Those of us who have a deck included as part of our outdoor living space, probably have one that has been constructed of wood. Treated lumber (usually Southern Yellow Pine) is the most used material in deck construction. Other woods, such as Western Red Cedar, Philippine Mahogany, Redwood, Cypress, and Ipé are also used, especially if you are constructing a custom deck.
Today, however, there a number of choices besides wood when considering what to use in the construction of your deck. With the notion of being green increasingly prominent in our daily awareness, interest has surged in building products that either come from sustainable sources or include recycled materials. Bamboo seems to be one of the emerging leaders in this category of deck material.
Plastics are also leading the way in environmentally friendly decking solutions. We know the strength and durability of plastic products. At this point in time, only about 18% of discarded plastic products are recycled but with new technologies and forward-thinking designers and inventors, demand for recycled plastic products will continue to grow. Those who normally shun plastics may find comfort in knowing that by selecting these products they are being earth-friendly, economically efficient, and creating a home which is less needy in terms of maintenance than ever before.
Hemp is another interesting addition to the home building “green” products list. We are all familiar with hemp and the problems associated with its use in some parts of the country. Hemp, however, is being grown for industrial use. Hemp is found to have very long fibers which, along with its crystalline structure, give it great strength. According to one researcher, Dr. Na Lu at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, composite building materials constructed with hemp in combination with plastic (recycled, of course), have the potential to out perform wood and other forms of composite lumber. According to Dr. Na Lu, hemp composite is as strong as a medium strength concrete.
Outdoor living is all about relaxing and enjoying. Who wants to be a slave to their home, inside or out? Together, hemp and recycled plastic makes a durable material which is rot, moisture, and insect resistant. Although there is no mistaking natural wood, with improvements in design and technology, the visual appeal of wood alternatives continues to improve. Celebrating nature is an added bonus. Constructing your deck of low-maintenance and green products is about as Outdoorlicous! as you can get.