How Do I Choose the Best Reclaimed Building Materials?

Misty Amber Brighton
Misty Amber Brighton
Make sure reclaimed wood is free of termite damage.
Make sure reclaimed wood is free of termite damage.

If you are planning a remodeling project, using reclaimed building materials can help you save money while adding a touch of nostalgia to your work. When looking for reused building materials, it is important to know what size lumber or fixtures you need. Examine the wood carefully to see if it has rotten places or signs of termite damage. You may also want to know if the secondhand building materials you are considering contain lead or asbestos, because these elements can be dangerous and costly to remove.

You may want to start your search for reclaimed building materials at a salvage lumberyard. Here, you may be able to browse through stacks of vintage building materials in order to find a specific item. Since the inventory at such lumberyards changes on a day-to-day basis, you may not find exactly what you are looking for on your first visit. Having a written plan for your building project will help you know what recycled building materials you may be able to use, and give you guidance in determining the size of different items.

After you find reclaimed building materials that you are interested in, the next step is to make sure they are usable. Look each piece over carefully, and check to see if there are rotten places in any of the wood. It can also be a good idea to look for insect damage to avoid carrying home termites or other bugs.

Knowing where the reclaimed building materials originated can help you determine whether these building materials may contain lead paint or asbestos. Many dealers identify such items by placing a label on them warning consumers about these hazardous materials. Lead paint and asbestos were widely used before 1980, so materials from homes built before that time could contain them, even if they are not specifically identified.

Some vintage building supplies may need a great deal of work before they can be used in your project. This is especially true of baseboards and molding. If you chose an item that needs repair work, you need to decide if you will do this yourself or if you will hire a professional. In the event that you need to hire someone, this could make the end cost much higher than you anticipated. Knowing how much it could cost to refurbish certain items can help you make an accurate calculation so you will be able to buy recycled building materials while staying within your budget.

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    • Make sure reclaimed wood is free of termite damage.
      By: photo_journey
      Make sure reclaimed wood is free of termite damage.