For a custom home on the South River, Lundberg Builders constructed a deck out of meranti mahogany paired with stainless-steel railings.

Ask the Pros: Construction

Advice on designing the perfect home by the bay

What materials best withstand the elements in a waterfront setting?

Most traditional siding materials are suitable for waterfront homes, but the amount of maintenance varies. Natural wood requires much more upkeep than a concrete or synthetic product, while brick or stone will be more expensive initially but require less maintenance in the long run. Building science has changed dramatically. Houses are far more airtight than ever before, requiring the total wall package (insulation, sheathing, vapor barriers, etc.) to be designed very carefully. The installation of these materials is critical. Don’t cut costs on windows; spend extra money for a better window and you won’t regret it. For decks, synthetic products are popular for easy maintenance. For those who want a natural wood look, îpe is a durable, rot-resistant exotic hardwood harvested from well-managed forests. —Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Stevensville, Maryland