Thursday, September 13, 2012

Changes to decks in modern construction

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 8

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.

One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;


Twenty years ago you had two options, pressure treated decking or cedar decking.
Today there are a variety of different options for decking, depending on your budget and style. Also there are better ways of building a deck; here are some of the popular options;

Composite decking has come a long way in just 10 to 15 years. It used to look like plastic, now it can come with a wood grain and be almost any colour you want. Composite decking is usually made from a recycled material and comes with a lifetime warranty. The only problem to be found with this decking is that it can be very slippery in the winter. It can also be very costly.

Natural iron wood. There are now some Amazon iron woods that are on the market. The most widely used is called Ipe. Once they are installed they require no special treatment. They are left in their raw form, they have natural oils in them that allow the wood to repel water, this allows the material to withstand the outdoor elements and stave off rot. Over time they go from there natural brown colour to a more silvery colour, a colour closer to the look of teak. An Ipe deck is considered a deck for your life time. The only down side is that they are extremely expensive and can be difficult to work with because of the density of the material.

Pressure Treated wood has gone under a big change in the way that it is manufactured. They have removed the carcinogens from the pressure treating process and gone with more environmentally friendly chemicals. This came about after soil samples were taken from children’s playgrounds directly underneath pressure treated built play areas. The soil samples were found to be so full of arsenic that if a child were to eat some of the soil they would become extremely ill. The chemical change doesn’t seem to affect the longevity of the material, as you still seem to get long life from pressure treated wood.

Thermally modified wood. This is the process of taking normal wood heating and pressurizing it so that cells in the wood fibres collapse in on themselves. What this does is apparently stops water penetration. This treated wood is said to last a life time. The only down side is that it hasn’t been around for that long and the verdict is still out on how well it will stand up to the outdoors. What it does allow you to do is if you want it to turn silver like cedar then just leave it alone, but if you want it to stay the natural wood colour then you simply add a clear coat of special wood stain/sealer. This sealer helps the wood stay the natural colour year after year.

Cedar. Cedar is still a popular choice, the problem with cedar is that it doesn’t seem to last as long as it used too. With the price of cedar being so expensive it almost doesn’t make it worth your while to spend a lot of money on a product that won’t last.

With all this new decking that is suppose to last a life time, the industry has come up with new ways to make the sub structure of the deck last longer. Starting at the footings, they have become bigger with bells on the bottoms to resist shifting. Joists are now wrapped on the tops with waterproofing to stop the rot from water run off. As long as the deck is built high enough off the ground so that air can travel underneath it then the deck joist should last as long as the material on top of it.

Look for part 9 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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