|A good architectural salvage yard |
will have doors like this aplenty.
First, the quality of older building materials is often superior to what you’ll find at modern home improvement stores.
Second, salvaged items typically sell at discounts of fifty to ninety percent off new prices (some items are in fact brand new products misordered by contractors, rejected by customers, or discontinued by their manufacturers--occasionally, they’re still in their original shipping containers). Lastly, salvaged items are infinitely greener than new, so-called “green” products, since they already exist and consume no additional resources.
But be forewarned: Buying from an architectural salvage yard isn’t for everyone. Unlike shopping at your local building emporium, you can’t just grab all the generic, Made-In-China goodies you need and be on your way. You need patience. It can takes months, in fact, to find just the right items for your project.
|On a really good day, you might find a|
brand new high-end entrance door like this,
perhaps still crated for delivery.
Now, some salvaged items that can be especially good values:
• Front entrances are one of the most commonly replaced items in home improvement, so salvage yards are usually well stocked with them. Often, these are very fine old doors that have been changed out merely to keep up with some new design fad. If you’re willing to live with the patina that accompanies a previous life, you can get a high quality front entrance for dimes on the dollar. Your best bet is to look for units complete with the original jamb and hinges, since fitting a new door into an existing opening can be very labor intensive.
|One of my local architectural salvage yards—|
Urban Ore Ecopark in Berkeley, California.
• If you’re restoring an older home, the salvage yard is also a good source of hard-to-find vintage hardware items such as lock sets, brass switch cover plates, ornamental heat registers, and the like. They may require some TLC to be put back in use, but their quality is generally superior to that of new reproductions--often including the stuff available from those ostensible “restoration” catalog houses.
Next time, some more salvage yard bargains, along with a few items to approach with caution.