How to Protect Reclaimed Redwood

How to Protect Reclaimed Lumber - The Lumber BaronReclaimed redwood has natural color variations and patinas derived from exposure to the elements and the way the wood was originally used. For example, Wood from an old wine vat will have absorbed some of the wine over the years, altering the coloration significantly. Additionally, some reclaimed lumber contains nail holes which have acquired their own colors related to the presence of the metal nails. Reclaimed redwood is a prized material and needs to be protected in a way that prevents decay but does not eliminate the qualities it is valued for. The process you use will depend on the application as well as the appearance you are trying to achieve.

Soap and Water

If you really want to preserve the natural qualities of reclaimed lumber, the best way to take care of it is to avoid harsh abrasives, chemicals, and artificial sealants. Instead, use a soft to moderately firm brush and a mild dish or laundry detergent. The idea is to remove dirt and grime without disturbing the appearance of the aged wood.

Sanding and Refinishing

Avoid using abrasive materials on your reclaimed redwood, the less of the naturally acquired finish will remain. Avoid coarse sandpaper of 80 grit or lower, altogether. For best results, limit sandpaper use to 120 grit or higher. If you are only trying to create a smooth, even surface, gradually step up the grit, starting with about 160 grit and ending with something around 220 grit or higher. For a super-fine finish, complete the sanding using steel wool.

Sealing with Oils

Avoid tinted oils or weatherproofing agents when sealing reclaimed redwood, as they will affect the coloration of the material. Keep in mind that your lumber contains micro-pockets where oils and stains can accumulate, making some parts to the wood look darker than others. Murphy’s Oil Soap or other furniture polishes will highlight the grain of the wood with minimal interference. Oiled wood needs to be retreated 2 or 3 times a year to maintain the luster and may require sanding with a super-fine grit sandpaper every couple of years.

Polyurethane Sealants

The importance of testing stains on a small, preferably hidden, part of the wood first cannot be understated. Because of the way wood ages, the result of stains and sealants is somewhat unpredictable. For reclaimed redwood, the best option is generally to use a clear polyurethane sealant. You can choose a flat, satin, or glossy sealant to match your preferences. Apply thin coats with a fine brush or soft, clean rag and allow to dry thoroughly after each coat. Before applying additional coats, remove bubbles or blemishes using fine grit sandpaper or steel wool.

The Lumber Baron is the Bay Area’s source for reclaimed redwood. We provide you with the history of our hand-selected material, and offer sage advice on protecting it. If only the best results will do, come in talk to us about your project and how to achieve the desired finish.


Reclaimed Lumber: What’s all the buzz about?

Reclaimed Lumber at The Lumber BaronReclaimed lumber has a few advantages over fresh wood. It can be used in many places, indoors and out, to create a unique appearance, add strength, or capture a bit of rustic nostalgia. The important thing is to know what you are getting, including the history of the lumber, and to work with a lumber company that has the experience and skill to provide you with top quality material.

Appearance of Reclaimed Lumber

In many cases, reclaimed lumber has been exposed to the environment, causing it to have unique coloration that is not possible with fresh lumber. This can include having a different color completely, showing a patina, or discoloration near nail and bolt holes. Simply being exposed to the air can cause some changes in appearance, but some forms of exposure, such as being immersed in water or exposure to salt air, create unique coloring that is prized among woodworkers.

Heartwood is the Best Wood

A lot of reclaimed lumber comes from wood that was originally milled from old growth forests. The size of the trees available at that time allowed entire timbers to be cut from a single section of wood where today’s materials require joining to get the same timber sizes. Another advantage of heartwood is the density of the growth, usually apparent in the rings of the lumber. Furthermore, reclaimed lumber has usually had decades to cure, giving it a higher tensile strength that does not warp or splinter.

Reclaimed Lumber as a Conversation Piece

Reclaimed material is excellent for exposed timbers, mantle pieces, and bar tops or counters. For some reclaimed lumber, including redwood and cedar, an entire mantle or counter can be cut from a single timber, and that means continuous grains rather than broken or mixed grain patterns. When the look and texture of exposed wood is an important part of what you are creating, reclaimed lumber has advantages that simply cannot be reproduced from lumber milled in recent years.

Granted, reclaimed lumber is not perfect for every project. For those projects, working with a skilled lumber company like The Lumber Baron can save you time and trouble. We have lumber available in different grades, or quality types, for example. A big box store may not have the milling capabilities to mill or surface your lumber to suit tastes and design requirements. Whether you are using reclaimed antique lumber or modern cuts, the company you work with can have a huge impact on the materials you build from. Visit us today to see our current reclaimed lumber inventory and how it can work for your next project.