Got Wood?

Rosebrook Gardens is no different than any other home as it, too, requires maintenance and attention to maintain its distinctive charm. Nothing last forever and the elements of mother earth continue to knock on my door. Maintaining our homes is part of the price we pay to enjoy them for years to come. Without us, their future is undoubtedly at risk and I take pride in assuring that my home will last the test of time.

Recently I was surveying the damage that the years bestowed on my home; fences, arbors, and trellises were all inspected. A fence post and front balcony rotting and several areas of lintel trim needed replacing. Perhaps you are asking “What is a lintel?” Traditionally a lintel is a load-bearing piece of wood or stone placed over an entranceway. These days they are most often carved in a way as to be structural and decorative and are sometimes even added after construction purely for decorative effect. Years ago I added this decorative detail over every window and door.

Anyway, while inspecting the exterior of my home I gasped as I realized that more and more wood needed my attention — to either be replaced or repaired. It was not long before I concluded that my home would require some professional services. Rosebrook Gardens is all about the details, so as with all the things I do I took note during the process and learned valuable lessons about wood choices so I could better understand the repairs — and ultimately this became the subject of this article.

We all know about the traditional choices for house coverings: wood, cedar or the unmentionable vinyl. But today there are new products on the market that simulate the look of wood without any of the hassles. One of the new “woods” is cellular PVC exterior trim. This faux wood holds paint better than real wood, yet it isn’t even necessary to protect it. Cellular PCV has the same look and workability of wood without the natural shortcomings of wood. You have to love that. It’s already impervious to cracking, splitting, rotting, twisting, or warping and it does not promote mold. The cost of the product is similar to cedar but it pays for itself with longevity. Don’t think you can build your entire home with it because it’s only for non-structural trim and moldings, but for what I was looking for it was the perfect choice.

 That said, AZEK Deck is the leading brand of cellular PVC decking designed to resist stains, like barbecue sauce, ketchup, even red wine. This is a problem with composites. It also resists scratches and splits. AZEK Deck’s Harvest Collection (5 lighter colors) is composed of PVC and a small amount of flax fiber. These new darker colors use a rigid cap technology for added rigidity and strength. It also uses a unique formulation that, in combination with the extrusion (shaping) process, offers a consistency and composition that allows it to be worked easily with standard tools. That’s right, you can pretty much work with it like you would wood. The deck boards are also not as dense as wood-plastic composites, so fasteners can be applied without pre-drilling, which should speed installation. You can screw into the material very close to the edge and the product won’t warp or crack. Unlike composites, the gaps are tighter, and you can picture-frame the deck to finish the edges nicely without huge gaps. 

Let’s talk about using cedar wood in the garden. My cedar picket fence posts were completely rotten this year and needed to be replaced. This time I chose pressure-treated posts rather than cedar. Truth be told, pressure-treated wood posts for fences deliver real value. A pressure-treated post will outlast most all-wood products tenfold when used in direct contact with soil. A pine post will last just 4 to 12 years, whereas the properly treated version can last over 35 years. So remember: a little more expensive to buy, but the longevity makes them the best value. Why fix something twice or more, when you can do it once?

When choosing this material, consider staining rather than painting, as staining does not always require a primer, saving you money on time and labor. By staining your post or outdoors fences one can avoid the cracking, peeling or flaking that generally happens to painted surfaces. Staining only fades with age, making it easier to maintain and is less expensive to replace.

Now let’s get back to cedar. A member of the pine family, these trees are naturally found in North America, and they are native to the mountainous regions of Asia and North Africa. Cedar can also be left unfinished and untreated as the natural weathering process will transform the wood into a desirable gray color. Most builders favorite Cedar because it is lightweight but strong enough to saw, nail and drill.

There are many reasons to consider a cedar roof for a home but nothing as good as a lowering your heating and cooling costs. Although more expensive to install, the benefits help them pay for themselves over the years. Cedar is extremely economical and is incredibly durable and environmentally friendly. A cedar roof can be enjoyed for many years if properly maintained”Òabout 50 years.

Here in Connecticut cedar shingle roofs add such a distinct look and charm to a home rather than asphalt shingles. But wood roofs need maintenance and the help of chemicals to keep them healthy and looking great. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a cedar single roof although they do require more maintenance. I know someday my current roof will need replacing so I’ll change the asphalt shingles for a classic cedar single roof. The only problem is, I’ll need to wait about 20 years and when I do I’ll tell you all about it.

So if you have to replace any wood anytime soon you now have more choices than ever. There’s no place like home and it’s up to us to make them last. I gave you some insight to this subject so, got wood? Now: got answers.

And there you have it