Answering Some Commonly Asked Questions About Salvaged Timber

Salvaged timber can be a good choice for those who are very eco-conscious but who still want to use timber for a home flooring, kitchen benchtops, and the like. Salvaged timber can often be found in lumberyards and at stores that specialize in reselling salvaged pieces. Note a few questions you might have about salvaged timber and its use in your home, so you know what to look for and if this is the right choice for your project.

Where do lumberyards get salvaged timber?

Salvaged timber may come from homes that are being torn down, renovation projects, or even sources like old railroad ties or farm fences. Each of these sources will mean that the timber will have been exposed to various weather elements and different forms of wear and tear; exterior timber may have warped and bowed from absorbing moisture and then drying out, and interior timber may not have gone through this process. In turn, the interior timber is not as dense and strong as timber used outside, but it also won't look as weathered. Exterior timber is also typically made from solid and strong hardwoods, whereas interior timber may be made from softwoods; be sure you understand these differences in the sources of salvaged timber before buying.

Is salvaged timber safe to use?

The cycle of absorbing moisture and then drying out may make timber taken from exterior sources very strong, as this helps make the inside of the timber more dense, as noted above. Note, too, that timber used for construction of any sort is usually treated in some way to keep out moisture, termites, and the like. This treatment means that timber usually has years of life left in it. Be sure you inspect any salvaged timber for signs of damage or rot, but if it seems in good repair, it should last for the lifetime of your project.

Why choose salvaged timber if it's not harmful to the environment?

Many eco-conscious persons choose to avoid plastic and other artificial materials since they don't degrade very well when put in a landfill and may release toxic chemicals when they do; timber obviously breaks down very well when tossed out. However, using salvaged timber means that less virgin material will be harvested for the timber you need for a project. Even if you choose new timber from sustainable forests, meaning those that are grown for use in the lumber industry specifically, this still means eliminating trees that are otherwise needed to clean the air and keep the environment healthy.