Last updated on February 1st, 2022
An emerging trend in home décor and interior design is reclaimed wood. If you are planning to set up your outdoor living space and want to use reclaimed wood, one of the questions you may have is – “is reclaimed wooden furniture good?”
Yes, reclaimed wood is an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also considered stronger and more durable than brand new furniture. This is why it has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent times.
Whether you’re looking to construct a new piece or decking or add a new fence to your outdoor space, using reclaimed lumber can spruce up the look and feel of the place. You will finally experience the satisfaction of having something that is “original” and historic with rustic style.
In this article, we will answer this common question ” is reclaimed wood outdoor furniture good?” And discover why it is often a better alternative to other natural wood furnishings and why you should consider it for your next renovation project.
Table of Contents
What is reclaimed wood?
Reclaimed wood, also known as antique or repurposed wood, is essentially recycled lumber or any wood with a past life that has been repurposed. For instance, it can be old lumber from a barn or warehouse that has been converted to a bookshelf or coffee table. If you have any furniture or decking built with planks you bought second-hand, there’s a huge chance it’s reclaimed wood.
Most reclaimed woods are taken out from old buildings and structures, including warehouses, barns, boats, factories, coal mines, and even wine casks. Some of the more popular options in this category are oak, redwood, and Douglas fir. Teak and longleaf pine, on the other hand, are not so common.
Some common applications of reclaimed lumber are reclaimed wood outdoor tables, cabinetry, wall art, flooring, and other reclaimed wood patio furniture.
NOTE: Reclaimed lumber is not the same as “salvaged wood,” which is cut and stored for many years but has never been used in construction.
Can Reclaimed Wood Be Used Outdoors?
Yes, reclaimed wood can be used outdoors. It’s no different from the regular wood we have today, except that it tends to last longer. So, it’s a great choice for building outdoor furniture and structures.
However, like any other wood type, reclaimed lumber is not indestructible. While it may withstand adverse weather conditions for some time, prolonged exposure can lead to warping, rotting, or swelling. To prevent this, proper routine maintenance will be required to keep it in top shape, so you can get many years of use from it.
What is Reclaimed Wood Furniture?
Reclaimed wood furniture is simply furniture made using reclaimed lumber or teak. As earlier indicated, these are usually planks obtained from old structures and buildings and repurposed to construct “new” furniture. The good thing about reclaimed teak furnishings is that they are often stronger than furniture made from regular teak. Because the wood is older, it’s dried and more matured, and therefore denser and stronger than virgin lumber. Furniture made from reclaimed wood is suitable for exterior and high traffic areas.
Is reclaimed wood outdoor furniture good?
Yes, reclaimed wooden furniture is good. In fact, compared to other wood materials, it is great for the environment. But environmentalism is not the only reason why you should consider using furniture made from aged wood. It is made from old-growth wood, which is inherently tougher than freshly cut wood. Being aged gives it more time to dry and settle; so, it tends to last longer. It is more difficult to destroy and can withstand the elements.
Another good thing about reclaimed garden furniture is that they age beautifully. The unique rustic look seems to improve with age, making it perfect for a traditional setting or an outdoor room extension.
Why use reclaimed wood for outdoor furniture?
Here are four strong reasons why old lumber or antique wood is a great option for outdoor furnishings.
Adds Character to Your Outdoor Space
There’s nothing more special than adorning a room with a wood piece that has a history. Picture yourself having dinner at a beautiful reclaimed wood table several hundred years older than you! That is exactly what you get when you use reclaimed teak. It’s a good testament that aging can bring out the best color in lumber. There’s no better way to add character to any outdoor setting.
Good Choice for the Environment
Repurposing old lumber reduces the demand for newly cultivated timber. More importantly, it ensures the wood is put into other uses instead of burning it, which is more supportive of the ecosystem.
So, if you care so much about the environment, you will love using reclaimed lumber; reclaimed teak wood is a great option.
Strong and High Durability
Reclaimed wood is aged, which means it’s dried and settled. Also, being used in the past means it has stood the test of time. This is usually a guarantee that it will last.
However, like other wood materials, it requires proper care and maintenance to make sure it last for many years.
Gives Your Home a Vintage Look
There’s something very special about having a vintage piece in your home. Even though repurposed furniture is constructed afresh, the wood itself is “vintage” and lends a feeling of historicity and culture to your space. You can be rest assured people will ask about it; it’s not everywhere you see an olive-oil barrel on the outside of a house.
How to Protect Reclaimed Wood Furniture Outdoors?
Even though reclaimed wood is normally strong, it is not indestructible. Just like any other garden piece, it needs to be adequately taken care of to lengthen its lifespan. Here are five maintenance tips for old-wood furnishings, especially reclaimed teak.
Paint the Furniture.
Applying a coat of paint is one of the best ways to safeguard any reclaimed wooden piece. While this will likely affect the natural look of the wood, it will make it last longer. We recommend using latex instead of an oil-based paint as latex is long-lasting and doesn’t require frequent touchups.
Use a Sealant.
If you don’t want to alter the natural look of the furniture too much, then consider using a sealant. If you live in a place that gets a lot of rain, then go for a water sealant.
A water sealant protects against moisture and ensures the wood dries faster if it does get wet, which helps prevent wood rot and warping.
A varnish may not provide the same level of protection as paint or sealant, but it will preserve the natural look of the item. You might need to apply it more often for the best results.
Consider moving the furniture to your garage or basement during winter to protect it from the cold. Or you can use a fitted cover if there isn’t enough space in the house.
Generally, it’s best to bring the furniture indoors or cover it when you don’t plan on using it for a long time.
How to weatherproof reclaimed wood furniture outdoors?
One of the best ways to weatherproof repurposed wooden furniture and maintain its quality is by using oils. And our two best choices are Tung oil and Boiled Linseed oil. Both oils will give your wood a good shine while providing optimal protection from moisture and UV rays. They also help to cover pores, which is essential to prevent botching.
Apply the oil with a good brush and allow it enough time to sip into the surface. We recommend at least 30 minutes. Once the first coat of oil dries, add a second coat and allow it to dry.
You can apply as many coats as you want, depending on how “dull” the wood looks. But in most cases, three coats of oil should be enough. Before applying a new coat, make sure the previous one has dried.
How do you seal reclaimed wood outdoors?
Sealing reclaimed wood can help to preserve its good look and structure. There are many ways to go about this, but the one we found to be least obstructive is using a natural remedy like wax or linseed oil. Here are the steps to follow to seal reclaimed lumber for any outdoor setting.
Clean the Wood
Start with cleaning the wood surface. Run it over with a stiff nylon scrub brush to remove dust, dirt, debris, and any loose finish that might interfere with the sealant. You can use an air hose for smaller particles in voids or tiny crevices. If the plank looks too dirty, you can wash it with mild soap and water.
Remove Unwanted Metals
Next, inspect the wood for extra metals such as nails, screws, and bolts. This is essential to make the wood safer to work with. Hidden nails in old beams and sidings can harm your blade or, at worst, puncture your hands. Also, it can steal the natural beauty of the reclaimed wood, making it look ugly, messy, and unsightly.
Check for Bug Life
Depending on where you acquired the wood from, you may need to treat it for pest. Most dealers normally carry out pest treatment as part of the wood preparation before making it available to the public. However, if you notice any sign of bug life on the lumber, then it’s likely untreated. In this case, you can prime it with borax or any other termite-resistant solution. The next step describes how to do this.
Treat for Pest
Put one gallon of water in a bucket and pour three cups of borax into it, then stir until it’s completely dissolved. Prime the mixture on the wood surface using a sponge. Scrub off leftover crystals with a bristle brush. Once done, give it 6-7 days to dry before you continue. This will give the chemical enough time to sip into the wood. As mentioned earlier, you can SKIP this step if you’re sure the reclaimed wood doesn’t have insect infestation.
If there’s old paint on the wood, you will need to strip it before applying the sealant. Any good paint stripper will do. Dip your brush in the chemical and spread it on the wood surface, and allow it to soak in and set (this can take an hour or a whole day, depending on the stripper). To scrape it off, use a paint scraper.
Sand Down the Wood
To get rid of splinters and smoothen out unwanted imperfections, sand down the wood with fine-grit sandpaper (we recommend 100-grit). You can also use an electric sander for light sanding to save time. Besides removing obstacles, which can cause injuries, sanding ensures you get an even coating when applying your sealant or stain.
The next step is to apply wax to the wood surface. Paraffin is great, but you can also use a wood finish like polyurethane. Apply 2/3 coats, and wait at least 30 minutes between each layer.
Seal the Wood
Finally, apply a sealer coat on the wood using a bristle brush. A light layer of sealant is usually enough; you don’t need to use too much. By all means, don’t skip this step. It’s very important if you want to protect the reclaimed lumber exposed to outdoor elements and make it more durable, especially when used in high-traffic areas.
While following through with all the steps above will take some effort and time, it will increase the lifespan of your project and make it more solid. Make sure you have your hand gloves on the whole time, as well as a respirator and safety goggles.
Pros and Cons of Reclaimed Wood Outdoor Furniture
There are many advantages that come with using reclaimed lumber for outdoor furniture. Here are the main ones.
- Last longer than regular lumber (aged and dried)
- Gives your outdoor space a vintage look
- Suitable for different uses (tables, chairs, flooring, decking, flower, sides, etc.)
- Very eco-friendly (cuts back on the demand for new wood)
- Difficult to duplicate
Reclaimed lumber also has a few downsides. Here are the main ones.
- High price tag (more expensive than virgin wood)
- Might contain toxins from chemical treatment
- Might have hidden dangers such as nails, bugs, or organic matter
Does reclaimed wood furniture require a lot of care and maintenance?
No, reclaimed furnishings don’t require as much care and maintenance compared to furniture made from virgin lumber. And that is mainly because it’s aged and dried, which makes it inherently stronger.
Even without any maintenance, reclaimed wood will still fair considerably well outdoor. However, to get the most from your furniture, we still advise you to apply at least one of the protective measures above, which may involve using paint, sealant, or varnish. For optimal protection, you should plan to apply the product at least once a year.
Routine care and maintenance help to increase the lifespan of the furniture.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
Is reclaimed wood outdoor furniture safe?
Reclaimed wood is perfectly safe to use as long as you buy it from a reliable source. There are cases of chemical contamination and insect attack, but that is usually connected with how the wood is processed. That is why it’s very important to choose the right company so you can be sure of the quality.
Is reclaimed wood outdoor furniture expensive?
Yes, reclaimed wood furnishings are usually more expensive than “normal” virgin lumber from a hardware store, and that is mainly because it’s scarce and difficult to source. Also, the process it undergoes when being recycled from its previous use does contribute to its high cost.
A dealer has to sort and prepare the wood to make it safe for its next use. This often involves additional measures and extra work such as nail pulling or deconstructing old wood products. While this comes with a premium price, you will get wood with character, beauty, and a longer lifespan than virgin lumber.
Thus, reclaimed teak furniture is usually more expensive than furniture made from normal teak wood.
Is reclaimed wood outdoor furniture environmentally friendly?
Yes, reclaimed wood outdoor furniture is environmentally friendly. Furniture building generally requires fresh-cut timber from new trees, which puts a great strain on the environment. Reclaimed teak furniture, on the other hand, makes use of old that has been used before. This cuts off the need to harvest brand-new materials from trees, which is much more eco-friendly.
Does reclaimed wood weather or change colors?
Yes, reclaimed lumber can change colors or have a weathered look over time, but the color variation can mellow over time to homogenize. Aging generally brings out the color in the wood, which might differ from plank to plank. In the end, the color change is unique for each piece and cannot be replicated.
Is Reclaimed Wood Furniture Strong?
Yes, reclaimed wooden furniture is incredibly strong, despite being older and used. In fact, contrary to popular belief, repurposed wood is stronger than new wood. And that is mainly because it’s made from virgin timber, which is sourced from old uncultivated forests. These forests were plentiful before the Industrial Revolution and had old-growth wood that is stronger than the generation of trees in existence today. Being old also means the wood had many (hundreds) years to dry and settle, which makes it harder and thus more durable. So, it’s safe to say that this type of furniture is usually superior to regular wooden pieces and will last for many decades. This is great, especially when you have kids around.
What is the best wood for outdoor furniture?
Teak is often considered the ideal choice for outdoor furniture. It is naturally attractive, long-lasting, weather-resistant, and doesn’t attract dirt. So, even without additional treatment, it can take a beating from the sun and rain and will not break down from the weather elements. This is why it’s a common choice for boatbuilding. Like normal vegetation teak, reclaimed teak wood usually comes with a heavy price tag, but it’s nothing compared to the many years of use you will get from it and the low maintenance costs.