Go Green & Recycle: 3 Building Materials To Consider

If you are considering building a house or need to replace the siding and roofing on your current house, have you thought about using recycled materials? This doesn't have to mean that you'll be scavenging old properties and buildings looking for suitable wood and other building materials to use. There are companies out there that use recycled materials such as wood, metal, and asphalt to develop new materials that are used in home construction. Here are three recycled materials to consider.

Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding is a highly durable, fire-resistant material that is made from recycled wood fibers, sand, and cement. Wood fiber used in making fiber cement siding comes from post-consumer and post-industrial waste wood instead of from trees.

Some manufacturers of this siding material are using fly ash in place to replace a portion of the cement because it is lighter than cement. Fly ash is a by-product of the coal-burning industry and readily available. In fact, two power plants in Wisconsin produce almost 100,000 tons of fly ash each year.

The materials used to make this type of siding are mixed and can be compressed to resemble natural wood planks. The siding is fairly easy to install; however, it's a good idea to hire a professional installation service that is familiar with fiber cement siding. Care needs to be taken when cutting the siding to the correct size due to the dust that can form during the process.

If you are upgrading your current siding, it will need to be removed before the fiber cement siding can be installed. While it may be tempting to install the new siding directly on top of the old siding, doing so is not recommended because fiber cement siding is heavy and should be nailed directly to the exterior wall studs. For more information, contact a James Hardie siding contractor.

Metal Roofing

One thing that many people don't realize is that old steel, in various amounts, is always used to make new steel, depending on the method of processing. The basic oxygen furnace process uses 25-35% old steel. The electric arc furnace process uses almost 100% old steel. Therefore, all steel roofing materials are made with recycled steel, to some extent.

Metal roofing is also fire resistant and can be made to resemble other types of roofing materials, such as slate, cedar shingles, and clay tiles. The installation of metal roofing should be done by someone with metal roofing experience.

Metal roofing can be installed over an existing roof as long as the roof doesn't have any water damage or structural defects. If so, the damage and/or defects should be repaired before installing a metal roof over top. Alternatively, you can remove the old roofing before installing the new metal roof.

Asphalt Paving

Approximately 11 million tons of asphalt shingles are removed from roofs each year. Asphalt shingles contain the same materials (asphalt, aggregate, and fiber) that are used in asphalt pavements that are installed in a hot mix process. This makes used asphalt roofing shingles perfect to recycle for roadways, parking lots, and driveways.

The process of recycling the shingles involves grinding them down into small sizes ranging from one-quarter of an inch to two inches. These small pieces are then mixed with bitumen, which is the black, sticky substance that is used to bind or glue the pieces together.

If you'd like your driveway to be paved with recycled asphalt, ask your local paving contractors if their supplier provides it. If not, see if one of them will be willing to work with you by getting recycled asphalt for your driveway installation from an asphalt shingle recycler


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