How to Make the Most of Your Building Materials

The old adage states, “what goes up, must come down.” This may be true, but there’s no reason that stone and brick can’t go up once more. Jefferson Recycling will discuss how people can get more from their building materials by reusing and repurposing them beyond their first use.


Why is it Good to Reuse Brick and Stone?

Bricks have been used in structures for several thousand years. At one time, bricks were made by humans out of clay. Today, bricks are also commonly made from shale – a lightweight rock that is easy to break down and remold –  as well as concrete.


Stone has been used similarly for millennia. The pyramids of Giza, for example, are stone and continue to stand after 4,000 years. Depending on the type of stone, it can be used for both structural and decorative purposes.


Continually mining the materials required for construction can become costly and harmful to the environment. Instead of reusing stone and brick that is still viable, much of it ends up in dumpsters and then landfills, where it takes up unnecessarily large amounts of space.

Know Where the Materials Are Good for Reuse

Reusing stone and brick can add a unique character or vintage quality to any project, be it commercial or personal. But the reality is that over time, brick and stone can change in their structure and reliability. Bricks that were once used at the base of a settled foundation are going to be worthless beyond use for edging a flower garden. For example, if you try to use them for a patio, they won’t be able to handle the moisture. The most reliable bricks are going to be towards the top of a wall or structure, since they have been under the least amount of stress.


Some stones need to be used with caution due to being amorphous or porous solids. Over time, stones such as marble may erode, flake, or crack, if they are not properly installed or heavily exposed to the elements.


How to Dismantle a Wall for Stone and Brick

Sometimes an old building or wall is left standing with no future purpose. Instead of standard demolition, people can take advantage of the situation by breaking the wall down themselves. This is potentially very dangerous, however, depending on the height of the wall. Utilize a leader who has some applicable construction knowledge and make sure that there are enough people for safe dismantling.


Start at the top of the wall and chip away mortar with a chisel and small sledgehammer. Move horizontally across each layer of brick and make sure the layer above has been completed before moving down. Once the wall has been dismantled, chip off any remaining mortar with a brick hammer so that new mortar can properly adhere. If some of the mortar is stubborn, give it a soak in water and try it again.


If the older mortar still won’t come off, soak it in a diluted bath of hydrochloric acid and water. Hydrochloric acid is dangerous; please take the proper safety precautions, such as goggles, safety masks and long rubber gloves before starting this process.


Consider Reusing Old Stone and Brick from Onsite Crushing

Onsite concrete and stone crushed from excavation and demolition sites is an excellent alternative to mined quarry stone. They can be used to help construct a home, be used as backfill, a parking lot, or in reconstruction. Jefferson Recycling uses state of the art equipment that can operate onsite in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This helps limit landfill waste and potential for illegal dumping. If you have a need for onsite crushing, call Jefferson Recycling at 973.361.1589.