Reluctant use of Accoya proves a winner for Grand Designs Wirral bungalow renovation

14 December 2016

A modified wood material has been used to transform an “ugly duckling” bungalow in the Wirral, Merseyside, into a modern family home.

Accoya was put to work in a radical transformation of the 1960s-era bungalow, owned by Stuart and Rosie Treasurer, and the difference it made brought it a certain star appeal when it featured on the TV show Grand Designs.

In an ambitious 12-month building project, the couple’s home was stripped to its ground-floor walls with a first-floor being completely reconstructed as a rectangular wooden box, with raw Accoya boards, or ‘pickled wood’ as the modified wood was described in the show, used for external cladding and fine sawn boards for internal decoration.

Around eight cubic metres of Accoya was used for both the external and internal cladding, supplied by Accoya distributor James Latham

The project was masterminded by the Treasurers, who share a passion and fascination for wood in all its forms. The couple run a wood-crafting personalised gift business, Cleancut Wood, from a workshop in the Wirral with designer Stuart specialising in creating wooden products ranging from kitchen and giftware to large pieces of furniture and bespoke installations.

It was this lifelong affinity with wood which inspired the home renovation project, and led to the, initially reluctant, choice of Accoya for the external cladding of their two-storey home.

Stuart Treasurer said: “From the start, we wanted to build something which was going stand out as a high quality example of contemporary design. We also wanted to create a very natural and bespoke look, which needed to be long-lasting whilst being environmentally and financially sustainable.”

He admitted that Accoya, well-known in the trade as a high performing and consistent wood product, wasn’t the obvious choice. But following a visit to the factory in Arnhem, Netherlands, earlier this year, he was shown the rough sawn Accoya wood in its natural form, and was convinced by both its looks and durability.

“The end effect is stunning,” he added. “The Accoya has a style all of its own with each plank of wood displaying its own characteristics, creating a genuinely unique overall look and design.

“With our home overlooking the Dee Estuary, with wind, rain and salt-water whipping in from the Irish Sea, we also wanted a product that was durable and would weather well. So far, Accoya has delivered excellent results, with a very subtle weathering adding to the individual and distinct character of the building.”

Accoya was also used for internal facings and cladding, producing a smooth, homely effect for the refitted kitchen and living areas. Unlike most wood types, the UV stability of Accoya enables the fine sawn interior cladding boards to retain their white colour rather than turn ‘orange’ with time, helping to retain the contemporary look.

“The internal timber acts as a natural contrast to the outside of the building,” added Stuart Treasurer. “It’s surprisingly smooth, and creates an overall effect which makes people want to run their hands over the boards and make a connection with it - showing off Accoya’s aesthetic qualities to the full.

“We have been so pleased with the look and feel of the raw Accoya that we are developing new products for our business using the wood – such as outdoor signage, garden furniture and other home-wares which can be left untreated to create a natural look.”

Taking just over a year to complete, the renovation project has created a five-bedroom and four bathroom home for the Treasurers and their two children, delivered on a budget of less than £175,000.

Manufactured by Accsys Technologies, Accoya is produced using a proprietary acetylation process, creating a modified wood product which exceeds the high-quality and aesthetic attributes of tropical hardwoods.

For John Alexander, sales director at Accsys Technologies, the Wirral project shows a very different use for Accoya, but one that is nonetheless impactful and effective.

“Using both raw and fine sawn Accoya boards for individual home renovation projects is a real one-off project for us,” he said. “But the results speak for themselves, and demonstrate the huge potential of Accoya for bespoke home design, appealing directly to consumers.

“This was also a realistic project, delivered on a sensible budget which shows that Accoya, although regarded as a premium product, can be very cost effective, especially in its raw form. It also has the huge advantage to customers of being low maintenance, exceptionally stable and long-lasting with an above-ground guarantee of 50 years.”