Helpful hints to find used building materials

July 29, 2015

Most building materials are available second-hand, although some are more readily available and readily transportable than others. The following describes what to look out for  when looking for steel, flooring, panelling and electrical fittings.

Helpful hints to find used building materials


  •  Getting the right type of steel beam in a given size and weight is not easy because builders are usually on the lookout for these creating a well-established market in recycling heavy steel beams.
  • You can't just substitute one beam for another because most steel around a house is specified by a structural engineer.
  • Beware of rust when you do find the steel you need. The surface rust should be cleaned, treated with a commercial rust converter and then primed before use.

Flooring and panelling

  • Flooring is not often recycled because of the difficulty of removing it from its original position. Floorboards are either nailed or glued to the joists, making removal in one piece impossible. Wherever adhesives are used, it is generally not worth the effort to recycle the materials
  • Wood paneling is sometimes available second-hand as it is easier to remove than floorboards. The framing lumber is often a softwood, so nails can be punched through to remove the first few sheets and the rest can be carefully prised from the framing.

Hardware and electrical­­ fittings

  • The use of second-hand hardware is rarely worthwhile. Usually old hardware will be corroded, bent or worn, and there could be a temptation to use the wrong-sized fittings and fixings to get around whatever problem has presented itself.
  • Brackets are items that can sometimes be recycled and, while screws can be saved, they are useful only if sorted.
  • Locks can be reused if they are in working order, but establish first how they are to be fitted, as the fitting templates (supplied with new locks) are rarely available.
  • Reusing old electrical parts should always be approached with a great deal of caution and the proper assessment of their safety be done.

Keep these tips in mind when looking for household building materials and you will save plenty of money on hardware, paneling and steel.

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