architectural salvage wood

11 myths about architectural salvage [Debunked]

We’ve heard an awful lot of myths about architectural salvage in our time, so we thought we would do our best to debunk them once and for all. Architectural salvage is for everyone!

Salvaged wood is poor quality

This is one we hear time and again, and it simply isn’t true. Salvaged materials are almost always much better quality than cheap modern woods you might get at a B&Q or Homebase. Many sceptics think that just because reclaimed wood has been around for a lot longer, that makes it worse quality. Modern timber, called “new growth wood” is wood that has been grown as quickly as possible in tree farms. Some trees are felled before they reach 10 years old. This means that they don’t develop dense heartwood. That’s why we can still stock high quality doors from Georgian townhouses, even though they are well over a hundred years old.

old growth salvage wood

Compare this to wood grown before the 1920s, or “old growth wood“. Trees then were allowed to grow naturally, and many were decades or even centuries old before being felled. These trees grew much more slowly, meaning a denser grain. The growth rings of old growth wood are more tightly packed than in new timber. This is why a renovated door made of old growth wood is better quality than a replica made of modern timber. And it’s also why Douglas Fir that’s a hundred years old is better than the same wood bought new today. The images above show this perfectly. The piece of wood on the left is old growth, and the piece on the right is new growth.

New wood looks better than salvaged wood

architectural salvage wood

This is something we will dispute til we’re blue in face. Yes, when it just comes in, salvage can look a little rough around the edges, but give a little TLC and the results can blow you away. New wood is smooth and shiny, but it’s also exactly the same as everyone else has! Naturally-aged furniture has its own character, and it’s one of a kind. Good quality timber is like a fine wine, it just gets better with age. Salvaged wood’s beauty comes from the grains and pores which simply aren’t found in new timber.

Architectural salvage is too expensive

This is also not true. A brand new “period style” door from a popular UK company will set you back the best part of £1500. Compare that to our range of Victorian front doors, where a similar product is half that price. So you get a better price, for a better product and you can feel good about the environment at the same time. Reclaimed wood prices are comparable to new growth planks, although fake woods or chipboard will be cheaper, but who wants that junk? We only work with the real deal. It looks better and lasts longer. Read about how to use Architectural Salvage to beautify your home for less here.

It doesn’t need maintenance

architectural salvage wood

Some people think that they can forget about their reclaimed doors or furniture once it’s been installed. But like most things, if you spend a little bit of time and effort then you will get much more out. That might mean touching up your wooden floorboards with some varnish or repainting the scuff marks on the front door. The trick with maintenance is to do it little and often. A good time to give your reclaimed furniture a once over is in the spring time. If you treat your salvage right, it’ll treat you right too!

Salvage is dirty

architectural salvage
Nothing dirty about these salvaged mahogany doors.

Ok, sometimes salvage is dirty. When we arrive at a demolition site to find hidden gems amongst the rubble, we aren’t entering a sterile environment. There is normally some dust and a few spider webs floating about. But once architectural salvage arrives back at our premises, we brush it down, dust it off and give it the good clean it deserves. This spruce up isn’t the end of the journey though. We recommend that most of our products are renovated and refinished before they are installed, to get the most out of them. That doesn’t necessarily mean sanding them right back and putting a gloss finish on (although in some cases that is appropriate).  Raw finishes look great, but it is important you seal it to prevent rot and maximise its lifetime. We make sure that all our products are thoroughly cleaned before they go out to our customers, ensuring a long lifespan.

Old wood doesn’t shrink or swell

swollen salvaged wood
This flooring has swollen due to change in humidity. Make sure you let your reclaimed wood acclimatise to its new environment before installing.

This is something anyone buying salvaged doors or furniture should know. Even though it’s had a long and colourful life, reclaimed wood can still shrink or swell depending on moisture levels. That’s why it’s important to let it adjust to the environment before it’s installed.

There’s no place for architectural salvage in a modern home

shabby chic salvage doors

We can blow this out of the water right away. Interior designers love the effect of architectural salvage in the modern home. Whether you want a feature sliding door for your modern apartment, or some shabby chic furniture for a dive bar, nothing stands out like salvaged materials.

Reclaimed wood is difficult to install

architectural salvage

All the work on our doors takes place before installation. This means that we minimise time on site, meaning you can get back to your life faster. Check out this Victorian front door in our testing zone.

Old door knobs will give you tetanus

architectural hardware door knobs

Wrong! As mentioned previously we clean everything that comes into our possession. We make sure that everything is safe, and although much of our salvage has a rugged quality, none of our door knobs will give you a nasty disease. We stock both new and used, if you can’t see it online do ask, because we literally have buckets of old door knobs in store. Why not read about our vintage doorbells here.

Having a new replica made is better than renovating a reclaimed door

architectural salvage renovation
The operating theatre

Now we know that old growth timber is harder wearing than new growth, we can debunk this one for good. Having a replica door made from new materials has several drawbacks to restoring an original door. Firstly your labour costs will be higher, because more work needs to be done in creating a door from scratch. Secondly the wood won’t be as good quality. And thirdly it won’t have the authenticity of a reclaimed door.

That leaves us with the last myth of all…

Anyone who works in salvage is a miserable old grouch (not true promise!)

architectural salvage experts
Look at these happy chappies!

It’s a lie! We’re positive, happy, funny people! Honest…

architectural salvage myths
Just look at the smile on his face!

So there you have it 10 myths about architectural salvage busted. So get in touch and see what we have to offer. You could be surprised at the wonders we uncover. Visit our main website at www.historicdoors.co.uk if you’re interested in any architectural salvage.