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April 19, 2014  |  Login
Reviving Old Materials for a New Home
By Eric Corey Freed

Remodeling your home is a form of recycling. Reusing an existing building, instead of building something new, saves energy and resources.

 The old appliances you remove are easily salvaged or sold. The sinks and tubs removed can be reused. If your existing toilet is a low-flush model, keep it and reuse it; if not, these old fixtures can be ground up and added as an aggregate into concrete.

Salvage yards offer possible treasures waiting to be found. Antique light fixtures, claw-foot tubs, and historic fireplace mantles are common finds in a salvage yard.

Warning: While paint strippers can bring new life to old furniture and fixtures, the chemicals they use are typically some of the harshest you can imagine. Although they require more elbow grease, electric sanders and strippers are a healthier choice. For stubborn or hard-to-clean surfaces, new products, such as SoyGel (, offer a natural and chemical-free alternative to paint strippers.

Before the remodeling work begins, seal all the existing ducts and vents. This will prevent this dirt from traveling through the home. In order to remove the dust and chemicals stirred up by the remodeling project, tell your contractor to seal off the area to be remodeled with plastic sheeting, and leave it up until the project is finished. Finally, when the project is complete, open all the windows to flush the home with fresh air for a few days; this will remove a large portion of the VOCs and chemicals in the home.



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