What is the difference between reclaimed barn wood and beetle kill pine wood?

There are differences and similarities between these two types of wood.  To help explain this we should first define each type of wood.

Reclaimed barn wood is usually referring to wood that was previously part of a barn, school or other old building.  When the building is torn down, the boards are kept mainly whole so that it can be re-used.  During this process, the old nails or screws are removed and the wood is cleaned up.  Barn wood is usually made up of elm, chestnut, hickory, and pine.  Normally the wood used to build barns would be whatever was plentiful in the area.  Most barn wood in Colorado is either pine or Douglas fir.

Beetle Kill Pine or Blue Stain Pine is from Lodge pole or Ponderosa Pine trees.  Throughout the Rocky Mountains, the small pine beetle has infected and killed hundreds of thousands of trees.  This small beetle carries the Blue Stain Fungus on its body.  It burrows into the tree, just underneath the bark.  The fungus uses the vascular system of the tree for growth.  The fungus prevents the tree’s system from properly bringing in and utilizing water and nutrients.  When the damage becomes too severe, the tree dies.  When the tree dies, the fungus becomes inert, since it no longer has a live host.  The Blue Stain Fungus is what causes the beautiful blue-grey “staining” or coloring in the wood.

The most significant similarity with these two woods would be the species.  In Colorado, most barn wood will be a type of pine.  Beetle Kill Pine is, clearly, pine.  Another similarity is the use of a wood that would normally be burned or thrown away.  Both woods can be used in a number of creative, beautiful ways throughout your home.

However, there are some significant differences.  Barn wood is very popular right now.  Due to the popularity, it has become more difficult to get and the price has gotten higher.  Beetle Kill Pine is still very plentiful and reasonably priced.  Barn wood can contain harmful chemicals.  Many of the products used to treat wood back when they were built contained lead, arsenic, creosote and other dangerous chemicals.  Beetle Kill Pine comes from the forest to the mill to the builder.  It contains no dangerous chemicals.

Alpine Blue Home has developed a “Barn Wood” finish for use on beetle kill pine.  This finish leaves saw marks and other distress marks in the wood, while maintaining a smooth feel.  We then use a multiple stage process of several different water-based paints, stains and finishes to create a safe “barn wood” piece of furniture to perfectly fit in your home.