Barn wood can add weathered, rustic charm to your home. Picture frames and furniture can be constructed out of reclaimed barn wood, and this is a good way to reuse old wood at the same time. However, due to the age of many barn wood planks, a thorough cleaning is required to make them safe to use in projects or in your home.
Put on a pair of protective gloves and thoroughly inspect all of your planks for old nails and other fasteners. Remove all fasteners with a hammer, drill or a cat paw tool. Try to prevent splintering and breakage from occurring by pulling the fasteners out with caution.
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Use a scrub brush to remove dirt and debris from the planks.
Use a pressure washer to thoroughly wash away any remaining mildew, dust and dirt from the planks. A pressure washer might also help to remove old paint chips clinging to the wood. If the planks are in relatively good shape, hold the power wash wand close to each plank so that you can remove as much debris as possible. However, if you have softwood planks that seem weak or loose, keep the pressure wand at a fair distance to prevent breakage and splintering of the boards.
Put the planks in an area where they can sit and dry out for at least two days.
Brush on a sealer such as linseed oil or varnish to protect the wood. Apply a minimum of two coats to the dried-out planks and let them sit for 24 hours before using them in a project.
Use an insecticide, such as borax powder, to repel pests and deter fungal growth from occurring in the future.