WRITER | PAM TOIGO
These days, it seems that barnwood is being used to build everything but barns. More and more, people are looking for a warm, yet modern update to their home or business, and they are drawn to the rustic look of reclaimed wood. Where an old dilapidated barn may be a nuisance for farmers, barnwood offers an original look and feel that designers and homeowners love. Best of all, it’s sturdy, green, and utterly unique.
Used in beams, decking, flooring, mantels, furniture, planking and siding, and feature walls, the popularity of barnwood, which began to hit the scene a handful of years ago, has held strong. There are several reasons for its continued appeal.
One of the main reasons is the uniqueness of the wood. Every piece of reclaimed wood tells a story, and as homeowners look to move away from cookie-cutter home styles, this is one of the first design ideas that comes to mind. Adding reclaimed wood to your home provides a rustic look that almost seamlessly connects your living space to the natural world and the past.
Another major benefit of using barnwood as a building material is that it is stronger and more durable than new wood. Most reclaimed wood is old growth wood and was harvested at a time when the trees grew slowly. Slow growth means a tight, dense grain. Simply put, reclaimed woods offer superior quality and durability that you can’t find in today’s market. Furthermore, old wood has already been weathered and has been through the expansion and contraction process for many years, which makes it a great choice for flooring, especially. Its patina and weathered look also makes it easier to maintain. No need to worry about dents and scratches; they are already a part of the design and the reason for the interest and charm.
Beyond simple design appeal, barnwood is also the ultimate in upcycling. As sustainability becomes intertwined with home design, and as wood becomes a more precious resource, finding ways to use reclaimed wood has a positive impact on the environment. Using reclaimed wood decreases the demand for newly harvested virgin wood from forests and reduces the energy used to process new wood. When it’s harvested responsibly, reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that can help reduce our impact on the environment.
But barnwood is not always easy to work with. Because it is old and has been weathered, there are no straight edges. Getting pieces to match up flush to drywall is a challenge for most builders, but one that is worth the extra effort. The imperfection is a major part of its charm, and most builders these days are experienced at working with it.
Barnwood is not hard to find here in Michigan. Just look up “barnwood Michigan,” and you will come across many companies that specialize in reclaimed wood. But remember, barnwood will not always be a plentiful material. There are only a certain number of unused barns in the state, and once they are gone, they are gone.