Best Pool Decking Options and Materials

You need to walk across your pool deck before you get in the water and more importantly you walk across it after getting out of the pool dripping wet. So, the pool deck material needs to be good looking, it needs to be slip resistant, and it needs to be cool on your feet on […]

Types of Wood Decking Materials

Choosing your materials can be difficult. Often, it comes down to price or availability. You don’t have to rely on the big box stores for your deck products. There are specialty lumberyards in most cities that carry species of lumber that you cannot find at the big box stores.

Different Types of Joist Hangers

Joist hangers can be used anywhere you need to strengthen a load bearing connection. Joist hangers use face mount attachments to fasten joists to ledger boards and beams. You can buy joist hangers for different sized lumber. Single, double, triple, right and left orientation hangers are available for various applications. Many builders underestimate the extreme importance of selecting and properly installing the appropriate joist hangers. Make sure to fill all of the required nail holes with the appropriate nail type. Remember that your deck will be only as strong as its weakest connection. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never try to cut corners when considering hardware and fasteners for your deck project.

Pressure Treated Wood: Types, Grading Standards & More

What is Pressure Treated Wood? Pressure treated wood is lumber impregnated with a variety of preservative chemicals to prevent rot and insect infestation in exterior applications like decks and fences. Several species of wood can be treated, but a regionally available species usually predominates in any particular locale. Pressure treated lumber is ideal for outdoor construction […]

Cedar Decking: Prices, Different Types, Maintenance & More

Cedar is a fantastic choice for a deck building material because of its combination of unique properties. It is dimensionally stable, meaning that it lays flat and stays straight. Even grain and consistent density make it less likely to warp, cup or twist. It’s fragrant, dark-colored heartwood naturally resists rot and insect infestation in outdoor environments without the need for preservative chemicals. It has a rich, warm aesthetic offering a range of natural hues, tight grain patterns and soft textures. Fresh cut cedar will come in a wide range of honey/peach shades of light brown. When exposed to weather, it will change in color to silver gray. Cedar’s softness makes it easy to work with and readily accepts protective stains, although its sawdust can be irritating to the skin and lungs. Its thermal properties allow it to stay cool to the touch in summer heat. The price and availability for different types of cedar wood will vary from region to region. It should be more available and less expensive than redwood and composite decking. We recommend protecting cedar by staining. Cedar is similar to redwood in many of its properties because both are from the same genus. Cedar, however, has more flexural toughness than redwood, meaning that it can flex more without shattering and is also less dense and has less natural oil that make it easier to accept stain. Cedar forests are also more abundant and present somewhat less of an environmental issue for commercial logging, if managed responsibly. Cedar trees have a long history in the forestry industry and have been studied by scientists for over a century. The trees grow principally in the Pacific Northwest forests; many reach heights of up to 200 feet tall. These forests are precious resources that require centuries to mature and thrive. Most Old Growth Cedar forests have been restricted or closed to logging to protect the unique ecosystem from exploitation. Old Growth Cedar has higher density than Second Growth but, because it is not primarily used for its structural properties, it usually makes little difference. Managed forestry is the environmentally and socially responsible practice of logging and manufacturing lumber to maintain the sustainability of our forests. Be sure that any cedar you buy includes a FCS product label to ensure that it was responsibly harvested and can be traced by its chain of custody. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.

Redwood Decking: Cost, Maintenace & Types of Redwood

Redwood is a remarkable deck material in almost every way. It is very stable, straight and its heartwood is naturally resistant to wood boring insects and weathering without the use a preservative chemicals. Its fragrant, earthy reddish brown heartwood gives it its name. If left unfinished, redwood will initially turn black and then slowly turn into a silver gray. Its high-stability makes it less likely to cup and warp than treated wood. It is prized for its low shrinkage rate, so splitting is minimized. Redwood fastens and machines well but can be brittle – you may need to pre-drill holes at the ends of boards to prevent splitting. Its milled or sanded surfaces accept paint and stain easily. It is recommended that you use a protective finish with a water repellant, mildewcide and ultraviolet inhibitor.

How to Dry & Treat Wet Wood

Most wood sold for deck building is considered wet and has a moisture content of over 30 percent water weight. Wet wood will shrink as it dries out and is less stable, which can cause it to check and warp. It also provides an environment where fungi and bacteria produce rot and insects thrive. Dry wood is lighter, easier to work with and less likely to split. You can buy lumber that has been kiln dried, but this will cost you a premium price. If you have purchased green or wet lumber, you should dry it out as best you can before working with it by stacking it on spacers and storing it in a shaded, dry and well ventilated area so the air can circulate evenly. You can check the moisture content by using a moisture meter at your lumberyard or cross cutting a board and examining the interior wood. Wood shrinks in all dimensions as it dries, but most problems are caused in how the boards handle the shrinkage in width and thickness.

How to Read Lumber Grade Stamping

Any lumber you purchase should have a grade stamp or end tag. These markers provide a lot of important information related to the characteristics of the wood. Each piece of lumber will be visually or mechanically inspected according to the number of defects that are present and graded accordingly to meet consistent visual and structural standards. The stamp will include a seal that identifies which certified agencies’ rules were used in grading the lumber as well as identifying the mill where the lumber was processed. The species of wood will be identified in an abbreviated form and the grade designation will be placed in the center of the stamp. There are many industry-specific grades for different wood products. The most common are FAS, Select, #1 Common and #2 Common, from best to worst. The surface texture of each face will be listed as either S for smooth or RS for rough sawn. The moisture content will be referenced by the abbreviations Grn for green (containing more than 19% water weight), Dry (containing less than 19% water weight), or KDAT (kiln-dried after treatment). Using grade stamp information will be helpful when selecting your materials, but the markings themselves act as a visual defect on the surface of a deck. You may be able to turn the board over to hide the stamp. Otherwise, the only way to remove grade stamps from lumber is to sand the board.

Bark Side Up vs. Best Side Up

Usually, the best policy to use for surfacing an attractive wood floor is to always expose the best side of the board. If your deck boards are wet, some carpenters prefer to install them bark side up to prevent cupping. This technique will orientate the visible growth rings in a downward arc like a dome to eliminate any protruding corners and allow water to run off the boards. Another reason to install the decking bark side up is because the pith side is prone to shelling, especially in trees that have dense latewood growth rings like southern pine. As a general rule, the drier the decking, the fewer problems you will have no matter how you install it. Also, consider that there is more sapwood on the bark side of a board, and sapwood more easily accepts stains than heartwood. We recommend you consult with your lumber supplier for a recommendation based on the species of wood and the climate in your region.

Hurricane Ties: Uses and Installation

Hurricane ties are hardware pieces that connect the joists to cantilevered beams to reduce uplift forces caused by high winds. These are inexpensive and are a good precaution to use wherever high winds may be a problem, especially in zones where hurricanes and tornadoes are common. Be sure that the hurricane ties and fasteners are compatible with new pressure-treated lumber. Hurricane ties will not usually be required by your local building department, but they are a cost-effective method of securing your joists over a cantilevered beam that may be lifted by high winds.