Picking Apart: Why You Should Ensure the Best Use of Spare Construction Materials

bulk garbage for collection at roadside

If you’re undertaking a home improvement or renovation project, you might find yourself ending up with plenty of spare materials lying around. Wood waste disposal can be particularly urgent; quality wood is a valuable material but can degrade over time. Thankfully, there are great options for recycling wood available. But when it comes to other materials, you might be wondering what to do.

Here are some ideas for your leftover construction materials.


If some or all of your construction materials have yet to be harvested – for example, roofing, flooring, doors and windows, lighting, and other fixtures – consider bringing in some help with deconstruction. While some of this work can be done on your own, expert assistance may be necessary to harvest materials in great condition. And that condition can, in turn, make the difference between having resale value, upcycling potential, or just plain rubbish.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity might also provide experienced volunteers to aid you in deconstruction so that you don’t need to worry about additional expenses.


As a trend, the upcycled ‘look’ can come and go – but the essence of upcycling is timeless. By making an effort to create something useful out of scrap materials, we are removing waste from the system, sparing the use of landfills and carbon emissions involved in waste treatment. We can also gain individual benefits of craftsmanship by tackling a creative and fun hands-on project. You never know when the extra skill might come in handy when it comes to larger projects or house repairs.


Materials might be leftover from parts of the house where they aren’t needed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used elsewhere. Spare roofing shingles, wall or floor tiles, for example, can be laid out in your yard to create a low maintenance garden. When you don’t need to worry much about watering, trimming, fertilizer, and herbicide, you stand to save a lot in the long run.

Donate or sell

pile of deconstructed wood in a bin

Various local organizations may accept your spare materials as donations, or for resale. Fixtures such as cabinets, mirrors, and plumbing could still be in perfect working condition, but just don’t fit in with the new look of your home. Selling or giving them away can extend the item’s lifespan and contribute the hidden benefit of reducing demand for further production.

What items a particular service would accept often depends on the amount, type, and condition of the material, so make a few inquiries before you decide the best option.


As a last resort, any waste you can’t dispose of through other means can be tossed out. You can pay for a collection service or dumpster, so that everything goes out in one trip, saving your time and travel costs.

Take note, however, of any potentially toxic or hazardous materials. Certain types of wood, for example, may be coated with arsenic-containing paints. You shouldn’t burn them or attempt to strip off the paint yourself, as this could release toxic fumes. Make some inquiries among local waste disposal services to find the best way of getting rid of such hazardous wastes.

There’s a lot more to spare materials than just stripping them down and throwing them away. Be careful in harvesting them, put some thought into their condition, and ways you can still make use of them. Consider any further value they might have for sale or as a donation. In the end, what’s left for disposal will have a greatly minimized impact on our environment.


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