what is reclaimed wood

What is reclaimed wood: All you need to know

In the world of interior design and furniture craftsmanship, reclaimed wood has emerged as a prized material celebrated for its unique character, environmental benefits, and historical significance. This is why here at Old Fashioned Lumber we use this wood. But what exactly is reclaimed wood, and why is it gaining popularity among eco-conscious consumers and design enthusiasts alike? Let’s go further into the definition of reclaimed wood, the different types, its sustainability credentials, safety considerations, and its distinction from repurposed wood. 

What is reclaimed wood?

Reclaimed wood refers to lumber that has been salvaged from old buildings, barns, factories, or other structures slated for demolition or renovation. 

Instead of being discarded or left to decay, this wood is carefully deconstructed, processed, and repurposed for new applications, such as flooring, decor, and furniture; see organic coffee table or bistro kitchen table.

The appeal of reclaimed wood lies in its weathered appearance, rich patina, and distinctive character, which tell a story of its past life and lend a sense of history and authenticity to any space.

Types of Reclaimed Wood

Now that you understand the definition of reclaimed wood, let’s see its different types. Depending on the region, architectural styles, and historical context. Common species include:


Often sourced from old barns, this wood typically exhibits a weathered appearance, with saw marks, knots, and nail holes adding to its rustic charm.

Over time, exposure to the elements further enhances its patina, deepening its rich tones and adding to its allure. To identify the age of barnwood, one can look for signs of weathering, such as fading coloration, rough texture, and natural distressing.

reclaimed wood definition


Known for its durability and grain patterns, reclaimed oak is prized for its strength and versatility. Its dense composition and inherent strength make it a preferred choice for furniture and flooring applications.

To discern the age of reclaimed oak, one can inspect the wood for signs of natural aging, such as subtle cracks, patina development, and variations in coloration.

types of reclaimed wood


This type of reclaimed wood exudes a warm and inviting aesthetic, characterized by its charming imperfections and natural aging effects. Knots, blemishes, and color variations add depth and character to each piece, enhancing its rustic appeal. 

Reclaimed pine develops a rich patina that reflects its journey and enhances its visual interest. To determine the age of reclaimed pine, one can examine the wood for signs of wear and tear, including surface abrasions, patina development, and evidence of previous use. 


Reclaimed maple epitomizes timeless sophistication, boasting a smooth and uniform grain that exudes understated elegance. Its light color tones and durability make it a versatile choice for a variety of applications. 

To ascertain the age of reclaimed maple, one can assess the wood for signs of aging, such as subtle color changes, patina development, and surface irregularities. 

For instance, you can build a sturdy and elegant bed frame from reclaimed maple wood. The clean lines and natural beauty of maple create a serene and inviting atmosphere in the bedroom. Whether crafted in a minimalist modern design or a more traditional style, a reclaimed maple bed frame offers both comfort and aesthetic charm, providing a restful retreat for peaceful nights and lazy mornings.


Reclaimed olive wood exudes a distinct beauty characterized by its rich hues and intricate grain patterns. Sourced from ancient olive trees, this wood carries a sense of history and resilience. Its unique coloring ranges from warm golden tones to deep, earthy browns, creating a visually striking appearance. 

For instance, a reclaimed olive wood dining table adds character and charm to family gatherings and dinner parties. Its durable construction ensures longevity, making it a timeless investment piece for generations to come.

Reclaimed wood in San Diego - Old Fashioned Lumber



This wood showcases shades of green, brown, and gray, creating a captivating visual appeal. Its irregular texture and natural variations add to its charm, making each piece truly one-of-a-kind. 

You can build coffee tables or side tables from reclaimed avocado wood for a one-of-a-kind furniture piece. The wood's distinctive colors and grain patterns create a conversation-worthy centerpiece for any seating area.

Cedar burls:

Harvested from the knotty growths on cedar trees, these burls showcase a unique combination of colors and grain figures, ranging from creamy whites to deep reds and browns. Their irregular shapes and natural imperfections add to their allure, creating visually stunning pieces that stand out in any setting.

Reclaimed cedar burls may develop a smooth, polished surface as they age and mature. To identify the age of reclaimed cedar burls, one can examine their size, shape, and surface condition for signs of weathering and natural aging.


Reclaimed walnut wood exudes a timeless elegance characterized by its rich, chocolate-brown color and distinctive grain patterns. Known for its durability and versatility, walnut is prized for its strength and beauty, making it a favored choice for furniture and decorative applications. 

To discern the age of reclaimed walnut wood, one can inspect its coloration, grain structure, and surface texture for signs of aging and patina development. 

You can create an elegant and functional console table from reclaimed walnut wood. Walnut's natural beauty and versatility make it ideal for crafting furniture pieces that blend seamlessly with various interior styles. Whether used in entryways, living rooms, or hallways, a reclaimed walnut console table offers a stylish surface for displaying decor items, artwork, or personal mementos. 

Its sleek design and smooth finish add a touch of sophistication to any space, making it a versatile and practical addition to your home.

walnut reclaimed wood San Diego

Old growth fir:

Old growth forests are ecosystems that have been relatively undisturbed by human activity and contain trees that can be hundreds of years old. Reclaimed old-growth fir embodies the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia), with its straight grain and warm, reddish-brown hue.

Salvaged from historic buildings and structures, this wood carries a sense of history and character that adds depth to any space. To identify the age of reclaimed old-growth fir, one can examine its growth rings, surface texture, and coloration for indications of aging and weathering. Additionally, the presence of characteristic knots and irregularities may offer insight into its origins.


Reclaimed sequoia wood captures the majestic beauty of these towering giants, with its rich, reddish-brown color and straight grain. Salvaged from fallen trees or old-growth forests, sequoia wood carries a sense of grandeur and reverence that evokes the natural beauty of the outdoors. To determine the age of reclaimed sequoia wood, one can assess its growth rings, surface texture, and coloration for signs of aging and maturity.

Where to find reclaimed wood in San Diego


White Oak:

White Oak trees are more commonly found in the eastern United States and parts of the Midwest, where the climate and soil conditions are more favorable for their growth. However, White Oak trees have been cultivated and planted in various locations outside of their native range, including California. In San Diego, White Oak trees may be found in parks, botanical gardens, and landscaped areas, particularly in areas with suitable growing conditions and irrigation.

Reclaimed white oak exudes timeless elegance and durability, with its light to medium brown color and distinctive grain patterns. Known for its strength and resilience, white oak is prized for its versatility and beauty, making it a popular choice for furniture and architectural applications. To discern the age of reclaimed white oak, one can inspect its growth rings, surface texture, and coloration for indications of aging and patina development. 

Live oak:

Reclaimed live oak showcases the rugged beauty of these iconic Southern trees, with its dense, durable wood and distinctive grain patterns. Live oak wood arouses a sense of heritage and strength that adds character to any project. 

For instance, live oak's natural resistance to decay and insects makes it well-suited for outdoor furniture, ensuring that the bench will withstand the elements for years to come. With its smooth finish and organic texture, a live oak bench adds character and charm to any outdoor space, providing a comfortable seating option for relaxation and enjoyment.

As you can see, incorporating reclaimed wood varieties into furniture and decor projects adds a touch of character and charm, and celebrates each wood species' unique beauty and resilience. 

By understanding the unique qualities and aging characteristics of each wood type, you can create truly timeless pieces that resonate with authenticity and craftsmanship.

Why is it a good idea to use reclaimed wood?

why is it a good idea to use reclaimed wood

Using reclaimed wood offers numerous benefits, both environmental and aesthetic; we bet that’s one of the reasons you are reading this article. Here are some compelling reasons to choose reclaimed wood for your next project:

1. Environmental sustainability:

Reclaimed wood helps reduce deforestation, minimize waste, and lower carbon emissions associated with logging and processing new wood by repurposing existing wood instead of harvesting new timber. This is a great benefit for the environment.

2. Unique character:

Each piece of reclaimed wood tells a story, bearing the marks of its previous life, such as knots, nail holes, and natural imperfections, resulting in one-of-a-kind furniture with unparalleled character and charm; with some sources dating back up to 400 years.

We know you love history, and you can express that love by preserving it at home in the shape of unique furniture.

3. Historical significance:

Reclaimed wood preserves the legacy of old-growth forests and historic structures, allowing us to connect with the past and appreciate the craftsmanship of bygone eras.

For instance, at Old Fashioned Lumber we’ve had the honor to get reclaimed wood from Hotel del Coronado. Which is a historic and iconic hotel located in Coronado, California, near San Diego.

The hotel was built in 1888, and its distinctive red-roofed Victorian architecture, along with its stunning oceanfront location, made it a popular destination for wealthy travelers, celebrities, and dignitaries from around the world. Over the years, Hotel Del Coronado has hosted numerous notable guests, including presidents, royalty, and Hollywood stars.

Throughout its history, Hotel del Coronado has undergone several expansions and renovations, while still maintaining its historic charm and elegance.

So, if you want to get a fine piece of furniture with Hotel del Coronado reclaimed wood, you can let us know and we can build something great for you. Imagine having at home furniture made of 130 years old wood, and that has witnessed the presence of several important celebrities and events.

4. Durability and stability:

Reclaimed wood is often denser and more stable than newly harvested lumber, thanks to decades or centuries of natural seasoning, making it less prone to warping, splitting, or shrinking.

Is reclaimed wood sustainable and safe?

One of the key considerations when using reclaimed wood is its sustainability and safety. From the point of sustainability, reclaimed wood is widely regarded as a sustainable choice due to its eco-friendly sourcing practices and contribution to waste reduction. 

By giving new life to old wood, reclaimed wood helps conserve natural resources and promote a more circular economy.

Finally, when sourced from reputable suppliers and properly processed, reclaimed wood is generally safe for use in furniture and interior applications. However, it's essential to ensure that the wood is free from insects, contaminants such as lead paint, asbestos, or chemical treatments that may pose health risks.

Reclaimed wood vs. Repurposed wood

Reclaimed Wood refers to lumber salvaged from old structures and repurposed for new applications, retaining its original form and character. On the other hand, repurposed wood involves transforming wood from one use to another without necessarily preserving its original character or history. This may include upcycling pallets, shipping crates, or other discarded wood items for new projects.

Reclaimed wood vs Salvaged wood

Reclaimed wood typically denotes timber that has been utilized in a prior building application, imbuing it with a rich history and character. In contrast, salvaged or "recovered wood" refers to fresh timber obtained as a byproduct of alternative industrial processes, showcasing a distinct origin story and potential for creative repurposing.

Old Fashioned Lumber - Leading the way in sustainable furniture design in San Diego

At Old Fashioned Lumber we are passionate about crafting high-quality furniture that not only enhances your living space but also contributes to a more sustainable future. 

Specializing in reclaimed wood furniture in San Diego, we meticulously select and expertly transform reclaimed wood into stunning pieces that marry style, functionality, and environmental responsibility.

With a commitment to quality craftsmanship, timeless design, and eco-conscious practices, we are your trusted partner in sustainable furniture solutions. If you want a customized piece of reclaimed wood, tell us what you need and we will gladly make it for you.

Contact Old Fashioned Lumber for a custom project or quote.

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