TerraMai’s Testament to Promoting and Preserving Reclaimed Wood Resources

Weathered by seasons of sun, wind, rain, and snow, salvaged wood’s worn patina portrays an expressive account of its past. TerraMai boasts a broad palette of beautiful domestic and international reclaimed woods that hold unique histories. Sourcing from sites around the world with an eye for quantity and longevity of supply, their comprehensive selection of salvaged and sustainable materials offset the demand for harvesting new wood products from old growth timber. TerraMai emerged nearly two decades ago as a trailblazer in the transformation of reclaimed wood from a nascent, novelty material into an established industry standard steadily sourced by architects and designers. TerraMai’s offerings are a testament to reclaimed wood’s weather-beaten warmth, soulful stories, and intrinsic high-performance benefits.

Origins

TerraMai’s origins can be traced back to 2002, when the incomparable appeal of reclaimed wood’s weathered patina acted as the impetus behind the idea for a burgeoning business. After teaming up with early innovators in the industry, the idea evolved as TerraMai embarked on a search for an expansive selection of reclaimed hardwoods. Working alongside architects and designers to align their product with distinct project needs, TerraMai quickly flourished as a frontrunner in the world of reclaimed wood. “TerraMai was founded by environmentalists that built a wood company and slowly realized the enormous opportunity to influence and educate designers around re-use and sustainability, so our roots are deep and authentic,” says TerraMai’s VP of A&D Sales Andy Kjellgren. “Our business grew as our message of wood as an infinitely renewable resource began to sink in and the aesthetics of sustainability were embraced by the mainstream consumer and the design world at large.”

Industry Inspired

TerraMai took heed of designer needs as it revolutionized the role of reclaimed wood into an indispensable industry material—incorporating an understanding of its intrinsic appeal from both an aesthetic and sustainability standpoint. The history and character of reclaimed wood is recited along each plank or panel, with every scratch, scar, or stain that appears across its surface telling a unique story. “The signs of prior use, often associated with post-consumer reclaimed wood, like nail holes, rust staining, and seasoning checks, became a cool factor when specifying flooring, walls, tabletops,” says Kjellgren. “Designers and their clients really gravitated toward wood with a story. We pointed our business toward commercial projects as we saw this wave of interest and commitment in doing right for the environment, coming from restaurant chains, boutique hotels and municipalities.” TerraMai aligned its aspirations with the drive of designers, delivering solutions and tools that suit their specifications and requirements.

Photography Courtesy of TerraMai

As ensuing efforts to advance an embrace of environmentally conscious designs continued, reclaimed wood became a steadfast staple across a broad spectrum of spaces. “We loved the idea that large entities were embracing sustainability, even if it was only symbolic,” says Kjellgren. “Multinational corporations were clamoring to ‘do the right thing.’ We had oil executives talking about their reclaimed teak stair treads! We had Goldman Sachs scrambling for a reclaimed oak feature wall so they could say they were pro-environment! It seemed hypocritical, but maybe it was just the beginnings of environmental awareness for these behemoths. And regardless of motive, using reclaimed wood offsets the use of earth’s remaining old growth timber, and that is essential if the planet is to survive.” As an influential accent that is accessible to any architect or designer, it became readily apparent that reclaimed wood was ripe with possibilities. Minimalist office interiors could be enhanced by its warmth and texture, while healthcare spaces could be supported by its biophilic benefits and residential interiors could incorporate natural elements with intention—to name a few.

Sustainably Sourced

TerraMai’s highly responsible woods are sourced with sustainability in mind. With an expansive selection of sourcing models, all of TerraMai’s post-consumer reclaimed products are FSC-certified and many of their materials contribute to LEED credits. “Sustainability drives everything when it comes to TerraMai sourcing,” says Kjellgren. “When TerraMai was founded, post-consumer reclaimed was the one and only type of reclaimed wood. As we developed deep sourcing partners and really honed the pipeline to provide our signature reclaimed teak from Southeast Asia, Peroba Rosa barnwood from Brazil, and reclaimed oak from North America, we embraced FSC and became one of the very first manufacturers of FSC-certified reclaimed woods.” 

TerraMai Water Reclaimed Siding. Photography Courtesy of TerraMai.

TerraMai’s woods are remilled as close to the source as possible, both domestically and overseas, and the company continues to develop a network of sources, mills, and shops throughout the United States and abroad, while leveraging local and regional knowledge and expertise. Though they are not sourced from old buildings, TerraMai’s robust lines of pre-consumer woods also embrace their model of radical sustainability. “Designers that want sustainability, but are looking for more traditional, clean aesthetics, are enthusiastic about these new lines,” says Kjellgren. “Our popular rePly paneling is made from pre-consumer reclaimed plywood, sourced from the post-industrial waste of conventional wood producers. This product looks like new wood, but it’s reclaimed!”

Ecologically Friendly, Game-Changing Alternative

Embodying a meaningful opportunity to offset the demand for forested tropical hardwoods, TerraMai’s collection of water reclaimed woods are sustainably sourced from hydro-electric reservoirs in South America and Africa. “The U.S. demand for forested tropical hardwoods is destroying the Amazon, contributing to climate change and supporting one of the largest global human rights violations as illegal logging and violence toward indigenous people are driven by companies looking to profit at any cost,” says Kjellgren. “TerraMai’s water reclaimed products are sourced from human made reservoirs and come from timber that has been forgotten, standing dead, underwater, for over 40 years. These reservoirs were built to generate hydroelectric power but enormous swaths of virgin rainforest were laid waste in the process as forests where turned into enormous lakes.”

TerraMai Water Reclaimed Hardwoods – Human Made Reservoir in South America.
Photography Courtesy of TerraMai.

Valued for its appearance, strength, and durability, TerraMai brings the submerged tropical hardwoods to the surface and processes the rediscovered wood for future uses as decking, siding, flooring, and paneling, which further offsets the demand for harvesting old growth forests. “Early adopters understand that TerraMai has unlocked an elusive combination in the world of sustainable wood products: budget friendly, radical sustainability, and unmatched beauty,” says Kjellgren. “Once this concept hits the mainstream, there will be few excuses for specifying woods that come from rainforest destruction and illegal sources. I believe, at some point, using forested, old-growth tropical hardwoods on projects will be akin to wearing baby seal fur. Perhaps excusable when there were no viable alternatives, but somewhat short sighted when viable alternates exist, as they do now with TerraMai Water Reclaimed.” As the world of reclaimed wood continues to evolve, TerraMai is uniquely positioned to tackle its unfolding challenges.