Quarantine Series: Reclaimed Wood

If you are a regular reader of this page you’ve seen “reclaimed wood furniture” often. But what exactly is reclaimed wood furniture? Well quite simply it is furniture made of recycle wood and often metal. The wood comes from old houses, buildings, bridge beams, cable reels, pallets, etc.. Pretty much any old wood that can be reused to make furniture these days is recycled.

Anything that has a tag on it saying FSC certified reclaimed means that all the wood used in the construction of the piece is fully recycled. No trees are cut down. FSC stands for the Forestry Stewardship Council. It is an international non-profit. FSC was created in 1993 in response to concerns over deforestation. You can go to ca.fsc.org if you want to learn more about the certification process. FSC helps to protect forests, animal habitat, worker’s rights, indigenous people’s rights, and areas of significant environmental importance.

If you walk through The Barn you will see lots of FSC reclaimed tags. However, we were making and selling reclaimed wood furniture long before it was certified, or called reclaimed, and long before 1993. Like a lot of things at The Barn, we’ve been doing it for so long we don’t know when it started.

Back in the good old days of Canadian manufacturing [pre NAFTA-1994], most of the new furniture we sold was made in Canada. Back then we sold furniture made by half a dozen different local shops. A couple of them specialized in reclaimed wood furniture. Except the term “reclaimed wood” had not yet been coined. We just called it barn board, or said it was made from old wood. We even made some pieces ourselves when we could acquire old boards.

Over the years the look of furniture made with old boards became more and more popular. Eventually the wood was in such high demand that manufacturers would drive around the countryside looking for dilapidated old barns and buildings they could purchase from farmers. We new a bunch of people that would spend their summers tearing down old barns, and spend their winters making furniture out of the wood they had recycled. It was a terrific system that was even more environmentally friendly than what is happening today.

These days a lot of small businesses are talking about covid as being the biggest challenge their business has ever faced. While being in lockdown is challenging for us, covid doesn’t rank as the biggest challenge to our business over the years. NAFTA and subsequent trade deals were definitely more challenging. While there have certainly been positives from the many “free trade” deals the Canadian government has signed. Damage to Canadian manufacturing is certainly one of the negatives. All but one of the local shops that used to make furniture for us have gone out of business because they couldn’t compete with the prices of furniture made with cheaper labour in Asia. The last shop standing has survived because they now do exclusively high end custom work for customers willing to pay a premium. They no longer produce furniture for the general market.

That is not to say that there still isn’t great furniture made in Canada. We proudly carry the Springwater Woodcraft line made in Springwater Ontario. We previously posted an article about Springwater Woodcraft on this page on May 25th of last year. If you scroll down on this page you can read the article, if interested.

But these days only certain types of furniture can be made in Canada at competitive prices. If you want high end quality reclaimed wood furniture, you can either buy imported. Or buy Canadian made and pay double the price or more, for comparable products. That is the effect that all the “free trade” deals have had. Only simpler, none labour intensive pieces can be made here at competitive prices for comparable products.

In 2007 we started carrying PGT made reclaimed wood furniture. It has been our best selling reclaimed wood furniture ever since. PGT is still the gold standard in the industry. You can see some photos on our Reproductions page. The Irish Coast and Lifestyle lines are made by PGT. Only certain PGT pieces are available in Canada. Anything that is available that we don’t stock can be ordered in upon request. There are also pieces that we special order from PGT that are not available anywhere else in Canada. For example, we have the full line of PGT Settler bedroom furniture in the African dusk colour, arriving at The Barn in March.

The lines and colours we carry have changed over the years, as styles have changed. Provence is our newest and fastest growing line of reclaimed wood furniture. The line started out in 2019 with only a dozen different pieces to chose from, and only one colour. But we’ve been working on expanding the line and the colour selection. We already have the Provence bookcases in two colours that are exclusive to The Barn in stock. We’ve been working with the factory on new colours and pieces, and some are already on the way. Scheduled to arrive in March will be the new Provence hall tables that are exclusive to The Barn. They are coming in three new colours. We also have a batch of Provence night stands coming in a bunch of additional colours, so that we can gage interest in what colours will be the most popular before we expand the line further. So if you stop in once the lockdown ends, please give us your opinion on what colours you like best.

We even sell old boards and have done so for many years. We only leave a few sample boards in the building. Often customers just tell us how many feet and what size boards they require and we get them ready for pickup.

There are also lots of reclaimed wood pieces from many different manufacturers that we don’t stock that can be ordered upon request. Just ask to see a catalogue the next time you are in the shop. If you wish to shop online during lockdown you can check out our Reproductions page. Or cheque out www.pgt-reclaimed.com . Please keep in mind that only certain pieces from PGT in the Irish Coast, Lifestyle, Settler, Post & Rail, Cintra, Wooden Forge, and Bohemia lines are available in Canada. And only in certain colours. You can also check out  www.lhimports.com. Our prices beat any competitors regular pricing on LH products. If you have any questions about pricing, dimensions, availability, or anything else, just send your questions to info@thebarnmississauga.ca . We will get back to you promptly.