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.

Reclaimed Brick

200 Year Old Brick on New Wall

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

Reclaimed Flooring and Beams

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.

4 Den Family Spaces Jc

Reclaimed Beams, Flooring, and Bookcases From Resawn Beams

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.

About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Leave A Comment