In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, reclaimed structural timber has a less central place than in other parts of the world, such as the United States. In our regions, we can distinguish between two categories of products: sections of reclaimed timber that are sought after specifically for their technical qualities and which are usually sold as an alternative – more ecological and less expensive – to the equivalent new product; old beams reclaimed from buildings that are often hundreds of years old. These can come in irregular shapes, are slightly more expensive and are mainly desired for their history and appearance, although the technical qualities are also very important.
Reclaimed timber beams and joists can be used for structural purposes or for secondary works like mezzanines, awnings, etc. Some dealers will saw ancient beams into planks for making furniture, panellings, floors or other interior design projects. More info about this in the categories Timber cladding and panelling and Parquet and wooden floorboards.
Wooden mooring bollards dismantled from naval installations are also commonly found on the Netherlands salvage market. These posts in hard wood usually have a distinctive colour due to the lack of oxygen following their long stay underwater. Rarely reused for heavy-duty structural purposes, they are rather transformed into planks for making wooden floors.
Relying on reclaimed timber is an excellent way of ensuring that a building project does not contribute to deforestation. For this reason, some suppliers offer reclaimed timber accompanied by labels such as FSC recycled or equivalent – certifying that the wood comes from the dismantling of buildings and is not the result of tree cutting.
- Beams, joists and woodwork elements originating from the structure of floors or roofs. Usually rectangular sections of resinous timber. They are not necessarily old.
- Old beams from traditional buildings. They are often oak, in square section and with more irregular shapes. They can sometimes be hundreds of years old.
- Structural glulam (glued laminated timber), from the disassembly of hangars or sports halls, generally dating from the second half of the 20th century.
- Removal of locks, nails, screws, etc.
- Planing or sanding
- Cutting beams into planks for wooden floors or other applications
Some prices recorded in Belgium, the Netherlands and France (prices for individual clients, VAT included):
- Pine joists 6 × 16 cm: 3.5 €/m
- Pine joists 8 × 24 cm: 8.5 €/m
- Old oak beams: variable price depending on the finish (planed or not) and the length. For a 25x25 cm section: between 800 and 1800 €/m³. The unit price is higher for long beams.
- Glulam beam: 200-300 €/m³
- Wooden mooring bollard 30 × 30 cm: 70 €/m
Did you know?
Between the 1990s and the 2010s, some dealers witnessed a decrease in the demand for old beams. Numerous suppliers who had a substantial stock then equipped themselves to transform these beams into floorboards, cladding, doors, stairs or furniture. The beams are usually cut in the following way: the faces are cut and preserved intact to make distressed flooring; the core of the beam is cut into smaller elements which are, in some cases, artificially aged to complete the ranges of rustic wood floors.