Where to find old barn wood and reclaimed wood

Free Lumber

An assortment of free lumber including cherry, oak, pine, mahogany, and black walnut.
An assortment of free lumber including cherry, oak, pine, mahogany, and black walnut.

Where can I find some barn wood?

The short answer is to go out and work hard, and you will probably be able to obtain some barn wood. If you live in a rural area, this may be a little easier. Of course, you will need the tools necessary to harvest the wood. For the best chance of a big haul, a truck and trailer will be needed in addition to tools. Start out by asking friends and family who may have an old barn or building they need cleaned up, repaired, or torn down. Tear downs are a reclaimed lumber hunter's dream. In addition to people you know, keep an eye out for old buildings being torn down around town. There is nothing wrong with stopping to ask if you can pick up boards out of a pile in the yard, but don't pick up without asking. I recently found a pile of barn wood at a nearby tear down. The old barn was falling in, and the owner had pushed it over with a tractor. I asked if I could pick some of the old boards up and he told me to take all I wanted, he was planning to burn the pile. When I checked later, I found that the barn was built in 1912! This turned out to be some of the most beautiful salvaged wood I have ever found.

Classified ads can be another source of old barn wood. If you have the proper equipment, you could place an ad to tear down old buildings in exchange for the lumber. This can be a big undertaking, so make sure you are prepared. Also, I have found ads on Craigslist where people planned to tear down an old home and were giving away anything you could haul off. The first time I looked, I actually found an ad like this and the property was only a short ten mile drive. Turns out the home was seventy years old, and the owner was doing a complete tear down and removal. The ad actually said, 'don't bother to contact me, the property will be torn down in two days, take whatever you want'. I was hoping to find enough salvaged wood for a couple of reclaimed wood shelves. To my surprise, I was able to harvest over two hundred boards of antique heart pine for free!

Sources for Reclaimed Lumber and Barn Wood

Wooden Pallets
Reclaimed Wood
Old Barn Wood
Feed Stores
Lumberyard
Friends with Old Barn
Brick and Block Supply Stores
Remodels and Tear Downs
Family with Old Barn
Pet Supply Stores
Small Local Sawmill
Tear Downs
Look for Stacks of Pallets
Friends and Family
Classified Ads
There are several sources for reclaimed lumber and old barn wood. These are just a few of the places you should be looking for this cheap or free lumber.

Incredible find on some free wood

Before and after pictures of some black walnut planks.
Before and after pictures of some black walnut planks.

Hardwood and Exotics

Believe it or not, there are some sources out there for hardwood and exotic varieties. One of the best places to look for rare reclaimed wood is your local lumber yards. With a little research, most people can probably find a lumber yard within driving distance. You can go to these yards and look through the stock they have on display. Who knows, you may even find a great deal! But the best deals are the ones they don't advertise. Did you know when a lumber yard gets a load of infested lumber they reject the whole load? You may need to get to know the folks at the yard by purchasing stocked lumber a few times. Eventually you can probably get a lead on where all that rejected lumber goes. My uncle gets loads all the time from a nearby lumber yard, and the wood is great! He gave me a little stack of dirty, rough cut boards not long ago to make more room for another load he would pick up later. He said they would make some pretty boards, but I didn't realize until I had planed one that it was black walnut!

If you can find someone who purchases these infested loads of lumber, it will be like a goldmine. Keep in mind that there may be insects or their eggs inside this wood. You will want to take proper precautions when storing with other lumber. I don't like to spray the wood with chemical pesticides, so I place new infested lumber in a homemade kiln and run the heat at about two hundred degrees for a couple of hours. This should kill all the pests and even out the moisture content. I can almost see the gorgeous reclaimed wood furniture taking shape.

Reclaimed Lumber and Barn Wood

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Black Walnut rough cut sawmill planksThis barn wood is over one hundred years old.Look at the wear on this 100 year old barn timber.Solid oak sawmill planks
Black Walnut rough cut sawmill planks
Black Walnut rough cut sawmill planks
This barn wood is over one hundred years old.
This barn wood is over one hundred years old.
Look at the wear on this 100 year old barn timber.
Look at the wear on this 100 year old barn timber.
Solid oak sawmill planks
Solid oak sawmill planks

Reclaimed lumber favorites

What is your favorite type of cheap or reclaimed lumber?

  • Old barn wood
  • Pallet wood
  • Sawmill discount lumber
  • Lumber from old home tear downs
  • Any free lumber I can get
See results without voting

Wooden Pallets and Saw Mill Lumber

Although the wood is probably not antique, an often free source of lumber for rustic projects is wooden pallets. Focus on smaller businesses that have big stacks of wooden pallets out back. Be sure and ask the manager before loading up anything. Some places reuse their pallets, so the answer will be no sometimes. A few places that I know usually have tons of wooden pallets are feed stores, pet stores, and brick or block supply stores. I noticed about two hundred pallets stacked behind a small feed store in town. I stopped and asked if I could have a few, and the owner told me I could take them all if I wanted.

Another great source of discount wood is a small, local saw mill. Folks that operate these saw mills normally have stacks of lumber that may be for sale. If you have the means and the logs, sometimes you can strike a deal with a small saw mill. I take logs about nine feet long to my local saw mill guy when I come across some. He saws them up into boards and we split the boards half and half. Check local classified ads or farmer's bulletins for saw mills near your area.

Good Luck Lumber Hunting

Well I guess it is time to start your reclaimed lumber hunt. By following these tips and tricks, you will be stacking old barn wood and wooden pallets in no time. Just remember to always ask for permission before loading any reclaimed wood. Also, use extreme caution when picking though a tear down site for boards. These sites are full of great reclaimed wood, but they are also littered with rusty nails and possibly broken glass. If the weather is warm, you will also need to be on the lookout for snakes and bees. Just go slow and use good judgement and you will be fine.

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6 comments

DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Always a place to find those timbers to bur. Your suggestions are very useful.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Great ideas. I just got 3 hens a few months ago and now adding two more that will need their own pad for awhile, lol, and hate to buy that lumber! I bet you would enjoy reading Jodah, many of your hubs remind me of his first ones.


mgeorge1050 profile image

mgeorge1050 2 years ago from West Georgia Author

Thanks for the tip, I will check out Jodah. I have always enjoyed keeping chickens as well, and that free lumber works out great for chicken coops.


jtrader profile image

jtrader 2 years ago

I'll keep an eye out when passing some of the places you've suggested. Good way to save and recycle.


Hilaire profile image

Hilaire 2 years ago from East Coast

This is an excellent introduction to the method of hunting for barn wood. I am sure anyone following this advice will easily find useful reclaimed wood. The photos are gorgeous!


mgeorge1050 profile image

mgeorge1050 2 years ago from West Georgia Author

Thanks for the kind words Hilaire. In my opinion, barn wood and reclaimed lumber is just as much fun to find as it is to work with.

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