Using Local Wood in Your Remodeling Project
Want a really unique look for your new house, remodel, or addition? Try using local wood! Wood from species that abound in your area can bring that new room to life, with a unique feel that can’t be matched by engineered material. And, it will connect your home with the natural world around you, in a way no other building material can.
In every area of the country, there are local sawmills, millwork shops, and custom milling businesses that can provide lumber for your new project that will bring new alternatives to your choices for floor coverings, paneling, trim, outdoor siding, beams, deck boards, fencing material, and more! Where ever you live, there are local trees with beautiful wood inside, that when milled properly, can become part of an heirloom space of your home. Many of these trees are removed from jobsites, new power line right of ways, subdivisions, etc. Some are trees that naturally die in the forest every year (3-8% mortality rates). Many trees that you can get milled locally are not of much use commercially, because they are not the desired specie for the big commercial market, but still have very desirable characteristics and beauty.
One website that can show you what kind of products can be made from these trees is processingwood.com. This company specializes is custom products from locally grown and recylced wood.
Companies like CGI, LLC that operates processingwood.com, know their local species and visiting them can open your eyes to what is available in your area. You can find them by asking your contractor about shops that mill local wood, checking the yellow pages, or going online. Some wood processing equipment dealers will have listings of owners of their equipment that can lead you to someone in your area that processes this material. Logosol, a company that makes equipment for these local shops has a listing on their website of owners across the United States. Check here to see if anyone near you might be available.
What kinds of wood are out there? Here are few examples: Hickory, Ash, Maple, Sycamore, Beech, Cedars – Red or White, Alder(popple), Oaks, Juniper, Cypress, Eucalyptis, Pine(white or yellow), Fir, Redwood, Spruce – those are some of the major species. Your local shop will have the most knowledge about what is available in your area. When you visit, ask for examples and samples of the material so you can get a feel for what the material will look like in place.
Here is a good example of a local shop where you can get some beautiful local lumber: Woods of Mission Timber in Sanger Texas. Bob Pugh has built a business around the local woods of that area. He is an hour north of Dallas just off the interstate and has a beautiful showroom which shows off the wood from his area of the country. Bob mills logs from construction sites around Dallas, TX whenever possible. In this huge metropolitan area, trees are being taken down every day and many of them go straight to the landfill. Bob brings as many as he can into his facility and takes them from log to beautiful flooring, paneling, moulding, or mantles on site.
A more in-depth example of the use of local wood can be found at TimberGreen Farms. These folks mill wood off their own property into flooring, stairs, moulding, cabinets and more. They have some beautiful examples of the results of their work on their website. Jim Birkemeier, owner of TimberGreen Farms, of Wisconsin is a Forester with a new outlook on managing his forests. “We take the least commercially desirable trees in our woodlots, and turn them into beautiful products for local homes,” he says. “Over time, our forests are improving because we are leaving the best and making room for the strongest trees to grow,” he adds.
There are shops like Woods of Mission Timber and TimberGreen Farms all over the country. One website where these shops congregate is WoodWeb. A little looking in your area can bring you some beautiful results.
Local shops can also mill your wood. If you have trees that have to come down to make room for your new home or addition, find out if someone in your area can mill the logs to your specifications for you. You save money, and you end up with a truly unique home when you utilize some of this wood in your design.
The amount of trees removed yearly to new construction is staggering. One developer in North Carolina, got so upset at all the trees that were being taken down on a 700 acre mountain subdivision for roads and lot clearing, that he hired a local sawyer full time to turn the logs into lumber. He later bought other woodworking and milling equipment to make that material into flooring to be used in his exclusive homes. These homes will have a unique flavor that will connect them to the local environment in a powerful way.
Besides the natural beauty of the wood, what are some of the advantages of using local lumber? Think Green. If you are looking for ways to save energy as recommended by the U.S. Green Building Council you can do your part by using local wood. A big savings is the amount of energy used to transport the material to a central commercial sawmill is reduced. No glues are used in the making of the material or excessive chemical treatments that can pollute your inside air. And, you are helping save space in your local landfill when these logs are diverted for use in local building.
Everyone wins when you use local wood – you rescue some trees from a local landfill, the local economy is enhanced, energy is saved in the process, and you end up with a beautiful, unique home!
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