What to Look For When Shopping For Salvaged Materials
Learn what types of materials you can expect to find in reclamation yards and how to inspect the items before you buy.
Reclamation yards may have a specialty, or be more general in their stock, but it is always sensible to expect the unexpected. Most of the larger reclamation companies now have websites, but you would be well advised to inspect the goods before purchase wherever possible. The following categories of materials frequently appear in reclamation yards.
Example Items: Tiles, flagstones, floorboards
All these items are subject to a reasonable amount of waste, such as split or damaged boards and chipped tiles. Adjust your quantity calculation requirements accordingly to compensate for this.
Example Items: Mantelpieces, complete fireplaces, hearths
When buying a complete fireplace, make sure all items are present. For period fireplaces, check that tiles are original and that they fit the surround. Look out for cracks or chips in stone components.
Example Items: Bricks, natural stone, beams, joists
Condition and grade of stone or bricks is important—are there enough and are they suitable for your needs? Wooden items must be checked for condition, such as rot or insect infestation.
Example Items: Wooden paneling, handrails, balusters, decorative drywall
Condition must be thoroughly checked. Be certain of your size requirements. Reclaimed drywall is often very delicate and prone to damage.
Example Items: Roll-top baths, basins, shower trays, faucets
These items may need lots of restoration, so think carefully before purchase. Faucets will almost certainly need new washers and a general overhaul to restore to good working order.
Example Items: Clay tiles, stone tiles, slates, chimney pots, ridge and hip tiles
Check coloring, especially if trying to match with existing roof — also check that clips have not broken off tiles. When buying a batch of roman tiles, ensure all profiles match — there are subtle variations.
Example Items: Internal doors, external doors, windows, door and window fittings
Check doors and windows are "square" — old doors are often warped. Stripped doors may also be loose at the joints. Check for rot. Make sure fittings already work or are repairable.
Example Items: Radiators, towel rails
Bear in mind that valves may require changing. There will often be size-compatibility issues with new fittings. Radiators will require thorough flushing out and possibly sand-blasting.
Example Items: Cast-iron guttering, downpipes, hoppers, outlets
Check general condition, as old cast-iron guttering cracks and rusts — both of which can put it beyond repair. Check for correct size of fittings and brackets for installation.
Example Items: Capping and coping stones, ornamental stonework, paving slabs
Carry out general damage inspection, and check size variations. Different slab depths will make laying them much more difficult.