A guide to using reclaimed wood

If you are considering using reclaimed wood for your next project, read this before you start.

Wood is a versatile item that can be used in all areas of the home. As each piece has a unique grain, repurposing timber is not only the sustainable choice, but can also be a brilliant way to showcase the history of the material.

Bunnings national timber buyer, Jason MacMartin, shares his knowledge around treatment and maintenance if you're planning on purchasing or upcycling this kind of lumber.

What is reclaimed wood?

'Reclaimed' is the name given to any wooden material that is being reused for a new purpose rather than being broken up and thrown away.

"Reclaimed wood could be sourced as a waste product from a retailer who doesn’t need it anymore, or a waste transfer station which has a shop attached to it," says Jason.

"Some waste transfer stations have shops that can be a treasure trove for reclaimed wood, so always a good place to check. 

A great example of reclaimed wood is an old pallet that has been turned into a coffee table or planter box, rather than being discarded," he tells.

What are some benefits to using recycled materials?

It can be kinder on your wallet and the environment.

"Reclaiming wood can cost less than purchasing new wood to work with and can of course help to minimise your environmental footprint by reusing rather than buying new," explains Jason.

He suggests that working with recyled materials can boost creativity and confidence in the DIY space, as well as the opportunity to create something truly bespoke.

"Working with reclaimed wood is a great opportunity to increase your DIY skills and knowledge, which helps a lot when it’s time to have a go at larger more complex projects involving wood," says Jason.



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How do you treat recycled wood?

"Firstly, you want to establish that the reclaimed wood you’ve chosen is the correct type of wood for the job at hand," he says. "For example, you wouldn’t want to use soft pine for a piece of furniture that will be holding heavy weights."

While the look and feel of your wood may change project to project, Jason suggests, "It’s always best practice to give the wood a good sanding to avoid splinters, and after that, there’s a huge variety of stains and paints to choose from so you can treat your product.

"Feast Watson have a great range of timber treating products available at Bunnings, whether you're after a traditional stain, a soft-white, milky effect or a high-quality varnish to protect hard-wearing surfaces," he tells.

You'll also need to consider where the item will be displayed. If it's in a kitchen or bathroom, make sure you apply an appropriate sealer to your furniture as part of the treatment process.

Once revitalised, there’s no difference in the maintenance involved with reclaimed wood. You can treat it just like any other wooden furniture.

What types of wood work best for flooring, and what works for furniture?

Choosing the right type of wood for your project is important if you want it to last.

"Reclaimed wood mightn’t be the best option when looking to re-do your flooring, because you can never be certain of the structural integrity of the wood," advises Jason.

"If you can, sand down and varnish your already existing timber floors to bring them back up to scratch or if you're doing some DIY, hard wood is always best when it comes to weight-bearing projects such as furniture," he says.

For more cleverly-designed sustainable projects, stream or watch Woodwork, Mondays at 9:30pm on Lifestyle HOME.

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