What's the difference between recycled and reclaimed wood?

reclaimed, recycled, reused poster

If you thought that recycled and reclaimed wood furniture were terms used to refer to the same thing, then you wouldn’t be alone.  Recycled and reclaimed are two buzz words that are bounded around frequently, but the two things are, however, really quite different. Here we clear up some of the confusion between the two and explore what makes them different.

To put it simply, recycled wood is something that has been broken down from its original form and used in an entirely different way, whilst reclaimed refers to something that is either reused in its same form for either a new purpose or exactly what it was originally intended for. Still confused? Let's look at this deeper...

Recycled wood

When wood is recycled, an original wooden item is taken and broken down completely before being made into something completely new. It does not retain any of its original form or features and in essence, is a material that is altered back to more of its original state in order for it to be completely reused for any other purpose. This is different from upcycled, which is when piece is renovated, either by painting, varnishing or replacing hardware, and given a different look or style. 

pile of recycled wood chippings for what's the difference between recycled and reclaimed wood blog

Reclaimed wood 

Reclaimed wood refers to items or pieces of wood that are still in its original form but have been restored, treated and crafted by experts in to something different. A great example of this is our Beam Reclaimed Furniture collection of reclaimed wood dining tables and rustic beds. Each piece has been crafted using old beams taken from disused factories, warehouses or barns and used to create a solid piece of rustic furniture full of unique character and individual markings, knots and grains. 

solid wood bed with orange throw and yellow coffee pot

Which is better for the environment?

Both recycled and reclaimed have significant benefits for the environment when compared to new, however, reclaimed is the better of the two because it has less of an impact on the environment. The recycling process involves breaking the wood down and making it into something different and this process needs a significant amount of energy. Reclaiming on the other hand involves minimal manufacturing with many pieces crafted and finished by hand and therefore using less energy. 

crafting reclaimed wood furniture for what's the difference between recycled and reclaimed wood blog

Other benefits of buying reclaimed wood furniture

Reclaimed wood can be used to make a wide range of furniture that is the perfect choice for anyone looking to create a more rustic style in the home.

Furniture that is created using reclaimed wood has a character and warmth that simply cannot be found in other items of furniture. The natural ageing process gives wood authentic patinas and depth of colour that can only really be achieved over time. Small dents, knots and even minor imperfections can also add to this character and offer every piece of reclaimed wood furniture a truly individual, one-of-a-kind look.

reclaimed wooden sideboard with two cupboards and three drawers

The joy of purchasing items made of reclaimed wood is that each piece will be unique, even those pieces that are made in the same style. The popularity of reclaimed furniture is on the rise as people look for more sustainable ways in which they can align their lives with a desire to help the planet. Pieces of furniture that are particularly popular include the reclaimed wood dining table. The size of this type of furniture really does lend itself very well to showcasing the glory of reclaimed wood, whilst a rustic sideboard and reclaimed wood coffee table are also very popular choices for stylish and eco-conscious homes.

Do you have any reclaimed furniture in your home? We'd love to see how you style it. Follow us @modishliving to see how our customers style our furniture and get ideas and inspirations for your own home. 


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