Wood is a wonderful material, the ultimate sustainable resource. It’s also not cheap these days, so reusing wood is not just a green strategy but using recycled materials a cost-effective one too. It’s easy for the averagely competent DIY person to reshape and rework to give cast-off bits of wood a second life.

Lumber yards across the land are stuffed with old wood from demolished and remodeled buildings that just needs a bit of imagination to give it a new lease of life. Quality hard woods will last for decades, even centuries, but the first step is to make sure it’s sound. A key thing to do when using recycled wood is to check for woodworm, beetle or other live insect infestations. Extinct insect damage needn’t necessarily be a problem, if it’s not so extensive as to have weakened the wood. A few small holes can be filled or painted over. You’ll also need to check for warping. Take note of nails in old wood – they can be a pain to remove.

One of the most versatile pieces of wood you can find is a door. Doors make perfect table tops. Just add legs. Paneled doors may not make a perfect table because of the surface relief, but have other uses. Take out the panels and you have a large picture frame. By hinging a few doors together you have a room divider or screen. Screwed to the wall a couple of old doors can make a stylish headboard for a bed.

Of course they can also be reused as doors. Old wooden doors come in all sorts of styles and can be a fabulous décor statement, or a shabby chic accessory. If you find a door that’s too big for your doorway, don’t despair. A sliding door doesn’t have to be the exact dimensions of the old – it just needs to be a bit bigger.

Another versatile type of recycled wood is old floor and ceiling boards. If the wood is damaged or tatty on the original surface it can often be restored by simple sanding or just turned over, to make them as good as new. For outdoor projects wooden pallets are a good source of wood that’s just ripe for a new life.

If you know your woods, then you may be able to find damaged old wooden furnishings of rare and beautiful woods. Recycling doesn’t have to mean turning things into new items of furniture. Wood is everywhere in our homes. Quality woods can be carved and fashioned into all sorts of smaller items if you have the tools and the ideas. Using recycled materials is a creative way to save trees and the planet, and save money while you’re at it.

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