Can I Build a "Green" Wooden Deck?

Once summer comes along does anyone want to stay inside and just look out at the beautiful weather? Of course not, we all want to get outside and enjoy that summer weather and one of the best ways to do that is having a comfortable deck where the whole family can relax and 'kick back' Traditionally decks have been made from wood, but as people become more environmentally conscious, the idea of building a wooden deck is coming under scrutiny. So for those people the question becomes, is it possible to build traditional wooden deck and still be environmentally responsible? Fortunately for those who enjoy the traditional appearance of wood – the answer is yes.

All wood isn't bad

  • Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is environmentally responsible. The FSC was established way back in the 1990's in response to international concerns about global deforestation. The council's main objective is to promote environmentally responsible forest management around the world through an international certification and labeling system. If you build your deck with lumber that has the FSC logo on it, you know the wood was harvested in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • A word of caution - even though a building supplier may sell some wood that has been certified by the FSC, it's likely not all the wood they sell is certified. You can only be sure the wood you're buying is certified if it's stamped with the FSC logo.

Choose rot and insect resistant wood

  • Traditional deck building woods such as cedar or redwood, are available FSC certified so you can have both a traditional looking deck and be sure you're not contributing to forest depletion.
  • Alternatively, FSC certified imported woods such as teak or ipe (ee-pay) from Brazil are natural woods strong enough for deck building yet resist rot and insects for 20 plus years. The obvious downside with imported woods is transportation from their land of origin caries with it an environmental price.
  • Another environmentally friendly option for building a wooden deck would be using reclaimed wood you could source on the internet or wood from recycling stores such as Habitat for Humanity's Restore.

Design and build to minimize waste

  • Evaluate different design elements to figure out how to use the least amount of wood in your new deck and when you're into actually building your deck, minimize waste by checking your measurements twice before doing any cutting.
  • A good design is a real 'win-win' since it not only minimizes waste so it helps the environment but it will also save you money.
  • Finding a positive use for any left over materials minimizes your footprint as well. Just some option are you could save them for a new project around your home, give them to a friend or donate them to an organization that accepts left over building materials for someone else to use.

Minimize your footprint when maintaining your deck

  • Protect your natural wooden deck from water damage using natural linseed oil rather than chemical water repellants and sealers.
  • Should you decide to paint your deck, choose a low VOC, water based paint. They're available in a wide range of colors and finishes so they can complement any home's color scheme.

Now you can relax and enjoy your natural wood deck knowing you've built an environmentally responsible 'green ' deck for your family to enjoy all summer.