A Wisconsin company reclaims lumber to fabricate flooring and beams for residences across the country.

The unique colors and markings in reclaimed lumber provide a one-of-a-kind look for residential flooring.

David Sacia founded Great Lakes Co. a decade ago. Based in Baraboo, WI, with two other facilities in Pennsylvania, the company reclaims old barn wood, beams, lumber and flooring, which it remills and recrafts into flooring and beams. It also makes rustic flooring from responsibly harvested wood that includes dead standing and dead fallen timbers.

“Our antique wood flooring and country hardwood floors are made from salvaged red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, hickory, walnut, chestnut and other vintage reclaimed woods,” Sacia says. “Oaks probably comprise 60 percent of the woods we use, with Eastern white pine accounting for 25 percent. Hemlock, walnut and the others are evenly represented in the remaining 15 percent.”

Procurement is the first step in the process, and Sacia says he buys more than he dismantles. “There is no shortage of material out there to be reclaimed. People come to us, mainly through one of our three Web sites. Sales are primarily in the continental United States, but we also ship to Hawaii, Europe and South America.”

Most of Great Lakes’ customers are buying the reclaimed timbers for flooring and beams primarily because of the look of the material, Sacia says. “Much of what we sell goes into second or third homes. The homes are upscale and often priced at between $1 million and $5 million. The material has a rustic beauty you can’t get from anything else.”

But the green factor also is coming into play now, as clients feel that reusing wood is a responsible thing to do, he adds. “Today, I would say the popularity of going green is also fueling sales.”

Customers do have to be willing to spend more, though, because reclaiming material involves extra costs, Sacia says. “Reclaimed timber is generally two to five times more expensive than wood cut today.”

After raw material is de-nailed, planks are run through a SuperMax wire brush sander.

Popularity Spreads Nationwide

Another trend Sacia sees emerging is an increased acceptance in mid-America. “When we started, our products were primarily going to either the East Coast or the West Coast, with little business in the middle of the country. That has changed, and we are seeing interest in Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis.

“The remilled material seems to hit a chord with people,” he adds. “It makes the past come alive and offers a product with a lot of character, as well as a rich patina of color. It is like putting a piece of history into your home.”

After procurement, the reclaimed material needs to be carefully cleaned. “De-nailing it is the first step,” Sacia says. “We use metal detectors to find any nails and remove them.” Then, the wood is sanded with a SuperMax Tools brush sander.

Solid wood beams are made in a variety of sizes and lengths in various styles, from hand-hewn to hand-tooled, rustic country style, to rough-sawn. Box beams, also known as faux wood beams or false ceiling beams, also are available.

“We make our box beams from old barn beam sides, reclaimed lumber or very rustic lumber,” says Sacia. “They weigh less than the solid barn beam or ceiling beam and can be used to hide electrical work, pipes and other elements, while offering the timber beam look.”

Sacia says reclaimed lumber flooring offers clients a chance to have a new floor using material from an earlier era. “You can’t discount the attraction of using material from the past. There is a history to the flooring and beams that connects with people,” he says. “Many of the woods come from first-growth timbers, and you just won’t find that material again.”

Sacia’s company sells primarily through the Web. It has its own site, plus three Web sites for various divisions of the company, including the Reclaimed Lumber Co., Old Barnwood Co. and Wide Plank Floors Co. (greatlakescompany.com, reclaimed-lumber.com, old-barn-wood.com, wide-plank-flooring.com).

It also receives many leads for purchasing raw material on the Web. “The internet not only has been a great help in selling our product, but also in finding reclaimed material,” Sacia says.

Use of reclaimed timber is expanding into new markets beyond floors and beams, with the growing popularity of the product, he adds. “It is increasingly being used in cabinetry and furniture. People like the history and the fact that it is recycled and green.”

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