Old Wood Anew

April 11, 2019
Reclaimed wood is highly sought after by many interior designers and homeowners. So much so that they are willing to dumpster dive, or drive two hours and then take a ferry ride to find the right lumber for their accent wall.
Photo: Nick Tiemeyer/Unsplash

Reclaimed wood is highly sought after by many interior designers and homeowners. So much so that they are willing to dumpster dive, or drive two hours and then take a ferry ride to find the right lumber for their accent wall.

Marc Poirier, owner of Long Leaf Lumber, of Cambridge, Mass. tells Realtor.com that using reclaimed wood on a project can more than double the cost of a building project, depending on the wood's quality. Poirier says that new oak plank for flooring costs about $4.50 per square foot, while a reclaimed plank of wood can cost about $10.50 for the same size.

In an orange dumpster one recent Sunday morning, between old bricks and trash bags, Heather Olsen struck gold: rustic wood beams that once held the floor of a 100-year-old house.

This wasn’t the first weekend Ms. Olsen spent wading through construction waste hunting for old wood. A nurse, mother of two and hobby woodworker from Bowie, Md., she once took a break from work to salvage wood from a historic house, returning with her sweater covered in sawdust. Another time, she tore her jacket with rusty nails sticking out from rough beams at a demolition site.

“I’m sure it’s a surprising sight for some people; I’m a petite woman and I’ll be in a dumpster or wielding a circular saw,” says Ms. Olsen, 34. “I’m kind of obsessed with wood.”

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