In this Daily: Preventive Maintenance on Wood in Las Catalinas
One of the many things that makes Las Catalinas beautiful is the presence of the wood. In town, wood is used both for structural members such as roof beams and columns, as well as internally for doors, windows, and cabinets.
Externally, the standard of the exposed wood roof has developed to be a signature characteristic of town. Similar for the deep wood eaves with the rafter tails.
Internally, there are many ways that wood is emphasized as an interior design aesthetic, from furniture to cabinet finishing to exposed crossbeams like found in the kitchen of Casa Pacifica. Thanks to the wood-shop onsite in Las Catalinas, homes have had tables, beds, desks, chandeliers, commercial signs, CNC decorative panels, hanging beds, swinging porches, and many other design pieces.
With wood as such an integral portion of town, today we look at the woods used in town and their maintenance, to keep homes beautiful for years to come.
The Use of Wood in Beach Town, Las Catalinas
In town, Guanacaste wood is used for structural elements such as roof beams and columns, whereas for internal use like doors, windows, and cabinets, Melina wood is primarily used, with cedar and teak used on occasion for windows and cabinets.
There are a few reasons for the use of these specific woods. Town’s climate can be harsh for wood. It is always hot in town, half of the year is humid with the other half of the year dry, and there is a prominent salty sea breeze. As a result, woods were chosen carefully. Guanacaste and Melina are local, native woods that are already adapted to this climate, so they perform well. They are chosen because termites can’t burrow into Guanacaste, and don’t like the taste of Melina.
Guanacaste is a very hard wood along the lines of mahogany. It is very strong and durable but it also has a visually complex grain and is beautiful to look at, which allowed the exposed roof structure to become a signature feature in town.
The Guanacaste is also one of the country’s protected species of tree, and as a result it is highly regulated to ensure sustainable forestry. By working through the proper channels, sourcing this Guanacaste wood can actually help assure that town’s builders are observing a high standard of sustainability.
Melina, used more often internally, is a softer blonde wood like pine, which makes it easy to work with. It can be stained almost any color, and is well suited to be stained to match Guanacaste or take on interesting colors, like in the dining room of Casa Nola.
Why Woods in Town Need Maintenance
In a coastal town, wood is exposed to salt in a process of wetting and drying that can cause damage or erosion. As the wood surface is exposed to heat and drying, water evaporates and salt crystals form between the wood’s cells. This process of salt erosion to the wood over the course of multiple years causes different responses in different wood, as the Forest Service explains.
It’s important to be aware that even though the woods used in town are the best suited for this climate, they still move, expand, and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. This is magnified by the fact that the interior of the home is often cooled with ac while the outside remains exterior temperature.
For this reason, windows and doors typically need a full season cycle to settle in. All wood is bought at around 12% humidity, but due to fluctuations throughout the year pieces move quite a bit and need a couple of adjustments. After that they’re durable and beautiful.
Preventive Maintenance on Homes in Town
Beyond the first year of adjustment, proper maintenance helps these wood age well and add to the character of town. In general, roof structures are low maintenance as they are generally more protected from the elements. More exposed elements such as columns, windows, and doors need more regular maintenance for their finish, be it stain or sealant.
Regular maintenance includes sanding the wood down and then refinishing it, be that with paint, stain, or another round of sealant. The frequency of this depends on the taste of the homeowners, as you can maintain them looking always brand new, or allow them to patina and age for a slightly different aesthetic. Painted wood is another case, as it will often require much more maintenance than stained wood as the paint can show cracks easily.
In Las Catalinas, the homeowner support team can handle the process of organizing preventive maintenance of the wood. Experts recommend this maintenance every 12 months or so, which helps keep these beautiful natural elements in ideal condition for years to come.