top of page

Creative DIY Ideas Using Scrap Building Materials

Close up of bathroom sink with tile backsplash

Any true DIYer never lets good scrap building materials go to waste. We set it in a designated corner to collect dust until we find use for it on a future project or repair, but as your leftover pile begins to grow, so does your urgency for figuring out how to recycle it. If you have a stash of leftover lumber, bricks, tiles, or concrete lying around, then this blog was meant to find you!

With a little creativity and some DIY enthusiasm, your scrap building materials can be repurposed into one-of-a-kind projects for your home. Check out these project ideas and DIY tips for breathing new life into leftover materials, turning them into functional and beautiful additions for your space.

Leftover Lumber

1. Garage Workbench: Utilize leftover lumber to craft a sturdy workbench for your garage that can easily outbeat the quality of most moderately-priced kits you can buy on the market. By constructing a simple frame and adding a plywood or hardwood top, you can create a personalized workspace that can help make future projects an easier undertaking. To take things up a notch, consider adding drawers, shelves or a pegboard backing to neatly store your tools.

2. Outdoor Table: Transform unused lumber into a charming outdoor table. From picnic tables to patio dining sets, the possibilities are endless. After you build your frame, sand down the wood with a sanding sponge or orbital sander and wipe away the dust with a clean cloth. Next, apply an outdoor-rated wood stain such as lacquer, epoxy, polyurethane or varnish and seal it with a clear top coat for a polished finish that withstands the elements.

3. Cubbies: Build cubbies for organizing shoes, books, backpacks or decorative items. These versatile storage solutions can be tailored to fit any space—perfect for entryways, mudrooms, or kids' rooms. For added functionality, try building out different-sized cubby holes to fit various items, or installing useful elements like a bench seat and double hooks.

Pro Tip: Always measure twice and plan your project thoroughly before cutting any lumber. Sand your edges for a smooth, professional finish starting with a high grit sandpaper and working your way down to a low grit.


1. Garden Pathways: Create an inviting pathway in your garden using leftover bricks. Lay them in various patterns—herringbone, basket weave, or running bond—to add charm and character to your outdoor space. For best results, make sure to dig out the soil with a flat shovel and line it with landscaping fabric. Add a layer of gravel followed by a layer of paving sand to create an even surface before arranging your bricks. Complete the look by filling in the gaps with more sand using an outdoor broom.

2. Firepit: Gather leftover bricks to build a cozy firepit in your backyard. Stack them in a circular formation on top of an even 2-inch layer or sand, gravel or concrete pavers, leaving a large opening for ventilation. To make this DIY firepit a focal point for gatherings and marshmallow roasting nights, add an additional perimeter of pea gravel to section off your seating area.

Pro Tip: Use a level to ensure bricks are properly aligned and evenly spaced. Consider using a masonry adhesive for added stability.


1. Cabinet or Closet Backsplash: Revamp your bathroom or closet by using scrap tile to create a new backsplash. If you have a small batch of leftovers, these smaller surface area projects are perfect for putting the materials you have on hand to good use!  Whether it's a bold mosaic or a classic subway pattern, a backsplash can instantly elevate the aesthetic of your home and create cohesion throughout its interior.

2. Fireplace Surround: Upgrade your fireplace by tiling the surround leading up to your mantle and decorative moulding frame. Chances are these materials are already being used somewhere within your home, so for an added twist, try experimenting with different application patterns and grout colors to create a stunning focal point that offers consistency without being too consistent.

3. Resurface an Existing Table: Give an old table a fresh look by tiling its surface. This DIY project transforms worn-out furniture into unique centerpieces for your home and provides you with a heat and water-resistant surface. That alone can be extra useful if your kitchen boasts limited counter space for prep. For a seamless finish, create a wooded border to frame your tile work and seal it for longevity.

Tip: Use tile spacers for even grout lines and to ensure the tiles are properly sealed and protected against stains and moisture.


1. String Light Posts: If you have leftover quick-mix concrete, pour it into large planters and place a treated wood or weather-resistant metal post in the center of each—making sure to secure it in place so it dries level in a vertical position. This is a cost efficient way to create stylish posts for hanging string lights in your garden or patio area without the hassle of digging. 

2. Garden Stools Using a Bucket as the Mold: 5-gallon plastic construction buckets make for incredible molds to cast concrete garden stools at the perfect seating height. Once dry, these versatile and durable stools can serve as seating, side tables or planter stands in outdoor spaces. Better yet? You can customize it by adding in bulk pigments to your wet mix that match your outdoor decor vibe.

Tip: Consider adding decorative embellishments (such as colored stones or seashells) to the concrete mix for a unique look.

Supplies to Conquer Your Scrap Building Material Projects

Chances are you’ll be left with scrap building materials from just about any home improvement project you take on. Finding a creative way to recycle those into something beautiful and practical is not only resourceful, it reduces waste. As for the DIY tools and supplies you don’t have on hand? We’ve got you covered! 

Stop into your local Doug Ashy for anything from wood stains to wet saws and get expert project advice from experienced professionals you can trust. Our team is ready to assist you with product recommendations and top-tier customer service to ensure your first trip is your ONLY trip.

Find a store near you.

bottom of page