Pressure Treated Decking: Why Should You Avoid It?

Posted May 22nd, 2012 by Decking Materials

Pressure Treated Decking is the most common type of lumber used in deck-building projects throughout America.  The reasons are simple: it’s cheap, widely available, and easy to work with.  But anyone who has owned a Pressure-Treated deck will tell you that the advantages stop there.

You’re probably familiar with the headaches deck maintenance can cause.  It’s Pressure-Treated lumber that is responsible for this image.  Chemical treatments (more on those in a moment) are used to make the wood stronger, but as it ages the effects wear off, resulting in broken, splintered boards.  After a few years of babysitting your deck, you have to replace it, which undermines any savings made when buying the cheapest material.

Coming back to the chemical treatments that lend Pressure-Treated decking its strength, previous treatments such as CCA have been shown to be unhealthy for both people and the environment. Now, to be fair, there are two newer chemical preservatives that are now commonly used, MCA (Micronized Copper Azole) and ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary). These chemicals are forced into the wood to help reduce decay but there are some potential health concerns with these treatments.

Finally, Pressure-Treated decking doesn’t look all that great.  It has a pronounced grain pattern, which some people might find attractive, but the color is a sickly shade of dusty yellow/green, due largely to the chemical treatment of the wood.

Upgrading to a more expensive material may be well worth your while.  The extra cost will be justified by fewer maintenance issues (a safer, more enjoyable deck).  Consider looking into exotic hardwoods, which generally feature impressive, maintenance-free lifespans as well as rich coloration.

Deck Boards What to Look For

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

Most of us at some point in our lives will invest in a deck or outdoor area. There are so many different types of deck boards available that it can become overwhelming. This is an important part of the purchasing  process for several reasons. The boards you select will determine how long the deck will last, whether you will have to treat the deck for insects, mold or fungus, if it will need to be built away from direct sun exposure, the aesthetics and strength of the deck. Let’s examine the different materials and what to look for.

The most common deck board is the pressure treated wood boards. This is also the least expensive but the lifespan for this material is only 5-10 years depending upon the environment. Pressure treated lumber also emit some nasty outgases of chemicals to living creatures and its surroundings. The likelihood of replacement in 10 years is high so in the long run the cost factor does go up as labor and materials will have to be replaced, creating more work and materials at a future date.

A growing industry is the composite decking and PVC decking industry. The composite decking industry is a fairly new industry and is a mix of plastic and wood dust or wood particles and a type of glue. The problem with this is the durability and strength deteriorates over time and is not great to begin with. That is the reason the joists can not be made of composite. The increase in lawsuits and bankruptcy of different composite companies is a telltale sign of problems to come. PVC decking has similar problems coupled with the fact that it is made from PVC. Polyvinyl chloride commonly referred to as PVC is a manufactured plastic with toxic byproducts. Dioxin (potent carcinogen), ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are made in the production of PVC and causes health problems. Neurological damage, birth defects, impaired child development, endocrine disruption, endometriosis, immune system damage, reproductive damage and cancer are some of those problems. There is a lot of good information out there on the hazards to you and your environment.

Tropical wood decking is also a growing industry and one that is sustainable. This industry has gotten a lot of bad rap in the last few years for forest destruction but in reality can be an asset to forests as it creates a demand for trees. If you research the actual cause of forest depletion than you will find that cattle grazing and agricultural cash cropping are 90% of the cause. These uses destroy the soil for future tree growth where trees being logged can be replaced and if managed properly can help surrounding trees to grow faster with access to sunlight and room for growth. This recent stir of accountability has increased associations such as FSC, Green Peace and Smartwood to form and grow as well as government agencies to take a stance such as IBAMA in Brazil and our own govt. to utilize processes such as the Lacey Act regulating where the lumber comes from and verifying it is from a managed forest not illegally harvested. Now if you look at species such as Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood and Garapa than you will realize you can have the best of both worlds. These species are absolutely beautiful and the density of these deck boards is very high. They are naturally repellant to insects, mold, fungus and rot. No insect repellant sprays are needed and no replacements in your lifetime. This is a no brainer and the alternatives we create are not better nor are they as eco-friendly as supporting your well managed forests.

 

 

 

Cedar Decking, Pine Decking or Ipe Decking & Why?

Posted August 6th, 2009 by ipemadeira
 

 

 

 

 

 

Decking is one of the most popular home improvements a homeowner will make. This undertaking requires several decisions on the part of the homemaker. These decisions include how much room is available, how much decking to make, what decking materials to use and of course how much money to invest. The deck boards are a very important part of the decision making process with many choices available. In the past the choice had predominately been pressure treated pine but now with new technology the choices are abundant. Let’s take a look at several wood decks and the reasons for and against them.

Pine decking has been a popular choice for many reasons. Readily available, this wood is pressure treated to ensure insect control and resistance to decay. Earth friendly properties of this wood include the fact it produces less energy and air/water pollution than other building materials. Pine is four times stronger than plastic and is fairly easy to install with no special tools required. Southern pine decking is comfortable under foot when the sun is out compared to the blistering temperature of many composite or artificial decks. The drawbacks of course are the chemical outgas and replacement of this deck is usually 10-15 years if annually maintained.

Cedar decking has gained popularity due to its density and rich warm tones. This decking requires no chemical treatment for insect resistance. The price is about twice that of pressure treated lumber and also widely used. This deck requires stainless steel screws but no predrilling. Lifetime is about 9-20 years with regular maintenance, must purchase clear grade. The wood properties are equally earth friendly as the pine decks. You can span more board in cedar than you can in a composite deck board due to strength. The downfall is it may still be too soft for outdoor application and the clear grade is very pricey to purchase.

Ipe decking has a growing demand mainly due to it’s strength, it has a janka hardness of 3680 compared to Cedar at 350. This gives you an idea of just how hard this exotic hardwood is. Ipe also known as Ironwood is originally from South America, Central America and parts of the Caribbean. This hardwood has been used in many commercial applications such as the boardwalk in Miami for its resiliency and longevity. Naturally resistant to insects, mold, fungus and decay, Ipe also has a fire spread rating same as concrete. Lifetime of this material is over 40 years with no treatment. If you apply a UV inhibitor to this deck you can get over 100 year life expectancy. This deck will require very little maintenance and you and your future generations can actually enjoy more time entertaining and relaxing and less time maintaining your deck area. This wood product provides all the same benefits as above plus more. The cost is also more than pressure treated lumber and this board does have to be predrilled due to the density of the board but the longevity will more than make up for the initial labor as you will not have to remove and reinstall a new deck in 10 -15 years.