New Vs Recycled Timber – What To Know Before You Buy

New vs Recycled Timber - cladding

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: 

  • Wharves 
  • Railways
  • Homesteads
  • 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.   

Colour variation

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

Recycled timber spotted gum

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. 

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What our clients say

Austim are a great partner and timber supplier. Our business is based on the East Coast of Australia and we partner with Austim for WA projects. We have had a long lasting and great working relationship with Austim for many years. Highly recommend them.
daniel wright
daniel wright
06:31 18 Jun 19
Austim is always the first place I try when I need timber and it’s rare that I can’t get what I need there. Stuart is a rare gem of a gent to deal with – quick to respond to any queries, full of good advice and goes out of his way to help get whatever project I’m working on happening to my schedule, even when all I need is a few sticks and a handful of fixings. Highly recommend Austim, the team and young Stuart.
Anni Lilford
Anni Lilford
00:51 16 Nov 18
Stuart went out of his way to make sure we got the product we wanted. He made suggestions on possible constructions and timbers suitable. Very knowledgeable friendly staff all around. Excellent experience, highly recommended.
Holger Butenschon
Holger Butenschon
05:14 22 May 18
Hi Ben,Just wanted to thankyou for your help and advice in our selection of the Millboard Vintage Oak decking also in you recommending Grant from Premier Hardwood Decking. Grant has just completed our decking and we couldn't have asked for a more professional, reliable and competent tradesman. The decking has been installed to a very high standard and the decking itself is stunning. Ian and Sue
susan smith
susan smith
06:27 08 Oct 18
I've used Austim on a few occasions for home projects like decking and pergola, etc and each time the response to my requests for price and delivery have been excellent, the deliveries took place as negotiated, the timber quality was great and value for money. The team at Austim do a great job and make dealing with Austim a breeze.
Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
09:06 25 Oct 18
I have worked with Austim for around 8 years now and they are one of the best suppliers in perth to deal with. I would highly recommend to use them for any timber needs!!!
Art of Timber
Art of Timber
07:55 05 Mar 20
I had been looking for some cedar for my kayak project and had rung a couple of other places with no luck. When I contacted Austim they were very helpful, had the timber in stock and I was on my was in 20 minutes. The wood was very good quality and has really finished up beautifully. Thanks to Austim.
mark alderson
mark alderson
02:03 08 Apr 17
I"d like to thank Austim for there help in supplying me with material that firstly I thought I'd have trouble sourcing as it was marring up with originally 30 year old existing timber.My project was not a massive project but still needed the attention of an new build.The timber supplied by Austim was machined to size with absolute perfection, where I had to remove old pieces and replace with the new pieces they fitted perfectly.once the floors are re-sanded and varnished they will be back to there former glory. Thanks again to the staff at Austim.Regards Bob Heppenstall.I've just added a finished photo after the Floor Sanding was completed.Original timber was Tassie Oak, and the new is Vic Ash, as you can see there is only a slight variation in the final product.I hope this gives anyone thinking doing the same the confidence to proceed. Regards Bob Heppenstall.
Robert Heppenstall
Robert Heppenstall
10:05 12 Oct 18
Great service over phone and by email. Product supplied is high quality - no issues. Staff accommodating and friendly.
00:18 07 May 20
Good service with fair prices.
Colin Della Bosca
Colin Della Bosca
08:14 04 Jun 20

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“The timber quality is excellent, the price was competitive, the communication spot on and the delivery just right. Well done and thanks again”