Benefits of Using Recycled Timber

Rustic, affordable and good for the environment – recycled (or reclaimed) timber is one of the best and most popular building materials out there.

At SL Recycling we process around 200 tonnes of wood each week, which means we’re pretty familiar with the pros and cons of working with recycled timber. This article breaks down the facts, plus gives you a little bit of background into how recycled timber is actually sourced and why.

What is Recycled Timber?

Recycled timber is essentially any wood which would have gone to landfill, but has instead been salvaged for re-sale and re-use. This wood could come from places like warehouses, retired ships, wine barrels, coal mines and construction sites – the possibilities are endless.

You will often hear recycled timber referred to as reclaimed timber, as they are one and the same.

Uses of Recycled Timber

There are several different qualities of recycled timber, and each has its own uses. You will often hear people refer to the ‘grade’ of recycled wood, which is just another term for the wood’s quality. The quality (or grade) of the wood will then determine what it can be re-used for.

At SL Recycling we accept all grades of wood for recycling. Here is how we categorise and re-use the wood that comes in to us:

Grade A: ‘Clean’ recycled wood – This material is produced from pallets and secondary manufacture. It is suitable for producing animal bedding and mulches.

Grade B: Industrial feedstock grade – This includes grade A material, plus construction and demolition waste. Grade B wood is suitable for panel board.

Grade C: Fuel grade – This is made from grade A and B material plus that from municipal collections and civic amenity sites. It is used for biomass fuel.

Grade D: Hazardous waste – Includes all grades of wood including treated material such as fencing and trackwork. Grade D wood requires disposal at special facilities.

Benefits of Using Recycled Timber

There are multiple benefits of using recycled timber, which vary depending on the grade and what you are going to use the wood for. Some of the benefits might include:

When trees grow and mature, they develop what is called a heartwood – the innermost part of a tree which doesn’t transport water or make nutrients anymore. This heartwood is incredibly strong because it is very dry, and therefore doesn’t decay. When very mature trees are harvested, this therefore means the wood from them stronger and more durable, because they contain more heartwood. Recycled timber usually comes from very mature trees, as it was harvested a long time ago, when there were more older trees available. Conversely, new wood often comes from younger trees, and is therefore slightly less durable.

On top of this, wood that has already been in use for several years will have been exposed to varying temperatures and conditions, and therefore will have done all the shrinking and expanding that it’s going to do, which means this reclaimed wood is much less likely to split or shatter.

So, if you need very strong wood for your building or project, recycled timber should be your go-to choice.

There are two main reasons that using recycled timber is better for the environment. The first is the more obvious fact that by re-using wood which would otherwise have gone to landfill, you are reducing the need for more trees to be harvested, which in turn reduces deforestation. Given the fact 30 trees can absorb 946lb of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, this is a big win!

The second reason that recycled timber is so good for the environment is that it is usually already treated, which means refined chemicals don’t need to be produced for it. These chemicals often have a negative impact on the environment, so reducing their use it always a good thing.

As well as making reclaimed timber stronger, having more heartwood in timber means that it looks more unique and visually appealing. Heartwood is where you will find the rings and knots that make timber look so striking, plus as the wood has been able to rest and settle in older recycled wood, the markings will be more defined.

Last but by no means least, the benefit of using recycled timber over new wood is that is usually much more cost effective. Since the wood is being recycled rather than harvested, the costs of sourcing and sorting it are low, and so waste management companies like SL Recycling can pass these savings onto buyers.

If you are considering using recycled timber in your next project, get in touch and ask for a quote today.

Negatives of Using Recycled Timber

There are relatively few negatives of using recycled wood, but there are some things that might make it less appealing.

One factor is that recycled wood has to be sorted and cleaned, to have old nails and other materials removed from it, which can be laborious and time consuming. Thankfully, that’s where companies like SL Recycling come in, to do the hard part for you and ensure you are only left with the best, clean timber.

Another potential negative of using recycled wood is that it could be poor quality, however as with the above, SL Recycling will sort the good from the bad for you. It’s worth mentioning that even poor quality (or low grade) wood has it’s uses, as it can be recycled and used as biomass fuel.

Recycle Wood with SL Recycling

If you are considering using recycled timber in your next build or project, get in touch with SL Recycling today.

We are a local, family-run business who are passionate about excellent customer service, environmentally friendly processes, and cost-effective solutions. We even champion a zero-waste-to-landfill goal.

You can also find out more about our wood recycling services here.