My dad is the world's best trash picker. Besides my Hot Wheels tricycle, my first three bikes came from the trash. If I need to find something for a project at home, like window sashes or old shutters he will get them for me. He must have perfect 180 degree periferal vision when he drives.
Luckily we don't always have to have a professional trash picker in the family or wait for a neighbor to discard that perfect cast iron sink. Architectural salvage is a huge business and the selection of items available gets better all the time. Unfortunately people have begun to recognize the value in the old and that old door or toilet is not always as cheap as it used to be but you can still find great pieces at reasonable prices.
Of course there is always ebay and craigslist. I find that they both require more time to sort through all the junk. It boggles my mind the stuff people will list on there for sale and if you try to do too detailed of a search you risk filtering out something good. Also, I enjoy being able to look at something in person before I buy whenever I can. That is why architectural salvage yards and shops are great.
Don't you just love that sink?! Only $450 from Restore. (pic from Restore)
Here's a list of salvage shops and what they specialize in (where available):
Provenance Architectural Salvage: Architectural Salvage from some of Philly's most historic landmarks. Philadelphia
Second Chance Inc: "We rescue the wood, metal, marble, plaster, stone and other architectural elements that make the building special. We give these pieces new lives, in new homes, in new ways, with new uses." Baltimore, Philadelphia and DC
Portland Salvage: has four floors of architectural pieces, reusable building materials, tools, fixtures, collectibles and antique period materials. Portlant, ME
Old House Parts Company: Our focus is on 18'th, 19'th and early 20'th century restoration and home improvement Architectural Salvage and Architectural Antiques like french doors, antique windows, antique doors and other architectural salvage for exterior and interior design. Kennebunk, ME
Nor'East Architectural Salvage Antiques: We stock an extensive inventory of architectural salvage and antique building materials from 1700-1940. South Hampton, NH
Architectural Antiques: Mantles, bars, doors, antique beds, mirrors, paneled rooms, ironwork, stained glass, lighting. Philadelphia
Ohmega Salvage: At Ohmega Salvage we are committed to preserving the architectural heritage of the Bay Area. To this end, we buy and sell usual and unusual building materials. Berkeley, CA
Architectural Salvage, Inc.: Doors,hardware, plumbing fixtures, mantels, lighting and more. Denver, CO
Architectural Antiques (the Original): High quality stuff! and they take the extra step to help you integrate your item into your space.
Salvage One: Everything from Andirons to Wrought Iron. Chicago
Architectural Accents: All the usual including fired tile, columns and garden items. Atlanta
The Demolition Depot: This is a personal favorite. I am on their site all the time. A unique source of vintage plumbing fixtures, doors, windows, shutters, railings, gates, grills, mantels, stone and terracotta pieces, religious objects and so much more. NYC
Frank's Demolition Salvage: architectural antiques and building materials such as granite, marble steps, cast iron radiators, ashlar (stone), brownstone, bluestone, keystones, distressed bricks, field stones. Woodlyn, PA
Olde Good Things: locations in Manhattan (2 actually), Los Angeles and Scranton, PA
ReStore: A Philly favorite, they have plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, hardware, mantels, doors stairwell parts, iron fencing, cast iron ornaments, marble, stone, slate and tile. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent! Philadelphia
Sylvan Brandt: a specialist in resawn and antique flooring, they also carry beams, doors and other architectural elements. Lititz, PA (PA Dutch Country!)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are just some of my favorites, some local and others not, places I have actually been to, or know a little about. If you have a favorite salvage shop near you please comment about it!
reduce : reuse : recycle : reinvent
happy trash picking!