New materials bring new life to outdoors

Corrugated steel can bring a fresh look to outdoor spaces. PHOTO: Christine Roberts

With the warm weather coming and days getting longer, Canadians head outdoors in swarms. Since our summer is relatively short, most of us resolve to spend as much time outside as possible. In preparation for sunny days and warm nights on the patio, it’s time to spruce up our yards.

Last year I tackled two projects that were long overdue: our side fence and back porch … both of which were getting by on a wing and a prayer. They weren’t in great shape when we bought the house 14 years ago and I finally decided they had to be replaced.

I knew I wanted a different look than the typical wood fence and deck. Drawing on inspiration from books, magazines and blogs, I set out to design something that would not only look great but last through our harsh winters and hot summers.

A few years ago I built a bike shed inspired by a building we saw in California. Using reclaimed wood and corrugated metal I built a simple shed with a sliding barn door. This is so practical, since it allows for a very wide opening to get bikes in and out easily, without having to make room for (or hold open) swinging shed doors.

After the success of that project, I decided to use galvanized metal for my new fence and deck. This material is made for exterior applications and is durable, inexpensive and maintenance-free, so it’s perfect for many outdoor applications. It’s readily available at most roofing places – my go-to is Danforth Roofing (

For the fence, we anchored wood posts in the ground at even intervals. To do this, measure the total length you need the fence to span and divide that into sections. A maximum of four feet is best between posts.

To secure the metal to the posts, I screwed in a wood frame all around the section where the metal would be fastened, using the posts as the main support and structure. Then I cut the corrugated metal to the correct height and screwed it into the back of the wood frame.  Finish off the exposed side with another wood frame and you’re done! It was super easy, looks great and will need virtually no maintenance.

Christine Roberts used corrugated steel on a porch and fence in her Beach yard.

I built the deck and railings at the back of the house based on a design I saw in photos. Helpful tip: when searching for designs, bookmark all the photos you like and then figure out what the common element is, and use this in your design.

I really like a criss-cross pattern because it feels nice and open and allows us to see more of the yard from the back door. I used corrugated metal again on the side panels underneath the decking. Using the same technique as the fencing, create your wood frame to the right size, screw the metal onto the back and then attach the panel to the deck supports. It’s great to keep pests out from under a deck and keeps everything underneath clean and dry too.

So if you are planning some outdoor structures like a new shed, deck or fence this year, consider using materials such as corrugated metal. The function and durability are hard to beat, and you’ll end up with something that is really unique as well.

Christine Roberts is an interior designer, stylist, avid vintage collector, and co-founder of the Leslieville Flea. She makes furniture and home accessories of reclaimed materials. Find her at

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