In the 18th and early 19th century, pine and hemlock were very plentiful and was easy to log and process into barn board. Most Ontario barns tend to be built with these species as they came from locally felled trees. The siding used to clad a barn is typically referred to as barn board. The grey barn board comes in many shades of grey depending on its orientation to the sun and the prevailing winds. The sides in the most direct sun (usually southern exposure) tend to be lighter grey boards. The sides to the North or heavily shaded areas tend to have darker shades of grey and even have a green tinge due to lichen and moss.
Depending on the age and exposure of the barn, the wood can have deeper wear marks such as grooves and pits on the surface. When the rain and the wind combined with windblown dust hits barn boards for many years, it wears away the early wood (softer part which is spring growth) of the board more than the late wood (harder part which is summer and fall growth). This wear on the board creates the “textured”, “furrowed” or “rippled” effect. It takes many years for a board to show this kind of wear and can be impossible to replicate with today's techniques and processes.
Grey board comes in various sizes but generally ranges from 1/2-1” thick x 6-12” wide x 5-13' long. Prices range from $4.60-$5.50/square foot depending on the width.
Grey barn board has many uses such as feature walls, ceilings, cladding, doors, table tops, accent pieces, shelving and much more. Grey board can be mixed with brown board or red board to create a unique, weathered colour palette.
As with working with all reclaimed wood, barn board should be checked for nails before any machining takes place. A small hand held metal detector can identify hard to see metal. Most of the metal in barn boards is very visible, but one should always be careful when handling and machining.
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