Last week, I wrote about my friends who removed their old Douglas fir interior doors and replaced them with fake wood, hollow-core numbers instead. This was an ill-advised move for a couple of reasons: The old doors had tons of character, but it was a waste because the old slabs also ended up in a landfill. Personally, I would have made the minor repairs—scraping, patching, sanding, and (maybe) painting—and kept the doors. But if I HAD to replace the doors, I would have salvaged the Douglas fir for something else–a dining table, shelves, end tables.
The quality of old wood is the main reason salvaged/reclaimed wood is so popular and why the number of companies that offer this material is growing. Salvaged wood is the lumber that comes from dead, rotting trees or logs that have been submerged in water for 100 years, while reclaimed lumber is wood that is processed from railroad ties, wine barrels, bridges, railroad tracks, old industrial buildings, barns, warehouses, and other structures. Both types are equally excellent.
I know many companies that offer this wood, but I just found another, Coast EcoTimber of British Columbia, Canada. Launched in 2007, the company explores the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Vancouver Island for certified salvaged timber from driftwood and reclaimed lumber from buildings, but it also processes tropical hardwoods recovered from an underwater jungle that Theodore Roosevelt created in 1913 (in Central America) when he dammed the Chagres River. Using underwater submersible hydraulic saws that run on vegetable oil, the company harvests the preserved hardwoods.
But why go through so much trouble just to get wood? Because “reclaimed wood can lift a development from the ordinary to the sublime,” the company says. And it’s not just blowing smoke. Salvaged wood comes from old-growth trees, so the boards are high quality, hard and stable, with tight grains, deep colors, and unique patterns. It’s one reason the wood is so pricey. It also costs a mint because processing the wood is labor intensive but totally worth every penny.
Coast EcoTimber offers Douglas fir, red cedar, and Alaskan yellow cedar, as well as tropical species such as cumaru, ipe, espave, zapatero, and Cedro Espino. www.coastecotimber.com.