Using reclaimed and recycled materials when building your home is not just a good way to be kind to the environment—it’s a great way to save money and add visual interest to your home! Reclaimed materials make your home truly unique while keeping materials that still have a little bit of life left out of landfills.
There is a difference between reclaimed and recycled materials. Recycled materials are reprocessed and often turned into an entirely different product, while reclaimed materials are reused in manner close to their original state. Either way, the materials are given a whole new life, without the expense and environmental impact that new materials require.
Some materials lend themselves to a second life better than others. Wood from old barns and other structures is often reclaimed for wood flooring. The weathering and scars from its former life only add character and beauty. Worn bricks look lovely when repurposed as a patio or garden wall. Old plastic water bottles can even be recycled into carpeting.
To be certain the materials you choose are suitable for reuse, look into reputable sources. In addition to the outlets listed below, your builder may be able to direct you to local sources of reclaimed and recycled materials.
Habitat for Humanity has ReStore outlets around the country with everything from furniture to building materials. The proceeds benefit the local Habitat for Humanity affiliates. ReStores are also good places to donate used materials that you may no longer need. You can find a local outlet by going to habitat.org.
PlanetReuse.com is an online marketplace where material buyers and vendors can come together, and also offers consulting and design assistance. PlanetReuse is also a great place to look at other projects that are sure to inspire. Visit PlanetReuse.com for more information.
San Francisco’s Building Resources is a nonprofit treasure trove of reclaimed and recycled building and landscaping materials. Everything they have comes through donations, so it’s hard to know what they’ll have in stock without visiting, but it’s a great source for tumbled glass and ceramics—perfect for landscaping.
Heritage Salvage, in Petaluma, California, is a great source for reclaimed hardwoods, doors, windows—even barn doors! Browse their website,
heritagesalvage.com, for a look at gems like wine barrels, stained glass skylights, bar tops and more, that will make your home one of a kind.
If you are in the market for reclaimed lumber, Yankin’s Reclaimed Materials in Truckee, Calififornia, is likely to have what you’re looking for. With a huge supply of salvaged redwood logs as well as an inventory of reclaimed redwood lumber, Yankin’s can custom saw to your specifications and they ship around the world.
Photography by Roger Wade Studio