Salt Resistant Building Materials

Building a new house is an exciting endeavor. That is until you realize that your Tequila sunset balcony may be at risk of corrosion all because of that darn saltwater!

While many materials can withstand corrosion, the most common building options include stone, treated wood, reinforced concrete, galvanized stainless steel, glass, brick, and acrylic paint. It also doesn’t hurt anyone if you choose options labeled “corrosion-resistant” when selecting materials.

Having a house on the coast has great perks, but these homes can be fussy when considering the natural elements at play. Coastal homes are often exposed to humid air, bright sunlight, strong winds, and corrosion. So, what exactly makes each of these building materials appealing, and where exactly should you use them?

Best Practices When Building a Coastal Home

Choosing the suitable material for your home shouldn’t be difficult, which is why we’ve constructed a list of best practices to follow when building your coastal dream home.

Roofing

If you’re looking for a material that will withstand the rugged seascape, metal roofing is the one. While it does require a more significant investment upfront, after one year on the coast (and a potential typhoon season), you’ll be happy you invested in it.

Metal roofing has many benefits, but its weather resistance and energy efficiency are the two most notable.

While many people believe that metal roofing is noisy and outdated, these beliefs can easily be changed. Have a look at the images below:

You may also notice in the image above that the solar panels sleekly integrate into the corrugated roof. Design feature to consider? We think so!

Framing

When framing your house, having corrosion in mind is inevitable. With constant exposure to salt, air, and moisture, there should be no doubt that you should be using corrosion-resistant materials.

The best option here is to lay a concrete foundation, frame the home with steel studs and treated wood to ensure that your house won’t rust (or blow) away.

Siding

While a good option here is metal siding, bricks are also a great option to consider.

We’ve all driven past those beachfront brick homes that immediately endow the “holiday-feeling,” so why not consider it an option? If you don’t like the brick look, you can always plaster over it.

Here is a stunning modern-cottage style home that uses a combination of brick and stone to create a more homely feeling:

The nice thing about using brick as a siding option is that you’ll have access to various colors and shapes, which means you can play around with what matches your budget better.

Modern brick houses look just as good as those classic masterpieces.

What’s even better is that you can play around with metal and brick combinations to see what fits your style best.  

Windows and Doors

While the light mist of salty beach water may be refreshing on those warm days, high winds and extreme rain isn’t something you want to challenge when building a home.

It’s probably a good idea to install high-impact glass (also known as laminated glass) for all your windows and doors.

This type of glass can withstand flying debris and is water-tight — great to keep the moisture, humidity, and flying branch out.

Floors

When you choose flooring, the first thought that comes to mind is the ease of cleaning, durability, and water resistance. Fortunately, many of the options available are also corrosion-resistant.

Go for options like concrete, reclaimed wood, and tiles when choosing your flooring.

The benefits of using these options?

  • Concrete = easy to clean and durable
  • Reclaimed wood = eco-friendly and unique
  • Tile = perfect for wet rooms (water-resistant) and easy to clean

What’s great about using these flooring options is that you can create a home to fit your exact style according to your set budget.

Decking

There are thousands of options to choose from when it comes to selecting decking. Whenever possible, go for eco-friendly and renewable materials.

Some good material choices for decking include:

  • Pressure-treated wood

Pressure-treated wood is a type of wood that has undergone a unique process to make it more durable and less susceptible to decay, insect infestation, mold, and water damage.

Some pressure treatments can even make the wood fire retardant.

  • Composite

Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) is a wood fiber combined with recycled polyethylene, small amounts of bonding agents, and colorants.

This makes the material perfect for weather resistance and doesn’t require much upkeep. What’s also nice about using WPC is that it looks more authentic than plastic alternatives.

  • Plastic Lumber (HDPE)

Much like composite, HDPE is made from synthetic materials. The difference is that HDPE decking is 100% plastic (unlike composite, which has some wood fibers).

HDPE decking is designed to minimize maintenance and prevent common problems that you find with wood decking.

What’s also lovely about HDPE decking is that you have full-reign over customization — this means you can mimic more expensive wood options without paying the price of more expensive wood.

We also wouldn’t recommend you install PVC decking. Although it’s very similar to HDPE, it has a few negatives that HDPE doesn’t. It’s also not an eco-friendly product and may pose certain health risks.

  • Concrete and stone

Sure, the concrete and stone option is the most expensive option, but it is also the most durable. Its lifespan depends on craftsmanship, but if done well, a concrete/stone patio can last you a lifetime (+70 years)

Material costs vary, so it’s best to phone a local contractor to ask them if they know of places that offer better prices for stone and concrete.

What’s also nice about using concrete or stone as an option is that you won’t have to pay as much for upkeep. At the same time, some of the abovementioned materials require connection hardware that may be subject to salt corrosion.

Paint

Outdoor paint isn’t made to last forever, but some types of paint stand up better against sun and moisture.

For most exterior paint jobs, water-based paints like latex acrylic paint are the best choice because they don’t trap moisture the way oil-based paints do.

Water-based paints are highly resistant to rain damage and contract and expand with your siding. Removing dirt and stains is also much more manageable with acrylic paints in areas with high salinity, and subsequent deterioration decreases.

Maintenance and Repair of Coastal Homes

Metal and Rust

The salty sea air promotes rust, so using galvanized and stainless steel hardware is the safest option.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should neglect it. It’s recommended that you wash your home hardware quarterly.

Additionally, if you find any rust on your non-rust resistant hardware, you should clean it off and add a coat of protection to the metal. This can be done with rust-preventative paints or oils.

Wood

Ensure that your wooden doors, windows, and additional finishes are checked and treated regularly to prevent deterioration and rotting.

Waterproofing

Most coastal areas tend to have rainy seasons in addition to higher humidity. For this reason, homeowners need to be extra vigilant when there is any sign of water damage and damp spots. Catch the problem early, and solve it by using waterproofing services.

It can become a costly process if you leave it for too long!

Paint

While water-based paints will last longer than oil-based paints, it’s still important to regularly maintain it by spraying it down, and when/if paint peels that, you sand down and patch the spot with a fresh coat of paint.

You don’t want rainwater seeping into your siding — water damage can’t be repaired as quickly.

Conclusion

When applying any of these abovementioned recommendations (for material selection and maintenance), remember to consult with a professional. Additionally, we encourage that you do your research based on your area and specialized products available to you.

Protecting your home from salt damage should be just as important as protecting it against the rest of the elements. Do this by using stone, treated wood, reinforced concrete, galvanized stainless steel, glass, brick, and acrylic paint as building material options.

Protect your investment, and your dream home may just remain that forever.

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