Using Reclaimed Materials

by Jane VanOsdol on June 28, 2011

New isn’t always necessarily better when you’re building. Although there’s nothing wrong with a brand new home and new building materials, some homeowners are finding the joy in using reclaimed materials for their building and home improvement projects.

With the interest in sustainable building and home improvement practices and green living, using reclaimed materials is a perfect fit. Many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints by using materials that are already available.

What Can I Use?

You may be wondering what type of materials are available for your projects. All kinds! By searching local and internet sources you can find almost every type of building material, including wood, tile, bricks, hand-cut stone, countertops, doors, windows, lighting, sinks and other fixtures, just to name a few things.

Reclaimed timber for outdoor deck

One of the drawbacks to using reclaimed materials is that you will have to plan your projects well in advance so that you give yourself enough time to locate the materials you need. Don’t count on finding just what you need for quick, weekend projects unless you just happen to get lucky and stumble upon a find. Most of the time, it won’t happen that fast. For example, if log home builders want to use reclaimed wood for part or all of the construction, they will need to locate a source that has enough wood for the house they want to build. Or if you want to find some hand-cut stone to construct an outdoor fireplace for your patio, be sure you allow the time you need to find and transport the stone to your home.

Expense

Regarding the expense of using reclaimed materials, the cost can go either way. You will find low-cost materials, usually from sources who don’t advertise, so they don’t have much overhead. By searching you can find some true bargains. On the other hand, companies who are well known with marketing and advertising campaigns specializing in reclaimed materials will charge a premium for their product. Part of it depends on the market and how much time you are willing to put into the search.

Besides the green benefit of using reclaimed materials for your construction or home improvement projects, there’s also the interest factor of using materials that have a rich history. There’s just something special in knowing that your kitchen flooring came from a 100-year-old barn or that the bricks for your home’s facade came from a factory a generation or two ago. Besides that, if you’re using reclaimed wood, old-growth wood has the benefit of being stronger than new-growth wood.

Resources

If you can’t wait to to find some reclaimed materials for your next project, click on the following resources/links below to get you started. Also, try searching under the terms recycling, selvage,and reclaimed wood to get you started, along with the name of your state.

ReStore. ReStores are stores run by Habitat for Humanity. They sell building materials, furniture and appliances at discounted prices to help fund their building projects. They have online stores as well as local stores in many communities. Follow this link to find a store close to you.

Planet Reuse. This is an online source to help you find reclaimed materials for your projects.

Craigslist.org. Go to their For Sale section and look under Materials. You’ll find both new and reclaimed materials there.

Reclaimed Flooring.

Hand-cut stone and wood flooring.

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