Home Improvement | 21 June 2017How to Find Your Own Salvaged Materials Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Using salvaged materials can save you money, help the environment, and be fun to hunt down. Hunting down the salvaged materials may be difficult, and take a little more research on your part, but that makes the finds more rewarding. Starting with small projects is a good way to start working with these materials. If you are just getting started, below is a list of places to find recycled materials for home projects, and you can find more in Building with Secondhand Stuff Retail and Wholesale Salvage Companies The past two decades have seen a steady growth in the number of companies reselling materials salvaged from demolished or renovated buildings. At the high end are companies that deal primarily in architectural antiques, artifacts and intact period structures such as decorative plaster corbels or hand-carved marble fireplace surrounds. The broader middle part of the market is populated by general salvage firms dealing in raw building materials such as barn timbers and large curbstones. Some of these companies clean and prepare their inventory, while others simply reclaim and stock the materials, selling them as is. Most usually specialize in a specific substance such as wood or stone, although many stock whatever materials come their way, and their inventories fluctuate accordingly. This is why looking for the material that’s ideal for your project can be a little like a scavenger hunt. These companies should be your first stop. They’re generally professional and easy to deal with. They can set up shipping if the need arises, and in most cases, you can rely on the integrity of the materials. Defunct Structures If you have access to a dilapidated building, along with good DIY skills, knowledge of how buildings go together, and a solid selection of tools, you may choose to deconstruct and reclaim all or part of the building yourself. This can be a remarkably inexpensive way to recover building materials of all sorts—including hidden gems. You may, for example, find wood flooring in a beautiful antique species hidden under ratty old carpet. But local codes and regulations dictate safety practices (you should exercise appropriate safety measures in any case) and disposal methods that must be used in demolition or deconstruction. Some situations, such as the removal of asbestos, require extremely involved abatement procedures. Encountering toxic materials is one of the downsides to deconstruction, and abating material such as asbestos insulation can quickly escalate your costs. Contractors and Demolition Companies Buildings don’t necessarily have to be taken entirely apart for them to produce materials worthy of recycling. Simple jobs such as a bathroom renovation can create piles of usable tiles, flooring, and pipes. A bigger home renovation can result in healthy quantities of antique wood flooring, cast-iron heating vent grills, or other desirables. Generally, however, it’s not worth a contractor’s time to carefully remove and resuscitate old tile or flooring. It’s much easier to simply rip out the material and send it on a trip to the dump, never to be seen again. If you’re willing to do a significant amount of work, you may be able to make a deal with a contractor: you provide the labor to demo the space, and in return, you keep the materials you remove. This is not an arrangement that suits everyone, but it can be a great way to lay your hands on unique building materials in exchange for sweat equity. In other cases, you may be able to work with large demolition companies to strip a building of valuable commodities before the company tears it down (or even as part of tearing it down). This type of arrangement works best when you need a large amount of wood, metal, or stone. It’s not, however, for the uninitiated. Just as with deconstructing a building yourself, working in a job site space requires adhering to local regulations and codes and the same safety issues apply. You can make your life easier by limiting your agreement to combing through the roll-on dumpsters at the job site. The best way to get in on the process from the beginning is when safety fences go up around a job site, or you see work permits appear in the windows of an older house. Online resources The Internet has made selling small quantities of reclaimed building materials easy and simple. Even individuals can offer leftovers from renovations or building deconstructions, on websites such as Craigslist or Ebay. Of course, buying from someone who isn’t operating as a business and doesn’t have a professional reputation to protect entails a certain amount of risk—especially if that source isn’t local. You have to be cautious that you’re actually getting the quality and specifications that the seller advertised. In-person inspection is always the best way to go. On the upside, materials sold online often offer incredible deals. Sometimes they are even offered free to anyone willing to haul them away. Garage Sales, Swap Meets and Flea Markets This is the most hit-or-miss resource. But if you’re willing to put in a fair amount of legwork, you can often stumble upon hidden treasures. Be prepared to haul away whatever you find, and come equipped with a measuring tape to determine if the dimensions of whatever it is suit the project you have in mind. The informal nature of these types of venues lends itself to healthy negotiation and great deals. You can find notices of garage and yard sales in local newspapers—also a great place to look for individuals selling material through the classifieds. Safety First Reclaiming building materials directly from the structure entails dealing with a potentially unsafe situation. Obviously, you should be certain that the structure won’t fall on you while you’re removing a floor or a stone fireplace. Deconstruction also calls for checking that there are no hazardous materials inside the building. asbestos insulation or sprayed on coatings, lead paint, and urea formaldehyde insulation all require professional handling and disposal. if you’ll be in contact with or impacting existing hazardous materials, you should have the situation assessed by a qualified expert. In all likelihood, if a hazardous substance is present in the structure, it will preclude you from removing the materials yourself. in any case, when working in a dilapidated structure, always wear appropriate safety gear including a hard hat, eye protection, long pants, gloves, and work boots. if you’ll be raising any dust, use a respirator rated for the work you’ll be doing and the substances you will be handling. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: From Craig’s List, your basement, and estate sales, you can salvage what you need to upcycle all kinds of cool things. You can build tables, install vintage hardwood floors and salvaged windows, mason reclaimed stone walls, and do much more using free or very inexpensive, high-quality, reconditioned materials. You’ll encounter opportunities to upcycle usable building materials everywhere. By using Building with Secondhand Stuff, 2nd edition, good judgment, and a few salvage tricks, you can take advantage of these chances to gather free (or nearly free) project supplies and put them to work in your house. This second edition of the best-selling book includes new projects such as a pallet chair, pallet table, chalkboard message door, door-backed island, and a reclaimed window greenhouse. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.