Using reclaimed doors in your renovation or new build is a wonderful way to add character to your home and help the environment at the same time.
There are any number of salvage companies out there these days that rescue doors, windows, raw wood, and any other reusable building material from demolition sites. Everything they save, means less demand for new products and therefore less demand on environmental resources.
Reclaimed doors come in all shapes and sizes depending on the source. They can be interior or exterior doors and they can come from a classic Victorian-style home or a rustic old barn.
The point is, whatever the look you are going for – whether antique hardware and stained glass or weathered with nail holes – there is likely to be a reclaimed door out there to fit your needs.
What are the options when it comes to reclaimed doors?
Go to someone who specializes in refinishing and reclaiming doors – this is a good option if money is less of an issue and you don’t have the time or inclination to do the work yourself. There are people out there who do this for a living and will be able to source the door and refinish it for you. They may even have something to suit your needs already complete in their workshop.
Salvage yards and second-hand shops – if you have the time to scour around for a reclaimed door yourself, this will likely save you some money. The most important thing is to check that the wood is structurally sound; glass can be replaced and wood can be refinished, but if the door isn’t solid, there isn’t much point. Once you’ve found your door, you can either take it to a refinishing place, or do the work yourself.
If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need to remove all the hardware, strip any finishes and sand down the wood. Any cracks need to be filled with wood putty and sanded. Do some final sanding with fine grit sandpaper and then start the process of finishing with either paint, or stains and polyurethane (source). Here’s a video with three useful tips on stripping down a door.
Depending on where you are able to source your reclaimed door, you might actually end up spending more for your old product than you would a new one.
For example, an unfinished wooden fan light door (the kind with a little glass semi-circle near the top) made out of hemlock-fir will cost about $189 (USD) from a large chain building-supply store. A stripped antique version from a salvage company was listed for $950.
Granted, the antique version is likely built from better wood and perhaps with better construction, but that’s still a big difference.
Reclaiming doors for other purposes
Not all reclaimed doors may be suitable to continue life as a door for your home. However, even for these doors there are options…
- Perhaps they are better suited for an outbuilding such as a barn or shed.
- Reclaimed doors with a lot of glass can be incorporated into green houses.
- Barn doors make a very rustic looking table-top.
- They can even be incorporated into a funky fence as in the picture.
Where to start looking for reclaimed doors
Here are a couple of places I came across when researching reclaimed doors to help you get started:
- The Salvo website provides a forum to sell as well as place wanted ads for salvaged and reclaimed building materials. It also provides a dealer directory that’s searchable by state.
- The Old House Parts Company in Maine
- Recycling the Past in New Jersey
These two companies have a different approach in that they use reclaimed lumber to build doors. Not exactly a reclaimed door, but it’s a nice compromise in that you’re reusing building materials and at the same time getting a product that’s exactly what you want.
A door can be the first impression people have of your home. It’s what welcomes friends in and keeps foes out. There are reclaimed doors out there to suit any look, from the ostentatious to the modest and functional. However, whatever your door says, a reclaimed door will make the additional statement of “I think about my environment”.