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AIA Small Project Design (SPD) Knowledge Community supports, celebrates, and promotes small projects by engaging designers and the public.

  • 1.  Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-23-2020 08:16 AM

    For rehab of residential porch.

    Would appreciate thoughts on alternatives to porch wood flooring.

    Would like to use a more traditional 3 inch width.

    man made-

    • Looking at Aeratis Traditional- am not familiar with solid pvc products. Any experience with it? Seems to have limited market presence 
    • The big ones AZEC etc - celluar pvc 


    • Looking at black locust

      Would appreciate  feedback on your experience with alternatives and advice on specification.
      Thank you

    Kathleen Sullivan AIA
    Trio Architecture pllc
    Hastings on Hudson NY

  • 2.  RE: Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-24-2020 05:45 PM
    I try to avoid PVC at all costs. Apollo decking is a bamboo/recycled HDPE composite that I have seen used in Multifamily. There is always Trex which is recycled.
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    Anjali Grant Design LLC

  • 3.  RE: Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-24-2020 05:49 PM

    Like all lumber now commercially grown on fertilizers, etc., the density and therefore the strength of lumber and longevity traditionally used for porch decking have severely declined, creating problems in insect resistance and deterioration from moisture, as well as loss of strength.  Therefore, in restoring Victorian porches that I have done considerably in my practice, I now use only Ipe Rojo, sometimes called Pau Lope.  This is a tropical lumber and my conservationist nature objects, but I have found no other alternative.  Another product worth exploring may be acetylated wood, such as that manufactured by Accoya.  A few years ago, when I last checked, this was much more expensive than the Ipe Rojo I have been using, and not sufficiently proven to warrant the additional cost.  Thus, I have stayed with Ipe Rojo, whose life under exterior conditions is stated to be approximately 50 years or more.  Mahogany is another option that performs not quite as well as Ipe Rojo, but impressively, also with considerable concerns related to conservation and sustainability.  I keep hoping for an acceptable man-made alternative whose appearance would be suitable for a historic restoration, but I know of none, to date.


    Lydia Straus-Edwards, AIA

  • 4.  RE: Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-24-2020 06:22 PM

    Please avoid all plastic lumber products. Their claims of being recycled eliminate the fact that they are not recyclable. They are creating a market for recycling just to feed their own production cycles. As long as we continue to buy into that idea, we are never going to climb out of the construction waste hole.

    We are focussing on using products like Accoya ( accetylated lumber). We have used it as exterior decking, stairs and cladding, always with wonderful results. Take a look: right now for me it is the best option.

    Mary-Ann Agresti AIA
    Owner Architect
    The Design Initiative, Inc.
    Hyannis MA

  • 5.  RE: Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-24-2020 06:46 PM
    We have used black locust on several projects. It's a great material, but be aware that it has a strong tendency to warp and twist as it dries, so try to make sure that it was properly dried before it was milled.
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    1229 Tyler St NE #202 MPLS MN

  • 6.  RE: Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-24-2020 07:37 PM
    I had  a custom residential practice in Nyack, NY, with a lot of old houses, right across the Hudson from you. So we had the same weathering issues to confront. I always used wood in rebuilding many porches, with careful back priming or preservative coating before nailing down. Don't use PVC. Besides the environmental issues, it has a much higher coefficient of expansion than wood so the joints will not withstand thermal expansion and contraction. Nor will PVC withstand UV exposure well. The composite decking products would do well. Trex advertises that recycled single use plastic bags are a large content in their products, so that is a good thing.

    Edward Acker, Emeritus AIA, LEED AP

    Edward Acker AIA
    Senior Architect
    Winchester VA

  • 7.  RE: Alternatives to Traditional Wood Porch Flooring?

    Posted 04-24-2020 11:49 PM
    Ipe ("ironwood") is the gold standard, but today even buying FSC-certified is supporting a market for tropical deforestation - imagine FSC-certified ivory.  I've just been investigating modified wood - Accoya, Kebony and Lignia each make variations priced  competitively with Ipe (i.e. expensive) and with warranty.  I hear Thermory makes a domestic alternative but more expensive.  Choose between a ten-year decking like cedar or invest in a 40-year deck of modified wood.  Best of luck.

    Charles Brainerd AIA
    Ennead Architects LLP
    New York NY