by Jim Caruk
It's amazing how often the saying that "you get what you pay for" rings true. With almost any home improvement project, if you're willing to pay a bit more upfront for good quality materials, the long-term payback will more than make up the difference. Here are five durable options to consider for your next exterior project.
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Your home's roof takes a beating, from the baking summer sun and pounding rain to the weight of snow and ice in the winter. Metal roofing is one of the most durable options out there, and manufacturers are willing to back that claim up with warranties lasting as long as 50 years.
One common criticism is that metal roofs look too commercial or barn-like. But today's metal roofs come in options that mimic asphalt, cedar, and slate so your roof will blend in with the streetscape. It will just last decades longer than your neighbours' roofs will.
Natural wood is wonderful for a lot of things, but a long lifespan on outdoor structures is not one of them. Without regular maintenance, cedar or pressure-treated lumber will eventually weather, fade, and start to chip and warp, turning a $10,000 deck into an eyesore in a matter of years.
Composite decking is a durable alternative made from wood fibres and plastic, with the latter often being recycled material. Composite deck boards are both insect- and rot-resistant, and available in a variety of colours and patterns, all without any foot-jabbing splinters to deal with.
Brick and stone veneers
Has the cheap vinyl or aluminum siding on your house seen better days? Some longer-lasting alternatives to consider are the various brick and stone veneer products on the market today. While offering the durability of brick or stone, thin veneers don't require the skills of a trained mason to install. In fact, some brands are marketed for competent DIYers to install themselves.
The cheap and cheerless way to build a deck railing is to nail some wooden pickets to the frame and top them off with some lumber. Glass railings mounted in aluminum frames offer an attractive, low-maintenance, weather-resistant finish that provides an unspoiled view across your property. The glass is also tempered so if there is an accident and a panel gets damaged, there's no risk of injury from jagged pieces. The railings are available in a number of different colours and profiles, some so slim that on first glance you don't even notice they're there.
When it comes to durability, it's hard to argue that anything will likely last longer than pieces of granite, slate, or other natural stone that are already millions of years old. There are cheaper options out there for stairs, retaining walls, patios, and other landscaping projects, but for a timeless look that will last to the end of time, I'd always at least consider natural stone.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="150"] Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan[/caption]
||Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor
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