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Reclaimed Tropical Timber vs Composite, PVC & Soft Wood

When it comes to sustainability, character, and beauty, it’s easy to see why reclaimed tropical hardwood timber reigns over composite, PVC, softwood, or other decking materials.

By choosing reclaimed tropical timber you’ll not only be demonstrating your eco-credentials, you’ll also be taking action for a more sustainable circular construction approach which reduces energy consumption and reuses materials that have been in the UK’s built environment for many, many decades.

Janine Davies-Tutt, Managing Director says: “During colonial times, tropical hardwoods such as Greenheart, Jarrah, and Ekki were imported into the UK from Africa, Australia, Central America and British Guyana, for use primarily in marine construction and sea defences.

Due to the climate tropical hardwoods grow in, the grain is extremely dense giving it unmatched durability and stability. When cut it displays red, yellow and vibrant oranges; all the colours of the tropics. Today, it’s possible to reclaim these timbers and repurpose them for future use, in a circular economy process. This prevents further deforestation, saves energy and mineral resources, and protects architectural history.”

As the hardest commercially available timber, reclaimed tropical hardwood is in high demand. This is because reclaimed tropical timber will provide 25+ years of durability, (often longer depending on the environment it is placed in) compared with temperate hardwood’s such as Oak which have an average 15 year material life expectancy in contact with the soil.

Be inspired, as we share some of the recent landscape design and construction projects Ashwells Reclaimed Timber has featured in. And look at some of the ways you can use reclaimed timber as decking and pathways in your next garden design.

1. Reclaimed Tropical Timber as Decking at Bourne End

This stunning project is a great example of how reclaimed sea defence timbers can be re-sawn and prepared into decking. The owners requested a bespoke rustic look using reclaimed and upcycled tropical timbers sourced from previous marine environments. The decking will last for over 25 years in the marine environment.

2. Showstopping Reclaimed Tropical Greenheart as Sustainable Jetty

On behalf of Tony Bedding from Tad2 Construction we had the pleasure of supplying FSC certified Greenheart reclaimed from Erith in Kent for this stunning sustainable jetty.

3. Reclaimed Tropical Timber in Garden for a Green Future, RHS Hampton Court

We supplied a range of reclaimed crossing timbers and crane mats which were re-used as decking boards in Jamie Butterworth’ Garden for a Green Future. The weight and superior quality of the timber allowed the fitting to be completed in under an hour.

4. Reclaimed Tropical Keruing in Back to Nature Garden, RHS Chelsea

Reclaimed Keruing timber from Southend Pier took pride of place in the Back to Nature Garden at RHS Chelsea 2019 – co-designed by Andrée Davies and Adam White in collaboration with HRH the Princess of Wales. A central feature of the celebrated garden was the woodland walkway built by carpenter Jonny Briggs, a graduate of the Princes Foundation.

5. Reclaimed Tropical Timber featured in Kilbees’s Farm

At the invitation of Murdoch Wickham, one of the leading Landscape Architectural companies in the UK, we supplied reclaimed Oak that was once Groyne timbers on Bracklesham Bay on the South coast for this beautiful decking. To achieve this look John Murdoch insisted that every piece of timber must not have any clean, sawn edges.

Reclaimed Timber Provenance

When selecting reclaimed hardwood for your decking or pathway project it’s crucial to consider material provenance.

As an FSC certified reclaimed tropical timber contractor we provide a transparent and traceable chain of custody for all our reclaimed timber, whatever its source. Our reclaimed tropical timber, including Greenheart, Jarrah and Ekki, is sourced by us from marine sites across the UK.

The Forest Stewardship Council® is a global certification system that promotes responsible timber reclamation and procurement best practice.

Choosing to source reclaimed timbers through an FSC accredited process provides you with a credible solution to complex environmental and social issues.  Our landscape architect and garden design clients find that it is an effective way to gain public and consumer recognition of their responsible supply chain procurement practices and helps to make progress against Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) targets.

Feeling inspired?  Walk through our step-by-step guide to help you use more reclaimed timber in landscape architecture projects.  Download our guide, click here.