One of the more notable shifts in home building over the past few decades has been the rise in popularity of using recycled or repurposed materials where available. Not only is this trend environmentally responsible, it can cut down on the costs of building. Sourcing and negotiating prices for second hand building materials is a skill in itself, with converts finding that this becomes something of a hobby or even a challenge. Many note that reclaimed materials are of a far better quality and workmanship than can be found today.
Listed below are a number of wall and ceiling components that can be made or sourced from recycled material.
Insulation is now commonly made from recycled materials. Cellulose insulation, made largely from recycled newspaper, is currently one of the most popular insulation materials. Other recycled materials, including PET plastic, denim, fibreglass, and glass wool are also used to create insulation.
Plaster is a completely recyclable material. Used plaster, as well as plasterboard waste and offcuts, can be returned back to their original form by heating them to 160 C for several hours until the moisture has dried out. The remaining material is then crushed into a powder, where it can be reactivated as plaster by adding water.
Australian company Gyprock has a recycling system organised where they will collect plasterboard offcuts for recycling. If the plasterboard’s exterior lining is also made from recycled material, it is possible to build with completely recycled plasterboard.
Tiles can either be made from recycled materials such as glass or porcelain, or they can be sourced from businesses which specialise in collecting second hand tiles.
Joists and beams
Reclaimed timber can often perform far better than new wood when installed as ceiling joists and beams. Aged timber has already done the majority of its shrinking and twisting, resulting in greater stability for your ceilings. Secondhand hardwood is also likely to be of a higher quality than what is now available. Not only will your ceiling be built from a more solid and durable timber, it is also likely to be more aesthetically pleasing. As aged hardwood is in high demand however, this kind of recycled timber is often more expensive than new wood.
Bricks are another building material that can either be recycled or made from recycled materials. Look for a business in your area which sells salvaged bricks or buys from a place that recycles them. Recycled bricks can add to the 'heritage' feel of a renovation. While they may be cheaper than new bricks to buy in the first instance, keep in mind that they will need to be cleaned and tested for structural integrity - which may cost you more in the long run.
Look for steel studs containing at least 80% recycled steel, which often comes from junked cars. Steel and aluminium cladding which are made with levels of recycled material may also be found.
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