Refinish Your Own Salvaged Building Materials

Salvaged building materials are a booming business. And sometimes the price of those “antique” or “professionally finished” pieces can make you choke. Why not refinish your own salvaged pieces.
With a little elbow grease and a sharp eye for solid materials, you can have a one of a kind home improvement artifact that takes recycling to a whole new level.
In my little corner of the world (semi-rural Ontario), there are plenty of sources for old barn materials and demolition scraps. That suits my semi-rural tastes perfectly.
If you’re an urbanite who leans more towards the contemporary, keep an out the construction and demolition sites near you. It’s amazing what you can do with some scrap metal, glass and concrete.

But enough about you. Let’s look at some creative ways to use salvaged building materials from farms, barns and dilapidated homes.
Ran across this one (pictured above) on kijiji and thought it was brilliant. Old floorboards from barns built in the 1800’s were scraped, sanded and refinished to create the top and frame of benches.
I’ve also seen this concept done with tables using iron frames and legs. Gorgeous. The proprietor of my fav salvage shop says six coats of standard varnish is the key, making the surface cleanable and giving it a great shine.
This is a project my hubby and I are set to tackle this fall. We bought a 10 foot long floorboard, about 2″ thick and 6″ wide. With some left over paint scraped off, a thorough sanding and those magical six coats of varnish, we’re hoping to mount it over our slate-covered fireplace as a killer mantle.
The same thing could be done with old roof beams (we just didn’t have the clearance). Mounted with long anchor bolts directly into the studs behind and supported by brackets, these mantles are green and great looking.
Window Hoods
Bored of your ho hum exterior? How about installing a set of salvaged window hoods to spruce it up? Made of cast iron or sometimes concrete, you’ll need to give them a thorough cleaning and ensure they’re still structurally sound before installing. They are generally one of a kind though and require some masonry work to get it.
Use your imagination when searching out salvaged building materials. You don’t always need to use them for their original purpose. Think of the supports and structures in your home, from railings to posts, mantles, gables and door frames. Put your own hard work into it and you can have incredible, unique home improvements from rescued landfill.
Good for you, good for the planet.
photo courtesy of Zack Holle

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