Choosing to use antique lumber in your home creates an instant character and provides the green benefit of using salvaged materials. Although antique lumber boards are each unique as they are individual, there are some precautionary measures one needs to be aware of before taking on a project involving the use of 100-year-old lumber –
- No all boards will be the same – There are a lot of variables with this. One end of your 2 x 4 will inevitably be wider than the other. Another board could be warped while a portion of another board could be water-damaged. Or, other board’s moisture content could be entirely different causing the board to swell slightly. Point being, you won’t be able to use every inch of a piece of lumber in a project, so purchase more material than you’d expect to use.
- Watch out for nails – It takes one rogue nail to wreak havoc on a saw blade. Proper salvage warehouses will have removed most metal from the lumber, but anything that’s still embedded needs to be cut around. Save your blades and buy yourself some insurance with this handheld nail detector.
- Don’t lose your patina while sanding – Sanding antique lumber is a necessary evil. You hate to do it because it’s the beautiful colors and textures that only years of weathering can bring forward. But, for the safety and health of your family, it must be done. The key is selecting the right grit paper. We recommend lightly sanding with 80-100 grit sandpaper over the entire board to gently remove any splinters and residue but to preserve the integrity of the patina.
- All boards look (mostly) the same on the inside – When cutting, remember that the interesting part of the wood is the outside surface and the end grain. The interior surface grain of an old 2 x 4 looks about the same as a new one.
- Be mindful of lead-based paint – Assume any paint on a piece of antique lumber is lead-based. Either cut off and discard the painted area or encapsulate the finished area with a polyurethane or epoxy resin so that the paint is sealed behind a barrier.
- Use a finish rather than a stain – People instinctively reach for stains when working with wood but stains will mask the natural beauty of the wood’s weathered look. To preserve the patina, use a wax finish to mildly protect the wood and keep an untreated appearance. Polyurethane will give a high-shine and durability to high-traffic areas and furniture. Apply clear coats or satin finishes just as you would on regular wood.
Antique lumber is a very versatile material and can be used in both the interior and exterior of your home. With a little forethought, you can have this beautiful, aged finish in your home for many years to come. Visit our warehouse in Gainesville, Texas for the largest selection of reclaimed wood today!