High demand remains for rustic, reclaimed woods

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The market for rustic and reclaimed woods continues to thrive, driven by the design trend that calls for a weathered or distressed appearance. Stock with defects such as knots, splits and holes are in great demand, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.

“The rustic trend is definitely not diminishing; it’s still on the rise,” says Harry Raymond of Vintage and Specialty Wood in Boca Raton, Fla. “Twenty years ago nobody even knew it existed and it’s definitely moved to the forefront, especially in the luxury homes. Back then, when we did trade shows, people didn’t even know that they could get old barn timbers and it’s developed into a real industry now.

“We do everything from really rustic to really refined with reclaimed so we can meet everyone’s needs. We’re selling artwork, not woodwork. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whether someone likes an old check in a beam or whether they don’t want any checking or tracks, that’s all artistic expression how much of that they like in their specific project.”

Bob Laurie of L.L. Johnson Lumber Mfg. Co. in Charlotte, Mich. makes sure to keep a variety of rustic species in stock.

“Mostly what we sell in rustic is hickory and white oak. The thing about rustic is everybody produces it a little bit differently, but the main thing is everybody is trying to include defects and such because people want character, instead of just plain boards without any defects,” says Laurie.

Scott Roberts of Roberts Plywood in Deer Park, N.Y., says character-grade woods are extremely popular and credits the flooring industry.

“I think the flooring industry does a great job in marketing to the architectural design community,” says Roberts. “In the rustic or character grade we sell domestic and European white oak, alder, hickory, ambrosia maple, walnut and wormy chestnut. It goes into everything from store fixtures, trade show displays, residential cabinetry, case goods, flooring, and staircases.”

Steve King of Yankee Pine Lumber Corp. in Rowley, Mass. marvels at the trend.

“Some [customers are] buy perfectly good woods here then go distress them. With HGTV, people are buying up these used pallets and whatever they can find and call it rustic looking or rustic chic. Some homeowners will come in and see clear lumber and ask why it doesn’t have any knots or holes or splits in it because they saw it on a program, and I tell them it’s not supposed to have that. Hickory and white oak are very popular, but a lot of people take whatever they can get. A lot of it has to do with color, but some might want something denser for a countertop or something,” says King. 

This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue.

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