Taking Care of Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture
Reclaimed wood gives your furniture pieces a unique look. Just knowing your new table, armoire or desk was once a beautiful barn standing on a farm makes it feel special. That history shows in every little nail hole, saw mark and indentation in the wood.
What Is Reclaimed Barnwood?
Furniture made of reclaimed barnwood is just as it sounds: wood that comes from old barns. Barns play an important role in the farming world, and they have for generations. While many barns are still standing and in operation, many are no longer standing. People often collect the wooden barn siding from dilapidated barns to be used for other purposes. That wood gets a distinct coloring and look due to exposure to the elements for all those years.
The wood used in those barns still has plenty of life left in it. Instead of being tossed in the dump, that wood gets used to make furniture. The large boards from barns are cut down to smaller sections to make different types of furniture. Because the wood is still sturdy, it can be made into any type of furniture normally made from wood. It is a very versatile material, giving you the option to have unique wood full of character in almost any room of the house.
Reclaimed barnwood furniture has a uniquely distinct look because of its past. Many people choose reclaimed wood furniture because of the distinct markings, pits, nail holes and saw marks that are the result of the wood’s history as part of a barn. Those markings often remain on the finished product, giving it a vintage look with a sense of character.
Because it spent so many years outdoors, the wood tends to be weathered with a textured surface. The thickness of the boards may also vary. Older boards tend to be thinner due to more years of wear from the elements. You might notice more splitting or deeper grooves on the wood if it’s older.
After the wood is gathered for use in furniture, it undergoes a cleaning and drying process to prepare it. This process ensures the wood is strong and ready to go. The cleaning process is designed to remove the dirt, grime, bugs and microorganisms that naturally collect on the wood’s surface outdoors. All old nails are removed to ensure the final product is safe for use in your home. The piece may also get a protective finish to create a barrier to prevent damage from moisture, spills or dirt.
What Types of Wood Can Be Used as Reclaimed Barnwood?
Just like traditional wood furniture, reclaimed barnwood pieces come in different types of wood. Old barns were often built with whatever trees were on the property, so the type of wood used varied based on the location and the native trees in the area. Some barns have more than one species of wood in the same structure, which makes the reclaimed wood even more unique. This method was the most affordable and the most convenient because the building material was already there. Common woods include oak, chestnut, poplar, Douglas fir, hickory and pine, but they can be other types of wood based on the type of trees that grow in the area where the barn was built.
These variations in types of wood create different appearances. The natural color and grain patterns are often distinct in the different wood species. Two tables made with exactly the same plans will often look quite different, simply based on the species of wood and the particular markings and aging each piece of wood goes through before becoming a piece of furniture.
Benefits of Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture
Barnwood furniture has many unique traits and positive features. If you’re trying to decide if reclaimed barnwood furniture is right for you, it’s important to take a look at the specific features and the potential benefits. Consider these pros of choosing a reclaimed wood piece.
- One-of-a-kind look: No two pieces of barnwood are the same, even if they come from the same structure. The species of wood may be different. You get different markings and potentially different colors from one piece to the next. Even the way the barnwood ages can vary depending on the location of the barn, how long it stood and what type of weathering the barn was subject to. That variation means a piece of furniture made from the reclaimed wood has a distinct look. It’s a unique piece to your home, unlike stock furniture you buy at typical furniture stores.
- Green: This type of furniture is an eco-friendly option for your home. You keep the wood from an old barn from being disposed of, which helps protect the environment. Since the wood for your new furniture piece was already cut into boards, your furniture doesn’t require new trees to be cut down. Plus, the wood is long-lasting, so you won’t have to replace it anytime soon. It’s an easy way to outfit your home with new furniture while minimizing your impact on the environment.
- History: Your piece of furniture may be newly constructed, but it has a rich history behind it because of its previous life as a barn. That history makes the barnwood furniture special. It also means you’re preserving a bit of history in your own home. Instead of the barn being demolished, you give part of it a new home, where it can become part of new memories and a new history.
- Strength: It may be old, but barnwood is a strong, stable material ideal for making furniture. Old barns were often made from old-growth wood, which is stronger than most wood harvested today. With hundreds of years of growth, the wood had a lot longer to harden. Because of regulations on cutting down old-growth trees, a large amount of new wood harvested for furniture comes from much smaller trees that haven’t had decades and centuries to grow big and strong. That durability means your reclaimed barnwood furniture will last for quite some time.
- Size: Old barn boards tend to be larger than new wood because the trees that were used had grown for a lot longer than today’s trees. This large size offers more versatility in furniture construction. Larger furniture items can be made with the wood. Wider planks also give a unique look to the pieces.
- Timeless: A piece of furniture made from reclaimed barnwood has a classic, timeless appeal. It’s a versatile piece that works with a variety of home décor styles. The pieces won’t go out of style quickly, which means they can stick with you even as your décor tastes change.
How to Prevent Damage to Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture
Proper maintenance is important in keeping your reclaimed furniture in great condition, but you can also do some preventive tasks that protect its integrity. Everything from where you position the piece to what you put on it has an impact on how well the piece holds up. Barnwood is durable. After all, it spends many years outdoors in the blistering sun, driving rain and freezing winter snow. However, you still want to keep it as safe and protected as possible to make it look great and ensure its longevity.
Follow these preventive steps to keep the piece in great condition:
- Place it away from sunlight to prevent discoloration, warping or damage from UV rays
- Keep the piece away from heating and cooling vents — temperature changes can cause damage to wood, such as shrinking, splitting or drying
- Place coasters under drink cups to prevent moisture rings on tables
- Wipe away moisture or spills immediately to prevent water damage
- Use trivets or hot pads under hot items that come into contact with the wood furniture
- Maintain stable temperatures and humidity levels to preventing drying, cracking, splitting, swelling or shrinking
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help keep your home at an ideal humidity level. In winter, homes tend to be drier than normal, especially when you have your heating system running. During those months, run a humidifier to add moisture back into the air. Some homes tend to have too much moisture at times. Basements, in particular, can sometimes have high humidity levels. If you have a piece of barnwood furniture in a room that feels damp, consider using a dehumidifier to draw some of the moisture out of the air.
How to Clean Reclaimed Barnwood
A big part of keeping your reclaimed wood furniture looking great is cleaning it regularly. Cleaning leaves the piece looking fresh and new, but it also prevents the wood from dulling, scratching or otherwise being damaged. Tables, in particular, tend to get dirty because they get so much daily use. Make it a habit of cleaning off anything that gets on the wood before it has a chance to set, harden or stain the piece.
Basic everyday cleaning simply requires you to wipe off the piece with a soft cloth. You can buy a soft, lint-free cleaning cloth, or you can use an old cotton T-shirt or similar cloth item you have around your home. The cloth should be soft, so it doesn’t scratch the wood, and lint-free, so it doesn’t leave behind more debris than it picks up. Moisten the cloth lightly and wring out the excess moisture, leaving it slightly damp.
Wipe the surface of the furniture to remove dust, crumbs and other debris. You may need to rinse the cloth or fold it over in a different direction to clean the surface well.
Keep a small brush on hand to clean crumbs from a reclaimed wood table. The crumbs tend to accumulate where the boards meet or in cracks in the wood. The brush is an easy way to get those crumbs out of tiny crevices.
It’s generally best to avoid wood cleaners, especially those that are silicone- or ammonia-based. Chemical ingredients in those cleaning products can cause damage to the wood. Furniture polish can leave behind a residue that causes dust to cling to the table, so it may make the furniture look dirtier than it would without the polish.
Even if you’re careful, you may eventually end up with a spill or stain on your furniture piece. This is especially true on tables. Knowing how to handle those messes can prevent permanent damage.
Use these methods to handle common spills and stains:
- Water marks: One of the most common types of marks happens when moisture sits on the wood. That moisture leaves behind a discolored patch. One method of removing the mark is by rubbing white, non-gel toothpaste over the area using a soft cloth. Wipe the toothpaste away, and you should notice the mark is no longer there or is less noticeable.
- Grease: A reclaimed wood table may get grease on it occasionally. Remove the grease immediately to prevent permanent damage. Sprinkle salt on top of the oil, and let it soak up the grease. Clean off the salt. Now, mix together one quart of warm water with a quarter-cup of white distilled vinegar to create a gentle cleaning solution. Moisten the area with a damp cloth, then use the vinegar mixture to scrub the area. Go over the area again with a clean, damp cloth to remove the vinegar.
How to Treat Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture
Because it has been outdoors as part of a functional structure, wood from a barn can be quite dirty. It may have insects or other items in it that you definitely don’t want in your home. When you buy barnwood furniture from a reputable dealer like AmishOutletStore.com, you get the peace of mind knowing the wood has been cleaned and prepared thoroughly. You get the beauty of the natural wood without the work of cleaning the wood and inspecting it for insects. When you purchase your barnwood furniture, find out if it has any type of protection or treatment on it already. Some manufacturers apply a clear coat to protect the furniture. Others leave the wood natural with no coating.
If you do need to treat your barnwood furniture, or if you make your own pieces from reclaimed wood, you’ll want to do some thorough cleaning and make sure the pieces are free of insect infestations. Scrubbing the wood with a nylon brush helps remove the various types of debris that might be on the wood, including pollen, insects and microorganisms. Soapy water can help clean the boards if necessary. If you use soapy water, rinse the wood thoroughly with clean water to remove all of the soap.
Once you clean the boards, check them closely for signs of damage. Look at both sides of the boards for signs of insect damage, such as cavities where the bugs might be living. You can cut away any part of the wood that shows signs of an insect infestation.
Before you treat the wood with any type of sealant or other protective product, make sure the wood dries fully. Most people want to preserve the natural patina and texture of the aged boards, so you don’t want to apply too much sealant. One layer should be just enough to treat the wood and protect it from damage.
If you want a clean, safe, protected piece of reclaimed finish, look for a reputable retailer of custom-made pieces. You can let someone else handle the cleaning and treating process, and you get to enjoy the beautiful, long-lasting results.
How to Refinish Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture
Reclaimed barnwood furniture doesn’t need to be finished at all. The wood held up well outdoors as-is for years, so it can likely handle the daily wear and tear of being in your house. By leaving the wood unfinished, you get all of the character in the wood without any appearance changes from products you might use.
Finishing the wood does have some advantages. You get a layer of protection on the wood, and finished wood tends to be easier to clean. If you want to refinish your reclaimed barnwood furniture, it’s important to choose products carefully. Many finishing products change the natural look of wood, which may take away from your reclaimed furniture’s natural beauty. Waxes, varnishes and oils tend to darken or otherwise change the wood’s color.
Liquid and paste waxes tend to stain the wood due to tinting in the wax. If you want to coat the wood, look for a colorless wax like Renaissance Microcrystalline wax. This thick, colorless wax option sits on the surface of the wood instead of penetrating it to minimize darkening or color changes.
When you prep the furniture, you want it to be clean. Wipe down the surfaces to remove dirt, grease, food and other debris that has accumulated on the surface during everyday life.
Sanding is the next step, but you don’t want to reach for your mechanical sander for this project. The beauty of reclaimed wood is all of the character that comes from the marks, cuts, splits and holes. If you run a sander over the surface, you quickly remove all that character. You lose the natural patina on the wood, which changes the color of the piece.
If you need to sand the surface to soften it enough to accept the finish, use 100-grit sandpaper. Rub the sandpaper gently on the wood surface just enough to make it easily accept the wax. If you want to remove the patina and make the wood look more like new wood, you can sand it more. However, you do lose the very character that makes the piece so special.
To apply the wax, use a natural-bristle paintbrush. Shorter bristles tend to work best. Brush a very thin layer on the wood with the grain. You don’t need much to provide enough of a coating to protect the wood.
Where to Buy Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture
If you love the idea of a unique piece with history, reclaimed barnwood furniture is a perfect addition to your home. AmishOutletStore.com has several different styles of reclaimed barnwood furniture for sale to add a custom look to almost any room in your home.
Turn your bedroom into a rustic retreat with a selection of reclaimed barnwood bedroom furniture. Flank your bed with a pair of barnwood nightstands. Add more storage or clothing space with a barnwood armoire. Go for the complete barnwood look with a bed and dressers made of the reclaimed material.
In the dining room, choose from assorted barnwood furniture pieces that create a warm, inviting place to eat. From dining and bar tables to wine servers and buffets, the pieces are ideal for decorating your space.
Reclaimed barnwood living room furniture pieces focus on making your common space beautiful and functional. Choose a barnwood coffee table, end table and sofa table for a unique place to set decorations or place your drink cups. A TV console keeps all your components organized.
If you have a home office space, consider barnwood pieces to create a functional and beautiful setup. Desks feature drawers, shelves and functional workspaces. Add a barnwood bookcase for additional storage and display space in the office.
Embrace the Barnwood Look
Like all wood furniture, reclaimed barnwood pieces take some care and attention, but they aren’t as intimidating as they seem. When you buy your barnwood furniture from a quality retailer, you get pieces that are sturdy, strong and protected, so they hold up well over time. Clean the furniture on a regular basis to prevent dirt and grease buildup and stains.
Check out the full line of reclaimed barnwood furniture at AmishOutletStore.com, and create the look you want with the unique character and history of reclaimed wood.