Wood can be overwhelming, there are endless species, shapes and sizes. So we decided to help everyone out a bit with a buyer’s guide to reclaimed wood.This guide does not include every species out there, that would be too much to read in a single sitting. Instead we are going to focus on the materials that we sell here at Evolutia.
This guide will cover the different applications of each material as well as any other points of interest a specific material may have. We will not go over pricing in this guide, because reclaimed wood prices fluctuate greatly based on the material’s availability and the required processes to create a finished product. So let’s get into it:
Probably our most popular material, Antique Heart Pine is very old pine with a tight grain pattern and very dense heartwood. Most of our heart pine comes out of joist material that was salvaged from old textile mills across the southeast and midwest. When the Pine trees were harvested originally they were likely already several hundred years old, meaning the growth rings had been compressed into tight concentric circles creating very dense wood. These trees were harvested around the beginning of the 20th Century, when the American Southeast was covered in old growth Long Leaf Pine. Once harvested the wood with the highest density was milled into support material for roofing and flooring. The Heart Pine that we have at Evolutia can range in age from 200-600 years old from the time that the trees were saplings to now.
Antique Heart Pine is a great material for residential flooring, rustic furniture, countertops and shelving. This is because it has the beautiful grain characteristics of pine, but is much harder. In comparison, new pine, which is often used in new construction homes, is much too soft for flooring or table top applications. If you put new pine flooring down in your home, you would likely find yourself looking to replace it in only a few years. The patina on Antique Heart Pine tends to lean more in the direction of reddish brown tones, with deep circle saw kerf marks that add tons of beautiful character to the wood.
The next most common material we work with at Evolutia is Oak. We work with both red and white oak, as most of it comes to us mixed together. A common misconception is that there are only two species of oak; red and white, and that they are easily distinguishable. The truth is that there are hundreds of species of oak, most of which can be divided between two classes: red and white, red not always looking red, and white almost never actually having a white coloration.
Oak is traditionally used for hardwood flooring applications, as it is one of the hardest common domestic wood species in the United States. Our reclaimed Oak can be used for much more than just flooring, though. Whether it is red or white, oak’s patina tends to lean more in the gray direction, with some browns popping up here and there. Because of this our reclaimed oak makes a great material for our reclaimed skins product, which is a veneer about 1/2” thick to be applied as a covering to existing walls, ceilings, or doors. This allows you to have the look of reclaimed wood, without the trouble of mounting dimensional lumber or random pieces of wood. It also is a great way to re-vamp existing old furniture without a total remake.
Oak is also what most of our beams are made of too. We have two different styles of old oak beams: rough sawn, which have circle saw marks and are rough cut; and hand hewn, the more popular of the two, this timber was hand cut over 100 years ago with nothing more than an axe and an adze. These beams can be used in a number of different applications, our favorite are ceiling beams and timber frames, but the sky is the limit on what we can make out of them.
Another option that we have for beam material is a special product that we carry called Mobile Bay Sinker Pine. This material is Antique Heart Pine that used to make up a dry dock in Mobile Bay. At the end of World War II the dry dock was dismantled and the material left at the bottom of the bay. In 2005 the beams were dredged from the bottom of Mobile Bay and are now sitting in our warehouse waiting to be repurposed to last another 100 years. Because the beams sat on the bottom of the ocean for over 60 years they have a very unique look which includes green coloration from creosote and algae, and red-orange coloration from rust on the rebar that is still in the wood. These beams offer not only a unique look, but a glimpse into the history of the naval industry around the turn of the century.
Evolutia also works with other materials from time to time including hickory, chestnut, walnut, maple, cedar, and really anything else that comes in the door. On top of all of the materials we have in stock on site, we also do mill work on provided material. If someone has an old tree or other reclaimed material that they would like for us to process for them, that is something we can do. We love helping turn that old barn on your property into new beams in your home, or taking the tire swing tree from your front yard to create beautiful new flooring. No job is too big or too small, and we always love a good story.
So, hopefully next time you are in the market for reclaimed wood you will have a better idea of where to start. And at Evolutia no job is too big or too strange. Part of what excites us about coming to work every day, besides the amazing material that we work with, is finding creative ways to create something new out of something very old.