Recycling wood is a great way to keep wood products out of landfills, breathe new life into old items, and help reduce deforestation rates around the world. All of these things add up to big benefits for the planet. More importantly, they can help families feel better about their own building projects as they are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and recycle wood, a resource that is precious for this planet.
What is Recycled Wood?
Unless you’re in the market for wood pellets, wood chips, or sawdust, recycling may not be the most accurate term for recycled wood. Essentially, you’re reusing the wood. You may use it for the same purpose, a similar purpose, or another purpose altogether. The goal, though, is to give old wood a second chance without sending it to landfills.
Surprising Places to Find Recycled Wood
Most people are somewhat surprised to learn that there are many places to find recycled, reusable wood for their construction or DIY projects. The list is long and offers locations in or near almost any city in the country. These are a few shining examples.
- Construction Salvage Stores (Habitat for Humanity Restores are prime examples)
- Charity Organization Stores (Goodwill Stores, Salvation Army Stores, etc.)
- Consignment Building Supply Centers
- Home Improvement Thrift Stores
- Craigslist (caution is urged, however, when using Craigslist)
- Local newspapers and add flyers
One of the best tools for locating recycled wood products nearby is the ReuseWood.org website. The site offers the locations of venders that accept used wood donations as well as those that offer reused wood for sale.
Are There Any Uses for Recycled Wood?
The great thing about recycling wood is that the recycled wood acts just like wood that is brand new. With the exception of cosmetic concerns, it can be used for anything fresh lumber from a construction or building supply store would be used for.
Even with cosmetic concerns, with a little TLC on your part it could be as good as new. This TLC consists of a variety of things, depending on the condition of the wood, such as:
- Removing nails
- Removing scars and scrapes (unless you want the look of distressed wood)
- Straightening warped or bowed wood
The truth, though, is that the options for using recycled wood are nearly limitless and may include things like the following.
Shabby Chic Furniture Rehabs
This takes old furniture that may need a little cosmetic and structural shoring and transforms it into something new and beautiful. Sometimes, it creates a similar item, like transforming a dresser into a more beautiful dresser by making repairs, adding paint, and switching out the hardware. In other cases, it takes an old dresser and transforms into something new like an entertainment center or a changing table for a baby.
Wood Pallet Furniture Projects
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of wood pallet projects on Pinterest to browse through. These projects take the wooden pallets that are used to transport various consumer goods to stores and warehouses around the world, and transform them into useful objects for the home or garden. The pallets are made of sturdy oak, and once cleaned up a bit, make for beautiful furniture, shelves, walls, and countless other things. If you don’t want to spend hours sorting through projects on Pinterest, Design Rulz offers a nice selection of inspiring wood pallet projects to peruse as well.
While the source of reclaimed wood may vary, wood is essentially wood. You can use it for all manner of construction projects, depending on the types of wood you purchase. With many barns in the Midwest being torn down to make room for new subdivision housing communities, it is often fairly simple to find wood for sale from the teardown process that is in remarkable condition and ready to use for barn or other construction projects.
Anytime buildings are being gutted or renovated, there are likely to be leftover wall studs, cabinet bases and doors, and other wood items available afterwards that the property owner will be happy to sell rather than pay to have hauled away. In some instances they may be willing to part with them for next to nothing.
While it’s true that hardwoods work best for this purpose, wood flooring is en vogue again. Unfortunately, most hardwoods that are used for flooring are not as sustainable as we’d like them to be, with the exception of bamboo, perhaps. Reusing wood for flooring, though, is highly sustainable. You’ll have the best of both worlds, really. Beautiful floors that you can feel good about.
Building furniture from scratch is a beautiful thing. Reusing wood, and thereby giving it new life, makes it even more beautiful. From simpler projects like tables and benches to more complex projects like shelving systems, pantries, or bedroom furniture, there are an abundance of patterns and ideas floating around on the Internet and in books and magazines to keep a person busy furnishing an entire house with reclaimed wood.
There’s no rule that says you can only reuse wood indoors. The lawn and garden provide plenty of opportunities to create new items from old wood. These are a few that come to mind in a pinch:
- Vertical gardening projects
- Patio furniture
- Container gardens
- Decorative fences or partitions
- Seasonal decorations
- Retaining walls
- Garden plots
- Window boxes
- Garden benches
The list could go on forever. In fact, the only limitations, really, are time, skills, creative talent, and interests. The good news is that the more projects you pursue, the better your skills will become and the more time you will have to continue.
Reusing wood is good for the planet, the spirit, and the sustainability of limited resources for future generations. Before running out to the local hardware store to pick up lumber for your next building project, consider looking for sources of reclaimed or reused wood instead. Imagine the difference for the planet if everyone made this bold and wonderful building choice!
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