If you’re debating over new vs recycled timber for your next project, the good news is it’s a win-win decision. However, there are some advantages using one over the other. It all comes down to the type of project, the location and personal preference.
If you choose to use new timber, you’ll have more variety to select from. Recycled, or reclaimed, timber is limited to what’s available. Saying that, the recycled timber that is available is often loaded with character and features you won’t get from new timbers.
The big question is, will new and recycled timber have the same longevity? How long do recycled timbers last? To help you make your decision, let’s look at both side by side and see who stacks up the best.
What is Recycled Timber?
The idea of recycling timber has been around for well over a century however, the practice gained more attention in the early 1990s when climate change and deforestation became talking points. Since then, old wooden structures that would have been left to decay have been salvaged, stripped down, de-nailed and brought back to life in homes, offices and outdoor venues.
Some wooden structures that are often recycled include:
- Abandoned warehouses
- Old power poles
The timber can be milled to create wooden beams, planks, boards, posts – a whole range of products. Depending on what you need, you can choose from a variety of finishes – a smooth dressed finish, textured handbrushed finish or a more rustic looking sawn finish.
New vs Recycled Timber – The Pros and Cons
Cost of new and recycled timber
Second hand certainly doesn’t mean cheaper when it comes to timber. Reclaimed timbers are often more expensive than new timber as the preparation process is more labour intensive. With recycled timber, you’re also paying for the rarity of the product.
Whether you buy new or recycled timber, colour variations should be expected. That’s part of the uniqueness of timber – no two boards are exactly the same. New timber, depending on the species, is predominantly more consistent in colour. With recycled timber, there’s a likelihood that you’ll get a blend of colours from similar species. For example, reclaimed Ironbark timber may include a blend of grey and red Ironbark.
Texture and characteristics
Recycled timbers are often selected for their unique characteristics. Solid knots, intricate grains and large bolt holes are all the features you want to find in recycled timber. That’s not to say that new timber isn’t full of character. Varieties like Spotted Gum or American White Oak are full of intricate patterns and texture.
Timber, whether it is new or recycled, is often grouped into different classes due to its durability against weather exposure or in-ground situations. Class 1 has the highest natural durability and is the longest lasting. The scale goes up to Class 4 which is expected to have the lowest lifespan.
New or Recycled Timber – The Environmental Choice
Today, much of the new timber sold by companies like Austim comes from sustainable forestry. These are areas that have been pre-purposed for logging. The Sustainable Forest Management was developed to ensure our timber stocks in Australia remain plentiful for future generations.
Choosing recycled timber is naturally an environmentally friendly option. Timber that may have been left to decay or sent to landfill now has a new life. Of course, the more recycled timber we use the less we need to cut down. That’s always a better choice for the environment.
Questions to ask your Supplier
Whatever your project is, talk to your supplier first. They’ll help you select the perfect timber for the job and let you know what recycled timber is available. Make sure you ask:
- Where has the recycled timber come from?
- What is the moisture content of the timber?
- What class is the timber?
- Should larger knots or bolt holes be resin filled?
- Which timber is best for indoor and outdoor applications?
To find out more about new and recycled timber, contact the team at Austim. As Perth’s leading timber supplier, Austim can offer a wide variety of timber resources for both residential and commercial use. Visit our project gallery to see new and recycled timber supplied by Austim.