How to Build a Home Using Only Recycled Materials

How to Build a Home Using Only Recycled Materials

How to Build a Home Using Only Recycled Materials

Building a home using only recycled materials is an innovative and eco-friendly approach to construction. With some creativity and resourcefulness, it is possible to construct a durable and comfortable home without relying on new materials. Here is an in-depth guide on how to build a house using recycled items.

Finding and Collecting Recycled Materials

The first step is gathering enough reusable materials to build your home. Here are some of the main items to look for:


  • Reclaimed lumber: Old wood from barns, fencing, and demolition projects is perfect for framing and finishing a home. Reclaimed wood has character and cuts down on deforestation.

  • Pallets: These sturdy wooden transport structures are abundant and free from many retailers. Pallets can be broken down into boards for walls, floors, and roofs.

  • Salvaged furniture: Dismantle old tables, cabinets, and other wooden furnishings to reuse the wood.


  • Scrap metal: Check scrap yards and auto shops for offcut metals to use for framing, roofing, and finishing.

  • Used appliances: Recycle washers, dryers, refrigerators, and other appliances for their metal framing and sheet metal exterior.


  • Bottles and containers: Clean, flatten, and fill plastic bottles with dirt or sand to make bricks. Containers like buckets and baskets can store materials on-site.

  • Synthetic fabrics: Use recycled polyester, nylon, and other fabrics for insulation batting and weatherproof coverings.

Other Materials

  • Tires: Pack with dirt to make rammed earth tire walls or use for landscaping.

  • Glass bottles: Upcycle into windows, wall art, and lampshading.

  • Paper/cardboard: Shred for insulation or compress into bricks.

Structural Design Elements

When building a home from recycled materials, you need to get creative with the structural design. Here are some elements to consider:


  • Make bricks from recycled paper, plastic bottles, or rammed earth tires to form a solid foundation.

  • Pour a slab foundation using broken up recycled concrete chunks as aggregate within the concrete mix.


  • Use reclaimed lumber, salvaged metal poles, or a combination to frame walls, partitions, and rooflines.

  • Connect framing materials with recycled screws, bolts, brackets, and fasteners as possible.


  • Build walls from recycled wood planks, scrap metal sheeting, glass bottle bricks, rammed earth tires, or compressed paper blocks.

  • Infill wall framing with recycled fabric insulation batting.


  • Frame rooflines with recycled wood or metal.

  • Cover with salvaged sheet metal, reclaimed asphalt roof tiles, recycled plastic panels, or compressed cardboard shingles.

Interior Finishes and Decor

Finishing the interior with recycled materials gives your home character and saves money. Ideas include:


  • Lay reclaimed wood boards, recycled rubber mats, or crushed glass tiles for flooring.

Kitchen and Bath

  • Use salvaged sinks, counters, cabinets, and appliances to outfit kitchens and baths.

Wall Finishes

  • Panel walls with recycled barn wood, corrugated metal, license plates, or glass bottles for texture.


  • Upcycle salvaged and secondhand furnishings throughout the home.

With determination and resourcefulness, it is completely possible to construct an energy-efficient and comfortable home using all recycled building materials. Get creative with how you source and repurpose items, and your home will be unique and eco-friendly.