Wood is a remarkable material -- infinitely varied, easily workable, biodegradable and renewable to boot. But it does have an Achilles heel: Compared to many other building materials, wood is quite perishable. Hence, using wood in architectural details subject to weather is really asking for trouble down the road. In spite of this, architects and builders love to lavish their designs with projecting wooden beams, brackets, and other stickwork -- a practice that's only increased with the current revival of woodsy Craftsman-style architecture. But as beautiful as wood detailing looks on the day it's installed, it's only a matter of time before it gets walloped by Mother Nature. What's more, since the quality of sawn lumber is not what it used to be, modern designs using wood are e...
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