There are a lot of reasons to use materials which have had a previous life. They include puritan thriftiness, the desire to preserve the past, of course-green practices, but my favorite reason is their inherent beauty. There is a patina, a softness that only time produces. Occasionally we find wood materials or details which can be bought for a fraction of their newer counterparts, but generally there is a premium for antique products. The premium is due to the labor cost of dismantling a structure without destroying the components. Those materials must be handled carefully and stored until needed.
Brick is a great example of a material which must be removed from a wall carefully then cleaned, sorted and stored. There is a high loss factor since many of the bricks crumble when separated from the mortar. Care must be taken to confirm that the old brick was fired properly.
Reclaimed flooring must be pulled up from an old home or barn without splitting the wood and at the same time nails pose a threat to saw mills if the boards need straightening.
Barn beams, which can be used decoratively or structurally, need the least amount of reprocessing. If the beams are made into flooring, they must go through a saw mill and need to be milled to create uniform widths and thicknesses.
Today’s fast growth pine varieties cannot come close to matching the durability, beauty and grain structure of 200 year old lumber. The rich dark patina which comes from age, cannot be easily reproduced with stain alone.
Given the chance, we use reclaimed materials whenever possible.