2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Wood Alternatives & Construction
for Hot-Humid Climates
2007, vol. 53
Welcome to the August 2007 newsletter from Design Forward.
Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.
Quote of the Month: "We abuse land because we regard
it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as
a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it
with love and respect."
Lisa A. Swan
What are the options beyond traditional new wood
products? I have outlined some the alternatives and
- Recycled Wood / Plastic Composite Lumber
- The lumber consists of a 50/50 mix of wood fibers,
typically from sawdust, and waste plastic from recycled
plastic bags. Some of the benefits of using composite
lumber are its low moisture absorption and high
resistance to decay, UV rays, and insect damage,
and tends to expand and contract less than 100%
plastic materials. Applications include low load
structural uses, such as decks, floors, fences,
railings, landscape timbers, patio furniture, porch
columns. Wood composite can be recycled after use.
- Plastic Lumber - This lumber is made from
100% recovered plastic materials such as post consumer
waste, milk jugs, and plastic soda bottles. Plastic
lumber does not need painting, sealing, waterproofing,
staining, treatment, or maintenance. It also does
not splinter, crack, rot or warp and is UV resistant.
Applications include decking, fences, flooring,
landscaping, patio furniture, lawn and garden products,
and picnic tables. 100% plastic lumber can be recycled
- Reclaimed Wood - Old wood can be recycled
into "new" wood products. Recycled wood can be taken
from old buildings, homes, or barns that would be
demolished. The reclaimed wood is then sent to mills
to be made into sawn lumber for flooring, timber
frames, architectural trusses, open beam ceilings,
exposed headers, millwork, furniture, and moldings.
- Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) - MDF is
a waste-wood product that is made with fine wood
fiber. It can be easily milled with all power tools
and uses include furniture, shelving, cabinetry,
and molding. MDF can be laminated, or veneered or
simply painted as a finished product.
- Particleboard - Particleboard is a waste-wood
product that is made by mixing sawdust with adhesives.
Although it will not bow or warp like plywood, it
can swell and become unstable when exposed to water.
It uses are for furniture, underlayment, or substrate
for countertop. Particleboard is not a finish material.
It must be veneered or laminated.
- Oriented Strand Board (OSB) - OSB is an
engineered wood product that is made with flakes
or large chips of wood. The panels are formed from
layers or plies glued together with their strands
at ninety-degree angles to one another. The cross
orientation of the layers adds strength to the panels
and makes OSB well-suited for use as a structure
board. It is typically used as sheathing or underlayment.
Article © Lisa A. Swan. Photo © inhabitat.com
for Hot-Humid Climates
Building is a hot-humid climate can be challenging.
It is important to control moisture and keep the environment
cool. Many areas need to be considered in order to
create a design that works for humid areas:
1. Ventilation is needed for exhausting moisture
and pollutants while bringing in fresh air.
2. HVAC must be properly sized and high efficient.
Look for the highest SEER rating.
3. Ducts should have short runs and placed in conditioned
spaces. Use return air ducts in every room for the
most balanced temperatures.
4. Efficient windows help keep the house cooler and
reduce ultraviolet lights and properly installed windows
reduce water leaks.
5. Dehumidifier keeps humidity levels comfortable.
6. Air sealing stops drafts and should be used at
all connections to keep contaminants and humidity
7. Insulation should be maximized to keep the conditioned
space comfortable and keep energy bills down.
8. Moisture barrier or vapor barrier to keep humidity,
mold, and mildew at bay.
9. Proper overhangs provide shade and keep water away
from the walls where they are most vulnerable.
10. Conditioned attics or crawlspaces should be used
to keep the living space more comfortable.
Read on find out about a real design that works
for a hot-humid climate.
Article © Lisa A. Swan. Picture © buildingscience.com
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