About Real Cedar
When it comes to affordable and sustainable design, the three biggest trends right now are shipping container homes, vacation properties in Joshua Tree and natural building materials such as Western Red Cedar. Green Building influencer Ben Uyeda combines all three in his latest project. Which makes sense – he is, after all, the man behind HomeMade Modern, a how-to DIY web series that sets out to “inspire and encourage people to create heirloom quality goods with naturally durable materials.”
In this video, the architect turned builder is making a beautiful cedar deck overtop a concrete patio. The cedar component will define his outdoor entertainment area and begin at the doorway of his shipping container home, essentially extending the interior area to the exterior. They started by making frames for the pavers out of 2x4s.
“We don’t want the pavers to be too big because then they’ll be more susceptible to cracking, so we kept them to about 2’ 6” x 4’ 6”,” explains Uyeda. “The gaps between the pavers will be filled in with gravel. And we weren’t that consistent with them. They range between 5” – 8”.
Then he poured in the concrete and let the slabs cure for three days before removing the wood forms. Then he filled in the all the gaps with gravel. After that, he began working on the cedar deck, which he made out of 12’ long, beautiful Western Red Cedar 6×6 “Appearance Knotty Timbers”. The knotty grade of cedar is really going to add a lot of warmth and texture to this ultra-modern outdoor space. Plus, it’s a cost-effective choice.
Because Uyeda didn’t want the cedar sitting directly on the concrete and wicking up moisture, he laid down some scrap composite decking to use as runners underneath. Then he started installing the decking, which only took him about three hours to complete by himself. Not a very long time to invest, considering the visual impact created by the cedar’s beautiful tonal range against all that austere concrete. And as Uyeda can attest, the cedar deck was a pleasure to build.
“This is my first time working with Western Red Cedar and it’s fantastic,” he says. “I can’t believe how straight these 12’ long pieces are. Cedar like this will hold up against the elements very well and turn a nice silvery grey. And it’s way easier to work with than a tropical hardwood.”
Uyeda decided to let his deck weather naturally. This is lowest maintenance option for cedar, but it’s good to know that Western Red Cedar is pitch and resin free, which means it accepts and holds a wide range of finishes beautifully. See how to choose the right finish for your project here.
As well as being a top-performing building material that can stand up to dry desert heat, cedar is a green choice. Builders like Uyeda know that woods such as Western Red Cedar leave the smallest carbon footprint than any other building material. So, it’s a choice he can feel good about.