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Decks: Wood, Composite Or …?

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Inside Outside Guys
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The Inside Outside Guys

The last decades have witnessed many options available for backyard decks. Decks continue to have a high residual value to homebuyers, so they’re typical “cost-to-value” ratio is high. From the use of Redwood in the 1950’s to the treated wood of the 70’s, a lot of materials can function as the walking or “wear” surface of a deck.

Most deck frames are still going to be CCR or ACQ, (green), treated lumber. You should purchase higher quality, (species and grade), lumber for greater strength and longevity. These deck frames will often be reinforced with galvanized metal connectors and secured with either “double-dipped galvanized” or stainless-steel fasteners.

If the deck connects to the house, this is a critical juncture that requires good engineering, design, and installation. You should fasten the deck “through” to the floor frame with stainless-steel bolts – not screws.

For any deck-to-house connection, good flashing details are essential to keep out any moisture or active water! For the walking surface, common choices include naturally durable wood, vinyl, treated wood or composites.

Cedar, redwood and teak are termed “naturally durable wood” because they contain natural toxins that prevent or minimize insect and mold attacks. They tend to be pricier and require annual work to maintain the original beauty, but they can last for many years.

Vinyl’s are pricey, but have the advantage of little maintenance and longer life. They and the composites may require additional framing support below per manufacturer’s guidelines.

Treated (typically “green”) decking will “gray” without loosing strength and is still a price bargain compared to many products. It can be periodically sealed with various products including linseed oil.

If you really want to impress, consider high-end carpeted deck surfaces, membrane type roofing products that can be walked on, or even installing a ceramic tile meant for exterior use.

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