Recycled Timber in Australia FAQs
What is Recycled Timber?
Recycled timber is any timber removed from an existing structure that can be repurposed or reused. It covers a huge range of salvaged timber from homes, commercial buildings and community infrastructure including roof framing, beams, flooring, shelving, cladding, weatherboards, mantles, fences, sheds, railway sleepers, power poles, bridges, piers and wharves.
Recycled timber can be used as is, machined into smaller profiles, or redressed and sanded for new applications. Untreated broken timbers can be chipped and reused as mulch.
Is Recycled Timber Cheaper?
Sometimes. Like any product, price is set by value to the seller and consumer demand. You can pick up budget recycled timber if someone wants quick removal of renovation or demolition waste. Watch local classified sites like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree for clear out lots.
Recycled timber can also be expensive. As old-growth logging slows, heritage timbers become more valuable. This is particularly true of large sections with decorative or milling potential.
- Internal demolition salvage can be machined to high value architectural and furniture timbers.
- Highly featured recycled timbers are popular with designers and landscapers (eg. weathered, hand hewn, rough sawn, bolt holes, old metal fixings).
- Long spans with structural strength are in demand by architects and builders.
Rarity and timber quality can achieve a premium price so recycled timber is often more of an aesthetic or environmental choice than a budget one.
Is Recycled Timber Safe?
Not always. Agricultural and structural timbers may have been treated with creosote, copper chromium arsenic (CCA) or other preservatives and pesticides. Building timbers may have layers of lead paint or traces of asbestos. Wooden pallets may contain pesticides or chemicals.
Pay attention to the provenance or story behind your recycled timber.
- Where did it come from?
- Was it used internally or externally?
- How old was the structure?
- Is it hardwood or softwood?
- Did it have a civic use like railways sleepers, bridge or pier?
- Does it have an oily smell or greenish tinge.
- Have treated outer layers been removed?
The Forest & Wood Products Australia research paper – Determination of Acceptable Levels of Preservative Treated Timber in Timber Reuse Applications – notes that heartwood of most timber species cannot be treated. For example a hardwood power pole may have a 10-35mm treated outer layer, with the rest of the wood untreated.
Where to Buy Recycled Timber in Australia?
If you’re using recycled timber for high touch surfaces like dining tables, benchtops, cabinetry and flooring, make sure you buy from a source you trust. Ask questions about the timber’s history and listen to recommendations for use.
We have lists of recycled timber suppliers in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia below but please do your own research before making a purchase.
You’ll also find lots of recycled timber flooring, roofing timbers and general demolition salvage at salvage yards right around Australia. See our big lists of: