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Creative woodcrafters and hobbyists alike have turned to alternative sources for the rare wood and sweet deals they crave. We support this trend — it brings recycling and a certain amount of free-thinking to woodworking. Lately, we’ve heard this question a lot: How much should I pay for this recycled wood from old barns or 100-year-old houses?

The quick answer is, it’s worth as much as you’re willing to pay for it. Sure, you can weigh in a few factors, such as, what are you looking to do with the wood?  But when it comes right down to it, you must decide whether or not a crossbeam from an old barn in Quaker country is worth as much as your first car.

There are two basic schools of thought here. The first is the bargain-hunter — we use that term with as much affection as possible, as we normally fall into that category ourselves. These guys want good wood for less cash than retail and are willing to look in odd places to get it. The other is the treasure-hunter: the guy who simply must have that pile of 80-year-old barn slats, because the dining room table he’ll make from them will put a big smile on his wife’s face. Both guys, looking at the same wood, will value the stock differently; and the party selling it will undoubtedly have a third value in mind.

Keep your project and purpose in mind, and make sure you know the going rates for retail wood and other antique wood, before diving into a custom deal. Check your local outlets, and talk to other woodcrafters in your area. A deal might be sitting right under your nose. Most of all, remember that if someone values their stock above your budget, there are other deals out there. Don’t feel bad about it — find another source.

Antique Wood [Old Barn Wood]
Salvaged Wood [Heritage Barns]

 

48 Responses to What’s Old Wood Worth?

  1. Paul says:

    There is one problem with salvaging barn wood. When you salvage the wood, you lose the barn. American barns (everything from plain old corn cribs to the famed Pennsylvania bank barns) are icons of the American landscape and are disappearing at an alarming rate. Though much of the disappearance is due to neglect and the demise of small farms themselves, increasingly barns are vanishing and turning up as paneling, tables, cabinets, recording studio walls, and other recycled projects.

    The Smithsonian Institution did a traveling exhibit a few years ago called “Barn Again.” The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the American Barn among the top ten most endangered architectural structures. Living in the south, you still see barns pepper the landscape. But you don’t see as many. How many log cabins do you see on the landscape? If you troll around craigslist you’ll find folks offering their barns for sale all the time. How much longer before the wooden barn becomes as rare as the cabin?

    If the barn is falling apart and needs to be torn down for safety’s sake, then by all means someone should recycle that wood. I just wanted to mention that unlike most recycling efforts, there is a downside to recycling barn lumber. There are only so many of them left.

    • I have a barn in Cleveland county NC made almost completely with cedar logs, I am 5th generation to own this land and I’m sure the barn has been here well over 150 years, the logs are in GREAT shape for the most part, it was built on rock tiers with 30 ft long 12 in x 8 in runners made from maybe oak. Trouble is it is in bad disrepair as I am 52 and disabled and neither son give a crap. My donkeys and goats still use it. If you would like detail pics and location email me at rainfall1961@hotmail.com

  2. Paul says:

    Correction: The American Barn, generically speaking, was not listed on the National Trust’s most endangered list. Sorry about that. Individual barns have been listed, and all of the southern Maryland tobacco barns were listed. Sadly, it doesn’t change the fact that barns are disappearing across the country.

  3. Brad Justinen says:

    Back in the day, my Dad and I salvaged wood from an old barn to floor the new house addition. My step mom’s cousin was selling his small farm and the barn was going to be demo’d for a new housing development. We went through lots of miter saw and planer blades. In recent years I have heard of people using metal detectors to find all of the metal. I WISH WE HAD BEEN THAT SMART but the floor is absolutely beautiful and well worth the cost and time.

    I do agree with “Paul”, it sucks that there is a limited amount of these old barns and someday they will be gone. :(

  4. ToolFreak says:

    perhaps not everyone who sells the wood off the barn does away with the rest of it. If I could sell the old wood on the barn and buy new wood for it and make a profit in the process, I’d probably go with that, especially if the people who wanted to old wood would do half the labor taking it down.

  5. Adam says:

    A long time ago (in a galexy far, far away) I used to work for a company that took apart barns for the lumber. Most of what we salvaged was barns that were already down or badly damaged by storms and neglect, but we would take down anything that the owner wanted gone.

    The last job I worked on was disassembling a very old, almost completely solid oak 2 1/2 story barn. The barn was in great shape and at least 200 years old, since I found one of the replacement pine siding boards with the date 1901 on it. I know the farm it was on pre-dated the majority of the town, at least. We took that barn down and got a lot of lumber out of it, and do you know what they put up in that spot? One of the unfortunately many insane churches in the area put a freaking currogated steel pole barn up there as a church. The hell??? If they had just taken all of the floors out of one end of the barn and presure-washed the main beams, and then re-sided and insulated the building, the simple age and beauty of the barn’s design would have lent the sanctuary a very holy aura. Instead what they got was something cheap farmers throw up to put sheep in. Hurrah.

    Anyhow, I remember de-nailing boards with a combination of a pair of vice-grips and an automotive dent-puller on the other side, then pressure-washing and cutting to length the beams and planks. Eventually a semi or three would turn up and haul the wood off.

    I remember being told that at least a few barns-worth of 100+ year old oak, cherry, ceder, spruce, and pine was being sent to France for wood paneling on houses. Crazy!

    I still have a few samples of raw wood and polished wood around somewhere. I’ll tell you what, you compress cherry or oak for 150 years with a few hundred tons of weight on it, it makes some VERY hard to work with, but completely georgous, wood.

  6. nx99 says:

    My wife loves the look and texture of barnwood furniture, so I’ve been on the lookout for alternate sources.

    If you don’t need a lot of structure, old cedar fence boards are the best I’ve found. There’s not a lot of historical value in my neighbor’s 15 year old leaning monster.

    I’m also looking at ways of making ‘faux’ barnwood. I have the texture down (distress the piece with a paintbrush comb) and some test pieces on the roof trying to sun-bleach the right color. Anybody else trying this?

    If they’re a hazard, get all the use you can out of them, but all in all, I like old barns on the landscape.

  7. Wild Bill says:

    I live in a rural area and just on my route home from work there have been 5 old barns taken down in the last two years. When there aren’t many left that is a significant number.

    My original barn (40 x 60) was built in 1906 with an equal size addition in 1951 so we have a two story 60′ x 80′ to house our 33 llamas, hay, scale, tack and equipment. Interesting that they built the addition just like the 1906 original, were it not for the ceramic block (nice to clean) they used for the first floor level and the steel beams they had to put in to replace the sagging wood ones, you couldn’t tell it was 45 years younger.

    A modern barn would be much easier to maintain but certainly lacks the character of the older ones. We are putting up steel barn siding on this to do a quick cover up that will seal out the drafts and preserve the wood siding that will stay exposed on the inside. We’ve put in all concrete floors, replaced missing and falling apart doors and windows and ripped out old rotting feeders. (Side note, I used the oak, full 1-by lumber from a big hay feeder to “panel” my kitchen when it was remodeled. Neat effect!) These old monsters are very expensive to maintain and it’s no wonder they aren’t, especially when they are no longer being used.

  8. Wild Bill says:

    One other barn experience. My dad sold his 1860s-era barn from the farm when he was retiring and moving to Florida to a guy for $1,000. Huge, long hand hewn beams, wide board siding (most of it 10 inches wide and up) and two inch thick 20 and 30 foot flooring. Stipulation was he take it down and take it ALL off of the property. He even took the foundation stones! Those beautiful beams still haunt me to this day, wish I had all of them.

    Growing up my brother took a barn down… with a chain saw. Burned it up for fire wood. It was the early 70s. Ouch!

  9. Shawn says:

    I actually just bought a load of old barn wood from someone last week. I’ve been waiting for years to come across some old beams and whatnot to use for several projects. I finally found an ad on craigslist for someone with old barn wood. The barn went down in a storm last year – it was built around 1900. I’ve been amazed at how easily the wood (most of it is pine) cleans up and how gorgeous it looks.

    A couple friends in college met someone who needed a barn torn down and they agreed to do it for free if they could keep whatever money they made selling the wood. Turns out that the entire barn was made from chestnut and they made far more money than they ever dreamed of!

    • Cassy says:

      How much did u pay for what u got…ive got a barn im selling that has pine , oak an beach..bit i have no clue how much its worth an its all over a 100 yrs old

  10. Subvert says:

    Humans have been tearing down neat buildings and using the materials to build new buildings throughout history. It’s simple resourcefulness, and frankly environmentally enlightened. However, I’ll agree that it can be historically painful.

    While it’s certainly a good idea to preserve some old buildings like this with things like the national register of historical places, but I think it’s a bad idea to have such a negative stigma against people wanting to make use of the materials resource rather than leaving an unwanted building littering the landscape while building with completely new materials. Naturally the example of tearing down a great old building and replacing it with something ugly would best be avoided as well. Hopefully someone reused the materials at least.

    That old lumber is great. Years ago my dad demo-ed (past tense of demo?) old buildings to build the home he’s living in today. I think seeing that in my formative years contributed to my environmental awareness today.

  11. Nelma says:

    Well said, finally a good report on this stuff

  12. Steven Reeves says:

    I am fixing to tear down a little 4 room house that is a little over 100 years old. The walls are double boarded not counting the outside weather stripping. It also has a lot of stones under the house. I am trying to find buyers if anyone can recommend anyone. I am in Falls of Rough, Kentucky. Thanks

    • Melody Moss says:

      Steve, I am interested in your 4 room house and your stones. Could you please reply to Melody Moss at the email listed above. Thank you.

  13. Seven L Bar says:

    I take down barns and old homes for a living. We re-purpose ALL usable lumber and metal. I’ve been doing this for 2 years now and must say that the land owners (mostly farmers and ranchers) really appreciate the service we provide. These structures are in unusable condition and are a haven for undesired critters, a fire hazard and a tax on the land owner. Every one we’ve removed has had a positive outcome for both parties- the land owners get more usable land and are happy to know that their history is being cherished by furniture maker/owner or home owner. We take great care to research the history of the structure and pass that along with the recycled material. Plenty of photos and scraps of past life are passed on to a new generation. The alternative is bulldozing and demolition. By taking these structures down carefully (board by board, nail by nail), we reduce the waste and re-use the sturdy and beautiful old growth wood.

    • Ann Vanderplough says:

      I own some land near Pilot Mountain, NC. There is a house on the property that I would like to re-purpose. I am interested in having this 100 year old house torn down and sell the wood for reuse. The house has been painted outside and has wall paper over the interior. If you are interested in discussing this, please contact me 678 641 1436. My name is Ann Vanderplough.

    • Edith says:

      Where are you located? I have two large wood barns and a large silo made of “salt glazed”? ceramic blocks that I want sell. Location central Jersey shore.

    • Marc F says:

      I just purchased a home in Millington NJ. The home was built in 1915 and it has a old garage that is falling apart. Each wall is leaning in a different direction. I am trying to find a service like yours near me that will do a tear down and salvage the materials. Any insight would be appreciated!

  14. Dianne says:

    Can anyone provide me with info on how to identify and find the value of wood from our home built in 1882 in NE Ohio? We are thinking that at least some of it may be American Chestnut and would like to have it confirmed before we recycle or sell any of it. Who can I contact?

  15. Bill H. says:

    I have a barn that was built in 1906.A bank Barn. 40×60.
    A tree hit it in a storm about 10 years ago.I would like some one to tear it down.Some nice beams are upstairs and also down in the box stalls. There is a small grainy upstairs with toque in groove.Do you know of anyone interested in doing this.
    Thanks
    Bill

    • Gina Henrickson says:

      Bill,

      Where are you located? We are in the barn deconstruction business in southeastern Nebraska.

    • Melody Moss says:

      Bill, I am interested in the barn and then grainery.

      Please reply to the above email address. Thank you.

      • Adrian Wilder says:

        Hello Melody,
        I just inherited a huge chunk of land in Edenton Nc and on it there’s a old tobacco barn about 2.5 stories tall. It was used to dry tobacco. I was wondering if you or anybody you know that would be interested in it? It’s over 100 yrs old.

        Thank you
        Adrian Wilder Sr

  16. kitty says:

    I have a 1940′s US military built building that needs to be move or torn down

  17. Deb says:

    really wish one of you tearing down people would send me an email . I am in central Pa and have a log home (1700′s)that is really not livable but i live here anyway, I also have a barn that is in need of repair or tore down. woudl love to know hpow much i coudl get out of the logs only leaving enough out to plain for a new floor for a double wide and a few old boards off the barn for crafting. I would love to put a modular on my lot and repair the log for historical value but i still need a place to live!! anyone around the area interested should send me an email thanks Deb

  18. Mina. says:

    I have a barn from 1700′s all chestnut beams and cedar walls. I would like to sell the wood of whole barn.

  19. Leon says:

    How much are you asking for you barn with chestnut beams? I deconstruct barns for a living and travel all over the country we are based out of Kansas. Please email me leonsink@gmail.com thank you.

  20. jim kemnitz says:

    i have a house built in 1700s chestnut post and beam with center 4 or 5 fireplace chimney to sell for dissasembly and removal. located in oakdale ct. lots of history.

  21. Joann Harvey/Albert Hensler says:

    We Have 2 barns that have fallen and are looking for interested persons who might want or need this kind of wood for ? we would like to sell what we can as we are in need of some monies to pay for property taxes willing to take pictures of them both and send how ever necessary can anybody help us out Phone # 360-249-4751 Leave messages and keep trying to contact us please or E-mail us at joannharvey7@gmail.com Thank you much

  22. Judy says:

    My parents farm has a dairy barn and grainery. Built in early 1900′s. Looking for a Co. that is covered with insurance and qualified to dismantle barns. Barn is 56×34, roof still in good condition, many large hand-hewn beams, lower level has 36 round logs, also hand-hewn beams down the middle. Located in the center of Mi., very easy to get to. Phone 9897733335 or e-mail gardenfairy@gmail.com.

  23. John says:

    I have a 100 plus yr. old barn free to any one wanting to take it all, leaving a clean site. It has to be gone in the next6 weeks.

  24. Tanatha Amos says:

    Can anyone provide me with info on how to identify and find the value of wood from our home built in 1861 in WV. I am interested in having this home torn down and sell the wood for reuse. The house is approx. 2400 sq feet and is possibly all oak. House is falling down; building new home on site. Please contact us at tanatha.amos@yahoo.com; if interested.

  25. Tabitha says:

    I am looking to sell 150-200 year old barn wood. In great condition! Some planks 10-15ft long about 500sq ft of wood. 40 beams 10-18ft long. Barn has already been taken down only needs to be picked up. Please email me if interested. tabithabarletta@ymail.com

  26. Russ says:

    I have 100yr old pine boards from framing ect from a old house we had to tear down what is this old wood worth? Im trying to get it sold because it is beautiful lumber. Anyone know?

  27. Carolyn Miller says:

    I have a 17,100′ warehouse for sale. It was built in 1920.
    It has some tongue and groove wood and square beams throughout. I don’t know much about this kind of stuff. Interested in someone tearing the wood out and purchasing. This wood is in great condition!

  28. Melody Moss says:

    Interested in the barn if it is still available. Thank you.
    To: john,

  29. Melody Moss says:

    Jim Kemjnitz, Sir, I am interested I
    Your chestnut beams and fireplaces.
    Please contact me at the above email?
    Thank You.

    Melody Moss

  30. Melody Moss says:

    Russ, I am interested in your pine boards. Please reply to email
    listed above? Thank you.

  31. Melody Moss says:

    Carolyn, If you still have lumber, I am interested. Ease reply to email. Please and thank you. Melody

  32. David says:

    I have an old log home built back in the 1850s. Ive been told it is built out of American chestnut, white oak and poplar. we are currently living in the home and would like to sell the logs.( you take down the home). The home is located in eastern Kentucky. If interested please e-mail me

  33. James Hobby says:

    I have an old home in Giles county TN. The original part on the house is Over 200 years old. It dates back the civil war era. It has American chestnut logs. I am looking to sell the entire house if you are interested please email me.

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