Blog

08 2019
How to Choose a Reclaimed Wood Supplier

How to choose a reclaimed wood supplier – things to look for and things to avoid…

Selecting where to buy reclaimed wood can be difficult – especially when just about everyone who has an old pallet or an old board or two calls themselves the premier source. Making a special trip across the country or hand selecting each piece often isn’t possible or isn’t practical and customers need to rely on the seller to supply wood that matches their criteria (for the agreed upon price in the estimated lead time). Unfortunately, there are lots of unsavory outfits out there who get away with sending out rotten, contaminated, or otherwise damaged material – if anything at all.

 Fortunately, you’ve found Vintage Timberworks! We have been a well-respected and established reclaimed wood supplier for over 25 years. We pride ourselves in direct and honest communication and regularly send out samples of the many products we offer upon request.


Below are important factors that set us apart and things to consider when choosing a reclaimed wood dealer:


 

Material availability

 

Our number one recommendation is to make sure the person selling reclaimed wood actually owns it themselves. This is VERY important for a variety of reasons.

Each batch of reclaimed wood is unique in color and texture that has developed over long periods of time. The amount of character an individual board or beam has speaks to its previous like and shows unique wear and tear and weathering. The larger a supplier’s inventory is of a particular product, the more they are able to customize or select for particular characteristics.

With an inventory of over 1.5 MILLION BOARD FEET on hand we can accurately say we are Southern California’s largest source of reclaimed wood. We welcome customers to our Temecula location to see the materials first hand before making a purchase or to one our our satellite showrooms in Santa Barbara, Idaho, and Cabo San Lucas. We’re also happy to send pictures prior to milling or shipping. Returns or swapping of stock inventory can typically be arranged quickly and easily. We proudly stand by our products and happily work with customers to resolve any possible disputes. Our extensive inventory also allows us to supply extraordinary lengths in beams, planking, and box beams when needed. While most of our jobs ship throughout Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County, we also regularly ship out-of-state nationwide.

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Reclaimed Douglas fir lot with custom wood mill in background

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Over 100,000 board feet of hand hewn barn timber in stock

Beware of other suppliers acting solely as “brokers” – sending beam packages or units of barnwood direct from the barn without ever seeing it themselves. As these brokers don’t inventory anything, sending back rejected beams or planking is often impossible. Unanticipated delays (weather/accidents/acts of God)/etc.) in taking the structure down they were planning on sending wood from can add anywhere from months to years on receiving the wood customers thought was ready to ship. Units of barn wood from brokers are typically sent without being sorted for requested sizes and lengths meaning you have to purchase more wood than you need and hope for the best.

 

Conditions of reclaimed wood to look out for:

 

Reclaimed wood can be a beautiful and functional addition to your project but there are things you should avoid when making selections on what to put in your home.

At Vintage Timberworks, we do not purchase or send out any materials with known contaminates.

We fumigate all hardwoods that come into our inventory and can fumigate customer’s orders before they ship if included during a regularly scheduled fumigation. Our NON-RESIDUAL fumigation technique targets both termites and powder post beetles.

 If you’re considering purchasing reclaimed wood from another supplier, make sure that the wood is free of oil, creosote, lead paint, or other toxic substances and has been fumigated or heat treated for insects. If you’re looking for that shabby chic peely-paint look, make sure it’s not old lead-based paint.

 

How to compare quotes:

Receiving quotes from several companies is always a good idea to make sure you’re getting a good deal.  There’s a huge range in costs when pricing out reclaimed wood and when comparing two quotes it’s critical to make sure you understand what’s being offered. Wood species, surface appearance, thickness, lengths, quantity, and the labor to mill, sand, distress, fabricate, etc.  are just a few things that go into accurately quoting material.

When comparing quotes from competing companies, make sure the material and milling specs are nearly identical for the most accurate comparison and ask questions when in doubt. 

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Having the beams or planking delivered “ready to install” is how most of our customers prefer it these days. We typically supply antique timber packages with the original surface washed and detail sanded with the top side precision-milled flat for installation against the ceiling. Vintage wood planking can be milled with square edges, or a shiplap or tongue and groove profile and our flooring can be ordered pre-finished. Unlike some suppliers who stock material in only specific dimensions, our 16,000 square foot mill has the ability to custom tailor reclaimed wood to sizes and appearances to suit your needs.

Alternatively, we can also supply beams and planking “as is” to be dialed in on site.

 

Web Presence

 

There are a few things to look for when vetting your supplier online. Anyone these days can set up a flashy website and call themselves THE SOURCE but what is posted online can sometimes give visitors a clearer picture to the scale of their operation and projects they’re often involved in.

To give our customers a realistic view of what we have and what we can do, all images of reclaimed wood installations and inventory on our website and social media features projects we have been involved with or materials we have in stock.

If you’re considering another supplier, make sure you’re not looking at “inspiration” pictures that make it look like they’re involved in large projects worldwide. Inspiration pictures on websites and social media posts are often brokers who do not inventory and have possibly never sold anything that matches the products in the picture. Be sure to ask for photos of any suppliers current inventory.

Along with our website and social media accounts, our material is regularly featured in magazine articles and online posts. Keep an eye out for projects we’re involved in featured in Luxe, Architectural Digest, California Home, and San Diego Home and Garden magazines as well as online articles including Houzz, Dwell, Pinterest, and Instagram. Click here to see a few of the recent articles we have been featured in.

 

Customer Experiences:

 

Whether you’re a DIY home owner or professional, making a purchase of reclaimed wood should be a straightforward and enjoyable experience. The video below shows one couples journey on remodeling their house and how they chose and incorporated our reclaimed beams and vintage flooring.

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This video shows how the process works from the homeowner’s point of view.

 

Click the image below to read a customer’s blog article describing his trip to our “Vintage Lumber Nirvana”.

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Our straightforward and friendly communication and has helped build relationships with hundreds of architects, designers, builders, and fabricators who come back to us time and time again. With the help of our knowledgeable and friendly staff, thousands of homeowners are able to choose the right reclaimed wood for their product year after year.

The relationships we’ve built with these proven professionals can also help you to design or build your dream home if you’re looking to put together a reliable team. Feel free to contact us if you’re looking a recommended professional designer, architect, builder or fabricator for your project or if you would like to ask them about their experience of working with us in the past.

 

 

Summary:

 

It’s important to do your research and properly vet your reclaimed wood supplier. A visit to their facility to see the operation and material in person is ideal. When site visits are not possible, ask as many pertinent questions as possible regarding pricing, lead times, custom milling options, and fumigation/heat treatment options, and return policies. Get multiple quotes if possible but make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples as there is a huge range in possible options.

We’re here to help. Feel free to contact us with any questions or to receive a free quote or samples of our many reclaimed wood products!

 

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hardwood barn timbers with notches filled
hardwood barn timbers with notches

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