Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maintenance Free Decking- Which Decking is Best?

People ask me all the time. "I am doing research into decking materials and I don't know which one to choose... What type of decking would you use on your house?"

We all know that composites have had their issues and continue to be sued over durability and warranty issues--and until they get that settled I am steering clear personally. When a client insists on composite we will quote the job and before agreeing to build have them sign a waiver just to let them know that we won't be providing free labour to replace defective composite decking. The other issue has to do with cleaning. This "Low Maintenance Decking" typically needs a chemical wash twice yearly to keep it looking decent.

The old standard pressure treated decking is fine for most suburban locales. Lets face it, on a 200k house in the GTA, you won't likely get the cost back for a cedar or exotic decking if you have to sell. They stopped using arsenic a few years back and you have to use special ACQ fasteners, however the chemicals are the same thing they use to keep worms alive for months in bait shops. Apparently bugs don't like it, and it prevents rot and doesn't bother humans. Obviously pressure treated decking doesn't hold stain as well as Red Cedar Decking so you will need to apply stain every year or two.

Red Cedar and Redwood is gorgeous decking material--however it is soft and prone to damage by foot traffic. When it comes to maintenance though, if you pre-stain and end cut while the deck is built the finish may last a few years with NO Maintenance. The verticals will likely last 7 before having to be re-done. A well maintained cedar or redwood deck may last more than 25 years.

Ipe Decking is a protected species and is often cut by lumber pirates in Brasil. It is normally shipped green which means it will twist and cup and age quickly. It will need constant treating with oil. We simply don't reccomend it.

Tigerdeck is a kiln dried hardwood that has beautiful tone and contrasting grains within. It will need oiling twice yearly... kind of like mopping a floor really, however it will likely last 40 years. It is sustainably harvested in 40 countries.

Cypress grows in swamps in the southern states. It makes a nice decking as well though if left raw will much resemble driftwood. Very East Coast look...

There are many different hardwoods, that will act and look different and last varying amounts of time. Mahogany and Teak are fantastic materials to work with--though they are extremely expensive.


cathy said...

hi lawrence -- we are building a simple rectangular deck and came across your blog and site while researching composite materials. it's been so informative! and helped us steer away from it.

however, do you know anything about thermally modified wood? have you used it/seen it installed? thoughts? recommendations?


Unknown said...

Thermally Modification superheats wood in order to make it unattractive to insects.

It is said to protect from rot also... in our experience this is untrue.

Pitch, tannens and oils help certain species of wood last longer in the elements. These species often live in rainforest like conditions... Ipe, Tigerwood, Red Cedar, Redwood...

Thermal Modification will burn up the sap, tannens and oils and actually turn the wood into a lesser species.

If you take 2000 year old Mummified wood from egypt... and put it in Toronto, it will fall apart in a very short time.


john said...

A new option is stone. We removed our cedar deck and installed maintenance free granite pavers onto an evolutiondeck galvanized steel structure.

Bart Stuchell said...
Gives consumers the option of installing natural stone, brick, pavers or tile on a deck or any elevated surface such as bridge, dock, gazebo, balcony and porch.