Saturday, August 9
the Permapine decking dilemma
Folks , we have a dilemma. Now those of you who have read this blog waaay back will know that we are in the process of building a structure (fondly referred to around here as 'The Studio', although im not sure even what a 'stew-dio' really is ) in our garden which serves essentialy as the structural support of PV solar cells to power the house and all its modern sins. In the planning of this said 'stew-dio' we agreed to erect a substantial deck along its Northern facing side to enjoy more sunny space as the cafe doors fold back to allow deck and studio to become one flat floorspace. However, we never agreed as to what the decking would be made from. The time has now come to order materials to build the deck. Now here in Oz, in my experience the majority of decks are made from Permapine decking slats; a copper chrome arsenate (arsenic) treated pine which preserves the softwood making it weather resistant and repells termites. We both agreed NOT to use Permapine as we didnt want the boybean crawling around on that. Eco-pine addresses these issues somewhat as it is preserved using an organic azole co-biocide but its still a softwood and isnt as longwearing as hardwoods or composites. SHE (me) however had ideas about using another nice looking hardwood. BUT these are usually Merbau or Batu both of which are rainforest timbers. Non rainforest Merbau and Batu and other Australian hardwoods grown under the umbrealla of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody (COC) system, a system which connects responsible and equitable forest management practices, are available but its hard to find in a decking cut and is very expensive. Modwood, a composite recycled wooden decking is another alternative as is CleverDeck by Futurewood which is made from recycled plastics; recycled HDPE (old milk bottles and other post consumer plastic waste) and discarded rice husks or hulls and claims to be one of the most environmentally friendly decking options available. This is my husbands favoured choice of material. The biggest problem is, im a bit of a wood snob. Made-to-look-likes have to be designed really well and incorporate innovative building design to pull them off. Small scale building using plastic decking is not my idea of aesthetic living and i dont know how it would blend with the main house- you can see from the pic in my header that its a pretty organic building made from 100% reclaimed timbers and introducing plastic may be a tad weird. At $140 per square metre (we need 20 square metres) for Modwood composite decking and $90 psm for the Cleverdeck, the same price as rainforest hardwood like Merbau, there is no cost saving to using recycled, so you buy for the principle alone. I really like the idea of using a recycled waste material, what else are we going to do with all that plastic we have created? but Im not keen on the aesthetic. However, I may have to just bite the bullet and be an enviro-vanguard, join the trend in plastic decks, help create the new norm.