Bringing HISTORY Home
Business Partners Reclaim, Repurpose And Revitalize Old Lumber To Fill Industry Gap
By Cheryl Alexander
Jason Manlove and Chad Mentuis know the Houston lumber business. They have worked together for years as remodelers, so they understand the value and limited availability of timber. For a variety of reasons, the demand for reclaimed and repurposed lumber has increased, while the supply, especially for aged, antique lumber, has diminished.
Together these two professionals have out-sourced, insourced and resourced many different ways to solve many different issues they encountered when trying to fill a client’s order for reclaimed wood.
“We would visit other suppliers to shop inventory,” said Chad, “and we would have to wade through mud, sort uncategorized unorganized lumber and maybe find something that would be a close representation of what our client wanted. It was always a frustrating endeavor.”
“Delivery, too, was always iffy,” added Jason. “We would find something suitable, place the order and would often have to wait six to eight weeks for the product to be delivered.”
Repeated problems with inventory and delivery, coupled with increasing customer demand for reclaimed wood multiplied Jason and Chad’s frustration to the point that they made the decision to start a business solely focused on providing this limited resource to the Houston metropolitan area. In 2015, driven by a passion for reclaimed barn wood and a desire to solve a multitude of problems, they started Old World Lumber Company.
Old World Lumber sources all of its materials from within the United States, primarily the Upper Midwest in Amish country where generations of craftsmen hand-built impressive structures from old growth timber more than 100 years ago. Most of their siding, old barn floors (threshing) and beams are pre-Civil War timber from seedlings planted in the early 1700s, before machine saws were available. Suppliers predict that in 30 years the availability of this limited lumber will be severely diminished.
“What this means to the client,” explained Chad, “is that the lumber we stock has a history, and because we have a passion for what we do, we know that history and love sharing it.”
Hand-hewn lumber from more than a century ago evokes a special kind of energy along with a unique texture and aesthetic, especially the huge beams and mantel pieces. Each beam is carefully selected for the client and will make a statement in any application. Whether used as a simple fireplace mantle or a massive ridge beam, they are sure to be a conversation piece.
The hand-hewn beams at Old World Lumber are mixed species and can include oak, hemlock, maple, fir, pine and others. Colors also vary due to their exposure to the elements over the past 100-plus years, lending a beauty to these beams and making them distinctive, each with its own story. The axe marks, mortise and tenon joints, and square head nails found in each are reminders of how their story began.
Occasionally clients will come across a beam that has “carpenter marks”— usually Roman numerals that have been hand carved into a beam. These etchings were used as marriage marks in their joinery and are always an exciting discovery — a true testament to the era and craftsmanship required to create these timbers.
Rough-sawn timber brings a slightly smoother texture and a history from a time when the circle saw first came into play in the early 1800s. This type of lumber creates a stunning floor. The rough-sawn beams are also mixed species and can include oak, hemlock, maple, fir, pine and others depending on what was available in the area at the time they were harvested. These beams were cut in some of the country’s earliest sawmills. The creation of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and its need for standardized railroad ties brought with it many new possibilities and changed the building methods of the timber framers. The sawmills allowed the timbers to be cut flat and to size, creating much tighter joinery and expediting timber fabrication.
The barn siding, too, has a story to tell and comes in a variety of species and colors, such as milk board, red, faded red, gray, super faded and brown board. This board can be used for walls, frames and behind lit cabinets to create striking effects.
Threshing boards, or antique barn floors, reflect hundreds of years of horse and carriage impressions on each board that you can actually see and feel. Some of these boards have a history that dates to pre-Civil War structures.
As well, reclaimed dimensional stock in a variety of mixed species is available. With uses limited only to your imagination, the staff can create anything from one-of-a-kind furniture, unique custom cabinetry, custom milled wide plank flooring or anything a designer can imagine.
They also offer authentic barn door hardware that was preserved during the dismantling process. As they acquire barns across the country, Chad and Jason occasionally discover wagon wheels, light fixtures, antique signage and other barn treasures that add impeccable finishes to your project. Whether it’s a sliding barn door you desire or a custom door built to your specifications, unique and special elements with endless possibilities are available in the stocked inventory.
In addition to prompt delivery (usually within three days) and custom milling, Chad and Jason also offer fumigation of the lumber to ensure that it is insect-free.
If you require unique lumber for a commercial application or you just want to enjoy a piece of American history in your home, Chad and Jason are committed to meeting your needs with the largest selection of hand-selected, reclaimed barn wood available in the Southern United States.
Old World Lumber Company is located at 6626 Guhn Road. For more information, visit OldWorldLumber.com.