If you’ve ever watched HGTV, you’ve probably noticed that reclaimed wood is increasing in popularity – and cost. So much so, in fact, that maybe you’ve thought about turning it into a side-hustle for yourself.
But can you actually make money selling reclaimed wood?
The quick answer is yes, you can. How much you can make depends on the quality and rarity of the wood, as well as how you plan on selling it. With extremely low start up costs and an increasing demand, it can be a very lucrative business.
Let’s go over how exactly the business works, along with some of the pros and cons, so you can see whether or not this is something you’d want to pursue further.
What Is Reclaimed Wood?
Reclaimed wood is lumber that has been taken from sites – like old barns or factories – and upcycled to be used in a variety of different ways. Most commonly, it’s used in houses or is turned into pieces of furniture.
And right now, it’s all the rage among homeowners looking to add an accent wall or decorative piece that’s rich in history. So, it’s no wonder why you might be wondering if this is a lucrative business opportunity – and you’ll be happy to know that it is!
Making Money Selling Reclaimed Wood
The first step in making money selling reclaimed wood is getting the product in-hand as cheap as possible. Thankfully, you might be able to find budget-friendly (or even free!) wood from the following places:
- Your local farmer’s old barn
- Demolition sites
- Architectural salvage yards
- The classifieds (the newspaper, Craigslist, etc.)
- Construction site dumpsters
- Old, broken fences
- Pallets from grocery stores or wineries
The owner of a half-collapsed barn would probably be glad to have someone clean up the mess, and old wood from a construction site dumpster is just going in the trash (literally).
Just always remember to ask permission from the owner or site manager first, and never trespass or simply take the wood without permission! Most of the time, you’ll gladly be allowed to tow away as much of the old lumber as you can fit in your truck.
Once you get the wood in your hands, the next step would be marketing it by either contacting lumber yards that buy reclaimed wood, or by posting ads on sites like Craigslist. This all depends on who you want to sell it to.
If you have larger quantities and don’t want it sitting for a long time, you can search for lumber yards online that purchase reclaimed wood and get in contact with them. If you only have a few, high-quality pieces, you’re better off posting an ad online and selling it for a higher price.
How Much Can You Make?
Besides how you run your business and the amount of time you spend doing it, how much you can make varies depending on the wood planks you have and who you’re selling it to.
It also depends on whether or not you make anything out of the wood, like furniture or art pieces for example, or just sell the old wood as is.
But let’s assume you just want to sell the timber itself.
In that case, if you only sell a few individual pieces of timber to your local woodworker, you’ll make less than if you sell bulk quantities to a reclaimed lumber buyer.
And when it comes to the asking price, how high you can price your lumber is dictated by a number of factors as well, such as:
- Species: The rarer the species, the more you can ask for it.
- Dimension: The wider and/or longer the planks could be, the better.
- Condition: Rotted wood or wood with lead paint is less valuable than clean, dry wood.
- Quantity: The more you have, the better (especially when you have to ship it).
- Ring Density: The closer the rings are together, the higher the value of the wood.
Once you determine the rarity and quality of the wood you have, you’ll be able to price it accordingly.
Some people sell their wood as low as $2 a board foot, but that price is very low and meant to move product quickly.
If you have a limited quantity, but it’s high-grade material, you’ll most likely get the most money selling it at a higher price to a local woodworker. That’s because shipping wood is expensive and only beneficial if you have a lot of wood to ship all at once.
If you do plan on selling larger quantities to established lumber yards – like Vintage Timberworks or Longleaf Lumber – you’ll email them and they respond with what they would like to offer you.
I recommend contacting multiple different lumber yards and getting a few different offers. That way you can go with the highest one and maximize your profits!
And you’ll want to try and sell to somewhere located as close to you as possible to help reduce shipping costs.
And of course, the more frequently you collect and sell your lumber, the more you’ll make from it. However, if you play your cards right, you can make a nice bit of cash just doing it every once in a while on the side.
What Are The Startup Costs?
Selling reclaimed wood has extremely low startup costs. If you went around to local grocery stores and wineries asking for their old, unusable pallets, your startup costs would only be the amount of gas it took to get there and back.
The costliest aspect of starting this business is going to be the value of your time.
Of course, if you get lucky and find a barely standing barn and the owner lets you demolish it and keep the wood, your startup costs might add up. Why? Because tearing down an entire barn isn’t a one-man, DIY job.
You might need to hire a crew – or at the very least, ask some of your contractor buddies to help out (although they might want a share of the profits).
And regardless of whether or not you get help, you’ll still need to pay to ship all that wood off their property and onto your own.
A full truckload of lumber (6,000 to 8,000 board feet) can cost about $2-$3 per loaded mile. So, shipping can add up if you have to hire it out.
Because of that, it might be worth it to start with smaller quantities of wood that you can get without all the hassle (and added cost) involved with tearing down entire buildings.
Once you get a feel for the market and an idea of how it all works, then you can move on to bigger, more expensive projects.
Pros and Cons
Like all things, there’s good and bad aspects that you should consider before investing your time and money into it.
- Startup costs are extremely low
- You don’t need prior experience
- Can be very lucrative, especially if you have the knowledge and patience to go about it correctly
- It can be very time consuming
- It can become complicated (and costly) if you get into collecting and selling larger quantities of wood
- Your profit is dependent on being able to get high quality wood for cheap, which might not always be available
Other Money Making Ideas
If you’re into wood, but aren’t so sure about selling reclaimed wood directly, you could always collect smaller quantities of old wood and make something out of them yourself.
People are willing to pay more for something made with reclaimed wood because it has a story behind it and it’s unique.
If you’re crafty, you can take wood from wine barrels or old pallets and make beautiful art pieces. Or, if you’re better with a saw and sander, you can make gorgeous tables.
Another idea is you could make money selling firewood. You might be surprised at how many people will pay for pre-cut piles of wood to throw into the fire on a cool winter’s night, or for that weekend camping trip.
Ultimately, there’s a few different directions you can go once you get the old wood in your hands that can be just as – if not more – lucrative than simply selling the raw pieces.
Overall, selling reclaimed wood can be a very lucrative business if you have the knowledge of where to get quality material for cheap and you know how to sell it.
But being the one who labors getting the lumber just to sell it as-is isn’t the only thing you can do to make money.
People will always be looking to have a unique piece of history in their homes, whether it be in the form of flooring or wall decor.
But no matter how you go about it, this is a legitimate way to make some money, either on the side or as a full-blown business.