If you’re settled on reducing your environmental footprint then you’ll be interested in reusing flooring materials when it’s time to get new flooring in. This doesn’t necessarily mean having to put up with old and dirty carpets, but a bit of creativity could be required to get new looking flooring when reusing old materials.
Secondhand Can Be Beautiful
Real wood flooring is the most obvious material where the age of the material often doesn’t matter and in fact it can be enhanced with age. The same can be true of stone or certain ceramic tiles. Unless you’re happy to put up with other peoples’ stains and wear, carpet is best reused by looking for areas in good condition that you can cut out and use in smaller rooms.
But the real question is; how to get hold of reusable materials? Architectural salvage yards are worth looking at but what’s on offer, although cheaper than new, will still cost money. The other aspect is that a lot of yards are now selling reproductions as well as original salvage, which rather defeats the point of trying to find reusable items.
Get In Before The Dump
In so many cases people who are replacing flooring will simply expect the people fitting the new flooring to take the old material away and it’s likely to go straight to the dump. These days trade waste has to be paid for but the fitters will pass that cost on to the customer.
Once it’s gone to the dump then it’s unlikely that an ordinary eco-friendly consumer will be able to get hold of it. It will either be thrown away or picked up by a dealer who has made an arrangement with the people operating the dump. You could try making a similar arrangement but if they aren’t amenable you will have to lurk by the tip all day and every day on the off chance that the perfect off-cuts arrive, which isn’t really viable for most people.
Even if the customer wants to see their old flooring reused it is unlikely that the fitters will take much care over its removal, they’ll just be interested in getting the new flooring down. So they may well make an extra charge for removing the old flooring carefully. This is certainly the case with kitchen fitters. So if there is a chance of reusing flooring material the onus is really on the customer of the new material to take up and pass on the old rather than allow it to be taken to the tip.
Markets For Reusable Material
If the customer is prepared to remove the old flooring for reuse then they may sell it, if they think it has any secondhand value, through small ads, cards in newsagents’ windows or through online selling and auction sites. So keeping an eye on these resources is a good idea.
If the flooring has no secondhand value or the owners don’t want to make the effort of selling it (perhaps they have nowhere to store it while it’s being sold) then they may well offer it for free through Internet groups such as Freecycle (www.freecycle.org).
This organisation has local groups where goods are offered or requested by email and usually the person taking the goods will pick them up. So the person having new flooring can take up the old, advertise it on freecycle and then have it taken away for free. They also then have the satisfaction of knowing that it will have a new life rather than being thrown in a landfill site.
Talk To The Suppliers
The other option, if you know exactly what you want, is to make an arrangement with local flooring and carpet fitting companies. If you let them know exactly what you are prepared to take then they might let you know if there is flooring coming out of a customer’s house that you could be interested.
There will almost certainly have to be a payment for this but then it is a service, so that’s not unreasonable. It could be ethically tricky though, you should at least ensure that they are not charging the customer for disposal as well.