Wood is a traditional choice, but it is susceptible to mold, mildew, and general rot and splintering – especially when there is more moisture hitting it as there is at a waterfront home. There are now many alternatives available for low-maintenance cottage construction of decks, docks, and sunrooms, so you can spend less time repairing and more time relaxing.

Vinyl, or PVC, is a synthetic, lightweight material that is easy to install. It comes in a variety of colours and wood-like finishes, and does not need to be painted or stained. Slight colour fading can occur over the years, but vinyl decking is typically treated with UV filters to minimize this effect. It is resistant to mould and mildew, and will not splinter or rot as wood does. Keep in mind that vinyl is not the same as composite decking. Composite decking blends synthetic and wood fibres, and is still susceptible to mold.

Rust-resistant aluminum makes an excellent choice for waterfront property owners who want to do minimal maintenance. Like vinyl, it stands up to mold and mildew. Aluminum requires little more in the way of upkeep than an occasional spray with the hose. Because it holds up in cold weather, it is an ideal building material for areas surrounding North Bay that must withstand a long, icy winter. When the weather thaws, everything is ready to use - no cleaning, treating, or repairing required. Aluminum is also resistant to salt, making it a practical choice for an oceanfront property – or a deck where many margaritas are consumed.

In the past, some owners have voiced concerns about aluminum making a metallic “pinging” sound underfoot or in the rain. This is largely a problem of previous versions of aluminum decking. Modern versions sport a polyurea coating that muffles sounds of metal while helping with heat dispersal.

When it comes to framing, wood is an option, but as with decking and railings it presents issues of maintenance and weatherproofing. Instead, consider vinyl or aluminum supports, or even vinyl support posts with an aluminum core for extra strength. The colours and finishes available in powder coating and paint will allow you to coordinate your sunroom with the rest of your home or cottage.

With the range of products and materials available, it’s easier than ever to find durable, hassle-free, and attractive solutions that will keep you happy and your property in good shape all year long. Find the right materials for you, and get back to enjoying your waterfront home or cottage.