Wood choices for exterior use (siding & decking) – Green pro’s and cons?
I’m working on a project to rehab and convert a garage building to a studio and living space and am looking at options for exterior wood siding and decking.
I will be using Hardie Panels with reveal strips for much of the siding, however there are some areas I would like to use a clear finished wood siding for an accent. In addition I’m building a small ground level deck and want to match the decking to the siding wood. The totally square footage of wood being used fairly low at around 500 sq. ft.
When researching types of wood to use I’m running into lots of conflicting information about sustainability, especially when it comes to tropical woods such as Ipe and Cumaru.
There’s the traditional option in my part of country (PNW) which is red cedar. However cedar is both soft and high maintenance. For clear or near clear grades is is also as expensive as tropical woods.
One could make the argument that because they can last 35 – 50 years tropical woods are an sustainable choice since they won’t have to be replaced as often. However I don’t feel totally comfortable with the sustainable forestry claims that are being made by importers. The last thing I want to do is contribute rain forest destruction.
Thermally treated domestic wood (especially poplar) looks like an interesting and sustainable alternative. The look comes pretty close to that of tropical woods and it is claimed to last 25 years outside. However there seems to be very few manufactures in the US and none locally. In addition the treatment process uses quite a bit of energy, but of course so does shipping lumber from South America.
Any unbiased information would be very helpful on making a choice.
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