The Best Materials to Use for Beachfront Homes

There are countless benefits that come with owning beachfront homes, from stunning vistas to liberal ocean access. Americans across the country dream of owning property on the beach—of spending their days splashing in the warm ocean and their evenings watching the sunset over the water.

But beachfront homes do come with their share of challenges. Coastal homes are frequently exposed to harsh elements like moisture-fraught air, bright sunlight, strong winds, and saltwater corrosion. To build a sturdy home that can withstand Mother Nature’s temper, you must use proper building materials and techniques.

Below, we’ve listed a piece-by-piece guide to building a beachfront home that will remain strong and attractive for decades to come.

Framing. When choosing a framing material for your home, you have to take the threat of salt water corrosion into account. Salt can cause serious damage to certain materials, so it’s essential to use corrosion-resistant materials when building your house, such as concrete and treated wood. You must know where to use treated and non-treated materials. For example, wolmanized PSL’s will far outlast pressure-treated girders on porches where exposed to the elements. Exposed rafter tails should be pressure treated and pre-primed on all faces. Sea Island Builders uses hot-dipped galvanized nails in our framing applications as well as stainless steel strapping and throughbolts where exposed to outside air.

Hardi siding on a beachfront home in Wild Dunes, SC.

Hardi siding on a beachfront home in Wild Dunes, SC.

Siding. We at Sea Island Builders recommend using brick, Hardie-plank siding, or a composite material similar to Azek, for most exterior applications. These are some of the most durable materials available for siding construction. However, brick will typically last longer than Hardiplank, surviving the salty wind, rain, and sun for over a century before it begins to show sign of serious wear. Brick also provides more efficient thermal and sound insulation. Though brick is the more expensive choice, it will cut down on maintenance costs for your beachfront home and increase its resale value. Sea Island Builders supplies its clients with alternatives depending on the look and feel you are looking for; we will not use any materials that will not hold up to the long-term effects of the salt air.

Roofing. When compared to asphalt shingles, metal roofing is much sturdier and better able to resist rot, mildew, wind, and termites. Because metal roofs reflect the sun, they may also be able to lower the cost of cooling your house by up to 30%. While you may pay more upfront for metal roofing, in the long term, this type of material will end up saving you money in maintenance and cooling costs. There are many types of metal roofs, and again, depending upon the look a client wants, Sea Island Builders will advise of all the pros and cons of different roofing options as well as their overall impact on budget.

Impact rated windows may cost more, but they combine style and safety.

Impact rated windows may cost more, but they combine style and safety.

Windows and glass doors. To protect beachfront homes from the threat of hurricanes and storms, it’s well worth it to invest in impact-rated glass for your windows and doors. In fact, the 2012 IFC Code, which took effect in January 2014, required that all openings either use impact-rated glass, have impact-rated shutters over them, or have impact-rated panels precut with hardware pre-installed prior to a certificate of occupancy being issued. Impact-rated windows are specially designed to hold up under pressure, providing security from flying debris as well as keeping your home watertight. This is particularly important if your windows and doors face the sea. Impact-rated windows are almost always the golden standard once clients are fully advised and made aware of which each option entails.

A great option for beachfront homes is Azek Decking on an entry porch.

A great option for beachfront homes is Azek Decking on an entry porch.

Decking. There are so many options when it comes to decking. We always push clients to take a green and renewable approach when possible. Clients do love and demand the use of Ipe in many applications, which is an exotic hardwood. Suitable alternatives to Ipe include Garapa, which is substantially less expensive but just as durable. Composite, PVC, Capstock, and ASA wood are also great options because they require little maintenance and stand up well to the elements. Azek is becoming more commonplace as exotic materials, such as Ipe, have become scarcer and more expensive. Azek comes in a variety of colors and board widths.

Insulation. Coastal areas typically have quite a bit of humidity and moisture in the air, which can cause the wood to warp. In order to protect hardwood floors and seal out the moisture, coastal homes should always have closed cell insulation underneath the first floor. Closed cell insulation is a spray foam alternative to fiberglass, with a dense constitution that acts as an ideal barrier against air and water vapor. For maximum insulation, Sea Island Builders recommends using closed cell for the attic, floors, and walls to create a protective envelope around the interior of your beach home. There are other options, such as spray in Spider Batt insulation, which is suitable for application in exterior walls.

Paint. There have been vast advances in paint technology in recent years. Depending on the material being painted, Sea Island Builders will discuss all the options available for a beachfront home. All of the wood Sea Island Builders installs on the exterior of houses gets primed on all sides, even the cut ends of boards. This ensures that as much water as possible is kept out of the wood. Interior and exterior paint products differ greatly. We encourage the use of low VOC products and have found some great ones to recommend.

Sea Island Builders’ Beachfront Homes

Sea Island Builders has been building beautiful and long-lasting beachfront homes around Charleston for over a decade. If you are thinking of building or renovating your coastal property, give us a call at 843-883-7430 to get started.


About Jason Fowler

I currently work with Sea Island Builders and have been for the past four years. I am officially the "Pre-Construction" manager although that title does not capture all that I do. I am always researching to learn more about building a better business. Favorite quote, "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten".
This entry was posted in Custom Builder News. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Best Materials to Use for Beachfront Homes

  1. Pingback: 3 Home Features for Weatherproofing Waterfront Homes | Southwest Florida Real Estate Blog

  2. virginiatoth says:


    If you are looking for the material for the beach-front homes then Impact resistant stuffs are the best choice. They not only gives nice and new look to your home but also provide safety from hurricane winds and storms. While looking out for the same I found this page which shows more and detailed information about impact windows and doors. It also helps you to get the suitable and best contractors.

  3. Luke Smith says:

    I think it would be cool to have a beach front house, and be able to enjoy the water, and sand. I think it is smart to use very durable siding like the article suggests, I like the choice of brick myself. I would be fun to see what a house with brick siding would look like on the beach.

    • brad says:

      We have a brick beach house and love it. It was custom built by a guy in 1981 that wasn’t a builder but had a ton of common sense. Current laws would allow us to rebuild but don’t allow structures like ours to exist anymore as were 65 feet from the water. Its a 3,000 SF ranch style “the low roof helps a ton”. There are tons of 2×4′s, about 3x the normal amount and it makes it a PITA to get around in the attic but with the hurricane straps are worth it. The brick is from 1900 and is twice as thick with no center holes and isn’t cracking much at all for the age. It weighs about twice as much as a brick of the same size. They also poured solid footers and used tile. The only things I plan on changing over the years is the remaining bedroom carpet over to complete tile “helps if there is every a cat 5+” and we do get water and I would change over to a standing seam metal roof. I also want to say if I was going to straight up build I would use a mixture of DIY common sense. Low arched roof, cinderblock or stack able block walls with pumped in insulation followed by exterior brick, and then 2×4′s and 6′s drilled into the cinderblock to attach sheetrock to. The owner of this house had 3×4 marine plywood with aluminum sheeting backed behind the brick which is 100x better than tyvek and OSB “especally at the beach OSB is a disaster” if you ask me.

      Brad from Alabama, Roll Tide~

  4. Lucia Kosarova says:


    I have a house very close to Sea.
    It is made from concrete.

    Many years wan nothing done with the house. Now I start to renovate it. Iron sticks were coming OUT of wall.
    I did some basic renovation. But I would like to do More.

    Please advice me WHAT MATERIAL / PAINT should I use to PROTECT HOUSE & GARAGE from salty wind and moisture.
    It is quite windy in the area.

    Thank you.

    Dipl.Ing. Lucia Kosarova

  5. Lucia Kosarova says:


    I have a house close to sea.
    I would like to protect it from wind and salt.

    Iron sticks were coming out of wall.
    I did some basic renovation.

    What material should I use for house & garage.

    Thank you.

    Dipl.Ing. Lucia Kosarova

  6. Shirl Olive says:

    Interesting post!

  7. Michelle says:

    Hi, looking to replace my front door with solid wood but we live a block from the bay. Do you suggest a specific wood, process or maintenance?

  8. Ossie says:

    I have a Beach House in the process of being built on an island in Southern Thailand the whole house is built in concrete with footings more than 2.5 metre deep the walls are built of a very good insulation block which are lightweight and the roofing is Zinc coated in white which reflects the heat . The glass will be toughened laminate and boy there is a hell of a lot of it but to protect from sunlight there is overhangs . The house is single storey and has been designed so that the wind elements won’t be to harsh , along with the house there will be a separate detached apartment for guests and a 16 metre+salt water lap pool. I purchased the plot over 11 years ago but it has taken me this long to decide what we wanted . If you want to follow the build go to FB and put in Shamrock Holdings PLC and friend me !! Live the dream I am and now 65 years young I intend to live it for many years to come !!!!!

  9. Pingback: How to Ensure Your Luxury Beach House is Protected From the Weather – TheTopTier

  10. You mentioned that you want to make sure that your beach home has impact-rated glass for your windows and doors. My sister and her husband have been considering purchasing a beach home. I will have to tell them about this advice, as you never know when a big storm will through, and you want to make sure your home can withstand it. Thanks for the tips.

  11. Leigh Hefferan says:


    I am looking for some help. I have a South America home on the coastline. Its exposed to sea air and significant sunlight. I have had my home painted twice (exterior) but the product fails after about a year. Peeling occurs and delamination. Are you aware of any exterior paint products that has been proven to withstand pacific water environments? Any methods that should be adhered to?


  12. Kylie Dotts says:

    It makes sense that you would want impact-resistant glass for your beachside ocean cottage. My husband and I have always wanted to live on the beach but right now we don’t earn quite enough. He should be getting a raise at work though, which would put us in buying range of a small summer house on the beach. Obviously, we’d have to make sure that it was ready for any kind of weather but our dream might be in reach soon!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 + 14 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>