Some decks are simply greener than others by virtue of the materials used in their construction. If you’ll be adding a new deck to your outdoor environment this year, or refurbishing or replacing an old one, keep these eco-friendly deck-building tips in mind:
Deck board options
Wood and composites are the two primary types of boarding used for decks.
Wood is a renewable resource; more trees can grow to replace the ones harvested for your deck boards, and when your deck’s usable life ends, you can recycle the wood it was made of. However, pressure-treated lumber is not recyclable. While the preservatives it’s treated with make pressure-treated lumber last longer than many types of untreated wood, it’s less eco-friendly in the long run because it must be disposed of instead of reused. If you prefer a wood deck, look for naturally weather- and pest-resistant wood varieties like California red wood, western red cedar or ipe.
Composite boards can also be greener. Many are made from recycled materials such as reused plastic and reclaimed or recycled wood. Composites tend to be more long-lasting than wood, and require no special treatment like staining or sealing. Their longevity can make them a greener choice, but be aware composites can’t be recycled.
Just as wood and composites are the primary materials for deck floors, they’re also commonly used for railings. However, given the railing’s exposure to the elements and its importance in the safety and beauty of a deck, it’s worth exploring other green alternatives.
Stainless steel cable railing, like Ultra-tec(R) by The Cable Connection, not only provides unobscured views from your deck and a sleek, attractive look, it’s also 100 percent recyclable. What’s more, Ultra-tec(R) is made from recycled stainless steel, meaning fabrication requires less consumption of resources like fossil fuels, less consumption of minerals through mining, and a reduced environmental impact.
Greener railings can also save you some green; you can easily install stainless steel railing yourself on a new or existing wood or composite deck. To learn more, visit ultra-tec.com.
If you choose to construct your deck of composites — and add a stainless steel railing — it will require little maintenance. Stainless steel is inherently weather-resistant and will stay shiny and beautiful for years without you having to do anything to it.
If you opt to build your deck with wood, some types will require regular maintenance like sealing and staining. Rot- and pest-resistant woods may not need to be sealed, but will weather to a silver-gray color unless you stain them every year. Many stains contain a blend of agents meant to inhibit the growth of fungus or deter pest infestations, and may also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for stains and sealers that rely on natural ingredients, such as hemp oil, beeswax, carnauba wax and water.
Icing on the cake
Of course, adding life to your deck is one of the greenest things you can do. It’s easy to add built-in planters as you’re constructing a new deck or retrofitting an existing one. Or, you can simply place flowers, vegetables and herbs in containers on the deck. Be sure to protect wood decks with a tray placed under containers to catch water runoff.
Lighting is also a great way to boost the visual appeal and usability of a deck. You can enjoy mood-making light that’s also eco-friendly by using solar lights, rather than electrical ones, throughout your deck. A variety of solar deck lights are available online and in home improvement stores. You can even find solar-powered decorative post caps for deck railings.
Choosing greener deck options can help ensure you enjoy your outdoor environment throughout the year, and help preserve the environment for future generations.