Decon 101: Soft Stripping
Today I want to offer a bit of information on the nuts and bolts of what we do during a deconstruction. In previous blogs I’ve talked about what deconstruction is and why it’s so important that home and business owners choose deconstruction when it is an option. Today, I want to further differentiate between the two by explaining the process and the mindset that goes into a day’s work on a deconstruction crew.
We’ll start the discussion with a process called “soft stripping.” This is how we start a lot of our full deconstructions, and sometimes it’s the only salvage we are able to do on a property depending upon the time we have to do our work.
Soft stripping could also be thought of as surface stripping. Our crew goes through the home and strips any salvageable material that’s right on the surface. So, that means hanging or wall fixtures, baseboards or wall trim. Anything that can be removed with hand tools and is fit for reuse is what we are after in this stage.
This is an exciting part of the process because you can imagine what could become of the materials as you remove them from the home. You can see how well suited a particular piece of wood is for a certain type of table, or you imagine an old chandelier hanging in a new home. In this way, deconstruction really is an act of creation. It opens up a whole host of potential futures in a way that demolition never could.
Windows, doors, and trim are great items that we can typically remove with a utility knife, a small pry bar, and a sawzall. Doors are sometimes reused, but we’ve seen a lot of doors and windows upcycled into tables, benches, and wall decorations.
We also hang on to a lot that doesn’t seem quite as exciting. We save screws, hinges, doorknobs, and more. You never know when you’re going to need an ultra-specific set of hardware for an old fixture. Like much of the old growth lumber we salvage, they just don’t make these kinds of things like they used to, and if you’re working on something specific, you often can’t run to a big box hardware store and get what you need.
What ultimately sets deconstruction apart from typical demolition practices is the care that goes into it. Yes, the practices are somewhat different, and deconstruction is initially more expensive and labor intensive. But when materials are removed, they are done so with the goal of salvaging them for reuse, not simply clearing the way as fast as possible for the next thing to be built.
Are you interested in learning more about deconstruction and salvage? Explore the rest of our website or connect on Twitter @ReclaimedEnt.