Building Materials: New Versus Recycled

by LMH_

Do you use new materials when building a home, or old materials? Nowadays, architects, builders and homeowners are challenged to reuse materials for new constructions, renovations and remodeling. As far as building a home in accordance to green movement, we are learning to focus on reusing materials and learning more about the materials that go into a house.

The usual materials that are recycled in home construction are cabinets, doors and windows and still reusing these could increase their life span. However, before deciding to adopt these materials, you should check if the materials are non-hazardous, uncontaminated and safe to be reused.

• Did you know that up to 98% of a refrigerator’s parts can be recycled? An Old refrigerator can produce more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel, so think about how much you can save if you can utilize all these recyclable materials. Appliances can be reused but still check for non – hazardous elements before employing it as house construction material.

• There are architectural salvage businesses that recycle doors and windows. Find these salvage businesses in your neighborhood and you will be surprised on how well they preserve materials to be reused.

• Whilst cabinets, doors and windows are mostly wood, don’t forget old tin ceilings and lighting fixtures on these materials; fireplace mantles, wainscoting, stair parts and crown molding can be salvaged and reused.

• Kitchen and bathrooms have cabinets, counter tops, sinks and fixtures that can all be reused so before you add them to the dumpster, donate or sell them through a local organization or online.

• Floor boards must be de-nailed during deconstruction as flooring is frequently recycled and especially the wider hardwood boards no longer available.

Structural Building Materials We Can Reuse

By recycling building materials, you are reducing the strain on local landfills. For every 3 square feet of deconstruction, sufficient lumber can be salvaged to make one square foot of new construction.

While it’s great to reuse materials it’s also possible to deconstruct a house and recycle materials by selling materials to local salvage companies or donating to non-profits like Habitat for Humanity.

• Reuse wood framing or dimensional lumber (finished/planed and cut to standardized width and depth) to frame out a new building.

• Recycle siding (wood shingles, clapboard, stucco and vinyl).

• Brick and stone can be reused although it will require removing the mortar.

• Concrete maybe reused in the foundation of a new home. It could also be crushed to and reused as an aggregate in new cement concrete, combined with virgin aggregate. More often it will be used as a sub-base layer.

Other materials that can be recycled include copper piping, plumbing lines, electrical and roofing materials.

Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today’s lifestyles. Through the library and directory at, you can LEARN more about how to maintain and repair your home and more.


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