Outdoor Renovations Gaining in Popularity
Posted by — August 21, 2005
The latest trend in home remodeling is to -- as they say in the business world -- “think outside the box.” According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, while kitchen and bathroom remodels remain the top two home improvement projects, more and more people are updating their exteriors as well.
The study found that Americans spent in excess of $18.7 billion on such improvements as new roofs, siding, windows, doors and decks last year; and they’re poised to spend even more this year. Why all the interest in outdoor improvements, you ask?
Psychologists point to recent social trends. In the early part of this new century, people wanted to cocoon. That meant spending the majority of their time locked in their homes reading e-mail, watching TV and reconnecting as a family. These days, there’s a movement towards returning to community. People still find comfort at home, but want to expand their “cocoon” space and share it with others. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this goal is by creating outdoor living space.
Tim Gettler, a contractor for Cabana Construction in Kimball, Minn., a suburb of St. Cloud, says his company has seen a lot of business as a result of this trend. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve installed and improved hundreds of backyard decks for people who want to make their homes more comfortable and inviting,” he says.
Since most of his customers plan to use their decks to relax and entertain, he recommends they spend a little extra on the front end and go with maintenance-free composite decking material rather than wood. “Wood decking material costs about $1.30 per lineal foot. Decks made of composite material run just 30 cents more. Thirty-cents a foot may seem like a big difference to some people, but if you look at it from the big picture, it’s a small price to pay for what you get in return,” says Gettler.
Because they weather so quickly, decks made of wood require a lot of upkeep. They need to be re-stained every couple of years to restore their color and re-sanded often to cut down on splinters. “I tell people if they want to spend time enjoying their deck rather than maintaining it, to go with composite material,” adds Gettler.
Herman Roerick of St. Cloud, Minn., took that advice when he decided to expand his backyard deck a few years ago. “We were going from a small 10-foot deck off the dining room to a three-level deck we designed with entertainment in mind,” says Roerick. After researching their options, he and his wife decided to go with a Rhino Deck manufactured by Master Mark Plastics.
“I work in the landscape business and have observed how quickly wooden decks can deteriorate,” says Roerick. “I figured as long as we’re spending all this money to improve the deck, we might as well use a material that will last a long time.”
Rhino Deck boards are made of 50 percent recycled wood (which is recovered from cabinet making) and 50 percent recycled plastic (comprised of post consumer bottles) that has been blended with colorant and UV stabilizers. In addition to being more environmentally friendly than wood, the boards handle extreme temperatures better, are impervious to termites and never have to be treated or stained. They are also slip resistant which makes them a great material to use around pools.
The boards are sold in four-foot increments and can be installed with standard woodworking tools. The manufacturer also offers matching railings, lattice, and fencing materials. They come in four colors that all mimic the look of natural wood: Barnwood Gray, Acorn Brown, Cedar Brown and Redwood.
“Once installed, the only maintenance required is to occasionally hose the deck down. Can’t beat that,” says Gettler.
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