Where do we find our barnwood for our accent feature wall paneling?
The top question that comes up is where do you get your barn lumber from?
The specifications on our interior reclaimed wood wall paneling indicates that we are doing blends. Every batch we make is guaranteed to meet the high quality standards that we have set. This means that all the material we source will go through a labor intensive process to have it ready for your installation. These steps include pressure washing, denailing and metal detecting, resawing to approximate thickness, kiln drying and sterilizing at high temperature to dry and kill any bugs, sanding backside to exact thicknesses that we measure accurately to the thousandths of an inch, straightline ripping to consistent widths for easy install, square cutting ends to eliminate waste and assure tight fit on your wall, further defecting through inspections, and accurately measure each plank with a laser to assure every box is precisely packaged with the right quantity of material. Each box you receive has a blend of different colors and texture. Every time we make a batch we source the material from all different sources to be sure that the blends are random. It is almost impossible to ever match boxes to have the exact same combination. Every batch we make is random. We try to balance the variety so the combination of colors and textures keeps the variety where the customer will always receive a little bit of everything. Larger orders tend to be more forgiving in that it is easier to have more to choose from.
Since we are always blending from multiple projects to make your barn wood paneling it requires us creatively locate interesting material. Reclaimed wood is not as easy to find as just going down to lumber store and buying a new board whenever you fill like you want one. We have to plan ahead and always be sure we have enough in inventory years in advance to fill orders. Currently we have close to a million board feet of raw material in our yards that covers acres of ground.
When Reclaimed Lumber Products first started about 12 years ago we were intimately familiar with the life cycle of every barn board that passed through our operation. We parented each plank from the asking the rancher if we could salvage their fallen down barn, carefully deconstructing it, hauling it back to our shop, and artistically selecting the best use of each board. Now that the company has grown we confess that we no longer can do the barn demolition ourselves. We are going through a much greater volume of material than we could ever source with our own crews. One of the things, though, that differentiates us still in this industry is staying true to our roots to only using salvaged and previous used material. Everything we use is authentically aged, recycled, and has no faux distress or virgin materials passed off as reclaimed. A buyer should beware to verify that the manufacturer of their wood paneling uses real reclaimed lumber and takes the proper steps to clean and sterilize it before selling the finished product.
Now we source from multiple crews that do the dismantling work for us. Instead of buying from small projects here and there like a chicken house in somebody's back yard we tend to use better quality and larger volume projects such as grain elevators, sawmills, corrals, old factory buildings, big dairy barns, and other buildings where one can pull a lot of old reclaimed lumber out in one place. This lowers demolition labor and shipping cost; it also gives more predictable quality and supply risk. Most of our material that we source comes from the northwest softwoods like pine and fir but when we need hardwoods like oak we typically source from Amish dairy barns in Wisconsin. RLP's barn wood blend of wall paneling material might contain weathered grey, brown barn board, mixed species, and anything with original old patina. Even the grey tones can range from silver to dark; no two are alike. We are careful, though, to sort out any material with paint on it. The texture of the wall planks might be circle sawn, rough sawn, band sawn, weathered, brushed and worn, mixed nail patterns, knots with various natural grain patterns, or previously surfaced but original old patina.
Then after many semi-truck loads of historic material might come into our storage yard, we can decide when we want to use the old lumber. We will sort it by size, species and color. Then it gets carefully stacked and stickered to store for future use. Sometimes it gets used up immediately, and other times we still have material in our yard that has been there for ten years or more. If it is stickered to allow air flow between the layers it will not rot. Actually we sometimes intentionally don't use the material right away. If the lumber came from the inside of a building we might have too much of it with bright colors and not as much age. We still use this material in our blends, but if we let some sit in our yard it will dull out and grey in color. Think of the lumber storage process like aging a fine wine; some of our reclaimed lumber and timbers just get better with time when exposed to the elements. We get more variety in our barnwood blends by using reclaimed material of all different ages and previous sources. Some material from one source might be used steadily with a little bit at a time over many years in our operation. By doing this and constantly sourcing from different projects it keeps the variety random.
No material goes to waste in our operation. We have developed a product line that utilizes everything from all different sizes, textures and colors. Since we make everything from doors, tables, hardwood flooring, paneling, engineered wood, timber frames, to other millwork from reclaimed wood it gives us flexibility to utilize everything. We have learned that market preferences change and often times what we think is a hot item is not necessarily so. We adapt and build our product line around customer interests and availability of materials. This requires more creativity because of the fickle nature of market trends and the finite availability of materials. Think of each batch of millwork you buy from RLP as being a limited edition with timeless beauty. There will never be another exactly like it, and each plank has history and a story to tell that sometimes is only limited by your imagination.