Sustainable Lumber

Cudahy Lumber is an FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) Certified company, offering a range of sustainable wood and lumber products. Sustainable wood comes from sustainably managed forests. These are a renewable resource and are managed to prevent damage to eco-systems, watersheds, and other forest values.

What is FSC® and How Does It Ensure Sustainability?

The FSC® is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established in 1993 as a response to global deforestation. The Forest Stewardship Council® has changed the dialogue about and the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. FSC® sets forth principles, criteria, and standards that span economic, social, and environmental concerns. The FSC® standards represent the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes.

FSC®’s chain of custody system (CoC) tracks FSC® certified material through the production process – from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution. The CoC is kept “intact” when all material suppliers of wood products are FSC® certified suppliers.

FSC® Certified Products are any wood products that are sold with an FSC® claim by a FSC® organization that has been assessed by an FSC® accredited certification body for conformity with FSC® Chain of Custody (CoC) requirements. FSC® materials include:

  • Solid wood lumber or dimension stock or wood components, e.g., cleats and blocks
  • Wood veneers and Gator-Ply backer material
  • Composite board, e.g., flakeboard or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
  • Tack boards
  • Drawer components, and wrapped base components and crown rails

Reclaimed Lumber

Reclaimed lumber is wood taken for re-use. Most reclaimed lumber comes from timbers and decking rescued from old barns, factories and warehouses although some companies use wood from less traditional structures such as boxcars, coal mines and wine barrels. Reclaimed or antique lumber is used primarily for decoration and home building and is often used for siding, architectural details, cabinetry, furniture and flooring.

Origins of Reclaimed Lumber

Many woods that were once plentiful are only available in large quantities through reclamation. One common reclaimed wood, longleaf pine, was once the most functional wood for construction in America. It was slow-growing (taking 200 to 400 years to mature), tall, straight, and had a natural ability to resist mold and insects. More importantly, it was abundant. Longleaf yellow pine grew in thick forests that spanned over 140,000 square miles (360,000 km2).

Another previously common wood for building was American Chestnut. Beginning in 1904, a chestnut blight spread across the US killing billions of American Chestnuts. Before the wood was destroyed, it was used to build barns and other structures, which preserved the wood for later reuse when these structures were later dismantled.

Barns serve as one of the most common sources for reclaimed wood in the United States. Barns constructed up through the early part of the 19th century were typically built using whatever trees were right there on the property. They often contain a mixed blend of oak, chestnut and other woods including poplar, hickory and pine. Beam sizes were limited to what could be moved by man and horse. The wood was either hand hewn using an axe or squared with an adze. Early settlers also recognized the oak from its European sub-species. Soon red, white, black, scarlet, willow, post and pin oak varieties were being cut and transformed into barns too.

Mill buildings throughout the southeast also provide an abundant source of reclaimed wood. Some of these buildings and complexes comprise more than a million square feet of floor space and can yield three to five times that amount of board feet of flooring. These buildings also often have no economic or reuse possibility and can be a fire hazard, as well as having varying degrees of environmental cleanup required. Reclaiming lumber and brick from retired mills puts these materials to a good use instead of a landfill.

Another surprising source of reclaimed wood is old snowfence. At the end of their tenure on the mountains and plains of the Rocky Mountain region, snowfence boards are a tremendous source of consistent, structurally sound, and reliable reclaimed wood. In many locations the water content of snowfence wood naturally drops to two percent, minimizing the need for treatment, and thereby avoiding the risk of harmful offgassing associated with many sources of reclaimed wood.

Properties of Reclaimed Lumber

Reclaimed lumber is popular for many reasons: the wood’s unique appearance, its contribution to green building, the history of the wood’s origins and the wood’s physical characteristics such as strength, stability and durability. The increased strength of reclaimed wood is often attributed to the lack of air pollution that existed up until the 20th century as well as the wood often being harvested from virgin growth timber, which had hundreds of years to grow before man touched them.

Reclaimed beams can be sawn into wider planks than the harvested lumber and many companies purport that their products are more stable than newly cut wood because reclaimed wood has been exposed to changes in humidity for far longer and therefore more stable, allowing them to be used with radiant heating systems. In some cases, the timbers from which the boards were cut have been slightly expanding and contracting for over a century in their previous installation. Radiant heat, with its low temperatures and even distribution affects the wood flooring the same way, but the impact is much less dramatic with antique wood than newly sawn wood because antique wood has already been through this cycle for years.


Mill direct to your site, to the piece, when you want it…

Call Cudahy Lumber today at 800.878.0831!