Salvaging flood-damaged timber in homes | Architecture & Design

2022-06-18 22:54:52 By : Mr. Aaron Li

The devastating floods in Queensland and NSW have caused massive destruction, impacting communities and severely damaging infrastructure and homes. However, all may not be lost when talking timber.

Typically, waterlogged timber that could be salvaged is often thrown away, but in today’s market wood is increasingly expensive to replace.

WoodSolutions (WS) timber information is available for free and includes resources that can help determine if a home’s timber frame is salvageable and what people affected by flood can do to help save or protect items during clean-up.

Here are five tips to salvage flood-damaged timber and help preserve all or part of a home’s timber frame for the long-term.

1. Act quickly – timing is critical

Mould grows incredibly fast, especially in warm climates. While mould does not damage the structural capacity of timber, it can create a health hazard, especially if timber is allowed to decay.

Once it is safe to do so, act quickly to minimise damage.

The most important thing to do is to open up walls and other closed cavities to allow for airflow. It is usually best to remove deluged plasterboard and insulation as in most cases they are beyond salvage. They should be removed at least up to the point where wetting occurred.

Timber saturates far more quickly than it dries, but you can speed up the drying process by exposing the timber to air and increasing airflow with fans, if possible.

A simple moisture meter, available from most building centres and hardware stores, can help you determine when the wood has dried.

The moisture content of timber framing in subtropical areas should be below 15% and at least below 20% to prevent mould growth and decay. Timber that reaches below 20% moisture content and is free of mould generally can be reused.

How quickly the timber dries after being exposed to air is dependent on different factors such as how long the timber was submerged, how soon after it being submerged it was exposed to air, and local weather conditions.

It can be difficult to determine what is salvageable because there are so many variables involved. Once the timber has dried, put it aside to be checked by a builder before confirming that the timber can be reused.

More detailed information can be found at and by downloading Technical Design Guide 12 – Impact and Assessment of Moisture-affected Timber-framed Construction, which contains technical information about timber and moisture.

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