Building a Deck in Your Back Yard? Important Suggestions!

So You Want to Build a Deck on Your House?
Here are some very important things to consider that may save you a lot of disappointment, heartache and most of all money in the years to come.

Building anything that will be exposed to the outdoors weather and is constructed of wood should be built with treated wood. If you live in an area other than the desert you need to be aware of what could happen to your very expensive project. Moisture and wood destroying insects such as termites should be of great concern.

For over a hundred years wood products used outdoors were treated with chromate copper arsenate (CCA). Due to the product leaching into surrounding soil and danger to the touch by children and grownups the industry’s standard for wood preservation was changed. At the present time in most areas wood treated with CCA is no longer stocked by lumber yards and other retail outlets.

Today the standard preservative used to treat wood is alkaline copper quaternary designated as ACQ, and other new products copper azole (CA) and sodium borate (SBX). It is very important that the correct type of fastener and hangers be used when using these new products. Correct fasteners are important because raw steel and electroplated nails and screws will rust and corrode making the joints fastened with this product unreliable and weak.

Technical notes about ACQ and CA used in treating wood:

�Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ) is made up of copper which is the primary protection against wood eating insects and termites, quaternary compounds are added to help protect against fungi and termites.

�Copper Azole (CA) contains copper for protection against termites and decay from fungus with azole added to supply additional protection.

Both ACQ and CA have been approved for use by the FDA as neither of these products includes an arsenate compound as a preventative against insects and fungus.

Corrosion or rust of the fasteners (screws or nails) should be an important concern when building a deck or any other project that isn’t protected by a roof from the weather. There are two types of corrosion.

Metal that we use comes from ore that is mined from deep in the ground, nature put it there. The metal products we use today try to return to their original state. Therefore, we have to be aware of corrosion and rust that could take place in our deck or other outdoor project. It would be ashamed to have your wonderful deck attacked by corrosion and or rust.

Raw steel or electroplated fasteners (nails or screws) should NOT be used in construction of your deck as they will definitely rust with time and weaken the joints or completely separate and cause your deck to collapse.
Some hot dipped galvanized screws and nails are acceptable but be sure that they come up to ASTM standards for use with ACQ, CA or SBX treated wood.

Another choice of fastener would be the ceramic coated screws that should be available at all lumber yards and suppliers of treated lumber. This fastener, though more expensive should be the better choice for your outdoor project. They won’t corrode or rust and have great holding power.

The best fastener would probably be a stainless steel screw however the cost would probably be prohibitive as they are very expensive. They won’t rust or corrode.

Joist hangers should be the hot dipped galvanized zinc coated type that meet ASTM A123 construction standards and should be fastened with the same type of galvanized fastener or the ceramic coated screw. This will prevent corrosion caused by electrolysis taking place between two differing metals.

If by chance your carpenter or contractor uses the raw metal fastener or if the galvanizing flakes and causes the raw metal to be exposed, you can detect this problem by inspection. If there is a brown area around the head of the screw it is rusting and should be replaced. If a different metal than qualifying zinc galvanized metal screws or nails are used to secure the galvanized metal brackets or hangers and corrosion is indicated by a white powder surrounding the fastener, it should be replaced with the proper fastener.

A year or two after your deck is completed and in place you should give it a protective coating of a good quality oil base transparent penetrating sealer. This will protect your deck from the wear due to the weather. Some manufacturers may claim that every five years between treatments is okay, however this doesn’t seem to hold true.

There is good news, a product is on the market now for outdoor projects such as decks and porches. The product is a composite of recycled plastic and wood and is performing very well in the construction of decks and porches. More and more persons are going to this great product as it requires no maintenance and can easily be washed with a hose or power washer.

The plastic in the product protects the wood from moisture and insect damage and the wood component protects the plastic from UV damage caused by the sun’s rays. Fungus won’t build up on the product.

It comes in several colors with or without a grained effect so you never have to paint or stain it. Different patterns are available such as curves and bends so you can use your imagination to design with these factors in mind. There is no splintering or cracking and no danger of termites infesting your new deck. This is proving to be a great product and should be around for some time to come.

New plastic or vinyl products are on the market for railings and posts. There is even a vinyl wrap for wooden posts. This will not only protect the post from the weather it will also protect children and grownups for getting splinters from the wooden posts.

Before you hire a contractor or carpenters to construct your deck or porch you will want to consider the cost verses the wear on all of the above products. Remember that the fasteners used on your project are very important.

I hope that you can build, relax, and enjoy the use of your wonderful deck and have your family or guests over for a cookout and day or evening of pleasure.

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