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5 Ways to Incorporate Reclaimed Materials Into Your Home

Here are a few of our favorite options on how to use reclaimed materials in your timber frame.

Written by Michael Grant


 Photo: Courtesy Natural Element Homes / See more of this home here.


While you’re thinking about combining building methods in a hybrid timber home, you also may want to consider using reclaimed materials. By incorporating antique, salvaged building materials, you can give your brand-new house the feeling that it’s been around for generations. Here are a few of our favorite options and how to use them.


Salvaged Wood

Giving a new home a time-honored look and feel has emerged from the home-building fringe to a mainstream must-have. Using salvaged wood is a fast and easy way to accomplish that goal. Wood ranging from mushroom board (wood beds used to grow mushrooms) to dismantled railroad trellises or barns to poplar bark can be used alongside new timbers to give a timber home that custom, antique touch.

Uses: Structural timbers, wall accents, porch/deck railings, trim and moldings


Rocks from Your Property

Landscaping can be a pricey venture, so if you’re looking for a way to save a little money, there could be free resources right beneath your feet. During excavation for your foundation, set aside boulders, large rocks and attractive stones.

Uses: Retaining walls, landscaping focal points and chimney/fireplace casements


Reclaimed Metal

Rust is in! Reclaimed metal, whether it’s tin, copper or iron, is a detail that gives a home that extra-something special. If you do opt for a little rust, be sure to protect the metal with an appropriate clear coat. You don’t want it rusting through. Copper with an aged verdigris patina is a more elegant choice for metal accents.

Uses: Exterior cladding, porch awnings, ceiling coverings, island facings (for indoor or outdoor kitchens) and accent walls

See also What Designers Wished You Knew Before Building


Antique Brick

Always a timeless choice, antique bricks are the epitome of historical charm. Handmade bricks will have slight variations in size and shape, and you can paint them, whitewash them or use a “German schmear” technique to make them look really, really old.

Uses: Accent walls, foundation coverings, pavers for your porch and walkway — or get real creative and combine with recycled window panes to create a raised mini-greenhouse


Stained Glass

Diffuse light and add character with reclaimed stained glass. If you’re lucky enough to find entire windows of the stuff and want to use them on an exterior wall, keep this in mind — older panes can be drafty. But you can improve energy efficiency by adding clear insulated glass to the outside of the stained glass.

Uses: Front door inserts, accents above modern clear-glass windows and room dividers

See also 15 Tips to Plan Your Energy-Efficient Home

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