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Recycled-material decking: Another Way
to Save Redwood Trees (Op Ed #3)

Another Way to Save Redwood Trees (Op Ed #3)
by Pamela Conley

An environmental dilemma -- what does an activist do when she needs a new deck? How can she justify using redwood decking? One option is to use artificial decking that uses recycled materials instead. Pamela Conley shares with you what she discovered and what she did.

Buy Old-Growth Forests Field Guide to Old-Growth Forests by Larry Eifert. Discover and explore the ancient lowland forests from California, north through Oregon, to Washington Olympic Peninsula, to Canada, and to the Sitka spruce forests of Alaska.

Discovering an artificial decking that uses recycled materials.

Three years ago Austin Creek Alliance was born, the neighborhood's environmental watchdog. It was formed because our neighborhood was facing three timber harvest plans behind where we live. Recently, at our Austin Creek Alliance Picnic in Armstrong Woods, I was amazed at how many people were unaware that there are other options for decking instead of cutting more redwood trees. There are several companies now that make decks with recycled materials. The one we chose was Trex.

Although Trex has been around now for 10 years, many people are unfamiliar with it. Trex is made from waste wood fiber and reclaimed plastics, such as plastic grocery bags and stretch film. The plastic provides low moisture absorption, ten times better than redwood. The plastic also provides pest resistance. The wood fiber benefits are increased stiffness, UV protection, all the applicability of the best grades of lumber, and it's slip resistant.

Benefits of artificial decking.

Because of the combination of wood and plastic, Trex can stand up to harsh sun or to 100 inches of rainfall in a season. Trex doesn't rot, crack, or splinter. There is no water, sun, or insect damage. And the best part is the days of sealing the deck are over. Trex has a 20-plus life span and comes with a 10-year warranty.

Both Trex and wood tend to fade with time, but after 8-to-12 weeks of exposure to sunlight and moisture, Trex weathers to driftwood gray tones that it naturally maintains. Wood continues to change sometimes unevenly and throughout its lifetime.

Trex says the price is comparable to premium decking lumber. Dennis [Pam's husband] figured it out to be about 25 cents a square foot more than redwood. But don't forget to figure in the costs for stain, sealants, and replacement boards, and other maintenance for a redwood deck. Trex comes out way ahead in expenses. And consider the time you will have to sit enjoying your deck instead of sealing it soon in the future.

Even a timberland owner admires the decking that uses recycled materials.

Recently a local timberland owner visited me. He is a community member and a local businessman. He had worked with us in the past to obtain a conservation easement to save the Jack London Grove, an old growth of redwoods seen from Duncan Mills.

I invited him in. He had stopped by to communicate some concerns about actions by some of our group.

Eventually, after we talked, I led him outside to see our new deck. While he stood admiring it, I couldn't resist telling him that it was a recycled deck, not a redwood deck. After having fought three timber harvest plans, we couldn't justify using redwood. He took my comment well and upon his departure, we shook hands and said we hoped to work with him on a project in the future to help improve Austin Creek. He may still see us as the enemy but at least we are civil to each other.

Even this visitor had to admit that our new deck looked solid and matched the redwood deck we haven't replaced yet. Trex offers outstanding durability without stains and sealants, workability that wood can't match, and a natural coloring that stays looking great for many years. And the best part is it's saving the need to cut down redwood trees.

See also these pages.


Buy the Legacy Of Luna The Legacy of Luna, Julia Butterfly Hill. The dramatic story of devotion and dedication to the old growth forests and the great tree, Luna.
Giants in the Earth Giants in the Earth by Peter Johnstone (Editor), Peter E. Palmquist (Photographer)
Buy Trees and Shrubs of California Trees and Shrubs of California (California Natural History Guides) by John David Stuart, et al.