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Under the Boardwalk: Grass, Sand, Gravel All Fine Terrain for Rollout Walkway

Written by Posted On Sunday, 26 June 2005 17:00

Putting in a walkway doesn't have to take weeks and big bucks. Rollout walkways, once seen primarily near beaches on the boardwalk, are making their way to residential homes because of easy installation, care and good looks.

The company, Mister Boardwalk , started in 1990 making basic rollout walkways for public venues.

"It's basically wood, all kinds of wood and different widths, that are strung together with rope. We drill holes through the wood and then put a nylon rope through it and it makes a real nifty semi-permanent walkway system," says Warren McLeod sales manager at Mister Boardwalk.

But the versatility of the walkway soon attracted homeowners who found the movable, semi-permanent rollout walkways are perfect for vacation homes on the coast or near lakes or rivers.

"But, more and more, we're finding that people prefer a particular type of the walkway -- particularly what we call the no-spacer; just like a typical deck, it has no spaces between the boards," says McLeod. The original walkway had spaces between the slabs.

Usually the rollout walkway is laid down over sand, gravel or even grass.

When it's over grass a little more maintenance may be involved.

"Some people love that look of grass growing up between the slabs. You do probably have to roll it up occasionally and mow it or weed-whack it," says McLeod.

Other homeowners put down a bed of gravel on the lawn and then roll out the walkway. "That has a heck of a nice look," says McLeod.

Easy installation is perhaps the rollout walkway's most enticing feature.

If the ground is fairly level, the process is ultra simple because the walkway will undulate on the lawn.

"Generally speaking, absolutely no work is required; you roll it out and you're done," says McLeod.

There are several types of rollout walkways: IPE (looks like teak, also called Pau Lope), cypress, Trex, which is a composite of recycled plastic and sawdust, Pressure Treated Southern Yellow Pine, which used to be the most common deck lumber. IPE, mahogany and plastic lumber are now growing in usage.

"The most durable product you can find is the IPE. That's the hardest, longest-lasting, most durable wood that we know of that's generally available at any reasonable price. Its wonderful stuff," says McLeod.

True testament for the IPE walkway is its usage in public places.

"The best endorsement I can give it is that the entire Atlantic City boardwalk was just redone with it. They researched it very carefully," says McLeod.

McLeod says IPE wood doesn't warp, crack or split.

"Atlantic City is actually a street ... . That means they have to be able to get hundred-thousand pound fire trucks out there and all the other safety equipment out there [on the IPE]," says McLeod.

The walkways are made to bear environmental conditions, especially IPE, which is the most durable, Trex and Pressure treated pine should last a minimum of 20 years. "Cypress is not as durable, [it will last] maybe five years on the ground," says McLeod.

You don't have to worry about them rotting, splitting or becoming infested with termites.

The success of the rollout walkway is moving indoors. The company is now making bathmats for bathrooms.

"It started as a mat for the outdoor showers at the beach. More and more, we sell it for indoor use of all types," says McLeod.

"There's a reason they have [wooden] boardwalks at the beach; it just feels good on your feet -- there's nothing quite like wood. That's true inside as well as outside," says McLeod.

And a huge plus is the fact that IPE is so hard and durable that McLeod says mold and mildew won't penetrate it.

"You can throw [the IPE mats] in the bathtub just like you would anything you want to clean and clean it using Tilex or any other cleaner … and it'll take all the mold and mildew off just like it does for the tile. Then you're right back in business with a really nice mat," says McLeod.

A lot of woods are too soft and have too much grain to them which makes them easily susceptible to mold and mildew.

The outside rollout walkway is just as easy to clean and should be cleaned at least once a year. They can be power washed, or cleaned with bleach and water.

Lack of cleaning can lead to a slippery walkway because the mold and mildew can build up. Also, in the winter black ice can develop on it.

"If you're going to use one of our walkways or doormats in the winter use some de-icer. Our stuff is made very tough so it'll stand up to salt or whatever you want to use to get the ice off it," says McLeod.

Another common use for the rollout walkway is barbecue mats. "By getting your barbecue off the deck you free up more space for what you really would like to do on the deck -- which is lounge around and put a couple more chairs [on the deck] -- and you can put the barbecue down on the lawn, but have it on a secure surface," says McLeod.

The most difficult part of the rollout walkway is the preparation before you even purchase it.

"One of the difficult things to do is to convert what you see on [our website] to what you want on the ground," says McLeod.

The rollout walkway comes in straight, curved and corner strips so that you can design your walkway any way you like.

"If curves are involved we frequently ask them to send us a bird's eye view sketch," says McLeod.

With all of these options, paving the way to a beautiful yard doesn't have to be back-breaking.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

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