Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Joys and Challenges of Using Reclaimed Lumber

We saved all the rafters and roof sheathing from the giant hole in the roof for the new dormer.  And that gave us a mountain of reclaimed lumber to use for different projects.  It's been so much fun to use this wood throughout the house!

I already shared the previous post on creating barn doors.  These will be for the master closet - once we get them finished!

We also utilized the wood for collar ties in the new second floor.  Don't they help accentuate all the funky angles we have?

One of the things I'm most excited about is using the reclaimed wood for a feature wall in the new bathroom.  The patina from the old wood is fantastic and we've been able to highlight all the saw marks that give it so much character.

Back of headboard -  Fjellse IKEA frame
And just for fun, I took some of the leftover boards and did a little IKEA hack.  I applied the boards to this Fjellse headboard, stained the bed a hickory color, and now we have a very cute twin bed!

Front of headboard before finishing
Finished headboard - now I need to assemble the rest of the frame to complete the bed
And finally, we will use the old rafters to create a top for the kitchen island and some open shelving in the kitchen.

But we also had a few lessons learned in utilizing this old wood.  It's a bit tricky and takes quite a bit more work than new wood.  So while you would think you're saving money, its actually more expensive, due to all the work involved!

Splinters:  the whole point of using this wood is the beautiful patina that comes with age.  But it's tricky to get a balance between a splinter free finish and sanding too much.  You don't want to sand away the patina and saw marks!  I thought a sanding sponge would be the best approach - but that just created a sponge filled with splinters!  The best technique we found was using a sanding block with a low grit paper.  And even with that approach, I seem to have a band-aid on every finger.....

Sealing and finishing:  I've read that many people just leave reclaimed wood natural, for the most realistic look.  But for the kitchen and bathroom, we wanted to seal the wood against humidity and water.  That mean lots of test pieces to see which finish we liked the best.

I started with Watco Danish Oil finish, which has been one of my favorite products for 20 years.  But on the reclaimed lumber, it just muddied the finish, making it appear flat and boring.  And an oiled finish in a kitchen can add an extra layer of care and maintenance, that not everyone will appreciate.

Then I tried Minwax polyurethane, but again, not a lot of interest.  Pretty boring....

I also tried Waterlox.  It's considered a gold standard for finishing wood that will be used in a kitchen (USDA approved once cured).  But at $120 a gallon, it also has lots of nasty chemicals (you need to wear a full ventilator mask when applying and have lots of airflow) and it made the wood look too red.

Finally, I tried the new Zar Ultra Max product.  It's water based, so easy clean up, but also has an oil resin, which seems to keep it from looking plasticy, like most water based polyurethanes.  You have to use very, very thin coats (otherwise you get a milky finish), but I love how it highlights the saw marks and doesn't turn the wood a deep red.  We used the Antique Flat finish, so it wouldn't look too shiny.

Here are the barn doors, mid way through getting finished.  You can see which boards have been done and which haven't.  It adds a richness to the wood, without making it too dark.  It also helps seal those pesky splinters!

I'm not sure reclaimed lumber is a look for everyone - but for this bungalow, it creates a great connection with the history of the house, as well as introducing warm wood tones.  Love it!

Zar Ultra Max - Hammond Lumber

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1 comment:

  1. Very nice work. It is always great to see someone improve the quality of a house while maintaining its character! Hard to find these days.


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