Salvage Building Materials

Storage shed made from recycled materials
Shed made from recycled materials

Many opportunities exist to reuse and recycle building materials that come from both demolition and new building projects.

Salvage before demolition

Salvage is the removal of select materials from a building prior to demolition. These materials include items such as architectural features, cabinets, windows, and wood flooring. The typical home or commercial space often contains numerous reusable items.

Items frequently desirable for reuse include:

  • large timbers,
  • wood flooring,
  • wood trim,
  • cabinets,
  • double-pane windows,
  • dimensional lumber,
  • and solid (non-hollow core) doors.

Dimensional lumber is particularly desirable but can sometimes be difficult or expensive to remove. The most important consideration to maximizing reuse is to plan ahead and provide time for removal of desirable items. Salvage can begin at the beginning of a construction project, before demolition and hazardous waste abatement. Salvaging of non-structural items can begin before a demolition permit has been issued. If you do not have the time or knowledge to find outlets for potentially reusable items, call one of the local used building material stores. Store staff is typically available to visit a site to determine whether potentially-salvageable items are desired by their business.

Some of the used building material stores provide deconstruction and salvage services. If a building contains enough desired materials, store staff may be able to remove the items from the building at no charge, and many are able to provide receipts to allow for a tax deduction based on the value of the materials. Any items removed before a building is demolished will reduce disposal costs.

Resources

Recycling

For comprehensive information about recycling options for different materials, look up your item on Where Does It Go? or call Seattle Public Utilities at (206) 343-8505. Assistance is available for nonstandard recycling, such as acoustic ceiling tile, drywall, porcelain, roofing, and plant/tree salvage.

Reuse

Local building materials stores work together to encourage used building materials markets through the Northwest Building Salvage Network.

Safety

Asbestos: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
Lead based Paint: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
PCB-containing fluorescent ballasts: Visit the EPA website and search for "PCB ballasts."