Uses for Reclaimed Wood Beams in a Remodeling Project

Reclaimed Wood BeamsImagine driving through the countryside. As you gaze out the window, you notice a number of rundown barns, looking about ready to fall down. Picturesque, charming and ramshackle are common adjectives that might spring to mind to describe this scene, but a reclaimed wood manufacturer would likely think along different lines and say opportunity upon viewing old barns fit to be demolished. Old barns are one of the most common sources for reclaimed wood beams and other reclaimed timber products.

But this is only one of several places where companies that sell reclaimed wood beams can look. Abandoned warehouses, derelict docks and even old gymnasiums can also provide reclaimed timber sources. Such locations can provide entire, fully intact reclaimed wood beams. Instead of burning or discarding such strong timber, reclaimed wood manufacturers have developed methods of repurposing it.

One major advantage of reclaimed wood beams is that they are often stronger than their new counterparts. This could come as a surprise – after all, old material is usually more susceptible to rot than new material. However, because old barns, docks and other reclaimed wood sources were often constructed from old-growth trees, it’s not unusual for them to offer up wood with a tighter grain and increased overall strength.

Beyond simply sourcing entire reclaimed wood beams, manufacturers can also create glulam beams from reclaimed wood. Glulam is short for glued laminated timber. To create glulam beams, manufacturers laminate several smaller pieces of timber together. First-, second- and third-generation wood may be included in glulam beams. One unusual characteristic of glulam timber is that it can be formed into curves, which would obviously be impossible with solid beams.

Clearly, reusing timber in reclaimed wood beams and glulam beams is good for the environment – but it can also be a very good thing for your renovation design. Whether you’re remodeling your home or updating your business, there are many places to include reclaimed wood beams and glulam beams in your project, as listed below.

Ways to Incorporate Reclaimed Wood Beams in Remodeling Projects

1. Structural Beams and Posts

Probably the first application that springs to mind for reclaimed wood beams is to use them as roof supports. The vaulted ceiling look, complete with exposed beams and natural lighting, is quite popular right now. Glulam beams and other reclaimed wood beams also make great support posts.

Reclaimed wood beams offer enough strength to hold a building up and enough flexibility to complement any design. For a traditional exposed beam look, leave the reclaimed wood or glulam beams just as they are.  For a more modern look, cover parts of the beams, or paint them entirely white. White beams against white ceilings will look quite sleek. The same reclaimed wood beams could take on a tropical feel if a woven grass textile is installed around each beam.

Here are a couple of design tips for reclaimed wood beams: First, consider adding lighting to accentuate the repetition and geometry of your reclaimed or glulam beams. Second, consider adding warmth by filling the spaces between beams and posts with wood paneling or bricks.

2. Non-Structural Beams and Posts

Not all beams and posts are weight-bearing. If you have exposed beams that aren’t crucial for the building’s structural integrity, you can carve them into interesting shapes. Custom band sawing and wire brushing may be added to reclaimed wood beams to add eye-catching texture. One common way to use non-structural posts is to hang room dividers between them. A row of posts quickly becomes a temporary wall once fabric is hung between them.

3. Steps

Reclaimed wood beams also make great steps. The tight grain and lovely colors of old-growth timber is sure to catch every ascendant’s eye. Oregon State University recently commissioned a large staircase to be built almost entirely from old growth Douglas fir beams.

4. Benches and Stools

Many horizontal surfaces in homes and businesses could potentially be made of reclaimed wood beams. Benches made of glulam will feel especially sturdy.

5. Tables

Restaurants love using reclaimed wood in their tables. Many prefer glulam beams for this application, since glulam takes on a charming amber-colored patina with time.

6. Countertops

Reclaimed wood countertops are warm, sanitary and durable.

7. Shelving

Built-in shelves are excellent for organization. Glulam beams and other reclaimed beams make great shelves.

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