A Few Tips for Choosing Salvaged Lumber for a Home Project

Industrial & Manufacturing Blog

When remodeling or renovating your home, or if you like to tackle woodworking projects on your own, you might shop for salvaged lumber. This is lumber that has been taken from another project to be resold; this might be a home that was demolished or also renovated, or just from old furniture and other such pieces. Scraps from construction sites are also typically salvaged and resold. When you are ready to shop for this type of lumber, note a few tips to ensure you choose the best pieces.

Note how the lumber was used

If the lumber you're selecting was used to frame a house, it's probably very strong and made from a dense species that isn't likely to hold much moisture. However, if it was from old cabinetry or furniture, it may, or may not, be as sturdy. Timber that was used on a kitchen benchtop or for bathroom flooring may be holding a lot of moisture, and the same is true for lumber that was used for an outdoor deck. Boards used for flooring in other areas of a home may be very durable and strong. Try to find out how lumber pieces were once used so you can get an idea of their overall strength and what they've been exposed to over the years, and then you can choose the strongest pieces of lumber.

Look for signs of mold, mildew and rot

If you walk up to a stack of lumber and think you can smell moisture or any type of mildew smell, keep walking. If signs of water damage are that obvious, there's no reason to examine the lumber any further. Note if a piece seem cupped or bowed in the middle, or if the wood feels soft when you pick it up. These are signs of water or moisture absorption as well, and curved wood often isn't very strong for any home project.

Be careful of the age

Older lumber may have arsenic as part of the chemicals used to seal it. Older pieces may also be painted with lead-based paint. Burning these pieces or even cutting them can release these chemicals, which is very dangerous. Try to note when the lumber was cut and first used and if there are any markings on boards and other such pieces. This may tell you if there is arsenic or another chemical that was used, or if the timber is too old to be safe.

For assistance, talk to a timber salvage expert.


22 August 2016

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