Hits and misses of DIY projects, both big and small.

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How Do You Choose Between Available Building Materials for Outdoor DIY Projects?

6/29/2009 11:40:59 AM

Tags: DIY, question to readers

Purchasing the materials for a DIY project can involve making a number of decisions. For instance, if you’re building a backyard deck, you can choose from a range of materials that are inexpensive, but may last for only a couple of years, to expensive composite wood that can last a decade or more.

Decks can be constructed from high-end composite lumber, soft pine, durable cedar or redwood, or inexpensive slab lumber from a local sawmill. And the wood doesn’t have to be new; you might find it at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore or tear down an old building for the lumber. Each type of wood has advantages and disadvantages — price and durability are the key factors to weigh in your decision.

When you’re deciding on the materials for an outdoor wooden project, are you more apt to be swayed by cost or durability? Share your experiences in the comments section, below.


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9/15/2013 11:08:38 AM
I built my deck from treated wood. The 2x8's came from the local lumberyard, and the decking was also treated, but I used dunnage. I ripped the dunnage to a thickness of a true 1" thickness, so it took longer to work with. I collected dunnage over time, and ripped them before build day. Also, the dunnage comes in various widths, so I laid them on edge on the picnic table, chose boards of the same width to go the full length of the deck. This made it so I didn't have jogs here and there. I found it worked best to have one drill with a combo pilot/countersink bit, and one to drive screws. I built a 10 x 25 foot deck for under $350. My daughter built a 12 x 14 foot deck from cedar, but hers cost $4200.

Deek D_3
3/12/2010 10:25:04 AM
Even more important (as long as fitting and appropriate) is to choose whatever is FREE/recycled, etc! (for those of us low-dough-ers). Here's part-freebies micro-shed/sauna/single sleeper I built with a good deal of found materials.... -Derek Diedricksen

Debbie Martin
7/3/2009 10:40:14 PM
I was trying to make a compost container from some livestock fencing. Got it home and when unwrapping it stated it had lead in it and to wear gloves when using. Was made in China. I am going to take it back. I read all kinds of labels but didn't think to read a fence label! Does anyone know a brand of fencing that does not contain lead. I imagine some companies do and don't list it.

Pat Miketinac
7/2/2009 9:03:53 PM
The most important consideration is what the outdoor wood will be exposed to. Ground contact must be treated against rot. Buy a sample first, cut it up and look for complete penetration of preservative, usually green color. Too many poor quality these days, won't hold up. Wood that is not rained on can be untreated except for a latex or oil stain or paint. My 20 year old garage walls are CDX plywood with the original latex stain. The walls rest on a 2' block wall to avoid splash and dirt and gives me a 10' ceiling for projects.

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