Whether you’re installing reclaimed hardwood mantels, a reclaimed wood counter-top or you’re making a tabletop, you’ll have a very important decision to make when it comes to edge profiles. Among reclaimed hardwoods, you’ll commonly find two different edge profiles: Straight and natural.

Straight edge profiles are edges that are milled to perfection — each piece of lumber has a straight, square edge that can either stand on its own or match up with other straight pieces of lumber. Natural edge profiles retain either the natural shape of the outside of the tree (if the original millers never smoothed the edges) or the marks that the miller’s saws and tools left behind decades previously. You can also choose a mixture of straight and natural edges. That is, an edge that has been smoothed enough to give it a relatively square appearance, but still retains some of the original markings for added character.


How do you choose the best edge profile for your project? We’ll show you some of the design styles that work best with both of these edge profiles.


Straight: Square, Sleek and Modern

For obvious reasons, straight edge profiles are the go-to choice for things like flooring or edge-glued tabletops and counter-tops — unless, however, you choose tongue and groove flooring. When it comes to exposed edges, the straight, square look goes quite well with a variety of styles. Straight edges are a great way to accent modern themes, particularly in mid-century modern homes or homes with the industrial look. If you’re looking for something sleek and refined, straight-edged wood will help you accomplish that look.

This edge profile also works well in more traditional homes. If you want the look of natural wood, but you don’t want to draw too much attention to counters, mantels and other decorative elements, go with understated look that comes with straight edge profiles.

Natural: Rustic, Woodsy and Eclectic

The natural look fits a variety of themes. In rooms that are inspired by nature, counter edges that follow the contours of the original tree can make quite a statement. Planks with unfinished edges also work well in rustic rooms, particularly if you’re already decorating with a whole-log theme.

Unfinished edges aren’t the only way to use natural edge profiles, however. Wood that features the original milling marks is also classified as natural in this case. You can use these edges in both rustic homes and those that are more modern in design. For instance, a rough-hewn beam, repurposed as a reclaimed wood mantel, not only adds a sense of history to a room, but it also works well with old-fashioned, shabby chic and modern industrial themes.

Who knew there was so much to consider when it comes to the edges of reclaimed hardwood lumber? The fact is that reclaimed hardwoods aren’t just for flooring — they can be used all throughout your home. The way you choose to finish the edges will have a big impact on your completed project.


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Mike Hall