Reclaimed Wood Front Door – Should You Use? (Pros and Cons)

An antique reclaimed wood front door with glass panels at the top and a black metal handle. Across the bottom of the photo are the words "Reclaimed Wood Front Door - Should You Use? (Pros and Cons)." Two large question marks are on either side of the door in the image's top left and right corners.

The front door is the first thing guests see when they arrive at your home – it sets the tone for the entire house.

Due to its rustic charm, many homeowners contemplate adding reclaimed wood front doors to their homes. However, before going that route, you want to know whether a reclaimed wood front door will address your needs.

If you take the reclaimed wood front door route, you must know what to look for to get the best bang for your buck. Moreover, having a solid understanding of the pros and cons of reclaimed and salvaged wood can help you make an informed decision.

In this article, I’ll discuss what to look for in reclaimed wood doors. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons of using an antique wood front door. Keep reading to learn more!

Things to Look Out for When Buying a Reclaimed Wood Front Door

A reclaimed wood front door with two ornate door handles shaped like rings. In the bottom right corner, a cartoon man inspects the door with his hand up to his head.
You must understand what to look out for when buying a reclaimed wood front door. Purchasing a door with problems can bring pests into your home or compromise its security.

Have you ever seen a business advertise its products as low-quality? Definitely not! But that doesn’t stop some companies from cutting corners or selling low-quality products.

It’s your responsibility to ensure you buy high-quality products.

The same goes for reclaimed wood; some salvaged doors for sale don’t meet the prerequisite for quality. You must watch out for these bad apples because buying such a door will jeopardize your home’s security.

Luckily for you, here’s a list of the things to look out for when buying a reclaimed wood door:

The Presence of Pests

As the name suggests, reclaimed wood is wood salvaged from old houses, barns, and boats and then repurposed for other uses. In this case, it’s used to make doors.

The wood might have been infested by bugs from its previous structure. There are many bugs that live in wood; the common ones include:

  • Termites: These are responsible for most wood damage cases. They damage approximately 600,000 houses in the U.S. annually, leading to more than $5 billion worth of home damage. Controlling these bugs is not a walk in the park, as there are more than 45 termite species.
  • Carpenter ants: While carpenter ants are less destructive than termites, they still cause damage. They use their mandibles to make galleries inside wood where they lay eggs and live.
  • Beetles: These are wood-boring bugs that damage wood. They create tunnels underneath the wood’s surface, weakening it.

It’s essential to check for the presence of these bugs when buying a reclaimed wood door. Some signs to look for include the following:

  • Termite droppings (small pellets).
  • Sawdust along the edges of the wood.
  • Openings about the size of a pencil.

If you notice some of these signs, the wood is likely infested with pests. Therefore, avoid such a door because these pests weaken the wood.

An effective way to ensure you buy a pest-free reclaimed wood front door is by going for the kiln-dried option.

Kiln drying exposes the wood to temperatures between 180 and 270°F (82.22 and 132.22°C), killing the bugs and their eggs.

Contaminated Paint

A photograph of green, flaking lead paint on the left of the image and a photo of a warning sign on the right.
You do not want to invite paint contaminated with lead into your home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead-based paints were used in the U.S. for residential purposes until 1978. After that date, these paints got banned due to their lead-poisoning effect, especially on children.

Therefore, structures built before 1978 are likely to have lead-based paints. Unfortunately, a lot of reclaimed lumber is salvaged from such structures.

Besides lead, some paint may be high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can expose your family to these chemicals that cause nausea, cancer, dizziness, and liver damage.

For safety against VOCs, ensure the reclaimed wood for your front door is Green Seal-Certified.

You can have a certified professional check for lead-based paint by calling the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

Expert Advice: If you must call the NLIC, ensure to do so between Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Eastern time (except federal holidays) for assistance.


Rotten reclaimed wood is not strong enough for a front door. Using such wood creates weaker doors that intruders can easily break through.

There are many vintage front doors for sale that don’t meet safety requirements because they are made from rotten salvaged wood. It’s your responsibility to pinpoint such doors by looking for telltale signs like:

  • Darkened spots compared to the surrounding timber.
  • A damp, musty smell.
  • A soft and spongy texture.

Also, check for the presence of fungus on the door. Fungus thrives in damp and dark conditions, and it weakens wood.

If you notice any of these signs, the reclaimed wood is too damaged to use as a front door.


A photograph of a reclaimed wood front door with glass panels in the top and metal handles. Overlain is a badge stating "100% Authentic."
Knowing what to look for can make the difference between buying dodgy wood and authentic reclaimed wood.

Due to the high demand for salvaged wood, some dealers may try to pass on new wood as reclaimed wood.

Unscrupulous retailers may blend new and old wood and give it an antique finish to make it look authentic.

You must inspect the door from different angles to determine if it’s genuinely reclaimed wood or a fake.

The telltale signs of authentic salvaged wood include:

  • Nail holes, cracks, and nail heads.
  • Natural markings like scratches, worn edges, and old paint.
  • Shapes of wood imperfections.

If you notice any of these signs, the wood will likely be genuinely reclaimed. Otherwise, stay away from it.

Pros and Cons of Using Reclaimed and Salvaged Wood

Now that you’ve decided to use a reclaimed wood front door, what pros and cons should you know?

Pros of Reclaimed and Salvaged Wood

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

A Georgian townhouse with an impressive wooden front door with brass door furniture and stone steps leading up to it. Overlain across the door is a green, circular "sustainable" badge with recycling arrows and the word "sustainable" appearing twice.
Reclaimed wood is more sustainable than virgin wood.

Reclaimed wood is a sustainable material that contributes to a more eco-friendly environment. Since the wood is salvaged from old structures, it reduces deforestation and stockpile waste in landfills.

Furthermore, reclaimed wood has a lower carbon footprint than new wood because it doesn’t require the same amount of energy to manufacture. Harvesting and processing new wood requires a significant amount of energy, leading to greenhouse gas emissions.

Unique Design and Aesthetic Appeal

Reclaimed wood doors have unique patinas and characters that cannot be replicated with new lumber.

From nail marks and knots to cracks and stains, these signs create a one-of-a-kind look that is impossible to replicate with new wood.

Additionally, the antique charm of reclaimed wood adds visual interest to any home’s exterior. Therefore, you can rest assured that your reclaimed wood front door will be unique.

Highly Durable and Strong

You need a durable and sturdy material for your front door to keep intruders out.

Reclaimed wood features tightly packed growth rings that increases its density.

Denser woods are physically durable with better rot resistance, making them ideal for a front door.

Furthermore, the old wood has been time-tested, meaning you don’t have to worry about installing a door that won’t last long.

Cons of Reclaimed and Salvaged Wood

Contamination Risk

Contrary to popular belief, reclaimed wood isn’t an automatic green building material because of its contamination risks.

Reclaimed wood may have lead paint or VOC contaminants since it’s salvaged from old structures. Therefore, you must ascertain its safety before using it for your front door.

High Cost

Reclaimed wood is more expensive than new wood partly due to its unique aesthetics and vintage appeal, which can demand a higher price, but also due to the labor-intensive checks and removal of screws and nails before it can be repurposed.

The price of the wood varies depending on the type of tree, design complexity, and size. As a result, you may have to pay more if you want to customize your front door with reclaimed wood.

The high demand for antique furniture also increases the cost of reclaimed wood.

The Risk of Bugs

A closeup photograph of a woodworm on a piece of wood.
Woodworm is a pest that can wreak havoc in your home. Avoid buying wood that you suspect of being infested.

Bugs may inhabit old wood, making it unsuitable for use.

Bugs like termites and beetles bore holes in the wood, weakening its fibers. Such a piece of wood is not structurally stable for front doors.

Therefore, you must inspect the door thoroughly before installing it to ascertain if there is any bug infestation.

So, Should You Use Reclaimed Wood Front Door?

Due to its durability, aesthetics, and sustainability, reclaimed wood is an excellent choice for a front door.

However, you must consider the pros and cons of using salvaged wood before making your final decision.

The high cost, contamination risk, and potential for bug infestation are some downsides to consider.

Before you leave, you might want to consider your home’s decking. Trex decking can blend well with a reclaimed wood front door. Here is everything you need to know about Trex decking.

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