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tected from the weather. In addition, the material available today is younger and less dense than the material available 60 to100 years ago. As a result, fir decking today does not have the longevity of decks installed decades ago. That being said, technology has come a long way in developing deck paints and stains that help keep a painted fir porch looking great for years. ● Pros Great option for historic homes or homeowners trying to create an “old time” feel; a great way to introduce color to your exterior structure; moderately expensive. ● Cons Will need to be repainted every 5 to 8 years depending on use; requires an experienced painter to achieve a successful finish. Hardwoods Some hardwoods are more readily accessible than others depending on your geographic region. Common options are IPE, teak, redwood, cedar, and walnut. IPE—a Brazilian hardwood—is the newest member of the group. IPE—like teak—will weather to a silvery grey if not maintained. When first installed and sealed, IPE is a rich, beautiful deep brown. While many clients love its sophisticated look, they also need to know that IPE will need to be re-sealed once a year in order to sustain that look. If not maintained, it will start to change color, which can de-formalize the appearance of the space. IPE is incredibly weather resistant, and can be installed in large, uncovered areas. It rarely splinters, and there are many different installation methods available depending on the application. ● Pros Long-lasting; sophisticated appearance; elegant installation; rich mahogany color when first finished. ● Cons High cost; high maintenance responsibility and cost possible. Synthetic Decking Synthetic decking technology has come a long way. While UV-resistance and fading were an issue when synthetic decking first appeared on the market, this problem has largely disappeared. Still, it pays to do product research and make sure the options you are considering have addressed this original flaw. Of all the options, synthetic decking is by far the most debated in the design and construction industry. The biggest concern is the plastic feel and, quite frankly, the fact that it is “fake” wood. There is no doubt that there are applications where this is the best option—docks, decks adjacent to large bodies of water, or in coastal areas where humidity is a factor. So does synthetic decking make LEAF MAGAZINE design outside 33

Leaf Magazine - Spring 2012

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