Reclaimed wood is a popular buzzword among the eco-conscious when it comes to building products. Windfall Lumber, a company based in Washington, took a spin on the typical reclaimed wood offerings and added a new option to countertop material, the telephone pole. Also known as utility poles, the poles are often made of wood from tall, straight trees such as Southern Yellow Pine or Douglas Fir, which is the species that Windfall offers. The natural verticality of the tree allows for a pleasingly straight grain, which translates beautifully into a countertop grain. The variance in tree colors provide the designer with unique choices of light rosy-pinks, yellow-browns, and dark amber reds.
Besides countertops, telephone poles are also reclaimed for other products. One company, National, takes poles from one site and delivers them directly to their customers. These poles have been used for a myriad of projects, including pole barns, horse fences, trail liners, retaining walls and parking bumpers. Additionally, WHBC Architects designed a house in Malaysia which incorporated reclaimed poles into the design as the framing for the house. Other options for reusing telephone poles could be retaining walls, raised beds, stepping stones, arbors, landscape edging, and fencing.
Basically, the key to reusing telephone poles is the awareness that most poles were probably treated with creosote or CCA before their original installation and may have residual chemicals remaining (which is why they may be great options for landscaping projects or open structures). Otherwise, as in the case of the countertops, the applications would need to allow for “trimming off” the treated portions of the poles, which typically have a diameter of about 14″-18″.