I recently purchased a home in Wisconsin, USA, and in the process of making repairs and upgrades I find I'm generating a fair amount of scrap lumber each month. I keep whatever I think I'll be able to re-use in the future, but there's still some left over.

I've been putting some of it in my regular garbage bin (which is sent to a landfill) but I'm wondering if there's a better alternative?

Here are some more details about the pieces:

  • A mixture of pine, plywood, and fiber board
  • Some pieces are painted with what could potentially be lead paint, given the age of the house
  • Some pieces have nails or screws -- I could remove these if necessary

3 Answers 3


You need to sort it.

Dimension lumber can be burned. Can either remove ironware or leave it and separate from ash, or dispose of with ash.

Treated lumber (green or brown) landfill. Note that it may not be obvious if it has been weathered. If in use it was in contact with the ground, or if it was installed for wet service (as backer for bathroom tile, say.)(yes this happens...)

OSB, plywood, particle board -- land fill. The glues are toxic when burned.

Not sure what you mean by fiberboard. Depends on what holds the fibers together.

Painted wood: There are easy tests for heavy metal in paint. Lead isn't the only one of concern, as chromium, arsenic, copper were also used. Modern paint is a lot safer. I would just send anything of unknown paint origin to the landfill. But even with modern paint I would suggest not inhaling the fumes.

Drywall: Some places have a separate category at the landfill, and it is binned, then sent back to drywall makers for re-cycling. (Vancouver does this.)


I was present as my house was built; we burned about 80 % of the scrape . Actually as the owner, I had to keep the framers from burning good new wood for heat. After it was built ,a grader moved soil around ,I don't know where the nails went. I think burning is the best choice for a larger quantity of wood. Although I put a few pieces of wet, rotten wood ( landscape stuff) in the forest to continue rotting.

  • This looks more like a comment than an actual answer. Why do you think burning it is the best thing to do?
    – THelper
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 8:18

Depending on where you live, you may have a local 'builders tip': a waste/refuse centre that specialises in construction and demolition waste recycling and recovery.

While they usually deal with tradespeople and industry-level waste recovery, most do allow home/DIY/consumer drop-off - although you should check their website and/or call them to confirm if this is the case.

This would be the best place to bring stuff like old fiber-board and wood painted with lead paint. They will have processes in place to handle, treat or dispose of this correctly - and it's a far sight better for the environment than letting it leech into the soil and water at your house or at the general waste tip!

If you're unsure if there is a centre in your area, you can usually find them with a quick search in Google. Otherwise, check your local council or state-level institutions for waste. In Australia, Planet Ark maintains a 'Recycling Near You' site with a page specifically for demolition waste.

  • 1
    This is certainly the case in the UK. Wood is segregated. Last time I dropped some off I had to sort it - untreated: with garden waste to be shredded and composted, *treated, painted etc.: separate container (burnt in a controlled facility).
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 10:50

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