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Salvaged Brick

Gavin Historical Bricks supplies salvaged bricks and cobblestones recovered from buildings and streets from around the country… Read more
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  • Whenever we can reuse a product instead of producing a new one from raw materials--even if those raw materials are recycled--we save on resource use and energy. Many salvaged materials used in buildings (bricks, millwork, framing lumber, plumbing fixtures, and period hardware) are sold on a local or regional basis by salvage yards. It can be challenging to ensure that salvaged material can meet performance requirements, so it’s common to see this material used decoratively (when doing so, watch out for hazards like lead paint).

    Also included in this category are products made from reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is usually salvaged from buildings slated for demolition, abandoned railroad trestles, and “sinker logs” that sank decades ago during river-based log drives. It can also be obtained from trees that have been recently harvested from urban or suburban areas (such as disease-killed trees). Reclaimed wood is often available in species, coloration, and wood quality that is no longer available in newly harvested timber. In some cases, reclaimed wood suppliers have only limited quantities with matching coloration or weathering patterns; ample lead time and accurate materials estimates can help ensure the availability of the desired wood. Lowering the uniformity standards for finished wood can also increase the potential for use of reclaimed wood. As with other resources, the supply of reclaimed wood is limited. High demand for some kinds of reclaimed wood can lead to unique concerns, such as the premature demolition of historic barns and other buildings, or "sinker log" reclamation practices that are illegal or compromise river bottoms. The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program is available for reclaimed wood as well as for FSC wood, although few salvage operations are currently certified. In the absence of certification, take a close look at company protocols to ensure that reclaimed wood is appropriately sourced.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

Gavin Historical Bricks supplies salvaged bricks and cobblestones recovered from buildings and streets from around the country. Bricks are used in new construction to provide an antique look, as well as for historic restoration projects. Custom brick matching is available. The company also handcuts antique brick into 1/2" floor tile for a variety of applications. Shipping is provided nationwide, though the heavy weight reduces the practicality (and environmental attractiveness) of shipping large quantities long distances.

Recycled bricks are attractive and functional, and can be installed to have drainage voids along the installed edges as porous paving systems. Porous pavement needs to be installed above a “reservoir” of uniform-sized aggregate (for example, 1-1/2" crushed stone).

Brick is a durable building material, but it is fired at high temperatures, resulting in significant embodied energy. Some brick products are manufactured using less energy-intensive processes; there are others that safely incorporate waste and recycled materials; and reusing brick will extend its service life.

Products listed here use low-temperature manufacturing processes, incorporated recycled waste products, or are salvaged responsibly from old buildings for reuse in brick veneer. Note that not all salvaged, or “reclaimed” brick is suitable for reuse. Salvaged brick needs to be carefully removed from environmentally sound buildings to insure the bricks do not contain toxins or are damaged structurally. And “Salmon” brick taken from the interior of old buildings is too soft, fragile, and vulnerable to moisture for reuse as exterior brick veneer. If purchasing or specifying reclaimed brick, make sure you know what you're getting, and that it meets your project's needs.

LEED Credits

MRc3: Materials Reuse

MRc3.1: Materials Reuse

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