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September 2003

Reclaimed Wood is the Latest Trend

McCloud, CA— Reclaimed wood is fast becoming the first choice in building materials for innovative homeowners, architects, builders and designers. Over 40 million board feet a year of reclaimed wood is now being sold in the United States, up from approximately 8 million only ten years ago.

“There is great value in reclaiming fine wood that goes beyond making a profit,” says Erika Carpenter, co-founder of TerraMai, a 12-year-old specialty lumber company that finds reclaimed woods from around the world and gives them a second life for builders. “We’ve found a beauty and integrity in reclaimed wood that inspires people in a way that new wood cannot.”

In March the Sebastiani Vineyard in Sonoma, California sold the last of their 80-year-old, 20-foot-high-by-20-foot-in-diameter wine tanks to TerraMai. This sale makes available almost 100,000 board feet of redwood rated as the clearest, highest-grade premium old-growth. From these tank staves TerraMai has created premium quality lumber, decking, siding and paneling. The historic wine tanks, along with other reclaimed woods ranging from exotic rosewood and teak to enormous Douglas fir timbers, are now available to creative builders and homeowners.

In the 1800s and early 1900s tens of thousands of large wine tanks were constructed from the seemingly inexhaustible supply of old-growth redwood coming out of the west coast forests. Its resistance to rot made it the perfect medium for tanks. For vintners, there was an added attraction. “Redwood was the stainless steel of the era,” says Bill Huston, operations manager for Sebastiani Vineyards.

“It will be no problem finding good homes for the products made from Sebastiani wine tank wood,” says Carpenter. “When we started our business 12 years ago people thought we were just crazy. Now we have some of the biggest architectural firms in the country calling us to find out about our latest discoveries. The change in awareness and demand has been fantastic and very important.”

Carpenter continues, “Wood of this quality shouldn’t be coming out of our few remaining old-growth forests. Humans have now harvested 95% of the world’s old-growth and it is time to recycle what we have already harvested — that’s what our company is all about.”


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