architectural salvage questions

Architectural Salvage Questions: What to ask before you buy

Shopping for reclaimed and salvaged materials isn’t easy. Unlike popping down to your local IKEA, there’s no catalogue of products, and the stock varies from week to week. It’s a little bit like shopping in charity shops, there are loads of great things on sale, but not always at the same time. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re getting before you buy it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of architectural salvage questions to ask before you buy.

Architectural Salvage Question #1: What condition am I looking for?

architectural salvage questions

Before you buy anything, you have to know what sort of condition you want the piece of salvage to be in. Architectural salvage and reclaimed items come in a wide range of conditions. These vary from like-new to practically destroyed. If you want something that will look shiny and polished you should take into account not only the current condition but also whether it can be repaired or renovated. Can the salvage be salvaged? Or is it what we call “a burner”, i.e. firewood. If you are looking for something that’s distressed, you should also make sure that it is structurally sound. An example we often see is with our reclaimed ledge and brace doors. They’ve usually had a tough life, but a bit of TLC soon sorts them out, and they look brand new!

Architectural Salvage Question #2: Which materials do I want, and are they safe?

reclaimed materials questions

When talking about salvage materials most of you will think of wood, metal and ceramics. Choosing the right one for you is very important for the look and feel of your home. However, you should also think about the more hazardous materials you might find in your local salvage yard. Asbestos and lead paint are two of the more serious dangers we see on a regular basis. At Historic Doors, we do not sell anything that can cause you harm, but we will make sure you’re aware of it. Asbestos is an absolute no-no (as most people are aware of these days), and lead paint also carries some risks.

Be sure you know that you’re reclaimed chest of drawers isn’t going to harm you in the future. Vintage sinks and bathtubs often come with lead taps and fittings. This can then get into the water you drink and bathe in, so be on the lookout.

Architectural Salvage Question #3: Is it practical for my home?

architectural salvage questions

Is it really practical to have a reclaimed church pew in your two-bed terrace? These questions of practicality might seem to be a fun-killer, but it’s important you ask them. Going shopping for architectural salvage is like wandering through an emporium of the ages, and it’s easy to get carried away. For most people, a triple seat velour sofa isn’t really what they need at the time (unless that’s what you’re shopping for). Make sure to measure before you buy. The salvage yard owner should be more than willing to help you with this. Be aware that returns policies in this sort of business are rare, so make sure to get it right first time.

Architectural Salvage Question #4: Do I want a matching set?

architectural salvaged questions

Often we see people who love one of our reclaimed doors and ask whether we have another 12 in stock. Yes, we do, but they won’t all be quite the same. That’s part of the joy of using architectural salvage, everything is unique. Nothing is the same. Unfortunately, some people are yet to realise this and become upset that we don’t have exact copies of every reclaimed door knob we stock. Be aware of this fact before you visit your local salvage yard and save yourself some pain. If you are just looking for a standalone item, like a reclaimed bookshelf, settee or bed this shouldn’t be as much of a problem.

To Conclude

Architectural salvage is great, we love it and so should you. But it isn’t a perfect world, and you have to hunt to get exactly what you want. If you ask yourself these questions before your buy, you should avoid serious problems. So what are you waiting for? Get out to the salvage yards, bob shops and scrapheaps and show them what you can do!

If you are interested in any salvaged items, especially reclaimed doors then please check out our main website. If you are looking for something in particular, you can get in touch with us on 0800 747 1 747. Alternatively, email

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