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2nd time around: Barn salvage becomes flooring, decor

2nd time around: Barn salvage becomes flooring, decor

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Step into the great room of Jim and Lanette Carlson's rural Henry County, Ill., farm home and you immediately see the possibilities.

You grasp how wood and other items salvaged from old barns and buildings can be repurposed into new-use building materials as well as decorative elements.

The floor is made of oak, cut in random widths. Most of it was salvaged from a barn that was taken down, then re-milled in the Carlsons' shop.

The ceiling is a mix of barn salvage — roof sheathing, structural beams and rusted corrugated steel in the dormers. Adding bursts of color are stained-glass windows from a church in Rock Island.

The room is a real-life advertisement for their business, Carlsons' Barnwood Co., founded in 1995 as a supplement to their farming operation.

The Carlsons' business is one of nearly 140 home-related companies you can visit next weekend, Feb. 7-9, during the 36th annual Quad-Cities Builders & Remodelers Association Home Show at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island. It's one-stop shopping.

You'll find vendors selling plumbing, drapes, landscaping, windows, doors, insulation, siding, hot tubs, fencing and landscaping, as well as remodeling, interior decorating and new construction services.

The show's theme is "keeping it local," and that fits right in with what the Carlsons do. They salvage materials from a roughly 100-mile radius and re-mill the lumber in a shop on their property, employing several full- and part-time workers.

But from there the Carlsons cast long lines, selling to homes and businesses, particularly restaurants, all over the country, and even overseas. Pictures of high-end homes incorporating their products, particularly in Colorado and California, are posted on their website.

When the Carlsons started, they mainly sold raw barnwood and other artifacts that could be used as "decor." But in 2001, they began manufacturing reclaimed flooring, and that has become their biggest product, Lanette said.

The company supplies a variety of woods, including pine, oak and various species reclaimed from urban salvage. The barn wood "colors" include grayish-red and weathered gray. Widths of flooring vary from 3 to 12 inches or wider.

Their flooring is finished with a wax oil called Fiddes, which is made in the United Kingdom. Lanette received a sample some years ago and finds that it creates a hard, durable finish that doesn't scratch, working better than polyurethane for their types of floors, which have nail holes and age marks.

"The hand wax will sink in and not just coat the top," she said.

The company provides installation within a 100-mile radius; otherwise the flooring is boxed and shipped.

In addition to flooring, their reclaimed wood is used to make countertops and furniture. 

Anyone who likes antiques and enjoys deadpan humor will appreciate a visit to the Carlsons' showroom home. Lanette has an eye for antiques, and Jim supplies the humor.

The core of their home was built in the 1860s and then was added onto through the years, including the showy 24-by-26-foot great room addition about six years ago.

As Lanette leads a tour, there is much to catch one's attention. Windows are trimmed in everything from crown molding originally installed in a St. Louis row house to barn battens.

The bricks used in a fireplace surround came from an Andover, Ill., orphanage that was torn down.

Antiques include a wood box in which spools of J&P Coats thread was sold.

Jim Carlson talks in terms of "square." That is, "We put 130,000 square into a women's boutique."

And there's more where that came from. "We have 17 barns full of wood," he said. "You gotta have the inventory."


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The Carlsons' Barnwood Co. is one of nearly 140 home-related companies you can visit next weekend, Feb. 7-9, during the 36th annual Quad-Citie…

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