Personally, I see little wrong with using recycled lumber, with some
caveats. My uncle built his home decades ago and I know that much
of the lumber in the house was scrounged. In some mission-critical
situations he over-engineered to be on the safe side. For example,
he sistered together double beams where single beams would normally
be used to hold up the house. Some of those beams that he used
were actually retrieved as they floated down the local river. Obviously,
the beams were dried and examined before being used. Even so,
he sistered them to be on the safe side - why not, they were free.
It seems to me that lumber that has been properly sized on a well-
engineered home is going to show little deformation. I believe that your
potential contractor's concerns are similar to mine: Messing with the
salvaged lumber is more time consuming and riskier. It is much easier
for a contractor to hand a bill of materials to a lumber yard and work
with the exact quantity of virgin lumber. Even if you remove nails and
examine the lumber, he still has several concerns. He is taking the
risk that a structural problem could occur and he could face liability
issues. Also, he runs the risk of ruining his tools on any nails which
fail to get removed. There is also the liability of somebody getting
injured from nails which didn't get removed.
Also, the builder has to be concerned with uniform lumber dimensions.
The actual size of standard nominal lumber has changed over the
years (eg: 2x4 lumber) and some very old lumber may be very non-
standard. Also, as another poster has mentioned, very old lumber
is much more dense and hence more difficult to work with.
If you are considering doing the work yourself, then work with the
salvaged lumber if you consider the price savings to be worth you
extra time and effort.
email@example.com wrote in message
I'm planning to build a porch awning (roof) over an existing patio, and
have been looking at salvaged lumber for the structure. It's way
oversized stuff by modern standards -- 6x6s and 6x8s. I live near
Philadelphia where, unfortunately, someone is always taking down a 200-
or 300-year old building.
I mentioned this to the builder I might use and he has really been
talking the whole idea of using old wood. He said wood gets compressed
over time so, if a piece has been used horizontally, it might not hold
if it's used vertically -- as a post, for instance.
Then, he mentioned "all the work" of pulling out old nails, etc. He
seemed unreasonably down on the idea.
I thought anything that wasn't rotted or split would be useable. Am I