10 Home Improvement Projects Using Recycled Materials

feet on reclaimed wood floor

April 17, 2017

Even basic home improvement projects can turn into pricey undertakings. The cost of quality wood and hardware needed to fabricate a simple cabinet or bookshelf, for example, is surprisingly high. One way to avoid some of this expense is to opt for recycled or salvaged materials, which can significantly lower the price tag for do-it-yourself (DIY) endeavors. Homeowners can also ask their contractor to limit costs by using second-hand products whenever possible.

Recycled materials only work for home projects if they provide equal quality and reliability as newer alternatives. Numerous home improvement manufacturers have embraced the recycling idea and have started making lines of products using second-hand materials. These goods are often cheaper than similar non-recycled options.

What projects are good candidates for recycled materials? Here are 10 examples:

1. Building a Deck

Building a deck is one example where recycled might be better than new. Made from salvaged wood or wood waste, composite decking is a blend of natural products and plastics, thereby creating more longevity than standard wood decking. Unfortunately, since manufacturing is involved in the process, the composite boards are more expensive than recycled wood. The investment will pay off, however. A composite deck is not going to rot, get warped, or change color after a few years in the elements.

2. Landscaping

Landscaping is one of the best areas for using salvaged and recycled materials. Rocks are an obvious example because they can be picked up almost anywhere, often for free. A lesser-known recycled material for landscaping is rubber mulch. Manufactured with old tires, this type of mulch need not be replaced annually like the standard option. Though a bag of rubber mulch is more expensive than a bag of wood mulch, the yearly replacement results in a higher overall cost than a one-time rubber purchase.

3. Creating New Shelving

A homeowner can complete this carpentry project with salvaged wood from around the home – an old bookcase or table, for example. Keep in mind that particle board (widely used in cheaper furniture) is not typically sturdy enough to support a great deal of weight. Another option is to find quality furniture at a thrift store or garage sale and then break it down into useable pieces.

4. Renovating the Kitchen

Countertops can be extremely expensive. One of the cheaper high-end options is recycled glass. With this material, glass pieces are mixed in with cement to give countertops a colorful, designer look. But while this type of countertop might be cheaper than marble or granite, it is still more expensive than many other options. Paper-based countertops are a more affordable example. Yes, an option made from recycled paper is on the market, and it is surprisingly durable. These counters are often compared to smooth surfaces like soapstone. Best of all, they cost between $30 and $40 per square foot (installed).

5. Laying Tile

Recycled tile is quite economical. Most salvage outlets offer a wide variety of scraps, and contractors may have a new or used surplus from previous projects. Even if the tiles are derived from different sources, they can be blended to create a “mosaic” look that works well in the bathroom or as kitchen countertops. Laying tile is straightforward, and a liberal application of grout can fill in any gaps between pieces that do not seamlessly fit together.

6. Building a New Patio

The cost of paving stones and bricks will increase quickly for a large area like a patio. Therefore, second-hand pavers are a major money saver. Many salvage yards offer a decent selection of bricks and paving stones. Like tiling projects, a patchwork of paving stones can provide a unique personality and an attractive mosaic-like appeal to any patio.

7. Upgrading Interior Doors

Door upgrades are relatively simple, even for novice do-it-yourselfers who have basic experience using a saw and drill. The salvaged or recycled wood must be cut to fit into the existing doorway. If the hinges, lockset, and knob from the old door are still in working shape, just transfer them to the new door. Because the most basic doors cost $100 to $200, recycled or salvaged wood provides significant savings.

8. Adding Extra Insulation

While second-hand insulation is not a good idea, recycled materials can help insulate a home. It may seem odd, but recycled blue jeans are one of the most efficient forms of insulation, as denim is great for retaining heat. Leftover denim scraps at jean factories are shredded and packed, and work just as well fiberglass – but won’t cause respiratory damage. In this instance, “recycled” does not mean “cheaper.” Denim insulation is a bit more expensive (up to 20% more than other materials). However, it is safer to handle and, therefore, easier to install. A homeowner could potentially make up for the more expensive price tag by saving on the cost of installation.

9. Nailing Down New Baseboards

Home improvement stores price baseboards and other forms of trim by the foot. The price can rise quickly, especially if there is a measurement mistake and the entire strip needs to be re-bought. Homeowners with saw skills can cut trim-like strips from a larger, cheaper piece of wood, and then stain it to create a baseboard-like appearance. Composite baseboards, a combination of recycled wood and plastic, are another option that lasts longer than solid wood.

10. Installing Reclaimed Wood Floors

Reclaimed wood creates a unique atmosphere in a home. Many owners value this kind of look and feel. There are even companies that specialize in creating wood floors from salvaged materials.

What About More Complex Projects?

Recycled materials can significantly lower the cost of certain home improvement projects without reducing the quality of the upgrade. These earth-friendly also give projects a unique flavor while preserving our planet’s natural resources. But what about home improvements where the quality of materials truly matters? For upgrades that increase a home’s energy efficiency, PACE financing is the answer. PACE programs can help homeowners pay for upgrades like windows, insulation, roofing, or major appliances over time. This innovative financing model allows homeowners to use the savings from their monthly energy costs to help cover the expense of their property upgrade(s).

Note: All of these upgrades do not qualify for PACE financing – only those that made your property more energy efficient, save water, utilize renewable energy or protect against storm damage. Find out if your improvement qualifies by contacting Ygrene at (855) 901-3999; info@ygreneworks.com