If you’ve been reading our blog, we’ve been writing about outdoor building materials quite a bit. This is an important consideration especially when these materials are exposed to direct sun and rain. As we wrote in our blog post about wood, sun and water can be wood’s biggest enemies. There are so many considerations when selecting materials for outdoor building and the materials’ ability to withstand the elements is just one of those.
We have a challenge for you. Spoiler alert: the answers are at the bottom of this post. Take a look at this close-up picture of one of our most recent projects. Now take a look at each of the following elements and guess whether that component is wood or PVC. Arch in the arbor? Slats in the arbor? Column? Lattice?
Because of the magnification, the one below is a lot easier to figure out. The balls atop the columns are easily pegged as wood when you see them at this magnification. But from even a few feet away, you wouldn’t know.
The owner of this new gated arbor and white picket fence is a personal friend of mine. She had an “older version” of this white picket fence and ultra charming arbor but due to its old age, it was ready for replacement. My friend is very fond of natural wood because of its authenticity. After all, who wants a white picket fence made of synthetic materials? This question isn’t as easily answered as it may seem. What if the synthetic material was indistinguishable from the natural wood? What about the fact that wood will warp, check and crack but the synthetic material will not? What about the price?
As we noted in our last couple blog posts, there is a time and a place for each particular outdoor building material. And, there are many factors to help make that determination. But, the good news is that some synthetics, namely PVC, have come of age and are ready to compete with the big boys such as the historical big daddy of decks and white picket fences – natural wood. Wood is so authentic. We love the graining patterns and the fact that every single board is unique. We love the fact that you can put one board with 3 knot patterns next to a board with zero knots and yet another with one knot – and that symphony of mismatched authenticity spells perfection. What could that structure be without individual graining patterns along with natural and inconsistent knots?
Here’s the challenge. Authenticity bears strengths as well as weaknesses. With natural wood, these weaknesses include the fact that the wood will crack, check, and warp to some degree. It’s not a question of if wood will suffer these natural maladies, it’s a question of when.
As you may have guessed, the reason why we’re featuring this delightful arbor and gate is because wood and PVC are indistinguishably married and nearly literally intertwined. While this entire arbor and fence might have made perfect candidates for an exclusively PVC job, my friend wanted to maintain some of the authenticity of the older structure she was rebuilding.
Remember the test above? Here are the answers. Arch in the arbor? Wood. Slats in the arbor? PVC. Columns? Wood. Lattice? Wood. In this project, the wood and lattice are figuratively intertwined. If you are ready to add a custom outdoor space at your home, give us a call for a free consultation. As you can tell, we are passionate about every detail and look forward to recommending the best design and materials for your next outdoor space.