Designing with Knowledge and Confidence

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How to Design with Rustic Timbers

Our tips, tricks and advice for incorporating rustic timbers into your interior and landscape designs

Historically reclaimed railway sleepers and beams are sourced primarily from historical structures such as railway lines, bridges, warehouse structures, wharves, and buildings. However, building with these timbers has been surpassed by the more predominant use of steel, concrete, and softwood preservation treatment timbers.

This has made reclaimed timbers a rare and finite source, particularly the naturally durable rustic hardwood timbers in big dimensions that were originally imported into New Zealand from Australia.

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These historical timbers were used for applications such as cross members, trusses, and beams. As these timbers were very big the ability to build with slightly differing sizes was acceptable. 

When designing with reclaimed railway sleepers and beams you need to acknowledge that they are a finite source and stock can be limited, as well as the variations in dimensions that will be present which you will need to allow for in your design. We recommend you base your design around what is available and talk to us early on in the design process. 

Common Questions and Answers:

Can reclaimed timbers be used as structural timbers? 

This is an engineer’s decision. If the dimensions of the reclaimed timber are over-specified they can often be used. E.g. 150 x 250 x 2.6m H5 treated reclaimed timbers used in place of 50mm softwood preservation treated timbers for a retaining construction was acceptable. 

How do we provide confidence to clients that reclaimed timbers can be supplied? 

Talk to Interlink first, understand what is available now, what is coming up, and if it is rare, can it be secured or sourced.

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How do we secure reclaimed timbers for a project still in concept design? 

Interlinks timbers can be held for 30 days (standard quote terms) and then extended by a further agreed period until a client has decided. 

What happens if the construction period is an undetermined time away? 

A 30% deposit can be placed to secure timbers. After 6 months, storage fees may come into effect if the project is looking to be 12 or more months away (alternatively, your client holding the stock is an option; as the value of rustic timbers only appreciates with time).

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Benefits of Using Reclaimed Timber

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We are reducing the number of trees being milled for new timber and reducing carbon emissions through minimal resource extraction inputs.

Biophilic Design 

Timber brings a sense of warmth and solidity to a space and there is a growing desire for designs to incorporate materials that we can connect with. Perhaps our associations with materials can be reflected in our perceptions of spaces and designs; hence the root elements of how we feel in these places built with timber are similarly felt when we are outdoors in nature.

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Alternative Uses 

  • Steel or laminated structural material with a reclaimed timber fascia is becoming a popular solution. This also helps to bring consistency to a design with specific dimension. 
  • Rafters for interior fitouts look impressive and add an interesting feature piece. 
  • Furniture, such as seats and tables. Their natural fit in outdoor settings allow them to suit many different settings. 
Get in touch for more information

Reclaimed timbers are a finite source and can be repurposed to create unique designs. Each piece has a story to tell and a history to connect with, while bringing a sense of purpose, warmth and depth to its appearance. This can only be attributed to the one-off nature of rustic timbers, either in character and appearance, or quantity and volume.

If you are looking to work with reclaimed timber in your projects email us at [email protected] or give us a call on 0508 468 375

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