Using reclaimed wood on projects is about more than just aesthetics. If you're looking to start a construction or renovation project, it can be great to use products like old barn wood. Let's examine some of the benefits of using this approach on a job.
The consumption of most of the world's virgin timber over the last two centuries has created a situation that sometimes surprises folks when they start major builds. There simply aren't the kinds of massive timbers that once existed. For example, the fire during the renovation of the cathedral at Notre Dame destroyed long and heavy oak beams and framework that came from trees that were originally grown during the 600s and 700s AD. There's a good chance the frame will never be restored to a truly original state.
If you're trying to create a huge space using a single set of beams, reclaimed timber is often the only option available. Folks who supply these materials look high and low to claim them when old structures, especially barns, are taken down.
Another problem with the modern supply of timber is that many species of wood were eradicated, especially during the settlement of the U.S. An estimated 90% of the original virgin timber in America is simply gone because settlers came to areas and cleared trees for farms, used them for building materials, and converted them into fuels. In many cases, the look of a particular beam or plank from an older structure cannot be matched with wood harvested today.
The upside to this is that it allows renovators and builders to give places an extra wow factor. Using an extinct species of tree for a project ensures a look that'll be hard to match.
While modern forestry techniques are generally considered fairly eco-friendly and sustainable, it still takes a lot of machinery to fell timber, transport it, and prep it. All that work ultimately adds to carbon emissions. Although it certainly takes equipment to reclaim materials from homes and barns, it's still less than would be generated by collecting new lumber. Similarly, reclaiming wood minimizes the chances that wood will be disposed of in an ecologically risky manner, such as burning.
Especially when acquiring hardwoods, reclamation may be cheaper. A lot of this is driven by supply and demand, and very in-demand products are likely to be more expensive.
Talk with a local lumber yard like Old World Lumber Company about the reclaimed wood or barn wood that they have available.