Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is Faux a Foe? Is Fake a Mistake?

When today's discerning giant utters "fee fie faux fum", he's sniffing out synthetic siding, polystyrene beams, granite laminates, wood floor lookalikes, as WELL as the occasional thieving Limey.

You too can be a giant detective among men, and women. 

Here are a few examples of what to look for in faux siding and trim:

Simple painted exterior "wood" trim may actually be Cellular PVC.  [ Excellent substitute for cedar.  Dimensionally stable.  Doesn't cup, check or rot.  Factory finish. - [ I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ]  See Azek.

Painted "wood" clapboard siding and its trim, may actually be fiber-cement.  [ Excellent substitute for cedar.  Dimensionally stable.  Doesn't crack, melt, cup, check, or rot.  Holds stain or paint FAR longer. - [ I HIGHLY RECOMMEND  ]  See Hardi-plank.

Simple painted interior "wood" trim may actually be MDF, medium density fiberboard.  [  Substitute for finger-jointed wood.  Dimensionally stable.  Doesn't cup, check or rot.  Paints well. - [ I RECOMMEND ]  See Louisiana-Pacific Corp. 

More complicated painted interior "wood" trim may actually be molded plastic foam.  [ Can be molded into beams, complex profiles such egg and dart, dentils, and other "stacked" moldings.  Substitute for finger-jointed wood.  Can shrink slightly.  Doesn't cup, check or rot.  Paints well. - [ I RECOMMEND (BE ADVISED that this is a plastic product that regardless of its fire rating, will vaporize in the high temperatures of a house fire, producing toxic gases.  To be fair, so will your carpeting and upholstery foam, and typically there's a LOT more of that in a house.) ] See Fypon.   

The questions is, how should we FEEL about substitutes?

If having the traditional material makes you feel GOOD, use it.  There are tradesman ready to install anything your heart desires.

Sometimes the substitute products are indistinguishable from traditional materials.  In that case, feel BETTER.  The Pilgrims would gladly have used Azek if it had been available.

If a new product like fiber-cement siding almost looks the same, but performs better, then in MY eyes it looks and feels BEST.

Go faux it !

Monday, September 13, 2010

You Can't Get Those Things Anymore?

Client:  I've been told you can't get anyone to _________________ anymore.

- do stucco
- turn a replacement spindle
- turn a replacement porch post
- make fancy curved wood stairs and railings
- match fancy plaster moldings
- build wood shutters
- machine special hardware
- make ______ repairs
- do ______ replacement
- make a _____

Architect:  Ohhhhhh YES you can........

Client:  Really?

Architect:  There's always an expert.  Some are local.  Many don't advertise.  Most don't  rush !

Client:  Yeah, but it'll cost a lot !

Architect:  Actually it DOESN'T cost a lot.  You are charged exactly what the rate is for getting what you want done DONE.  After all, he/she is "the" person who does "that thing".  If you want it done, you need to recover from the sticker shock and get in line.  They'll get to you....

Client:  I mean it'll cost more than buying what is standard THESE days.

Architect:  Yes it will.  You'll get some pleasure out of it though, and you'll be keeping a specialist tradesman fed, and a special trade alive.  You'll be a Supporter of the Construction and Architectural Arts.

Client:  Not sure I want to spend the money.

Architect:  That's a DIFFERENT story !!!