What to do with Leftover Building Materials

Naples remodeling
Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, repainting your bedroom, or putting in a new patio, odds are you’ll have some building materials leftover. Wood, paint and bricks are three commonly used construction materials that often end up in the trash or sitting in a backyard or garage for far too long. Instead of letting these materials go to waste or take up space in a landfill, make the most of them! Use them up, or dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way. Here’s how. What to do with Tiles
When to Use them:
  • Larger tiles can be reused as trivets or coasters in the kitchen.
  • Tiles of any size can be broken up and used for mosaics on tables, mirrors, frames, or any other hard surface.
  • If the tiles are broken up into small pieces, they can be used for garden pathways, or for filler at the bottom of planters so water can drain easier.
  • Larger pieces (or unbroken tile) can be used as a colorful border in a garden.

 When to Lose them:

  • Try putting tile up on Craigslist or Freecycle — you’d be surprised how many people will be ready and willing to take it off your hands.
  • Donate them to a school, non-profit group, or arts and crafts organization to use in their classes.
  • Donate them to a scrap or salvage yard. Look on Salvoweb’s directory or on Earth911 to find one near you.
 What to do with Bricks
When to Use them:
Make something! Reclaimed brick has a special patina that really adds something to a space.
  • Build or border a garden pathway.
  • Build a firepit if they’re fire-retardent
  • Build a barbecue
  • Build raised vegetable beds

 When to Lose them:

  • If you want to make some cash off of your spare bricks, try selling them to local bricklayers or landscapers. Make a couple of calls to see about how much your supply is worth.
  • Put them on Craigslist or Freecycle. A lot of people are working on construction and craft projects that involve bricks, which can get expensive.
  • Donate them to Habitat for Humanity or other non-profit building organizations. (Call first to make sure that they actually need them.)
What to Do with Wood
When to Use it:
There’s really no end to the uses for scrap wood. Get creative, and start surprising yourself.
  • Build a birdhouse.
  • Build a quirky bookshelf or storage unit.
  • Put together a trellis for your garden.
  • Build raised vegetable beds.
  • Use smaller pieces to make picture frames or handmade toys.
  • Use untreated wood for firewood.

When to Lose it:

  • Try donating pieces of lumber to Habitat for Humanity, a scrapyard, or a high-school woodworking shop.
  • Like bricks, people can always use scrap lumber. Try putting it on Freecycle or Craigslist.
  • Check with your city or your local recycling facility to see what any other options could be. Some facilities will put clean wood through a chipper and mix it with other materials to use as a soil enhancer.
What to do with Leftover Paint
When you purchase paint, try to buy just the amount that you need to finish the job. If you’re not sure, try getting less rather than more. You can always make another trip to the store, and it saves paint from going to waste and ending up in a landfill.

When to Use it:

  • If you have a lot of paint leftover, store it so that you can use it again in the next few years. Cover the opening of the can with plastic wrap, put the lid securely on, and store the can upside down to create a tight seal.
  • Use it! Try doing a smaller project, like repainting an old dresser or chair, or any touchups around the house. It’s amazing what a little paint can do.

 When to Lose it:
Donate the paint to a community organization like a school, church, shelter, or nonprofit. Many of these organizations could use a new coat of paint to freshen up their facilities.

If you do have to dispose of the paint, do it properly. Some states have specific disposal techniques for different kinds of paint, so make sure your methods are environmentally friendly and legal.

Latex and acrylic paints (water-based): Water-based paints can be thrown away in the trash, as long as they’re completely dry. Solidify any leftover paint using a paint hardener, or by putting kitty litter or shredded paper into the can. If there’s only a bit left, you can let it air dry. After it’s all dry, you can scoop it out into the trash, and recycle the can.

Alkyd (oil-based) paint: Oil-based paint is technically considered hazardous waste. It’s also incredibly flammable, so it should never be thrown in the trash. Bring it to a local recycling station to dispose of it properly. Call or check online before visiting, since many facilities have different policies.


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