Using Recycled Barn Boards

August 20, 2012

in General Interest

Weathered wood from old barns makes lovely paneling and flooring for rustic modern homes. Sometimes these boards can be had very inexpensively, or even free for the labor of tearing down the barn. Recycled barn boards usage is a stylish way to recycle and have a good looking home at the same time.

Not only can barn boards be used for paneling. They can also be used for floors and handcrafted furniture. They can be used as is with just a little cleaning. Brushing and pressure washing works to clean the wood and then it can be allowed to dry before using. If you want to bring out more of the character of the wood while giving it a smoother surface, you can have it remilled.

Remilling removes the outer surface so that the original color and grain appear again, except that much of the details of aging are still visible. Remilled antique barnwood can be used to make beautiful furniture and flooring.

Wood used in old barns was cut from old forests many decades or even centuries ago. Because the trees were old to start with, the grain is tight and fine. In the meantime, the wood has weathered nail holes, old fashioned saws, all kinds of precipitation, hairline cracks, and insect damage. The resulting damage is what makes the wood so appealing because it carries the feeling of the past. Decorators and antique lovers call it the patina of age.

Old barns are also the source of some wonderful large beams and timbers that can be used in new construction. Often these are of durable hardwoods like oak, elm, maple, or chestnut. These antique beams are perfect as exposed beams in the construction of a new log home.


In addition to remilling, recycled barn boards can also be planed and tongue-and-grooved mechanically. It is hard on machinery, however, which is one reason it is so expensive. Remilled antique barnwood ready to be installed as flooring starts at prices around $7 USD per square foot.

Many of the boards used in old barns were very wide, which makes them distinctive when used for wall paneling or flooring. In fact, you can purchase recycled board flooring in planks 11 or 12 inches wide. Remilled antique ash has a lovely light color, a soft patina, and is a long-wearing hardwood. Elm has a redder natural color. Oak has a more noticable grain that varies in color, which gives it a lot of character and beauty. And these are just a few of the wonderful old woods available.

Companies that remill antique barn wood for flooring will sort out the boards not suitable for use on the floor and market them for wall paneling. Sometimes the original wood still has traces of the red or green paint that originally adorned the barn. Do-it-youselfers sometimes panel unattractive walls over with reclaimed barn wood, but be aware that it can shrink indoors. If you paint the wall a neutral gray before attaching the boards, the cracks between the boards will not be as noticable.

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