using a mature timber vs. the volatility that existing with freshly cut material.

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Beyond traditional timber framing, Douglas fir timbers can be a great substitute for glue laminated beams with the result being a much more attractive natural wood look. Additionally, Douglas Fir timbers can be used when implementing a faux rafter and gable look and also make great mantles, shelves and counter tops.

Reclaimed dimensional lumber (greater than 1 inch thick) is commonly made from Douglas fir. This type of material is excellent for base board material and window trim for both interior and exterior applications.

Flooring made from reclaimed Douglas fir can be an appealing options for those looking for a hardwood alternative. Douglas Fir flooring offers more durability compared to pine and provides a unique color variations ranging from peach to tan.

Douglas Fir timbers were widely used in the construction of factories, warehouses, offices, and other commercial buildings prior to World War Two. However, it was still used in the construction of large structures into the 1960s.

Douglas-Fir is a well-known evergreen tree species that is native to the western US and part of Canada. Being a conifer, its common name is misleading since it is not a true fir.

It is one of the world’s most productive timber producing tree species and accounts for one fourth of all lumber produced and used in the US which is more than any other species.

It is native to the Pacific coastal states and Rocky Mountain States and is predominantly found on mountain sites and in valleys with adequate moisture. U.S. Native species include Coastal Fir and Interior Fir (Midwest Fir, Rocky Mountain Fir). Mexican Douglas fir is also considered part of the Douglas Fir family.

Douglas Fir can be viewed as a hardwood substitute as it is durable and resinous. Its color ranges from yellowish orange to a reddish brown. In general, its grain is straight and its texture is uneven and coarse.

Douglas Fir is a particularly valuable western timber tree and is currently used for a variety of exterior, interior and décor applications including pylons and board material. Although not as common as pine, Douglas Fir framing lumber is available in some markets. Douglas Fir is well suited for joists and rafters and can be effective in window frame construction.
Because Douglas Fir does not hold paint well, staining is the common approach to color modification.

Pine

(Genus Pinus)

While some authorities claim that there are 115 species of pine, others generally agree that there are between 105 and 125 species. Heart Pine refers to the heartwood of the pine tree, which is the non-living center of the tree trunk, while the sapwood is the outer living layer which transports nutrients. Currently, heart pine for building and woodworking is procured by reclaiming old lumber and recovering logs, felled pre-1900, from rivers. Pine native to the US include Longleaf Pine and White Pine.

Pine barn wood siding is very popular as it is often available in long pieces and can vary in color from unpainted weather grey to a rich and traditional red. Pine siding can be dried and milled for both internal and external uses. Because of its light weight, it installs easily.
Pine siding and timbers can be milled in to flooring, but it is not requested as often because it is less durable compared to hardwood flooring.

Antique cabins, barns and other agricultural buildings. Reclaimed Pine can be found in the form of hand hewn timbers and beams, dimensional (greater than 1” thick) lumber and barn wood siding. Pine hand hewn timbers are identifiable by their either deep hewing marks or by a relatively clean hewn look. Because pine is softer, the hewing process would either shave the wood clean or it would cut deep into the timber leaving a noticeable scar. Pine siding is noticeably lighter compared to hardwood siding.

Many confuse Pine trees and Douglas Fir trees as they are similar in appearance. Pine is straight-grained, white or yellow, durable and a resinous wood varying in strength from extremely soft White Pine to relatively hard Longleaf Pine.

When used for timber purposes rather than ornamental purposes, it can be used for exterior applications for window frames, but being resistant to insects and decay makes it ideal for all building indoor and décor applications such as floor strutting or trimming members, paneling, flooring and ceiling finishes. Additionally, pine is often used in cabinetry, furniture and other woodwork décor applications. It is inexpensive, readily available and ranges from clear to knotty.

Heartwood is preferred by woodworkers and builders over the sapwood, due to its strength, hardness and golden red coloration.

Longleaf Pine

Longleaf pine is the source of much of the available heart pine found on the US market.

Before the 1700s, longleaf pine forests were abundant along the coastal plain from Virginia’s southern tip to eastern Texas. These trees, were slow growing with a naturally long life and could obtain great height. Due to the deforestation that has occurred since the colonial period, only about 3% of the original Longleaf Pine forest remains. Very few new trees little have been planted although some can be found in Texas.

It was used in factories and warehouses that were built during the Industrial Revolution. It was once the most functional wood for construction in America. The trees were slow-growing (taking 200 to 400 years to mature), tall, straight, and had a natural ability to resist mold and insects. They produce a yellow, resinous wood. The stumps and taproots of old trees become saturated with resin and resist rot. In old growth pine the heartwood of the trunk is often saturated. When boards are cut from the fat lighter wood, they are heavy and rot resistant, but quite flammable requiring care of use.

Reclaimed Wood Species – Deborah Lynn Ferrier

The following list includes all the Reclaimed Wood Species used in the vintage wood / reclaimed timber business. The images are showing finished product, not the unprocessed reclaimed product.

Ash

Ash


Ash is a light brown to blonde specie of wood in appearance. The grains, texture and density are very similar to oak. By looking at the end grain of Ash you can see a distinct difference from Oak. Ash lumber also has a unique smell when freshly cut and has produced wider boards and beams due to the size of the trees. Stain and other finishes can be easily applied allowing for a customized look. Reclaimed Ash lumber pricing is on the lower end of cost in the reclaimed wood market.
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Cherry

Cherry


Cherry appears light pinkish in the heartwood and blonde in the sap content. Being a fruit tree cherry has a distinct color and smell and should be easier to identify. Reclaimed cherry is of the most rare domestic hardwoods in the market due to the size of the trees so the pricing and availability can be an issue for some projects. Cherry is easy to work with and will slowly darken after being cut providing a beautifully rich color.
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Chestnut

Chestnut


The appearance of reclaimed Chestnut has been very popular over the years and is a standard look in the reclaimed wood industry. Chestnut was a commonly found specie in the eastern region of the U.S. until the early 1900’s where that was a blight killing all of the standing trees. Chestnut trees were significant in growth and provided beautiful large beams and wide boards which have made great looking reclaimed flooring and various other products for many years. Pricing of reclaimed chestnut is high due to the ease in workability, dimensions and availability only in the eastern region of the U.S.
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Cypress

Cypress


Cypress is a softwood light blonde to yellow color in the heartwood and almost white in color in the sapwood. Cypress trees were significant in growth and could yield high volumes and larger dimensions of lumber. Being easy to work, resistant to decay and very durable Cypress was used in many ways as the U.S. was being built. Cypress has a sour smell when being milled and the pricing is the mid ranges of the softwoods. Reclaimed Cypress is commonly found in the southern region of the US and is also a specie that can be found in river recovery.
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Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir


Douglas Fir is a common softwood specie found throughout the U.S. Reclaimed Douglas Fir is salmon to pinkish color in the heartwood and can be a light yellow to blonde is the sapwood. Due to the size that Douglas Fir trees grow, this specie has produced high volumes of large beams and boards for many years. Douglas Fir has a distinct smell when milled and pricing can be very reasonable in many reclaimed wood products.
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Elm

Elm


Elm is another specie that was affected by a blight called Dutch Elm disease that has wiped out millions of trees worldwide. Elm is a lighter white to brown color that appears very unique. The end grain of Elm is very distinct and Elm can be challenging to work with when milling although the wood is very durable. Reclaimed Elm beams and boards usually have checking and a bit of a twist but can be milled producing unique looking products. The smell of Elm can be a natural dirty smell when milling but is fairly odorless after being kiln dried. The pricing of Elm is reasonable and can be higher in a finished milled product due to grading.
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Heart Pine

Heart Pine


Long leaf yellow pine is referred to as Heart Pine which has a beautiful, warm yellow to light red color. Heart pine trees were very large yielding high volumes of large beams and boards used to build in the Industrial Age. When looking for pine wood one can come across the term heart pine which is an age specific classification of pine heartwood. The pine heart is often darker more dense and thusly more stable and the heart of first growth trees circa the 1600’s were richly colored and extremely dense as those trees represented a stand of longleaf pine that we over 300 years old on average. What is commonly referred to as the second-cut in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s can yield heart pine which is decidedly less dense than the first-cut heart pines. The “true” heart pine available today is reclaimed or recycled from those original species harvested centuries ago. This specific specie of pine is insect resistant, incredibly hard and very durable. The smell of Heart Pine pine is sweet and strong when milling. Reclaimed Heart Pine pricing is reasonable but as a finished product can change due to a variety of grades that are sold.
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Hickory

Hickory


The medium brown to a lighter yellow color tones of Hickory provide a warm feel for a wood product. The density of Hickory can be challenging when milling and waste can be an issue from Hickory being susceptible to insect attack. Hickory trees are not as big yielding smaller beams and boards and smell of Hickory is real sweet when milling. The end grain is distinct with pores in between the end grains. The pricing of reclaimed Hickory is lower and more reasonable and can be higher in a finished product due to yield, dimensions and waste.
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Maple

Maple


Maple wood is broadly classified into two groups, Hard Maple which includes, Sugar Maple and Black Maple and Soft Maple including Red, Silver and Bigleaf Maples. A majority of Maple lumber is milled in Mid Atlantic and Great Lakes regions of the United States. Some Hard Maple wood has highly decorative wood grain including flame maple, quilt maple, birdseye maple and burl wood. These grain conditions occur randomly in individual Hardwood Maple trees and can often only be seen after the tree / wood has been sawn.The sapwood of Hard Maples is partially sought after due to its color variations which can range from nearly white to cream color representing reddish or deep golden tones. Hard Maple wood is sought after due to its shock resistance and overall density. Hard Maple is commonly used for bowling alley lanes, basketball gym floors, butcher blocks and workbenches. Reclaimed Hard Maple wood is moderately priced and is prized for its density. Soft Maples have some of the same qualities as Hardwood Maples however the heartwood of Softwood maples is often lighter in color than Hardwood Maples and does not posses the same density as the hardwood maples. Softwood maples are often used for railroad crossties, boxes, pallets and crates and also not as desired in the reclaimed wood market.
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Oak

Oak


Oak is one of the most common species that grows throughout the country. Due to the durability and availability of Oak the species is used in many products from railroad ties to high end furniture. You can easily tell Oak by the rays in the end grains and its large pores in between the growth rings. Oak can be found with a rift-sawed, quarter sawed or plain sawed grain pattern each holding a different value. When using reclaimed oak you will find a variety of grain patterns as well as a mixture of White Oak and Red Oak. The smell of Red Oak is pungent where the White oak can smell very sweet. Oak is reasonability priced and a great choice for many products with its ability to easily take stains and finish as well as its strength and durability.
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Pine

Pine


There are many different types of Pine with each possessing its own unique set of characteristics. To go further into their descriptions it is helpful to place Pines into two categories, Soft Pines and Hard Pines. For this specie overview let’s look at Soft Pines first. The Soft Pines generally include Sugar Pine, Western and Eastern White Pine. The wood characteristics of these Soft Pines include low density and an even grain. The Hard Pines include a group of Pines which are most commonly found in the southern United States; these include Longleaf, Shortleaf, Slash and Loblolly Pines. The wood characteristics of these southern species include some of the highest densities among pine and a very uneven grain. Put side by side lumber from these hard pines is practically identical.
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Poplar

Poplar


This widely available wood in the United States. The heartwood can vary from a yellowish brown to an olive green and will tend to darken when exposed to light, often turning brown. The sapwood is white and can be streaked with with slightly darker lines. Poplar wood has excellent strength and dimensional stability and is resilient to both decay and insects. This wood is easy to machine and bore and holds paints and stains substantially better than other hardwoods which lends it to being used for furniture, cabinets, musical instruments and trim work. A large volume of reclaimed Poplar can be found in the midwestern region of the U.S. mainly in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
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Red Oak

Red Oak


Possibly the most sought after hardwood in the United States, a ubiquitous site in many homes. There are several species which are included in this category; Black Oak, Pin Oak, Shumard Oak, Southern Red Oak, Water Oak, Willow Oak. Often times vinyl or imitation wood surfaces are printed to look like Red Oak. This wood is hard, strong and often priced well due to its availability. The Heartwood is light to medium brown with a reddish tint. The sapwood ranges in color from nearly white to light brown and is sometimes not easy to distinguish from heartwood. Like most oaks, Red Oaks are available in both quartersawn (where wood grain is emphasized) and flatsawn cuts. Not to be confused with the White Oak, the Red Oak does have pores in the heartwood which allow water to penetrate therefore is is not ideal for marine uses. Northern Red Oak is preferred in tuning and flooring applications whereas Southern Red Oak is easier to mill due to its softer texture which can sometimes lead to tearout and splintering. After drying Red Oak properly, it is known to be one of the most stable wood types holding its shape at large cuts or dimensions.
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Redwood

Redwood


The Redwood tree is also known by the names Sequoia, Coast Redwood and California Redwood. The heartwood on these trees ranges from pinkish brown to a darker reddish brown and the sapwood has a lighter golden to a yellow hue. Redwood lumber is soft and lightweight, stable along with being very insect and decay resistant. Redwood trees are generally listed a vulnerable but not endangered. The wood is sought after for construction, decking and exterior trim.
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Walnut

Walnut


Most often referred to as Black Walnut is highly available and highly sought after. The wood is sometimes classified as a premium domestic hardwood. The heartwood can vary in color from a pale brown to a darker chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. The sapwood is pale yellow-gray to nearly white. Generally the wood is easy to work with with planer tearout causing problems sometimes with irregular or figured grain. Overall the wood is decay resistant, stable when dried and shock resistant and is a favorite for furniture, cabinetry and veneer.
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White Oak

White Oak


There are several species included in this category of oak; Bur Oak, Chestnut Oak, Overcup Oak, Post Oak and Swamp White Oak. White Oak posses a unique quality in that their pores are filled or plugged making them ideal for watercraft construction. Generally White Oak is durable but has medium stability particularly with flat sawn boards. These species are relatively abundant and are used for cabinetry, flooring, cooperage / barrels and veneer.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Reclaimed Wood

Q: How Much Can Reclaimed Barn Wood Be Worth?

This is a common question and truth be told the prices can range depending on a variety of details. Condition, specie, qty, type, dimensions, demand and location are the main details to research and understand before determining a price to buy or sale reclaimed barn wood. If you cannot answer these questions you may lose out on value when buying and selling your barn wood.
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