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Reclaimed wood adds instant appeal to home projects

Repurposing salvaged wood is a popular trend in the home improvement industry. Not only can using salvaged wood give a home a one-of-a-kind look, but it's a handy way to incorporate the three Rs of green living into your lifestyle: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reclaimed wood is often used in flooring, beams, wall treatments, and doors, but it also can be turned into furniture or home accent items. Reclaimed wood adds warmth and historical interest to a home's decor that newer materials may lack. Although finding wood that can be salvaged takes time and some legwork, such efforts can quickly pay off. Many businesses are now devoted to reclaimed timber, which can help make the process of finding and using salvaged wood even easier.

Homeowners considering reclaimed wood may be interested to learn that such wood can serve various functions aside from benefitting the planet.

• Match old-growth wood. New regulations may prevent certain species of trees from being cut down. That means it can be challenging to match old wood in a home, particularly if you're looking to maintain historical value and authenticity. Relying on salvaged wood items can alleviate this concern, ensuring that you can find rare woods that are no longer available brand new.

• Salvaged wood has character. It's difficult to mimic the natural age marks and character that older wood may have. Instead of being raised on farms, wood harvested decades ago probably grew in natural environments, making the wood both durable and strong. The color and grain of salvaged wood may also be unique.

• Look at objects in a new way. Doors are versatile pieces of reclaimed lumber because they're already flat and rather large. Doors can be turned into headboards, tables or benches. Staircase or porch posts can be turned into candlestick holders, and wood shutters can dress up walls and provide a place to hang artwork and other wall items.

• Reclaimed wood can be found everywhere. Most people do not have to look too far to find wood they can salvage. Check salvage yards, landfills, dumpsters in front of older homes being renovated, or older, unused barns in rural settings. You also can collect driftwood or discarded shipping crates.

While some reclaimed wood can be used as-is, some pieces may require millwork, including sanding, cutting, shaping, and finishing. If you do not have these skills, you probably will have to hire someone who does.

The Internet is awash with ideas for putting salvaged wood to use. Get inspired and then find the pieces that will fit your project.