Old and recycled timber were frowned or looked down upon in the past as ‘alternative’ architects were the ones who featured recycled timbers in construction projects. Otherwise, these old timbers were burned instead of being used.
Today, recycled timbers’ value is higher than ever as recycled timber is considered as premium products as these are valued for their sustainability and character. This is also due to the fact that the availability for fresh timber is severely restricted and waste management technologies have improved. Despite this newfound popularity, using recycled timber is still considered in the same regard as collecting antiques rather than buying Lego bricks. Supply, design, and workability are the things to consider in using recycled timber.
One of the reasons for the increasing use of recycled timber for construction is the increased awareness of old-growth forest disasters and avoiding new logging. Adding to that is the increasing value of recycled timber as a premium material with rich history and authenticity.
There are disadvantages in using recycled timber. Recycling old timber can be labor-intensive though as old timber was already used as flooring for a house or as a beam from a railway. Recycled timber can be at odds too with construction as the construction industry prioritizes consistency and volume of materials.
Design and Workability
For design and workability, flooring is one of the major uses of recycled timber. Floor boards are reclaimed in ’lots’ from demolitions. Detailed information like the available quantities, species, previous use, and other details can be provided by a reputable dealer of recycled timber. Avoid timbers that were previously soaked with water or stored outside as the quality of the wood may have probably decreased. Floorboard timbers nowadays usually include blackbutt, ironbarks, tallowwood, jarrah, Tasmanian oak and Baltic pine. Lastly, personally inspect the recycled timber by asking for a sample in order to judge the appearance of the timber personally.
Recycled timbers used as timber ‘accents’ can add character to a room or façade. This is one of the popular uses of recycled timbers. Recycled timbers can also be used as accents in the kitchen, benchtops, and feature beams. Recycled timbers can also be used to construct furniture. Make sure to ask a designer who knows how to use recycled timber so that the choice of timber will be optimal.
Recycled Timbers in the Elements
It’s also important to understand the durability of timbers to the elements. Timber species are classified into durability classes which is related to weather resistance and susceptibility to rot, fungus, and insects.
When it comes to durability, recycled timbers are not suitable for use as decks as decks are often the most exposed part of a building. Instead, recycled timbers are often used for cladding. The attractive patina or weathered look of a high-class recycled timber can provide an organic and beautiful look to the cladding.
Recycled timber is definitely a sustainable way to make your house or your building more attractive. Make sure to ask a reputable recycler to match your recycled timber needs.
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