Building a sustainable deck
Get these green tips for making, repairing or renovating your eco-friendly deck.
Whether you’re preparing to build, repair or replace a deck, there are a number of ways to ensure a quality product with a small environmental footprint. All that’s needed is smart planning and design, coupled with green deck materials and high-quality construction, and you can build a beautiful and sustainable deck that will last a very long time.
First: smart planning and design. Position your deck so that it gets more sun when it’s cooler in morning and evening, and shade during the middle of the day. This will allow you to get the most use out of your deck, and provides some UV protection for the wood.
Can you include a stone patio alongside a smaller deck? Stone patios typically require less maintenance and fewer materials, so they have the potential to save you money while still providing a beautiful outdoor living space.
Of course, before you replace an old deck, decide whether you can simply repair it. Before purchasing any new materials, assess your existing site — both the built and natural features — to see what on-site elements, or those salvaged from off-site, can be reused.
Then look for a supplier that sells green materials, considering the full life cycle of products you buy. Here are a few questions to ask:
- How far has the product travelled to make it to your retailer? Imported products can result in more carbon pollution from shipping than buying those produced locally.
- Has it been certified by an auditor like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Rainforest Alliance?
- What kind of finish and maintenance will be required and how frequently?
- Where will materials go at the end of life: will they be added to the landfill or can they be recycled or reused?
If you’re planning to hire a contractor, look for one that has a reputation for doing quality jobs that last. If possible, ask to see their previous work, preferably on projects several years old to see how they have stood the test of time. The less frequently you have to repair or replace parts of your deck, the more money you’ll save and the less waste you’ll create.
Taking extra steps, like using hidden fasteners, will keep your deck worry-free for years. These fasteners attach from below or through the sides of boards and keep water from entering the wood as easily, reducing decay. Because the screws and nails are invisible, hidden fasteners also make for a cleaner-looking deck.
Ultimately, when it comes to sustainable deck design, use materials as efficiently as possible and build a quality product that lasts for years of outdoor enjoyment. Long-lasting decks are not only environmentally friendly — they can save you money too.
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