Reclaimed Building Materials

Deconstruction companies are located throughout the country. The best way to find them is to simply use your web browser and type in “deconstruction companies” and your location, or by searching for local deconstruction companies through the Building Materials Reuse Association, which has a terrific national database of deconstruction companies in both the U.S. and Canada. For example, in Chicago, there’s the Building Materials Reuse Center; in Rochester, N.Y., you could find ReHouse.

Additionally, there are more than 825 Habitat for Humanity ReStores in the United States and Canada, with more being added every day. The ReStonres have an abundant supply of reclaimed building materials that can help you with your exhibit fabrication or small remodeling project. If you give them a list of items you’re looking for, they might be able to help you find them.  They’ll also have names and locations of other places in your area that collect and sell items from deconstruction sales. To find a Habitat for Humanity ReStore near you, go to http://www.habitat.org/restores/default.aspx.

Close up from Wayback Machine exhibit

You could also contact your local Solid Waste District in your municipality. In Cleveland, for example, the Cuyahaga Solid Waste District lists a host of companies dealing with deconstruction processes and outlets.

Posting on Craigslist is a great way to find unusual items you need, and don’t be shy about asking for the strange and obscure. I once needed 100 sheets of rusty corrugated metal and had six responses from local farmers within a day, all willing to have me come and take the materials for free. Lots of potential materials can be found here that may be tricky to find elsewhere.

 At MCM, we found an old wooden telephone booth and a pinball machine on Craigslist, and were able to sell building materials like old acoustic tiles and insulation from our own deconstruction process on Craigslist, too. 

FreeCycle is another great way to find unusual objects and artifacts at no cost. Like Craigslist, it doesn’t cost anything to place your ad, and you’d be amazed what you can find. The National Directory lists the FreeCycle locations nearest you.

For a comprehensive list of other salvaged building materials by category, go to Greenexhibits.org. This listing is by product and material use, rather than by region, so you’ll need to do some of your own sorting to find things in your area.