Outside of weekends, we usually try to work in the evenings once the workers have finished. This way, we can work on Common Craft (and book) projects during the day and do house projects in the evening. Often, that takes the form of research.
During these two weeks, we needed to make a decision about decking material. Many houses in our region use cedar, which is affordable and holds up well but requires regular care. Our goal was to find decking that lasts 20-30 years and needs virtually no maintenance aside from cleaning. It turns out that wood technology has come a long way recently and I became fascinated with the options.
The biggest innovation is called “thermal modification”, which turns abundant and sustainable softwoods like Ash and Pine into hardwoods. These companies essentially bake the boards with steam over long periods, which condenses them into harder, more stable products with up to a 30-year warranty. It’s been used in Europe for years and is now becoming more popular in the US. The products are all 100% wood, just modified. We’ll let the wood “silver” instead of having to stain it annually. Hooray for low maintenance.
As the fascia work was getting completed, the house was filled with plumbers. We’ve been fortunate to work with a talented one named Greg here on Orcas Island. Along with being a great guy, Greg is a strong advocate for efficient heating systems. Thanks to his advice, we’re using in-floor hydronic radiant heat and an “air-to-water” heat pump, which is supposed to be one of the most efficient systems we can get.
One of the things we love is when contractors have ideas that improve on our own. We walked around the house with Greg to decide where to install hose bibs for water. I’ve always been irritated with connecting garden hoses to spigots. They can be ugly, leaky, and difficult to screw on and off. That day, Greg mentioned that a new hose bib system was available that did away with the traditional spigot connection and replaced it with a system used on boats that clicks into place and only has a small cover on the exterior. Done and done.