Many log home owners look for unique wood accents to complement their beautiful log walls. Sourcing reclaimed wood is one way to accomplish this. We spoke with Todd Morrisette of DeadHead Lumber in Buxton, Me., to get some insights on where and how to find reclaimed and recycled wood.

Morrisette offers three types of reclaimed or recycled wood in his mill: underwater or sunken salvaged wood, silver-gray barn wood and industrial lumber.

Sunken Salvaged Wood– This is lumber sourced from deep  cold waters of Moosehead Lake in Maine and other bodies of water in New England. These waterways transported millions of trees in the 1800s for shipbuilding and construction. These are old-growth beauties that broke free and sank off the immense barges, which floated from the mountains to the sea. These birch, maple, and other species of logs came from trees that were seedlings hundreds of years ago. They have been preserved in cold waters until brought to the surface by Morrisette and others.  Once milled, underwater wood is “all new,” meaning that it is pristine in grain, finish and color. These woods can be stunning.

Barn wood– Called “silver gray” wood because of its predominant color, these woods are reclaimed from old barns. This lumber can feature hand-hewn surfaces, nail holes, wormholes and other character marks that give it some distinctive and unique appearances. Morrisette kiln-dries the wood then may re-plane or crosscut the material for different appearances. The wood species include hardwoods used in Midwestern barns, including white oak.

Industrial– This is wood reclaimed from many of the old mills and other industrial buildings that fueled the industrial revolution in the US. Early wood will often be longleaf pine, and wood from buildings constructed in the 1940s may feature clear, vertical grained Douglas fir.

Morrisette acknowledged that there are many sources for reclaimed lumber in the U.S. He has three essential tips for ensuring a quality purchase:

Reputable Millwork Company– Identify a local or regional  mill that can source the reclaimed wood for you. “Sourcing reclaimed wood on your own can be pretty dicey,” he explained. “I’ve purchased a trailer of wood from a dealer I’ve used before and ended up with half a load of unusable material.” Pricing can vary wildly and has increased with the popularity of recycled materials for building.

On-Site Visit– If at all possible, visit the mill to review their product. The quality and color of reclaimed millwork can have huge variances even within species of wood or a particular lot from a building. You’ll want to ensure that the mill is meticulous about matching and keeping like-kind species together.

Engineered Reclaimed Wood– For those who are looking for super-wide planking for floors, Morrisette recommends going with an engineered floor to minimize shrinking and expansion. The reclaimed surface can still be made from ¾” boards, but bonding it to a plywood base can control expansion and keep the floor stable throughout the seasonal variations in humidity. Even when you kiln-dry the wood to 6-8% moisture, in wide boards an expansion of a few percentage points can translate to a big gap between 12-inch-wide boards.

We included some photos of the different types of reclaimed wood Morrisette has installed. From top to bottom they are: Sunken Salvaged Red Birch, Sunken Salvaged Rustic Maple, Silver Grey Barn Board, Circle Sawn White Pine, Antique White Pine, Douglas Fir, and Industrial CVG Longleaf Heart Pine.