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Reclaimed Wood and Timber Frames: Embracing the Environment (Video)

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by N.Morgan

Builders and customers alike are turning to more environmentally friendly means of home building and remodeling. In North America, people tend to build houses and many other buildings out of wood.

Interestingly, craftsmen and architects have been practicing timber framing for centuries. One could say that the people of North America perfected the art of timber framing for centuries.

There might be several ways of building the frame, but timber frame structures always use fewer pieces that are much larger and heavier than components of light frame construction. The large pieces have unique shapes at the connections that lock together to provide robust support.

In contrast to the light frame construction, which usually hides behind the ceilings and finished walls, the timber frame of a house remains exposed. The craftsmen can polish it, or sand it later on with the tools and techniques available.

What are the pros of using salvaged timber frames?

The biggest pro of timber-frame construction is the elimination of the need for load-bearing walls. Most timber-frame homes do not have pillars and walls cutting through the open space inside. The residents can design the layout flexibly and creatively. In fact, the owners can choose to renovate or rebuild their home without worrying about compromising the integrity of any load bearing wall inside.

Many such homes include great open space layouts with lots of natural light and plenty of room for furniture. Additionally, the owners can cover the skeletons of the timber in any way they want.

The majority of all reclaimed timber for these frames come from antique mills, barns, factories, and even wine barrels. There has been an enormous surge in demand for vintage timber in recent times due to the evolution of environmentally-friendly architecture. It makes perfect sense to reuse excellent quality wood that is already aged and bears character. The robust chunks are beautiful, and it adds personality to a home.

It is like adding a piece of history to your dwelling. They add a unique statement that no other home can replicate.

It is the most effective and eco-friendly way of making your home stand apart from the others in your area.

Why is reclaimed wood necessary for quality timber frames?

If you are looking for American chestnut and Longleaf Pine, you will need to consider reclaimed wood. The extensive logging in the 19th century in combination with the blight in the 20th century has led to a scarcity of these wood types permanently in the market.

The best quality longleaf pine and American chestnut are all salvaged or vintage. Finding new timber from these trees for building timber frames is next to impossible. Check out Big Timberworks Timber Frame to learn more about wood types and their availability right now. Due to the scarcity, the prices of these wood types usually soar high above the other types you can find quite readily.

Additionally, there are several other exotic wood species that designers typically stay away from due to the environmental impact of using them for construction. However, these exotic species are also available among the vintage wood from the barns and mills dating back to the 1800s. Using reclaimed wood from the same species is entirely environmentally friendly since they do not demand cutting new trees.

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Why is finding vintage timber so challenging?

The quality, type, and condition of vintage wood can vary widely depending on its location and recovery process. The appearance of the wood will vary significantly as well depending on the same factors. Once the workers have stripped the wood from the building, the experts will take charge of the inspection. It involves the detection of any piece of metal such as hooks, buckshot or nails within the wood.

They need to check the wood for infestation, rot and splitting as well. Timber for the frame needs to be strong and durable.

Therefore, the inspection period is the most critical for any wood that can go for reuse. After this stage is complete, the woodworkers need to resaw the wood to give it a finished look. Resawing makes the reclaimed wood easy to manage, but it is still a labor-intensive process that requires considerable time.

Why do you need to consider working with salvaged wood right now?

Vintage wood might be old, but it brings a sense of timelessness that is everlasting. Along with the sophisticated finish and distinct characters, the reclaimed wood brings strength to the timber frame. Roughhewn wood is a hit among all modern home builders and designers since it adds necessary style to every load-bearing structure of a home.

Most experts agree that vintage timber is stronger than newly sawn wood since the trees have matured over an extended period and they did so in an environment, where air and water pollution was not as rampant as they are today. Therefore, most homes standing on reclaimed timber frames are stronger than the others standing on light wooden frames. It turns every new house into a long-term investment that can withstand the forces of nature.

What should you remember before beginning a reclaimed timber frame building project?

The only thing you need to consider before beginning a project with vintage timber is that if there is enough of it. Sometimes, finding the same type of recycled wood takes more than a year. It can delay an ongoing construction project and cause problems in budget and deadlines. However, working with expert timberwork companies and reclaimed wood suppliers can help you estimate the time it will take to source enough wood of the same type.

Sometimes, you will need to look for additional reinforcements or replacements for the reclaimed timber logs.

That can delay the construction even further. That is one of the fundamental reasons why home designers and architects like working with reputed timberwork companies that have the market knowledge, network and expertise to source the identical wood type from multiple places, if necessary. There are bespoke reclaimed wood knockoffs that can fool any amateur. Never go shopping for vintage wood on your own, unless you have the eye for it!

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Stories Contributed by N. Morgan


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Total 1 comment
  • Slimey

    Hello Angle#3,

    Charlie here. Reclaimed wood is a good idea. Wood kept dry and protected can last forever. But I don’t really care about wood homes due to one thing. They catch FIRE easily.

    Can I say, Notre Dame??? 800 years of wood up in smoke.

    There is also termites. Stick to materials in this order. Stone, metal, wood. The Machu Picchu is a good example of how long the first material last.


    Charlie (don’t ever make your house out of doughnuts. I learned the hard way “burp”, excuse me….) :lol: :lol:




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