Going Green When Building a Deck

There are two way to do any building project: you can do it the right way or the wrong way. But you can also do it the eco-friendly way. Go green when you build your new deck or patio and you'll not only help to save the planet, you'll also help yourself save a few bucks too.

The Foundation

As with just about any building project, you have to start at the foundation. A decks foundation is often located on grass that must be removed prior to the decks installation. If your new deck is going to be close enough to the ground to kill the grass, consider renting a sod cutter machine and removing the grass first. This will keep the grass alive with the roots intact so it can be replanted in other areas of your yard. For decks that are far above the grass line, plant a few shade loving drought tolerant shrubs for the greenest deck foundation around town.

The Frame

Many decking frames are built to stand the tests of time. By using pressure treated materials, rot, decay and termites are all prevented from destroying the integrity of the wood. Unfortunately, the process of injecting copper, chromium and other chemicals into the materials is toxic and can be a major cause of pollution in many waterways around the world.

In lieu of using these materials, you can opt out for less toxic pressure treated framing members or other natural materials like cedar to help prevent rot or decay. And with the use of a water-based natural sealant, your deck frame is sure to have the protection from the elements that it needs to last for years to come.

The Deck

Because there are so many planking options available, it's easy to go green on your decking planks. One of the most common green decking materials is composite plastic. This cellulose and recycled plastic polymer is water, rot and bug resistant, comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes and lasts for decades. However, it does have a few downsides. It can fade in heavy sunlight, it's rough on saws and dulls blades quickly and, well; it's plastic.

But you don't have to use space age materials to go green on your deck. Wood is the greenest and most sustainable product there is; if it's done right. When purchasing any wood for your deck, check for sustainable lumber labels like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council. These labels are proof that the wood you buy has been harvested from sustainable forests that are replanted and recut every 20-30 years. They also guarantee that no old growth trees are used and refrain from slash and dash harvesting methods that clear cut forests into instant wastelands.

Stains, Paints and Sealants

Paints, stains and sealants act to protect and beautify your newly built deck, ensuring that you will enjoy it for years to come. Because of today's awareness for our environmental safety, many decking sealants now come in less toxic forms than past products. VOC's—or volatile organic compounds—are a big buzzword for environmental caution. Because these chemical particulates fly off into the atmosphere every day—even years after the product has been applied—it's a good idea to purchase low or no-VOC materials.

While water-based paints are often considered more eco-friendly than oil-based paints and stains, when outdoor water-based decking sealants come into contact with rain and snow, they can quickly wash away into the surrounding soil and water supply. Using an oil-based stain, paint or sealant can extend the life of your deck and sealant further than water-based products, decreasing your need to use sealants frequently. And that's good news for the environment and your wallet.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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