Homeowners value the rich, vintage look of recycled or unusual woods rather than the off-the-shelf look that everyone else has, according to Mark Nash, who gleans such tidbits of information from a survey he conducts of real estate agents, brokers and industry execs.
"People want something with character," says Matt Nichols, marketing director for TerraMai, a California wood company that uses all recycled woods.
The company buys salvaged wood, such as Douglas fir from old industrial mills in Washington State, teak from houses slated for demolition in Southeast Asia and redwood from old wine tanks in California. Wood changes as it ages.
"Wood takes on a different patina over time," says Nichols. "It has more richness."
The wood is also thoroughly seasoned; it doesn't shrink or warp after installation. And old wood is denser grained because it grew slowly, under natural conditions rather than raised commercially. Reclaimed wood has also picked up some scars, nail and bolt holes, gouges, traces of old paint and the like, which only endears it more to connoisseurs.
Prices vary hugely but reclaimed wood generally costs quite a bit more than new wood. For many consumers, the difference is more than worth it.