Why is reclaimed wood so expensive?

By Woodworking Street •  Updated: 05/04/19 •  8 min read

Why is reclaimed wood so expensive? What are the advantages? What are the drawbacks? It can be even more expensive than other, customary types of wood. In this article, we will answer several questions:

Is this expense justified? Why is it an eco-friendly alternative and are there any problems with this? How can you get a “rustic” look to your project (Such as wall paneling or DIY decor) without having to use expensive reclaimed wood?

The woodworker can choose from many materials in today’s world. However,  some of the choices are incredibly expensive. There are many factors to consider when making a decision. So, let’s begin …

What does reclaimed wood mean?

It’s always good to define terms at the outset. So, what do we mean by reclaimed wood? Is it the same thing as salvaged wood or recycled wood?

By reclaimed wood, we are referring to wood that has been used before for some other purpose. For example, the walls of an old Barn can become paneling or wall decor. Boxcar planks are other popular sources of reclaimed wood. In addition, old wooden barrels can become reclaimed wood.

Salvaged wood usually refers to wood that has not been used for some project in the past. So, it could be something like an old tree, branches, driftwood, or similar.

Generally, recycled wood refers to wood that has been processed. Examples of this are sawdust and wood fuel pellets.

Reclaimed wood is very expensive. Why would anyone want to use it?

Advantages of reclaimed wood

There are many advantages to reclaimed wood:

Is reclaimed wood good for the Earth?

This picture shows a globe on a green leaf. It symbolizes an eco-friendly Earth.
Eco-friendly Earth

There are many advantages to reclaimed wood:

Is reclaimed wood safe?

Reclaimed wood has often been exposed to the outdoors for a long time. This is the case with Barn Board or Boxcar Planks, as examples. Pests, termites, spiders, larvae, and eggs can be in the wood. So, you should be careful when you bring wood like this into your home.

One source of reclaimed wood is the Thrift Store. You can get it when you buy an old furniture item and pull it apart. However, has the wood been sitting out in the garage or old shed for a long time? Has it been exposed to bugs, mice, spiders, termites, and other creatures? Most wood from the thrift store is OK. However, some items might be infected.

This picture shows a foot about to slip on a banana peel. It symbolizes a safety hazard.
Safety Hazard

Pieces of reclaimed wood can contain toxins and be harmful to human health:

Source for this information

How to treat reclaimed wood

Why would anyone want to use reclaimed wood when there are so many safety hazards? Well, preparation steps can mitigate some of these risks. However, these steps take time, effort, and increase the overall cost:

In summary, these processing steps increase the total cost of reclaimed wood. However, they are well worth it.

Are there alternatives?

Reclaimed wood has a natural beauty and “rustic” appearance that might be a very good choice for your individual project. However, you don’t need to “break the bank” by working with this very expensive material. Below are several alternatives that might meet your needs:

Why use reclaimed wood?

Why should you use reclaimed wood at all? After all, it’s a terribly expensive material. Well, there are several reasons why you might want to use it:


So, why is reclaimed wood so expensive? Reclaimed wood is a rustic and beautiful alternative that greatly enhances the appearance of a project. This is due to the many processing steps, the cost of obtaining the material, and many other factors.

Reclaimed wood is an eco-friendly alternative to other building materials. It looks beautiful, rich, and natural. However, you may not need reclaimed wood for your project.

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Woodworking Street

I've had an interest in woodworking and building things since I was a child. With a good plan, the right tools, and a bit of know-how it's possible to build anything. That's what this website is all about. The internet can be an intimidating place for someone new to woodworking. My goal is to provide you with great resources and information to help you get started.

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