What kind of wood should I use for a deck? Composite Decking, Pressure Treated, and More

What kind of wood should I use for a deck? Composite Decking, Pressure Treated, and More

“What kind of wood should I use for a deck?” you’re asking? There are several different types of materials to choose from when building both the deck frame and the deck surface. The most popular option is generally maintenance free, however there are also new and exciting colors available in pressure treated woods. The most diverse options are among natural woods.

1) Maintenance Free Decking in Edmonton

Maintenance Free Decking can be a very rewarding and attractive investment for your home. With an assortment of materials and finishes to choose from, you can customize your deck like never before.

The 3 main types of maintenance free surfaces are:

  • Composite decking
  • PVC decking
  • Vinyl accents

We recommend choosing the most trusted names in the business. Moisture Shield, Trex and Timber Tech are my favorite capped or wrapped composites, while Azek is the industry’s most trusted PVC.

When using a composite or PVC surface it can be difficult to find an appropriate skirting that is both maintenance free and cost effective. I recommend a vinyl lattice or a vinyl accent panel to match your chosen surface color and texture.

Highest quality maintenance free decking uses a hidden fastener system that does not require penetrating the surface or a cap and seal system. This is a wonderful way to ensure not only the quality of the product you are choosing but also the longevity of your structure.

Whichever system you choose, it is important to install the materials using the appropriate fasteners, skirting and facia to ensure quality and safety. The most important thing when installing a maintenance free deck, is to not overlook the importance of using facia boards to cover up the wood deck frame.

2) Pressure Treated

A pressure treated surface offers the best balance of both reduced maintenance and cost effectiveness, while allowing your deck frame and surface to match seamlessly.

Pressure treated now comes in 3 popular colors to match or accent your homes exterior finish. The most common choice is green followed by an attractive brown and a white washed grey.

Pressure treated offers many advantages in design as you can incorporate your skirting, railing, and stair packages to match if proper attention is paid to design in the beginning.

A common problem with pressure treated materials however, is that home owners will paint them during or after installation which results in peeling. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to leave pressure treated materials for a full drying season before applying an exterior paint.

Drying seasons are loosely defined because the actual length of time depends on heat and direct sunlight. If it is a hot summer and a south facing deck, six months should be adequate, but if heavily shaded or a cool summer it’s best to wait a year. Another common reason for peeling is the home owner has used a wax based exterior finish, which tends to peel over time and cannot be fully removed from the wood. Therefore, it is best to always use a high-quality stain.

Once your pressure treated deck has dried to the color that you like, I recommend applying a clear coat with a UV inhibitor, to ensure longevity and reduce mold and mildew damage. A good quality clear coat should be applied roughly every 3 years. This will also prevent any unwanted stains from pets and spills.

Pressure treated wood can be a great lower maintenance option over time, if initial care is taken and occasional maintenance is done. However it is not recommended for use in planter boxes with edible vegetable. Instead, choose a natural wood option.

3) Natural Wood

Natural wood options have been a popular choice for many years. Exterior quality woods such as Fir, Cedar and Purple Heart are the most attractive options, but will need to be sealed. Fir and cedar need to be sealed with a non-wax-based sealer and purple heart with a UV inhibited acrylic. Spruce or Pine can be used as well but will not last as long unless pressure treated or painted with an exterior grade paint.

  1. Fir has the least amount of expansion and contraction and is the most popular choice when installing exterior vinyl surfaces. Typically, a homeowner has chosen to install a fir surface or accents to match the fir used in their home, such as in a post and beam house. Fir usually isn’t used on its own because it can be costlier than spruce or pine.
  2. Cedar has long been the most attractive and sought after exterior wood surface and wood accent for hand rails and skirting. Cedar cannot be used as a load bearing material, so it should not be used in your deck frame, however it is still acceptable to use in railings. It can also be incorporated into planter boxes and seating during deck construction to create a seamless finish throughout your entire backyard. Additionally, cedar will accept many different types of stains and exterior finishes so special care should be given to choosing a non-wax-based finish over the entire structure.
  3. Purple Heart is an exceptionally rare type of exterior wood that creates the most beautiful accents with a deep, rich purple color. It changes color naturally over time so to keep the purple color you like, be sure to apply a UV inhibited acrylic to avoid color change due to sun. The main advantage to purple heart over cedar is it can be used as stair stringers and looks especially attractive when mixed with cedar to create a natural wood balance. Purple heart is best used as an accent wood, so I usually recommend only using it in stairs and rails or the boarder in your deck surface.
  4. Spruce and Pine are your most common woods and generally make up the wood in your pressure treated decks; however, you can buy spruce or pine naturally and untreated. When painted during installation spruce and pine can be just as long lasting as your pressure treated choices, while giving you far more color options. It is very important to check with your local municipality first, as some decks will not pass inspection if un-pressure treated spruce or pine are used too close to the ground; and never use untreated spruce or pine as your posts, because it will rot quickly.

Before installation it is important to choose what material you want your deck frame to be made of. Almost all deck frames are made of pressure treated wood; however, some of the more popular maintenance free deck systems can now be installed on a steel frame designed specifically for their deck surfaces. I recommend consulting a sales representative specializing in the composite materials you have chosen to ensure you have all the information.

Now when you ask, “What kind of wood should I use for a deck?” you should have a better idea what will work for you.

If you have any questions, we would be happy to answer them for you. Just reach out to us here.


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