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As building materials go, it does not get much greener than FSC-certified timber. A renewable product sourced from responsibly managed forests, it biodegrades at the end of its use and is a sturdy, durable choice for your project. But one of the big eco-perks of timber is that it can be endlessly upcycled! Thanks to its versatility, you can use reclaimed wood for just about any timber project you are taking on, and we have got everything you need to know to make it possible.

What is Timber Upcycling?

Timber upcycling involves taking used, potentially worn-out timber and breathing new life into it with some creative DIY. Because timber is such a durable building material, it frequently outlasts the use of its original construction. From cladding on a home to the boards of a bookshelf, you can find beautiful reclaimed timber from all sorts of sources.

Rather than sending this perfectly good material to the landfill or wood burner, DIY enthusiasts – or timber experts like ourselves at EcoChoice – can repurpose it for another use. It is the most sustainable solution to sourcing materials for your next project.

But how does it differ from recycling? Upcycling does not change the timber as much as recycling does. Rather than processing it, the timber might be sanded, stained and even re-sawn, but it is not shredded down entirely as recycled wood, plastic or paper  is. The original look of the older timber remains in upcycling, whereas recycling creates entirely new timber products.

Greenheart bench

Exterior bench made from upcycled bridge Greenheart beams

What Sort of Timber Can Be Upcycled?

Reclaimed timber is everywhere, in a wide number of species and from a whole range of applications: from piers and bridges to garden sleepers and sheds. The only times when timber should not be upcycled is if it is rotting, integrally damaged or has been infested by insects or fungus. Other than that, you can use any wood which is in good condition to build something new. Also be aware that some timber may have been treated with dangerous chemicals such as creosote. 

Popular sources of timber for upcycling include:

  • Wooden pallets
  • Piers, bridges and pontoons 
  • Oak beams from old houses
  • Doors 

Tips for Upcycling Timber

Start with good-quality reclaimed or discarded wood. Look for pieces without rot or significant damage, as this will make your project easier and more durable.

Remove any paint, nails or screws from the wood. Sand the surface to create a smooth and even finish, and do not forget to round off any sharp edges! Of course, you do not have to remove the imperfections in your timber. Some people love to keep the little scratches and nail holes in their wood, creating a unique piece for their project.

It is important, though, that you check for weak or damaged areas and reinforce or cut out any you find. You can do this using wood glue, dowels or screws for a sturdier finish. 

What Can You Make for Upcycled Timber?

Upcycling has become a popular activity amongst DIY enthusiasts and creative people, but what can you make from your reclaimed timber? Here are some timber upcycling ideas to get you started:

  • Coffee tables
  • Benches
  • Shelves
  • Bed frames
  • Picture frames
  • Doors
  • Planters
  • Chopping boards

Find Reclaimed Timber at EcoChoice 

If you are keen to get your hands on reclaimed timber for your upcycling projects, our team at EcoChoice can help. We supply projects around the UK with reclaimed Greenheart timber, a durable species which is ideal for a whole range of uses. To learn more or ask us a question about your upcycled timber, feel free to get in touch with us today and we will be more than happy to help.

Image: pixmeeup / Shutterstock.com

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Furniture made from pallets

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