Design & DIY

Got some old lumber on your property? It may be worth some serious cash

Old lumber

This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Whoa there, demolition cowboy. Before you tear down that old outhouse for firewood, you may want to see if it’s worth a little cash. Weathered, grey lumber is a hot-ticket decor item, called barnboard, and certain salvage lumberyards will pay for it—around $2 per sq. ft. If you have a whole barn clad in the stuff, it may fetch you up to $3,000 and a crew to come haul it away.

To determine if your wood is good, Brett Maynard of Bored Barn, a barn removal company near Rice Lake, Ont., suggests that you send photos for evaluation. He says grey boards are sought around the world, with black and red barnboard filling niche markets. (If your wood is painted another colour, you may have trouble finding a buyer.) A note about selling old beams: in some areas, they’re often the victims of powderpost beetles, which create tiny holes that compromise structural integrity. Such wood could be sawn for flooring or siding, but shouldn’t be used to support anything.

If you hire Michael Gerrand at Salvage Solutions in Pincher Creek, Alta., his company can arrange to have foundations removed and the ground landscaped so that you’d never know a building was there. Be sure to discuss exactly what the buyer will do in exchange for your wood.

DIY tip:

You’ll get more bucks for your weathered boards (at least $7 per sq. ft.) if you prep the wood yourself and sell it directly on, say, Kijiji. Make sure the wood is clean, dry, and free of insects and protruding nails.