In the restaurant and bar world, there’s no escaping the industrial look. Industrial design features lots of concrete and metal, exposed ductwork, and big, open floor plans. In the last decade, this aesthetic has become ubiquitous in the restaurant and bar scene. However, contrary to popular belief, the industrial design doesn’t just involve man-made materials like concrete and polished metal. Many industrial-chic restaurants also find creative uses for reclaimed wood. Underneath the exposed ductwork you’ll often find reclaimed table tops, hardwood flooring, and wood accent walls. Reclaimed wood is also an eco-friendly building material, which is a major plus for many modern restaurateurs. If you’re looking to add a reclaimed wood accent wall in your restaurant, here are a few tips to make sure your installation and build go smoothly.
Know Your Wood
When using reclaimed wood for a project, it’s important to understand what type of wood you need. Reclaimed wood is often a mix of various soft and hardwoods. When working with reclaimed wood, look for reclaimed spruce, fir, and similar woods. While these are usually more affordable, which can be better for your bottom line; these woods are better for the environment, too. Softwood trees take slightly less time to grow and replace fallen trees, whereas hardwood trees take anywhere from 40 to 60 years to fully mature. Of course, when you’re looking at using reclaimed wood in your restaurant, you’re doing even more to reduce the environmental impact of your design choices. Reclaimed spruce, fir, and other wood would normally go to a landfill after its first use; using it for your walls gives it a new life outside of the landfill.
Sanding May Be essential
When starting to work on your reclaimed wood wall, remember to prepare each piece of wood you’re working with. While this is important when working with new wood paneling, it’s even more important when working with reclaimed wood. Most reclaimed wood will still be fairly rough from its previous life, depending on where you source your reclaimed wood from. This can mean simple issues that are common with wood, like splinters and damage, but it can also mean dealing with hazards unique to reclaimed wood as well (nails, etc). When purchasing reclaimed wood, make sure you’re buying it from a place that properly prepares it for use in your building. If you’re doing all the sanding yourself, remember to sand multiple times throughout the process; this will not only keep your final product free of splinters, but it will also help to keep the thickness of the various types of wood the same. Reclaimed wood may come to you with slightly different thicknesses. Sanding will ensure these differences don’t cause problems during installation.
Of course, not every restaurant owner has the time, tools, or woodworking know-how to build their own reclaimed wood accent wall. Fortunately, you can skip this step by purchasing reclaimed wood siding for your restaurant. This wood will be milled so that it’s ready for installation right away, with damaged areas removed, uniform thicknesses and widths.
Selecting Your Stain
One of the hardest choices you’ll have to make with your reclaimed wood wall is how you want to finish it. You could paint your accent wall, but if you do so, you’ll lose some of the unique characteristics that come from the variations in the wood. Instead, look for a stain that will match the rest of your existing decor.
Stains, however, can present their own set of problems if you’re not careful. Different woods absorb stains in different ways, and this can vary even further depending on how much they’ve been treated in the past. Reclaimed spruce, for example, will absorb stain differently than oak or other hardwoods. Before applying stain to the entire wall, test the stain on scraps of wood that match the wood on your walls. This will give you a rough idea of what your finished product will look like. You might even want to install without a stain for a more varied look, choosing to use the natural patina the woods developed over many, many years to set the tone. Installing a reclaimed wood wall in your restaurant space can be a bit of work, but these tips will help ensure that your new accent wall blends into your existing decor.
For more information on reclaimed wood products, including solid wood tabletops, wood seating, and reclaimed wood paneling for your walls, contact Restaurant and Cafe Supplies Online today.