When discussing the merits of antique wood and reclaimed wood, it’s essential to understand the differences between the two. Different suppliers often use the two terms interchangeably, but there are distinct differences shoppers need to grasp before buying.
This term generates the most confusion. Any repurposed wood is reclaimed wood, but the history of the wood dictates whether it is what shoppers seeking a specific look want. Wood from a 20-year-old building that’s being demolished is reclaimed wood, but it won’t have the characteristics most people are looking for when they ask about reclaimed wood.
Older wood, salvaged from buildings that are a couple of hundred years old, will be distinctly different from the wood used in more contemporary buildings. Newer wood products are milled differently than older woods, which means the look, and even the feel, of the wood may not resemble wood taken from far older structures.
Most people define antique as meaning very old. When it comes to wood, that would probably mean just about any wood over 100 years old, but the finest examples of antique wood are often 200 or 300 years old. Some of the antique wood seen in the eastern portions of the U.S. are often even older, dating back to the early 1600s.
The processes used to harvest and prepare those woods for use are simple and uncomplicated, and the look they provide differs dramatically from the wood currently available from traditional lumberyards. But, what else makes the antique wood from the nation’s early days so valuable today?
When the first European settlers arrived in this country, the forests had never seen any real cutting. That meant the trees were several hundred years old. That old-growth wood had different traits than younger-growth trees.
Old-growth wood is generally denser, has tighter growth rings, and perhaps more importantly, had a wonderful grain that younger trees can’t deliver. Since those trees were so large, they also yielded much wider boards than are available today. It was common to see extremely wide boards and huge timbers used to construct the nation’s earliest buildings.
Today, virtually none of that old-growth timber exists, and areas where older trees survive are often protected. That means buyers seeking the look that old wood provided can no longer purchase new wood that equals what our ancestors enjoyed.
Of course, many older buildings survived the years and are still standing. Old barns and other farm buildings still dot the countryside, especially in the eastern portions of the nation, but some can be found in other parts of the country as well.
Numerous wood specialists now scour the countryside looking for old buildings to salvage, as they understand the value of antique wood in today’s burgeoning markets. When such a building is located, and the owner agrees to see the wood, those wood specialists dismantle the old building using techniques that preserve as much of the old wood as possible to reuse.
Newer buildings are also salvaged, but the value of newer woods is not as great. Yes, newer reclaimed wood has value, and can certainly be used for many applications, but the old-growth wood is far more desirable.
Homeowners love the look and feel of older wood, and many property owners ask designers to explore new and innovative ways to use antique wood in newer homes or old homes being restored. In many cases, home restorers want to find wood that matches the existing wood in a home. That’s not always easy to do, but it’s frequently possible to match older woods closely.
Remember that woods like chestnut are no longer available, which means antique wood dealers are the only source for them. It’s also important to remember those old-growth trees had unique grain patterns that newer trees can’t duplicate.
Design experts often recommend antique wood for accent walls, flooring, and built-ins. Since many varieties of antique woods are available through reputable dealers, it’s possible to find specific types of wood in great condition to meet a designer’s specifications.
The process or strategy employed depends on the buyer’s needs. Some purchasers expect the wood to look old, have nail holes, and include other defects. Other users want the wood to be planed and ready to accept a new stain. If you’re installing a floor, for example, it makes sense to use planed wood that’s consistent so the floor will be level throughout the room.
If the property owners want an accent wall to provide a warm, earthy look, the antique wood may be left in its natural state. On the other hand, if the wood is used to construct cabinets intended to match the look of an earlier time, it will most likely be processed to meet those needs.
Again, that will depend on the intended use, the availability of antique wood, and the property owner’s budget. Newer reclaimed wood can be used for some projects, but it’s unlikely to match the look of true antique wood. In some instances, it might make sense to use reclaimed wood in less-obvious places while using antique wood where it’s highly visible. It pays to discuss the project’s needs with the designers and contractors before making any decisions.
Most property owners have cost constraints that can’t be ignored. That means using costly antique wood in a large project could create financial issues. However, even quality, newer reclaimed wood can be costly in many cases. The designer and contractor are generally able to make recommendations and discuss the various options available.
Antique wood is rare and becoming rarer by the day. That means property owners should explore their options now to prevent future disappointments. Take the time to contact your designer, contractor, and antique wood provider to determine what woods are available and how they will impact the success of your project.
Reclaimed wood is our lifeblood at Modern Timber Craft. We love the look, the grainy texture, even the smell of freshly sawn pieces. But one characteristic that we really admire is wood coloring.
Barn wood just has a special quality. One that conveys a comfy, warm feeling while displaying history and charm. A perfectly set installation creates coziness and provides years of enjoyment.
Wood from antique, historic barns comes from a variety of species, reclaimed from 18th, 19th, and early-20th century structures throughout the United States and Canada. The diversity of wood species used gives you many options for your next barnwood installation.
Choosing a color for your barn wood installation can be as unique as your personality. Some shades work well alongside painted surfaces of certain colors, while others can seem intrusive if not paired with appropriate wall or floor covering. That’s why we encourage you to explore your options before installation or even enlist a home designer for help.
Untreated, aged wood develops a silvery-gray color over time, due to oxidation and exposure to the elements. Many homeowners enjoy the natural hues presented by original wood pieces. In cases where reclaimed wood has not faded from its natural beige color, you can speed up this graying process using household ingredients.
As an alternative to keeping the untreated look, you can choose to stain your barnwood mantle, door, or other product. Stains range from darker, more pigmented hues like cherrywood to lighter, less pigmented stains like oak. You can DIY your staining project but be prepared to test if you want to get it right. Perfecting stain shading may involve a few days of experimentation with different dyes and stains.
Again, selecting the right stain means you should consider the surroundings, décor, ambient and directed light, and location of your installation.
Identifying specific reclaimed wood species by color can sometimes be challenging – even for veteran barnwood recyclers. Barn wood is exposed to elements that alter its color over time. When the patina (encrusted coating from exposure) covers the wood surface, it will need to be planed down to reveal the wood’s natural color.
As mentioned, wood exposed to the elements tends to turn a dull gray color as a patina envelope surrounds the wood surface. Even interior wood takes on a patina as it ages. Some varieties may get darker or redder in color while others get lighter or lose their color altogether. It will depend primarily on light exposure. In most cases, interior wood tends to darken with age.
Depending on the species, processing of the barn wood, and your installation location, the wood coloring you select may change a little or a lot. For instance, when we remove the weathered surface to reveal fresh wood underneath, there may be some color variation from plank to plank.
The good news is the color variation in unstained wood will often mellow following an installation. Initial color variation across flooring boards, for example, will homogenize over time – leaving you with a more uniform color.
Here is a breakdown of the wood species most often used in reclaimed wood installations. Those with a * indicate popular barn wood species that Modern Timber Craft supplies. NOTE: Wood varieties differ regionally across the U.S.
|White Pine*||Pale Yellow to Light brown||Eastern US|
|Yellow Pine*||Soft Yellow to Tan||Southern US, Mid-Atlantic US|
|Hemlock*||Light Reddish Brown||Eastern US|
|White Oak*||Light to Medium Brown with Olive Tint||Eastern US|
|Red Oak*||Light to Medium Brown with Reddish Tint||Northeast US, Southeast Canada|
|Douglas Fir||Salmon to Blond||Western US|
|Walnut||Pale Brown to Chocolate Brown||Central US, Southern US|
|Ash||Light Brown to Blond||Eastern US, Central US|
|Maple||White to Cream||Eastern US, Midwest US, Western US|
Finally, when you’re thinking about wood color, consider where it will go. The placement of your barn wood will matter. Reclaimed wood installed outdoors as siding or decking will weather more deeply and faster than an interior installation.
Consider the application (mantel, flooring, furniture, etc.) as well as the location. Will it get constant sun exposure? Will it be used for an everyday surface? The most important factor will be its strength and durability but choosing the right color will make all the difference to your eyes and those of your guests.
Be sure to check out our reclaimed wood products inventory!
In our previous post, we began our exhaustive timber frame home glossary. Today we'll continue to cover key terms that are used during the construction of a timber frame building. Enjoy!
Half Dovetail: A dovetail tapered only on one side.
Half Lap: A joint in which two timbers are lapped or let in to each other.
Half-Timbered Frame: An building system in which the space between timbers is filled with brick, plaster, or wattle and daub. The resulting look reveals the timbers to both the exterior and interior of the building.
Halving: The removal of half the depth of two timbers in order that they may cross each other.
Hammer Beam: A roof bracket projecting from the top of the wall that supports a roof truss. The design creates a large span with relatively short timbers.
Hand-Peeled: The process of removing the bark and outer layer (cambium) of a log. Hand peeling is usually done using a drawknife, although some companies use machines to achieve a hand-peeled look.
Header: Built-up horizontal member of a home's frame that tops a window or doorway.
Heartwood: The inner layers of wood which in the growing tree have ceased to contain living cells, as opposed to the sapwood, which contains growing cells. Heartwood is generally darker in color than sapwood.
Herringbone bracing: A decorative, supporting style of frame, usually at 45° to the upright and horizontal directions of the frame.
Hewn: Cut with an axe or an adze. Also called hand hewn.
Hip: The angled ridge formed by two adjoining planes.
Hold-Down Rod: A metal rod that provides extra anchorage of the roof system to the logs. These are desirable in high wind areas.
Hook Pin: A fastener used to pin joints temporarily when test-assembling a frame. Also known as a drift pin.
Housed Mortise: A recessed mortise in which bearing is provided for the entire width of the tenoned member.
Housing: The shallow mortise or cavity for receiving the major part of a timber end. Usually coupled with a smaller deep mortise to receive a tenon for typing the joint.
Jetty: An upper floor that depends on a cantilever system in which a horizontal beam (the jetty bressummer) projects forward beyond the floor and on which the wall above rests.
Joinery: The art or craft of connecting timbers using woodworking joints.
Joint: The connection of two or more timbers.
Joists: Small, parallel timbers that complete the floor frame.
Kerf: The groove formed in wood while being sawn or the thickness of the wood removed as sawdust.
Kerfing: Used to describe either a series of cuts with a circular saw set at a desired depth to remove a section of wood or the hand-sawing along the shoulder of an assembled joint to improve the fit of the joint.
Keyway: A joint between the footing and foundation wall.
Kiln-Dried Lumber: Lumber that has been seasoned in a dry kiln, often to a lower moisture content below that of air seasoned lumber.
King Post: A central, vertical post extending from the bent plate or girt to the junction of the rafters.
Knee Brace: A small timber that is framed diagonally between a post and a beam.
Layout: The drawing of a joint on a timber before it is cut.
Live Load: Weight due to occupancy of building (people, furnishings, etc.).
Load: Term used to describe weight put on a frame or framing member.
Maximum Allowable Fiber Stress in Bending: Safe design standard for fiber stress.
Maximum Allowable Horizontal Shear Stress: Safe design standard for shear stress.
Modulus of Elasticity: A measure of rigidity of a material. The ratio of stress (force per area) to strain (deformation of wood).
Moment: The product of force times the distance from which it acts, which causes a beam to bend.
Moment of Inertia: A property that reflects the strength of a timber dependent upon the size and shape of its cross section.
Mortise-and-Tenon Joint: A fastening method frequently used in timber framing. One piece of wood has a slot (mortise), while the other component has a projecting member that fits into the slot (tenon). The mortise & tenon is often secured in place by the addition of hardwood dowels or pegs. Types include:
Noggin Pieces: The horizontal timbers forming the top and bottom of the frames of infill-panels.
Nominal Size: Undressed dimension of lumber.
Overall Length: Total length of timber including length of tenons on either end.
Overhang: Projection of second story beyond the first.
Partial-Width Notch: A notch on the tension or compression face of a bending member that does not extend across full width of the face.
Peg: A wooden dowel one to one and one-half inches in diameter, usually of oak or locust.
Pike Pole: A long pole pointed with a sharpened spike used for raising frames. These tools were known as early as the fifteenth century as butters.
Pin: Small peg.
Plates: Major horizontal timbers that support the base of the rafters.
Post: Posts are any vertical timber.
Post-and-Beam: Another term used to describe timber frame construction.
Principal Rafters: A pair of inclined timbers that are framed into a bent.
Purlin: Beams that run perpendicular to the rafters that support them, used to connect the principal rafters of trusses together. Purlins support the roof deck.
Queen Post: A pair of vertical posts of a roof truss standing on the bent plate or girt and supporting the rafters or collar tie.
Rack: The action of straining or winching a frame to bring it into square or plumb.
Rafter Feet: The lower ends of the rafters that are framed into the plate.
Rafter Peak: The point where the tops of the rafters meet.
Raising the Frame: Term used to describe the erecting the bents and roof trusses then joining and pegging the other timbers to the frame.
Reclaimed Wood: Wood that was salvaged intact from old barns, mills, and factories that were built with timber-frame construction. It is salvaged then recycled and reused to build a new structure.
Relish: The material between a peg or wedge hole and the end of a tenon or spline.
Ridge pole/ Ridge Beam : A horizontal timber at the peak of the roof to which the rafters are attached.
Roof Pitch: Inches of rise per foot of run. For example, a 45-degree roof has twelve inches of rise for each foot of run and is therefore called a twelve-pitch roof.
Roof Truss: A structure to support the roof.
Saddle Notch Corner: A saddle notch is an overlapping, interlocking type of log corner. A saddle notched corner ensures a tight fit and superior structural quality.
Scarf: A joint for splicing two timbers, end to end.
Seasoned Wood: Dried wood.
Shakes: Separation of wood fibers that follow the curvature of the growth rings. Normally occurs during growth of the tree.
Shear Failure: Failure from shearing along the fibers of a timber.
Shearing: A force causing slippage between layers.
Sheathing: The covering of boards or the waterproof material on the outside wall of a house or on a roof.
Shim: Thin tapered pieces of material such as a shingle. Used for leveling sill timbers.
Shoulder of Timber: Point of intersection at the joint of two assembled timbers. Refers to timber with tenon.
Shoulder-To-Shoulder Length: Length of timber between the shoulders of the two end joints. (The overall length minus length of end tenons.)
Sill Timbers: Horizontal timbers that rest upon the foundation.
Sloping Timbers: Includes trusses, braces, and herringbone bracing.
Soffit: The underside part of a building such as under a roof overhang.
Spline: A lumber or engineered wood element placed in slot cuts, grooves, dados, etc. to strengthen joints between components. Also known as a free tenon.
Squaring Off: The process of drawing and cutting off one end of a timber so that the cut gives a plane surface perpendicular to the timber's length.
Stand-Alone Timber Frame: A timber fame structure designed to resist loads without the use of shear walls or supplementary structural systems.
Stub tenon: A short tenon whose depth depends on the size of the timber. Also used to describe a tenon that is shorter than the width of the mortised piece so the tenon does not show.
Summer Beam: Major timber that spans between grits or plates.
Teasel tenon: A term used for the tenon on top of a jowled or gunstock post, which is typically received by the mortise in the underside of a tie beam.
Template: A full-size pattern of thin material for laying out and checking joints.
Temporary Bracing: Method of temporarily adding rigidity to a frame during the raising.
Tenon: The projecting end of a timber that is inserted into a mortise.
Tension: A force causing the tendency of extension. In timber framing, captured tension adds rigidity and strength.
Through Tenon: A tenon that passes through the timber it joins. It may extend past the mortise and be wedged from the opposite side.
Tongue and Fork: A type of joint in which one timber has the shape of a two-prong fork and the other a central tongue that fits between the prongs.
Top tenon: The tenon which occurs on top of a post.
Transit: A telescope set on a tripod used for leveling foundation or sill timbers.
Trunnel (Treenail): Term used to describe a peg, sometimes referred to as an extra-large peg.
Truss: The assemblage of timbers forming a rigid framework.
Tusk tenon: A type of mortise and tenon joint that uses a wedge-shaped key to hold the joint together.
Vertical Timbers: Framing that includes posts (main supports at corners and other major uprights) and studs (subsidiary upright limbs in framed walls).
Walking Beams: Two parallel beams laid on the ground used to assist moving timbers with a pivoting action.
Wall-Plates: Located at the top of timber-framed walls, they support the trusses and joists of the roof.
Wedge: A tapered wood element with rectangular cross section used to secure through-tenons, through-splines and scarf joint.
Are there any terms we mentioned in this post that you would like a definition for? Are there any timber-frame terms that you heard of and aren't sure what they mean? Let us know in the comments!
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What are bents? What are beams? What is reclaimed wood, exactly? Don't be ashamed if you don't know. Many people who aren't expert home builders don't.
These terms all have a something in common. Timber frame homes.
Timber frame homes are often composed of signature arrangements of posts, beams, trusses, pockets, and many other framing options. You don't need to be an expert to be able to appreciate the unique beauty and the components that make timber frame home building so awesome!
Timber frame homes may contain up to 200 key structural components that will be invisible to its occupants once the building is complete. In a conventional built home, there are thousands of individual wood parts within those components that all end up hidden upon completion.
Below is a glossary of the most common terms you will hear related to timber frame homes.
Anchor Beam: A major tying beam joined to post with a shouldered through-tenon wedged from the opposite side.
Anchor Bolt: A bolt protruding from the foundation onto which the sill plate is fastened with a nut.
Baseboard: Interior trim used on the wall of a room, located along the floor.
Batten: A thin, narrow piece of lumber used for covering panel or siding edges.
Bay: Space between two bents. There will typically be a bent on each end and additional frame members that connect the bents to form the structure.
Beam: Any horizontal timber that is supported at the ends and can serve as supporting joists, non-load bearing or load-bearing.
Beam Pocket: A notch in a wall or receiving member prepared to receive the ends of a beam.
Bent: The basic building block of a post-and-beam home, made up of structural beams that form a cross section through the building. Typically, bents are spaced between 12" and 16" apart. Bents are connected with joists and purlins, giving the structure its shape.
Bevel siding: Boards of varying width tapering to a thin edge and used as building-side covering.
Bird's Mouth: A V-shaped notch that resembles a bird's open beak. It is cut into the base of a rafter and received by the plate.
Blind Mortise: A mortise that does not extend completely through the piece.
Board Foot: The quantity of lumber derived from a piece of rough, green lumber that is 1" thick, 12" wide, and 1" long or its equivalent in thicker, wider, narrower, or longer lumber.
Brace: Typically, a diagonal short piece that runs between posts and girts, providing rigidity to a frame and helping to prevent the frame from cracking (leaning) in high winds. Braces can also be attached in the horizontal plane, running from one girt to another.
Braced Frame: Also known as a timber frame.
Bridging: Short pieces of wood placed between beams or joists to prevent lateral movement.
Buck: A wooden frame set into a log wall used to frame windows and doors.
Buckling: Bending of a timber as a result of a compressive force along its axis.
Cant: A triangular strip of lumber made by ripping a square timber diagonally.
Cantilever Beam: A projecting timber that supports an overhang.
Casing: Lumber used as interior trim around window and door frames.
Carrying Sticks: Sticks placed under a timber to provide support and an easy grip for carrying. Typically, two carrying sticks and four people are needed to carry a timber.
Chamfer: A simple bevel done for embellishment of a timber.
Checks: The separation of wood fibers, caused by the tension of uneven drying, following the direction of the sun's rays.
Clear: Describes lumber nearly free from blemishes, defects or knots.
Coarse: Describes lumber which has unusually wide growth rings for its species.
Collar Purlin: Horizontal, longitudinal beam supporting collar ties.
Collar Tie: Horizontal connector between a pair of rafters used to reduce sagging or spreading of rafters.
Common Rafters: Closely and regularly spaced inclined timbers that support the roof covering. Independent of bent system.
Cope: A circular-arc notch cut on the tension face of a bending member, placed adjacent to the members load-bearing surface to reduce stress parallel to the grain notch.
Crown Post: Central vertical post of a roof truss that connects the bent plate or girt to the collar tie or collar purlin.
Cruck: Primitive truss formed by two main timbers, usually curved, set up as an arch or inverted V. The pair used is typically cut from the same tree for consistency. Each half of the cruck is called a "blade".
D-Log: A profile you can choose for milling log home timbers. Named for its shape, each log is milled round on the outside and cut flat on the inside, which provides a traditional log home look outside with a straight log wall on the inside.
Dead Load: Weight of the standalone building (roof, floors, walls, etc.).
Diagonal Grain: Grain that is other than parallel to the length of a timber, which typically greatly reduces the strength of a timber.
Dimensional Lumber: Planed lumber sold according to its nominal size.
Dormer: A structural element of a building that protrudes from the plane of a sloping roof surface, used to create usable space in the upper level of a building.
Dovetail: A tenon that is shaped like a dove's spread tail to fit into a corresponding mortise.
Dowell: A cylindrical wooden pin used for holding two pieces of wood together.
Draw Boring: Intentional offsetting of holes in a mortise-and-tenon joint, used so the joint is drawn tight during peg installation.
Dress: To plane one or more sides of a piece of sawn lumber.
Drift Hook: Drift pin.
Drift Pin: Used to pin joints temporarily when test-assembling a frame.
Drop: An ornamental pendant that makes a tear-shaped termination to the lower ends of the second-story post of a framed overhang. Also known as a Pendill.
Dutchman: A timber patch to cover a defect, previous joinery, or other blemish or error. Color and grain matching make them hard to find.
Eased-Edged: A piece of wood slightly rounded or bull-nosed on each edge.
Eave: That part of a roof, which projects beyond the face of a wall.
Edge Distance: The distance from the center of a peg hole to the edge of the member, measured perpendicular to the grain direction.
Edge Grain: Describes lumber that is sawn along a radius of the annual rings or at an angle less than 45 degrees to the radius is edge-grained; this term is synonymous with quarter sawn.
Egress: An opening (door, window, bulkhead or skylight) from which people may exit the building, which must follow local code requirements.
End Distance: The distance from the center of a peg hole to the end of the member, measured parallel to the grain direction.
End Match: To tongue-and-groove the ends of lumber.
Equilibrium moisture content: The moisture content at which wood neither gains nor loses moisture when surrounded by air at a given relative humidity and temperature.
Excessive Bending and Deflection: Describes anything greater than allowable bending of timbers within a frame that have been established by building codes.
Face Side: The side of a piece of wood or timber that shows the best quality.
Feather Tenon: A round, shouldered machined fillet or feather that is glued into a machine-made (router) slot or mortise on each side of the joint.
Fiber Failure: Failure from tension in the lower fibers of a timber.
Flashing: Weatherproofing strips formed from metal, which channel water in a specific way.
Flat Grain: Describes lumber that is plain sawn or sawn tangential to the annual rings, as opposed to edge-grain or quarter sawn.
Flutes: Hollows or grooves cut longitudinally for ornamental purposes.
Full-Width Notch: A notch on the tension or compression face of a bending member that extends across the full width of the face.
Furring: Any flat piece of lumber used to bring an irregular framing to a flat surface. Specifically, a narrow strip of lumber nailed to rafters, studding, and joists as backing.
Gable Roof: A double-sloping roof that forms an A-shape.
Gambrel Roof: A double-pitched roof with the lower slope steeper than the upper slope.
Girder: Major timber that spans between sills.
Girt: Major horizontal timber that connects posts.
Glulam: An engineered support beam made up of laminations of dimension lumber that have been glued together.
Grain: Describes the arrangement or direction of internal wood elements (spiral grain, cross grain, etc.) and the relative width of the growth rings (coarse grain, fine grain, etc.) It can also be used to designate the angle of the growth rings in relation to the axis of the board (edge grain, flat grain).
Green Lumber: Unseasoned or wet lumber; lumber in which free water still remains within cells. Specifically, lumber which has a moisture content above the fiber saturation point (approximately 25% to 30%).
Green Wood: Wood freshly cut that is not dried or seasoned.
Gunstock Post: A post wider at the top than the bottom. The wider portion provides more wood for intersecting joinery.
That's all for now. Be sure to check out Part 2 for the rest of the list.
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