Bowens - The Builders Choice

Situations Where a Recycled Product Should Be Used

Building Advice
Jeff Harvey

Recently I received an order for heavy-duty hardwood window and door frames. For obvious reasons, the species had to have a high durability status.

The required thickness of the timber was 65mm, however, new timber is not readily available ‘dry’ over a nominal 50mm. As such, we had two governing factors; the timber needed to be dry and highly durable. Accordingly, I had no alternative but to use a recycled product.

a block of recycled timber framing

I am often called for advice in large section hardwoods with similar requirements as the example I have highlighted. Without exception, I always recommend a recycled product. In doing so, I fully understand a good quality unseasoned product would be much cheaper. A topical example could be post and beam construction for pergolas in rooftop situations, where unwanted movement/cracking must be avoided. Obviously replacing timber in these situations is not possible. Here are some reasons why a recycled product should be used:

  • A good quality recycled product is seasoned in large sections and would remain stable in tough conditions.
  • The timber used in many demolished buildings comes from mature old-growth forests, which is more durable than timber milled from re-growth forests.

Many wrongly believe a recycled product should be cheaper than a new similar product. Nothing could be further from the truth, for the following reasons:

  • A reputable recycler must bid for the timber from a demolished building.
  • The timber is usually de-metaled, which is a cumbersome task of removing bolts, screws and nails.
  • In the process of re-machining, they will likely incur a fair amount of waste.
  • A reputable recycler then must decide on the selected resource for the intended use.

“Many wrongly believe a recycled product should be cheaper than a new similar product. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

I would also like to point out an impression some wrongly feel, they are saving our forests by using a recycled product. In the scheme of things, recycled products make up a very small percentage of total timber use.

That said, all the major timber producers in Australia have signed up to harvest from sustainably managed forests. I have used the phrase “a reputable recycler.” The reason is, I have dealt with some who have not used the above criteria, or worse, have mocked up new timber to make it look recycled.

Finally, because of the pitfalls mentioned above, I deal with a recycler I consider probably the best in Australia. However, because they are not in Victoria, the freight factor is significant, accordingly, there can be a considerable cost compared with the newer alternative.

The feedback I have received from clients’ I have supplied has often been “this is the best timber I have ever used.’ However, if you are considering using this product, allow an appropriate lead time to supply.

I am more than happy to discuss using this type of product. You can contact me via email at [email protected]

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