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Reclaiming barn wood for floors - how?

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Forum topic by bues0022 posted 1693 days ago 16416 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bues0022

215 posts in 1744 days


1693 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: refurbishing

I’m up here on the deer stand bored because it’s way too nice for deer to be moving around. Mymind got to thinking about future projects and I thought I’d get some opinions. My inlaws have a cabin in northern WI that has exposed log cabin style construction….and carpet, yuck! They want to put in wood flooring, and thought a more rustic floor would be fitting. Part of the cabin has a wood floor, basically it’s just exposed rough sawn white pine. It’s not flat, but it is finished somehow so at least it is smooth so you don’t get splinters. For the rest of the floor, they were thinking that old barn wood might be nice, and they want me toput it in. My question is this, how do I prep the surface of the wood? I’m hopefully getting wood from a guy that needs his barn taken down, so it’ll be in rough shape. First thought is to plane it, but then it wouldn’t match the style of the other rough sawn floor. should I plane it just a little to clean up most of the face but leave some weathered grooves? Powerwash? Beadblast? Other ideas?

-- Ryan -- Maple Grove, MN


12 replies so far

View willy3486's profile

willy3486

77 posts in 1982 days


#1 posted 1692 days ago

Here is what I have done in the past. I have used about 5 old buildings in making my shop. I recycled the lumber and have about 2200 bucks in a Building 30×52. I have used some in woodworking projects. Mostly oak and it is really hard. I wouldn’t use sandblasting as it leaves sand in the wood. That can do damage to bits and blades. I would powerwash over blasting. The way I clean and use wood is to clean the wood by sweeping it with a broom first. Then I blow it off with a air hose. Make sure before you do the first cut or machining it of any type to go over each board with a metal detector. I bought one just to do that. You would be surprised at how many nails you find hidden. As far as cleaning the top coat I have a powermatic 18 inch planer I use. If you have access to that I would suggest that over a tabletop planer. The wood will really be hard. After you work it down it really has a nice look to it. If you ever use the barnwood and leave it the gray weathered look you can clean it with some water and some clorox bleach. It will lighten it the best I remember . Good luck on the project.

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bues0022

215 posts in 1744 days


#2 posted 1692 days ago

I’m assuming that once you get done planing the wood it still looks a bit “old” with the grdin? What would it look like if I didn’t plane it all the way down and left some of the old grain? Also, do you have to joint the edges too? I’m hoping this can be done with a hand plane since I don’t have a jointer. I’m just trying to figure out as much a I can. My mother-in-law told me shed buy me a planer if I do the work on this. I just need to find rhe wood for cheap now.

-- Ryan -- Maple Grove, MN

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willy3486

77 posts in 1982 days


#3 posted 1692 days ago

When you get the wood planed down it really shows the grain good. I guess its all in the matter of the taste you want. As far as a plainer goes if I got one I would go with a older used cast iron type over a new plastic small type doing this type of wood. If you don’t have a jointer you can smooth the edges on a table saw if you want to . I just like a smooth piece to work with.

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bues0022

215 posts in 1744 days


#4 posted 1689 days ago

I found a local person who wants their barn taken down (it’s still standing). When I go take boards, is it better to take interior or exterior boards? Will the weather have altered the grain at all making it look nicer or worse? It looks in pretty good shape still, wonder why he wants it gone….

-- Ryan -- Maple Grove, MN

View depictureboy's profile

depictureboy

420 posts in 2227 days


#5 posted 1689 days ago

I have a friend who does nothing but primitive flooring and furniture with reclaimed white pine. If you want to keep the actual patina, do not plane it. You want to sand it, either with a drum sander or a belt sander, but you want to do it very lightly. Otherwise you lose the oldness of the outside layers…

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

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dirtclod

169 posts in 2445 days


#6 posted 1689 days ago

What’ll dictate the need to sand/plane is how flat the boards are. You can bet something will need to be done as they’ll have some cup, etc. . This will take most, if not all, of that gray patina off. If desired, you can apply a treatment to bring it back out. But finishing is not my area.

I’ve taken down a number of barns. It’s dangerous work. Work smart.

You just about need to judge each piece that comes down on its own merit. Age of structure, specie, construction methods and maintenance all affect the condition of the wood. Some are nailed up so good that they get damaged a lot during removal.

-- Wonderful new things are coming! - God

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willy3486

77 posts in 1982 days


#7 posted 1689 days ago

Ditto on what dirtclod said. As far as sanding or planing goes each piece is different. I would suggest if you have a lot try a piece of each with each method. One reason I am partial to a planer is that I have one thats big and all I have for a sander is a electric belt sander. I would prefer a sander but I just don’t hav I can live with the look of the planed oak sander. So one may prefer sander and another a planer just see which you like best. taking them down is dangerous and its not for the faint of heart. Bute one to do it with. I really enjoy tearing one down if it is not too big of a project and I can do it without a timetable. I have done one 100×100 that was blown down already that took about a couple of months to a small outbuilding that I helped the guy get down that tok a afternoon. I am upfront with people and tell them roughly how many hours I can work on it in a week. I like to do it best from the time of year when snake are usually hibernating. November through March is not to bad. I do try to do it when the temp is at least in the 40s. When I started out doing them I didn’t know what to expect and the last one I was experenced enough I did a building in sections and had it to cave in on itself for the most part. I personally would not pay for a barn that I had to tear down, some in my area have started trying to sell old ones. I figure the labor I give them to tear them down is a good payment.

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dirtclod

169 posts in 2445 days


#8 posted 1686 days ago

Yea, I forgot to mention the bees and wasp. Good to take them down in cool weather.

Sometimes the barn owners do want too much. Fool me once…

-- Wonderful new things are coming! - God

View SUPERDOG683's profile

SUPERDOG683

36 posts in 1711 days


#9 posted 1686 days ago

clear the wood of any metal and take it to some one that
has a large power sander. feed the boards until you get
a reasonable result. using a planner on old hard dry wood is
a little difficult and can make the wood smoother than you might want.
plus old hardware will do less damage to a sander and any damage will be less expensive.(imo)

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6703 posts in 1888 days


#10 posted 1686 days ago

my sons and i took a house down built in 1900..the house was all antique southern heart pine…..it was in the fall and winter when we did it…we would start early to avoid the bee’s and wasps..and since it was tounge and groove, we started at the top of each wall and took it down board by board…..it was nailed with the old square head nails…we used cats paws and hammers to remove it all…..stored it in our barn and worked on it as we had time..removing the nails , i bought a metal detector and took it all out…then cleaned each board useing a dry wall brush and ran it through my 15’’ delta planer…..if you want new wood look…then planeing is the answer…if you want to clean it up and just remove the high spots and leave any of the old saw marks..then just plane it once or buy a wide belt sanding machine…if you get a building that is oak..its going to be very hard and take more work..if its a more softer wood then it will go faster of coarse…..if i can be of any help just send me a pm and ill see what else i can tell you to help with your project…you will need to do the wall boards first…then the floor boards…then collapse the framing if your going to salvage it all…good luck..and enjoy it..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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ListWhisperer

11 posts in 1697 days


#11 posted 1680 days ago

I have a large stack of boards from a barn I had taken down a few years ago. I’ve used some of this stuff to build things like a chicken coop. It’s really great to be able to build something using new 2×4 frame construction, then put this old barn wood siding on it, and have it look like it’s been there for 100 years. It helps that I have all the old corrugated metal roofing from the barn too. But what I would really like to do would be to go through it, and select and plane good boards to make flooring for my house.

I was originally thinking of maybe making my own “manufactured” floor strips by laminating planed barn wood (old growth, straight grained Douglas Fir heartwood) onto strips of nice, birch plywood or something, to make the flooring more stable, etc. But now I’m thinking of using something like DriCore panels (the house is on a concrete slab) to form the subfloor, then installing solid flooring over the DriCore. I’m hoping that there are some people here on LumberJocks.com that have some knowledge about doing things like this.

I would be very interested in how your project works out, what things you run into, decisions you have to make, etc. as you go along. I realize that you are going to make a more rustic floor than what I’m talking about. But many issues will probably be similar. Besides, I want to do something like your cabin floor too. I have a barn on my property that has some (former) horse stalls that I want to convert to usable office space. I want to make them a lot more cabin-like and rustic than what the house is like. So in there, the floor will be less refined looking. I’ll probably plane it, but leave a lot more of the wood’s weatherbeaten character.

Anyway, good luck! I will be watching for anything you have to say about doing this, and will try to be as helpful as I can, even though my woodworking skills aren’t really on a very high level compared to a lot of folks here.

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Rasearthman

8 posts in 1236 days


#12 posted 1236 days ago

Am looking to but D Fir wood for a project

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