Replica stone porticos have been made from Medite Exterior MDF for a development of Queen Anne-style town houses in Essex.

Developer Michael Howard Homes calculated stone would be expensive, difficult to source, involve lengthy construction times and require skilled labour which is no longer readily available.

Nile Timbercraft came up with a cost-effective alternative. It designed three new porticos – flat, pitched and curved – using 18mm thickness Medite Exterior MDF from Weyerhaeuser Europe fixed to an internal softwood frame. For the curved-style porticos, 6mm Medite Exterior laminated and formed to provide 24mm thickness was used.

Nile’s joint managing director Lee Simms said: “With MDF we can be sure of a very good painted surface. And the composition of the material ensures it is proof against cracking or movement on these south-facing houses.”

Other alternatives would have been hardwood, a far more expensive proposition, or softwood, a more complex machining and construction operation.