On National Lighthouse Day, we celebrate some of the most iconic and easily identifiable types of buildings ever made. These towering, cylindrical structures have been around since before the Greeks and Romans took to the Mediterranean. While many are constructed with stone, wood is also a key building material.
Because of their placement, lighthouses can take a beating by Mother Nature. Many lighthouses along the Gulf Coast are still standing despite being battered by numerous hurricanes. This points to the fact that some woods are able to weather a storm better than others. Deck builders and owners that want an outside entertainment space that can handle adverse weather should look no further than the types of woods that have been used in lighthouses, their outhouses and the keeper’s living quarters.
Woods that Can Handle Rough Weather
Wood was used in the earliest lighthouses and has been cited by FEMA as a good hurricane-proof building material because of its ability to flex. But which woods can weather a storm best? Here’s a look at some of the top options.
Ipe / Brazilian Walnut – This is one of the hardest woods in the world with a Janka hardness of 3684. While this makes Ipe decking materials super durable and weather-resistant it also can be a little difficult to work with if you aren’t a professional with specialized equipment.
Teak – Teak has been used in coastal construction and outdoor furniture for years because of its reputation of being one of the most weather-resistant hardwoods. It’s just as durable as it is beautiful, but it can be a pricy decking material.
Heartwood Redwood – Using higher-grade redwood is a good option for improved durability during a storm. It is extremely decay resistant and water resistant even without being treated.
Cedar – Cedar is another soft wood that is well known for being able to handle the elements. Like heartwood redwood, Cedar is listed on FEMA’s coastal building materials list.
Some builders suggest using preservative-treated wood in areas where there will be ground contact. However, durable woods like the ones above should also be adequate if properly maintained.
Inspecting Your Deck After a Storm
After a big storm like the fall 2013 Austin floods you’ll want to take the time to inspect your deck for damage. The most obvious signs of damage will occur if large branches were downed during the storm. However, if there were high winds and heavy rain there could be other less obvious storm damage.
- Check all railings carefully to ensure they are still completely sound.
- Examine the footings and posts for any looseness or damage.
- Look for any buckling or loose deck boards.
- Inspect all the fasteners and joists.
How to Help Wood Dry Out
Even if your deck is made of a more impermeable wood it’s a good idea to help things get dried out as quickly as possible. This is particularly important if you have any areas where water tends to pool.
Step 1 – Take a push broom and sweep any standing water off the deck, seating and railings.
Step 2 – If there isn’t flashing to prevent water seepage check the ledger if the deck butts up against your house. If water is there you may need to get a shop vac to suck it up. This is a prime spot of accelerated rotting.
Step 3 – Check the gaps between the boards. There needs to be adequate space between the boards for proper drainage. If they are butted right up against each other you’ve got to seriously consider redoing the decking.
Step 4 – Consider sealing the deck once its dry. This will help to prevent water penetration in the future.
If you want to build a deck that can handle just about anything Mother Nature whips up give the team at TimberTown Austin a call. There’s an array of woods to choose from and specialists that can help you find the best option for your project.
Image Source: oceancity.shownbyphotos.com/Ocean_City-fenwick-lighthouse-pictures