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With today internet access everybody suddenly became an expert in every single possible subject and work.
It is unfortunately the same for reclaim wood.
As it comes out, we mostly only know what we think we know but don’t know much in the end. This over confidence leads us to buy good material and do good deals of fake stuff that we ultimately regret.
How many times have we been contacted by desperate hotels, restaurants or individuals because they had problems with their “reclaim Ulin from Kalimantan” decking and/or flooring. Once on site you realize the reasons of that despair. Varnish falling off (only a full sanding and recoating can help, no cheap solution), fully cracked wood (impossible to fix) not to mention long splits (sometimes up to 40% of the board!!!) and rusty nails (discoloring the wood in the process).
The worst being it isn’t even Ulin from Kalimantan and most often not even reclaim.
A commonly sold Ulin Kalimantan so called reclaim is what we call “rendaman”. It is a process in which they cut boards size planks into new Ulin trunk, put some nails on it, oil it and put it into mud for a couple of month. Voila! The real Ulin Kalimantan board will look, from the outside, like a genuine reclaim board. But it is not at all.
Wood continues to move as it is in contact with its surrounding environment (humidity, temperature). Reclaim wood tend to be an already dry wood and will move less. A new wood is still full of all its elements and not yet at EMC meaning disastrous consequences for construction site (cupping, bending, bowing, crack, split). It will look beautiful the first few months…unfortunately only the first few months then you are in for a financial treat to fix your nightmare decking or flooring.
A recent test on our facebook page was asking to recognize an Ulin plank in between two boards. One was Bengkirai, the other was Ulin. 70% of the voters choose the Bengkirai plank as being Ulin…
Bengkirai can look like Ulin but its quality as an outdoor product are far behind those of Ulin Kalimantan.
I write Ulin Kalimantan because you can also find Ulin Sulawesi. This last Ulin is of a much lower quality than the one from Kalimantan and will tend to crack quickly if not to split. Would you like to know more about this Ulin Sulawesi you can read this interesting article.
Luckily some honest sellers are offering a good quality wood in its raw form or processed but I’d advise you to make sure 100% that you know what you are buying. Dirty and muddy doesn’t mean reclaim.
On a more personal note, out of curiosity I went somewhere in Bali where you can find many reclaim Ulin sellers. I found half of it to be rendaman, other sellers were offering real poor quality but genuinely reclaim Ulin (can’t tell if it was from Sulawesi or Kalimantan) and only one person was selling genuine reclaim Ulin of good quality. Took us a full day to go around all places and found only one place where we could have bought good wood.
On a more commercial note, we at Kaltimber, offer real reclaim Ulin from Kalimantan. We work with the Forest ministry to get all our legal documentations, we know where the wood comes from and what structure it was dismantled from. We don’t do rendaman or Ulin Sulawesi, our focus is genuine reclaim Ulin from Kalimantan Timur. We offer years of experience and are always happy to advise and help for free.
Buying wood should be a non stressful investment and enjoying it should last for decades.