Recycling Homes

RecycleReduceReuseGenerally, when a house is being demolished, an excavator comes in and fills a few bins that are taken away to a landfill.

We’re known as a “disposable society”, so it is no wonder we do not stop and think of ways to recycle or reuse a large portion of a home that is being demolished.

In fact, there are a number of household items that can be reused! Homeowners may not want to reuse the items in their new home, but they may know of someone who has a cottage or a rental property that could use a little updating. Items can easily be sold on-line through sites like Kijiji or Craig’s List, or even donated to organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

Below is a list of items that can be reused:

  • Windows
  • Doors – and their hardware
  • Plumbing fixtures – faucets, sinks, toilets and tubs
  • Cabinetry and counter-tops
  • Light fixtures
  • High quality laminate/floating floors, which have not been glued
  • Appliances
  • Window coverings
  • Hardwood floors that are nailed down and have been removed with the nails cut
  • Outlets and switches
  • Gas fireplaces
  • Hot Water Tanks (these are generally rented and should be returned to the gas company)
  • Washroom mirrors if not glued to the wall
  • Closet shelving and metal rods
  • Clean lumber (free of debris like nails, wiring, drywall)

The following are also some items that can be recycled.

  • Furnace
  • Metals (duct work, soffits, facia and eavestroughing)
  • Wiring
  • Copper piping
  • Clean lumber
  • Masonry is most commonly recycled but can also be reused (in order to be reused, the mortar needs to be removed from each brick or stone)
  • Foundation and concrete floors
  • Vinyl siding
  • Drywall

Items that are more difficult to reuse and/or recycle are:

  • Wall and floor tile (it would be near impossible to remove tile without breaking it, a mosaic is a great option)
  • Insulation (theoretically this can be reused, but the chances of the old insulation meeting the current Building Code requirements would be slim)
  • Interior trim such as casing and baseboards (MDF products cannot be reused but wood trim can be salvaged and reused – with extreme care in the removal process)
  • Shingles (there are few municipalities who permit this)

Items that cannot be reused or recycled include:

  • Flooring that has been glued down to the subfloor
  • Stucco

We encourage all homeowners to keep recycling and reusing in mind when completing a home project. Ask your contractor if you’re ever unsure about materials that you’d like to reuse or sell – they should have the answers for you.

Have you ever reused materials, or earned back money selling used materials from your own home? We’d like to hear about your experiences in the comments!