Author: Chris Philpot
Make It Wood ambassador and Founder of Greener Kitchens, Druce Davey explains the tips and tricks for choosing the right wood when renovating or building
Renovating or building a place isn't easy. Sure it can be fun and it's great when it's all finished, but there are so many decisions to be made, not to mention the stress over whether you are making the right one.
Will it work, will it fit, is it the best option, will it match, what colour should it be, how long should it be, do you want it this way or that way? Stop already.
Decision exhaustion is the renovators equivalent to a marathon runner hitting the wall. At some stage you just can't see the forest for the trees anymore.
Then we come along telling you to use wood, because of course you want to do the world some good, but you have to make sure it's responsible. ‘Enough already', I hear the renovators and builders scream! I am flat out choosing a paint colour let alone working out if my timber is responsible. Too hard basket here we come.
But wait. I am here to tell you sourcing responsible timber really truly is easier than choosing your paint colour. It is easier than pretty much every other decision you have to make when you are renovating or building. Really, it is. It doesn't take the creativity of a designer or the knowledge of a wily old builder to get it right, anyone can do it. I'll tell you how.
All you need to do is make sure your timber is recycled or chain of custody certified. Easy.
Recycled timber is easy to spot. It has had a previous life so it has nail holes, nicks, marks, joist shadows and all those awesome character marks that come from a life well lived. These are near impossible to authentically replicate. You can spot a piece of one hundred year old timber that used to be a floorboard or a ceiling joist a mile away. It is beautiful and beguiling and will capture you with its imperfect allure (some say I have an unhealthy love for recycled timber). Go to a reputable timber yard, the kind with dirt floors and dust, have a yarn with the owner, ask where his timber came from and be prepared for a wonderful backstory. Put that material in your home and tell that backstory at every barbie you ever have and watch your visitors stare longingly at you while marvelling at your genius decision to use recycled wood in your home. That is recycled timber. It is an icebreaker, a party starter and it will make you look like a genius.
New timber is even easier. If it is chain of custody certified it has a logo on it. Not a dodgy botched up logo created in a marketing laboratory by cheeky greenwashers, but a trustable ridgy-didge logo that means that the timber has come from responsible forestry and has not been substituted in the process of presenting it to you for purchase. So you need the logo of a chain of custody certification scheme. This means everyone who touches it from the forest to the shelf is certified and regularly audited to ensure they are compliant.
If it does not have a chain of custody certification scheme logo on it don't buy it, or better still ask the store manager why he doesn't have any timber with the right logo on it. He will likely give you a story about the logos being a waste of time and hippy dippy rubbish but I promise you they are not. They are the difference between having forests and ecosystems and waterways and species to share with our grandkids and them disappearing. Tell him he is a dinosaur and that you will go elsewhere.
The right chain of custody certification scheme logos are the Forest Stewardship Council Logo (FSC) (a green tick that turns into a tree with the letters FSC under it) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC)(a green logo with little tree silhouettes and the letters PEFC under it).
If your timber does not have these logos on it, don't buy it.
To make sure it is all above board (pardon the pun) the logo should also appear on your docket of purchase with the unique number of the chain of custody certified retailer you bought it from. If it doesn't then someone is pulling a swifty on you, breaking the trust of the chain of custody, and letting you and the forests down. Not cool.
While I don't think chain of custody certified products are going to evoke swoons at your next barbie (compared to recycled timber) they will ensure you are buying timber that comes from sources that are managed to ensure the ecological and economic interests of the forest have been balanced so forests are preserved to ensure their survival and the survival of the creatures that live in them and the creatures that live off them.
I started a little kitchen design business called Greener Kitchens seven years ago, with a whacky idea to make kitchens out of recycled and chain of custody certified timber products. No one else was doing it. I don't even know if anyone else had thought of it quite frankly. But it made sense to me. I got sick of only caring if a kitchen was the right colour and that the benchtop was the one from the ad in the glossy. It seems the industry is more interested in style over substance and in buying cheap and nasty and selling as high as it can. It was a challenge back then. But after more than 300 perfectly attractive kitchens, many of which hide how responsible they really are and others that wear it like a badge of honour, I've proved it can be done. That is something I am really proud of and I thank every client for helping me prove it is possible and sharing the passion for caring where things come from and where they will end up.
There are more responsible timber product choices today then there used to be, but we still need the power of consumers wielding their purchasing power and making the responsible choice to encourage the suppliers of non responsible timber products to change. So we need your help. Make it responsible wood and do the world some good.
So please make a good decision about your timber. It is definitely easier than choosing a paint colour. Make sure you see the forest for the trees.
And for those of you saying that this is all well and good but I just can't afford responsible products I do have good news for you... next time.