Assess secondhand bricks and roofing material

July 29, 2015

Most building materials are available secondhand, but there are important points consider when looking to save money and stay safe. This guide covers what you should know before buying secondhand bricks or roofing material.

Assess secondhand bricks and roofing material

Using secondhand bricks

  • As long as they haven't been broken or chipped in demolition, bricks are the ideal material to recycle.
  • Many bricks from houses built before 1940 were laid in lime mortar, which is easily removed with a bolster and lump hammer.
  • A brick that's been cleaned may still display mortar stains or paint. Removing these stains is laborious, as the acid used to remove mortar requires time and care and the chemical removers that strip paint are expensive. As a result, second-hand bricks are generally rendered, bagged, painted, or used where appearance isn't important.
  • Old bricks are suitable for paving, although not all paving patterns can be made. Bricks laid on edge make a better fit: three bricks on edge will closely fit a stretcher brick laid on edge.

Inspect secondhand roofing

  • Old steel ("iron") roofing is useful as a temporary covering, but can rarely be reused as roofing because the sheets are often damaged during demolition. If you're intent on finding steel sheets for roofing, look for corrugated iron and low-profile ribbed sheets, both of which are fixed with screws.
  • Deeper steel profiles that need to be snapped onto fixing brackets may not be suitable if the sheets have been distorted. Keep in mind that it can be very difficult making this type of sheet secure, especially in strong winds.
  • Steel sheeting covered in rust will need labour-intensive anti-rust treatment and painting, which makes it rarely worth the cost.
  • Zinc-treated roofing should not be used in conjunction with galvanized steel because it will corrode the galvanized sheet where the metals make contact.
  • Secondhand aluminium sheets are usually too damaged to be recycled, and don't withstand hail as well as steel.
  • Always check the underside of second-hand tiles: if there are any signs of fretting or erosion, don't purchase them.

Buying secondhand is a great way to save money and recycle old materials. Just be sure to err on the side of caution and always do your research.

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