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The Definitive Guide to Ipe Decking

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What is Ipe Decking?

For the discerning Dallas, Rockwall and Collin county homeowner and the perceptive deck builder, ipe decking is the best choice. Why? As a finished product, it is rich, resilient, and beautiful. As a material, ipe is naturally resistant to rot, abrasion, insects, molds and extreme weather. It is also flame-resistant, and it does not float. This beautiful exotic lumber is up to 5 times harder and 2 times denser than other hardwoods, and yes, it is harder than nails.

It is a primary choice for builders and interior designers and you will find this tropical hardwood in first-class commercial projects and upscale homes all over the world. In fact, that’s ipe hardwood you see outside the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas, the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and also the boardwalks of Disney World and Coney Island.

Ipe: A Closer Look

Ipe (pronounced as ee-pay) is commonly found in South and Central America, specifically in the Brazilian rainforests. These trees can grow up to 150 feet tall with a diameter of 6 inches. It is also called as Brazilian walnut and ironwood (in reference to its toughness).

Ipe wood has the same A-1 fire rating as steel and concrete, which means that it is highly flame-resistant compared to other woods. It has also been awarded the highest decay resistance rating of High 50+ Years, although the material can actually last longer. It is ideal for outdoor decking especially in areas with extreme weather conditions such as Dallas, Texas.

Benefits of Using Ipe Decking

Aside from the facts stated above, here are some more reasons why deck construction professionals choose ipe wood for outdoor decking.

  • Resistant to sliver, splinters and scratches
  • Resistant to termites, fungi, and decay
  • Slip-resistant
  • Very low maintenance
  • Fire-resistant
  • Can withstand extreme weather conditions such as those seen in Dallas, Texas
  • Highly resilient (can last more than half a century)
  • Ipe materials have a distinctly beautiful coloration and graining that ranges from light olive brown to dark chocolate brown

Building with Ipe

Aside from decking, there are close to limitless possibilities for which ipe can be used. Some of these are:

  • Boardwalks
  • Porches
  • Furniture
  • Flooring
  • Gazebos
  • Fences
  • Cabinetry
  • Siding

How to Work with Ipe

While ipe presents so many benefits when used for decking, many builders find it quite challenging to work with. With the right tools, however, ipe decking wood is a great material to use.

Ipe is like redwood, it has natural oils that keep insects out and it is ideal because it is highly resistant to molds, mildew and decay. However, ipe also has a high tannin content that makes it difficult to paint or finish. It is not as malleable as other woods, either, so it is not suitable for intricate woodworking.

Here are some tips to help a deck builder get the most out of ipe.

Application—air dried ipe wood is best for outdoor use. For indoor projects, kiln-dried ipe is better to avoid cracking or warping.

Drilling—it is highly recommended that you use high-quality drill bits to drill into the wood. Ipe is very hard, so you would need to pre-drill before attaching pieces together.

Cutting—to prevent splinters when cutting, it is best to use carbide saw blades.

Installation—use stainless steel screws or hidden fasteners when attaching pieces together. Installation is a vital part in making sure that decking problems are avoided. Ensure that the deck boards are properly straightened and the right fastening systems are used. And don’t rush the process!

Finishing—because this kind of wood has an abundance of natural oils, water and oil based finishing won’t produce the best results. It is therefore recommended that you test apply different products on some sample boards to achieve the desired results.

Whether you are a deck builder or a homeowner, you will surely appreciate the many benefits of using ipe decking wood. It is durable, resilient, beautiful, and meant to last for generations.

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The Definitive Guide to Pressure-Treated Decking

Why Pressure-Treated Decking?

Pressure-treated decking is very popular and can be found at many homes in the Dallas Metro area, but many of us know very little about this favored outdoor building material. Read on and be informed on everything that you need to know about pressure-treated wood deck and whether it should be your choice for your next decking project.

Pressure-treated decks are used in millions of homes all over the United States and has been around for more than 50 years in the building industry. It is sold in most lumber outlets in the country and is a favorite among builders and homeowners alike for its features and benefits.

Pressure-Treated Wood: A Closer Look at the Facts

According to statistics, more than 75% of all the decks in the US are built partially or entirely with pressure-treated wood. They are used for beams, posts and joists mainly for their structural strength and it’s natural ability to endure against ground-contact deterioration.

Pressure-treated decking uses a softwood lumber material—usually southern yellow pine decking—that has been chemically treated to withstand decay, termites and rot. It has a natural wood appearance, resilient and highly available. Being very economical, it is also the best choice for homeowners who are looking to build decks for less.

It is called “pressure treated” because of the process it undergoes before it is sold. The pine boards are placed into huge pressurized cylindrical tanks called “retort”. These chambers are sealed airtight and they contain chemical preservatives that are then forced into the very fiber of the wood under extreme pressure, resulting to exterior-grade wooden boards that are ideal for deck building and other woodworking projects.

Benefits of Pressure-Treated Decking

Pressure-treated wood deck is ideal for areas where the weather can be unpredictable and harsh, such as parts of Texas like Plano. Properly treated wood is a much less expensive option and offers a lot of benefits including a really long life span, to the tune of 40 years or more.

Here are some of the advantages to using pressure-treated decking.

  • Longevity—treated wood is highly resistant to damage caused by fungal decay, borers, and rot. This is why many manufacturers offer warranties of up to 40 years for pressure-treated wood products.
  • Grade Varieties—pressure-treated decking is available in a wide variety of lumber grades to suit the user’s needs, such as knot-free grades and close-grained grades. The lumber is distinguished into grades by checking the knots, grain angle, decay, damage warp and wane of the wood. The grades will let the user know if it is structurally sound for a particular application or environment.
  • Low Maintenance—unlike its exotic counterparts, pressure-treated wood decking requires a little more maintenance. As with any other deck, regular cleaning is very important. It is important to note that while the wood has chemicals that will protect it from rot and termites, moisture damage is still slightly possible. To prevent this, the deck should be maintained with an annual coating of high-quality weather sealant with water repellant and a ultraviolet block to help retain its appearance and longevity. Semi-transparent stain can be included with the above and really brings out the beautiful characteristics of treated pine.
  • Environmentally Friendly—you won’t have to worry about depleting the environment with your option, because pressure-treated decking is environmentally friendly and comes from renewable, plentiful and fast-growing types of wood that are grown on managed timberlands. The preservatives used are typically manufactured from EPA-approved chemicals.
  • Versatile and Pliant—working with pressure-treated decking is easier than exotic wood. It also has a unique cellular structure that exceptionally holds stains, paints and sealants after an initial weathering period of 4-6 weeks to allow the wood to dry so that it will absorb the sealant better and therefore last longer.

Working with Pressure-Treated Decking

First off, to make sure that your deck is built with the right kind of pressure-treated wood, you should check the label or stamp of the boards and verify the chemical retention level. The higher the number, the more resistant the wood will be against rot and termites.

There is a recommended retention level for each environment and application. For instance, the UC3B category with retention levels of 0.25–0.40 is ideal for decking that is intended for an environment where it will be exposed to prolonged wetting and different weather cycles.

In building a pressure-treated wood deck, lumber manufacturers highly recommend using only hot-dipped galvanized screws, nails, bolts, connectors and anchors. It is also important to remember that wood treatments cause corrosion to aluminum components.

The wood is treated with chemicals, so the builder or homeowner is reminded to wear gloves at work, and to thoroughly wash up before drinking or eating. Safety goggles and a dust mask should also be worn when drilling, cutting or sanding the wood.

You should never cut pressure-treated lumber in an enclosed space, only outdoors, and you should never burn it.

Before painting or staining, pressure-treated decking must be allowed to dry through. The best way to test this is to sprinkle water on the surface of the wood. If it beads up, this means that the wood is still too wet and must be dried further before a weather sealant/stain is applied. If the water is absorbed easily, it means that the wood is ready.

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The Definitive Guide to Red Balau Decking

Red Balau Decking

Red balau decking can significantly transform the aesthetic and commercial value of any property, being one of the high-end exotic wood decking options very popular among architects, professional deck builders and homeowners these days. Also known as Philippine Mahogany and Indonesian Red Balau, this material is a densely grained hardwood known to be more durable than redwood.

Common in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, balau hardwood is extremely hard and has natural properties that make it inherently resistant to rot, decay, infestation, and extreme weather. It is also easier to work with compared to other exotic hardwoods. Let’s take a closer look at red balau and find out why it is highly desired in the decking industry.

Red Balau Decking: A Closer Look

Red balau is a tropical hardwood tree that belongs to the Shorea genus that is prevalent in Southeast Asian countries. The trees can grow up to 250 feet tall with a diameter of 6 feet. As tropical trees, they are very resilient in high-moisture environments, which is why they are resistant to decay. It has a fire rating of A, which means it is also highly fire resistant.

Indonesian Red Balau is also valued for its high resistance against wear and tear, being very dense. It is actually denser than teak and has a Janka Hardness Rating of 1,560. The color of its wood is highly dependent on the particular species, but in general, the wood comes out in a dark reddish brown hue. When allowed to weather, the wood will eventually turn into a silver gray patina.

Red Balau Hardwood Advantages

The best quality that red balau has is its strength, which makes it an ideal outdoor decking material. But this exotic wood decking material possesses a lot of characteristics that present advantages:

  • Highly resistant to decay of any kind, even when exposed to harsh outdoor elements for extended periods of time.
  • Red balau decking price is almost less than half of other exotic hardwoods, primarily because of its availability.
  • It is highly sustainable. Production of red balau decking materials are managed and there are stringent standards in place to ensure that the environment is not harmed.
  • Balau is a popular boat and high-end yacht decking material, which means that it can withstand being exposed to the sun, sea and harsh winds.
  • It is shrinkage resistant.
  • It is not prone to splintering and checking.
  • Balau hardwood comes in different sizes to suit a variety of building applications.
  • It is also fire-resistant with a Class-A fire rating.
  • It is 4 times harder than redwood.
  • Very low maintenance.

Working with Red Balau Hardwood

Because Indonesian Red Balau is very dense, it can be challenging to work with. It is important to let an extensively experienced professional deck builder work on this material so that the proper tools can be used. Sawing this hardwood is a bit difficult, so it is recommended to use carbide-tipped saws. But because the wood is finely grained, it is rather easy to plane and will come out very smooth.

Red balau is very low maintenance; you would only need to apply a stain sealer once a year to bring the rich and luxurious original color back to life. To properly protect the wood, you can use penetrating oil finishes that contain ultraviolet inhibitors. This will greatly reduce fading and mildew infestation, especially for decks that are constantly exposed to the sun and water.

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The Definitive Guide to Redwood Decking

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Redwood Decking

Redwood is a highly desired deck material that is one of the better choices for any homeowner looking to build a high-end deck. Redwood decking can last for many years without losing its richness, elegance and beauty. Its availability is limited, so it has always been considered as a luxurious and prized addition that increases value to any property.

Redwood decks are known for their beautiful straight grain and rich color, while being dimensionally stable and highly resistant to rot and decay. Its heartwood is rich with natural oils that repel wood-boring insects. It has a unique, earthy fragrance, reminiscent of the deep woods from where it comes. When left without a finish, the redwood decking will turn black at the onset, then gradually into a brilliant silver gray.

Redwood: A Closer Look

From the early ’60s to the late ’80s, redwood was a rage in the deck building industry. Hundreds of thousands of homes had redwood decking built. However, the high demand resulted to lower cultivation rates, and this majestic tree saw a great decline in growth. At present, there is a slight increase in redwood production, but it is still considered as a rare commodity in the decking industry, which accounts for its costs.

Redwood is a forest giant also known in different names such as Sequoia, California Redwood and Coast Redwood. It can grow up to 300 feet with a diameter of 12 feet. The heartwood color can be anywhere between light reddish brown to deep reddish brown. The wood has an open-celled structure that has minimal resin or pitch, which enables the wood to retain different types of finishes.

The tree has closed pores and straight grain, although there are occasional redwood trees with curly grain and burly clusters. When used in building decks, redwood is highly stable, which makes it less prone to warping and cupping, compared to other materials such as pressure-treated wood. It also has a low shrinkage rate, so there is minimal splitting and checking.

Benefits of Redwood

Redwood decking is very popular among professional deck builders because it is very easy to work with. It drills and cuts easily and it is lightweight. Don’t let its weight fool you, though, because it is very strong and is highly resistant to decay. When properly cared for, a well-maintained redwood deck can last up to 20 plus years.

Because of its beauty, many homeowners and builders use redwood for highly visible areas like stairs, benches, posts and of course, prominent decks.

Here are some more advantages to using redwood for deck building:

  • Highly fire resistant. Redwood was credited for limiting the 1906 Great Fire of San Francisco.
  • Rot and bug resistant. The heartwood is rich in oils that repel borers such as termites and carpenter ants.
  • Environmentally sustainable. According to Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials or CORRIM, redwood uses 95% less energy to produce compared to other materials such as plastics and composites.
  • Delivers natural durability and beauty. The wood’s natural tinge that ranges from light pinkish brown to a deep red-brown gives any deck a luxurious and elegant feel, not found in any other wood.
  • Can easily maintain its structural integrity. Even with easy maintenance, redwood stays stable and strong and resistant against warping, checking and shrinking.
  • It is heat-resistant. Even during summer, redwood stays cool underfoot, which makes it ideal for places with hot weather such as Rockwall, Texas.
  • Redwood can be restored repeatedly. Restorations and refinishing jobs require minimal cost and effort.
  • Things to Remember When Working with Redwood

    When choosing redwood for your decking project, there are several things that must be kept in mind, both by the deck builder and the homeowner. First off, high quality redwood has a deep, reddish brown color to it. It will keep this color when maintained with stain or finish, but when left unstained, the wood color will slowly turn into a grayish silver tone.

    A professional deck builder will know that proper redwood decking installation is needed to ensure that the decking lasts for many years. Redwood is relatively soft, and can be brittle, so it is best to drill holes at the ends of the boards prior to using nails so as to avoid splitting the wood.

    The redwood decking should also be installed using galvanized nails, stainless steel, hot dipped galvanized screws or high-quality hidden fasteners. Electroplated fasteners and headed nails should be avoided because they will cause staining.

    A redwood deck is, without a doubt, luxurious and beautiful, so it needs to be well-built and maintained properly so that it will last for decades. To protect it from the harsh elements, extend its life span and keep its beautiful color, always use finishing products that contain water repellants and UV inhibitors.

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Ipe Decking Questions Answered

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Everything You Need to Know About Ipe Decking

You are in the right place if you are looking for the ultimate resource on ipe decking. Here, you will find first-rate and well-researched information about one of the world’s best decking material, ipe.

But why should you know more about it?

In this unstable economy where unemployment and foreclosures are rampant and the future is still uncertain, “staycation” is quickly becoming not only a favorite word, but a lifestyle choice for many people who opt to stay in their homes for entertaining and vacations.

Many homeowners are spending less on vacations that require traveling but are spending more on upgrading their homes for a more practical re-evaluation of their lifestyles. These days, we see more homes with porches and decks, and educated homeowners are investing on high quality products like ipe decking for living space expansion that last longer instead of choosing low-quality materials for a quick fix.

And they are right, too. Your backyard can be turned into a relaxing oasis where you and your family can make unforgettable memories for many years to come.

But Why Ipe Decking?

There are many options available for patio material and outdoor decking, but the most preferred material by discerning homeowners is ipe decking. Considered as a “ironwood,” ipe is a top choice because of its innumerable outstanding properties.

With an A fire rating—same as steel and concrete—ipe also has a Janka Hardness of 3,600, which means that it is fireproof, extremely tough and durable.

It does not require any chemical treatment because it is very dense and rich with natural oils that makes it resistant to common wood problems such as rot, fungus, mold and boring insects.

You don’t get just 25 years from ipe. With proper care and maintenance, ipe can last 50 years to a century. You can;t find any other decking material that has the same properties such as ipe.

Also known as ironwood, ipe is a tropical hardwood native to Central and South America that grows up to 150 feet within 30 to 35 years. It is commonly used for home and boat decks, furniture, boardwalks, docks, and piers.

In this definitive guide, we explore the unique properties of ipe, including being awarded the highest decay resistant rating of High 50+ Years.

Ipe also has a friction co-efficiency that is more than the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, making one of the safest decking options for being slip-resistant even when wet.

Above all these characteristics, the fact that makes ipe really stand out is its natural, warm and rich beauty that spells luxury and class. It starts out with an olive brown to reddish deep tones, and when left untreated it ages to a beautiful patina of silver grey.

Aside from the benefits explored in our article here, ipe is well-known for being resilient against even the toughest weather, just like what we have in Texas. Your decking will be exposed to the elements all year round, so you should choose a material like ipe that does not warp or crack. You shouldn’t have to replace something you don’t have to, right?

It’s no surprise that ipe is the material used for the Atlantic City boardwalk, the Disney World boardwalk, and the Coney Island boardwalk. There are quite a number of California marinas that use nothing but ipe, such as San Diego’s Shelter Island Marina and San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Just imagine the thousands that stomp on those boardwalks every day for years, and the harsh elements that batter those marinas.

And did you know that ipe was used in the building of the Panama Canal?

On Being Environmentally Friendly

When you invest on a wooden decking, you would want it to last for decades so you won’t have to replace it repeatedly. So it just makes sense to go for the leading material that is proven to be durable, long-lasting and beautiful such as ipe decking. You don’t invest just to have a headache.

On top of that, you will enjoy your luxurious ipe decking knowing that you are using a responsibly harvested green product certified by the FSC. This means that the forests are kept renewable using sustainable yield forestry practices and selective harvesting that retains the value of the forest.

Your True Ipe Decking Resource

In the Texas counties of Dallas, Rockwall and Collin, Dallas Deck Craft is the “staycation” expert and the go-to professional builder who knows ipe decking. We know ipe decking like the back of our hands, and we use our skilled hands to make sure that your deck will be the ultimate oasis you have always dreamed of.

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Pressure-Treated Decks

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Pressure-Treated Decking – What Your Local Home Improvement Store Doesn’t Want You to Know

Did you hear the story about the two Dallas neighbors that used pressure-treated decking to create an outdoor living experience for their families? You are gonna want to hear this, especially if you’re planning on building a deck to take advantage of the beautiful Dallas, TX weather.

Bob and Tim live next door to each other. They have a lot of similarities. They are both popular in the neighborhood, have a lot of common friends, and have been working in Rockwall and Collin counties for years.

But there are a lot of differences between these two men as well.

For instance, Bob is the kind of guy who dives into a home improvement project without doing much research. He just wants to get the thing finished. So that is what he did when he built his backyard deck.

Research + Quality Pressure-Treated Decking + Seasoned Professional = Hands-Off Deck Enjoyment

Tim is smarter than that. He knows that outdoor decks can return pretty much all of its cost in improved home value, if the right materials are chosen, and a pro handles the job. And he wants to provide his friends and family with a wonderful outdoor living experience for years, with minimal “pain in the neck” maintenance.

So before Tim rushed out and bought pressure-treated decking material from the nearby big-box retailer, he did his homework. And what he found out was this:

There are different types of pressure-treated woods. If you spend a little more money and get your hands on some choice, premium or select pressure-treated boards, you get straighter grain, fewer knots and a better quality product.

These better boards are usually kiln-dried. Both before and after being pressured treated. That means your deck has a much lower chance of warping. These better boards often come with a limited lifetime warranty as well.

Where Can You Find High Quality Pressure-Treated Decking?

But where can Tim get his hands on these premium pressure-treated decking boards? They are not always available to Joe Homeowner. Well, Tim called the folks at Dallas Deck Craft. The seasoned deck builder there was impressed with Tim’s knowledge about the difference between pressure-treated materials.

After a friendly and professional quote, Tim found that he was going to spend more money on building his dream deck than his next-door neighbor Bob. However, the deck professional from Dallas Deck Craft explained that over time he would actually be spending less money.

Not to mention, he would not be breaking his back every couple of years staining his deck and replacing warped, shrunken and twisted boards. By doing a little more homework than Bob, and spending a little more money, Tim now has a hassle-free, low-to-no maintenance outdoor living experience that will look great and provide his family with wonderful memories for years.

The Right Kind of Pressure-Treated Decking Makes All the Difference in the World

Let’s fast forward 5 years.

Tim and his wife are relaxing on their still beautiful backyard deck. A soft summer breeze carries the scent of hamburgers and steaks from Tim’s grill, and the sounds of his grandchildren laughing and splashing around in his pool brings a lot of joy to his heart. He has not had to raise a finger to maintain his gorgeous deck in anyway, and that makes him smile.

Life is good.

Now let’s look across the fence and see how Bob’s doing. Not so good. Bob could be enjoying a wonderful Dallas summer day, just like Tim and his family are. But since he tried to save a little money by building his deck himself, and choosing pressure-treated decking material from the nearby home improvement store, he is working on his “sure doesn’t look anywhere as nice as Tim’s” deck, again.

Sweating and cursing profusely, pulling painful splinters from his hands and whacking his thumb as often as a nail, he sure didn’t sign up for this when he built his deck 5 years ago. Yeah, he saved some money up front. And he made sure that Tim knew it too.

But after today’s trip to the same old home improvement store where he bought his inferior pressure-treated decking materials, he figures he has spent about the same amount of money as his smarter neighbor. Not to mention sweat equity with the unhappy bonus of more than a few backaches and battle scars came with it.

And Tim is over there enjoying his deck, not working on it. Lesson learned.

Don’t be a Bob. Be a Tim, creating wonderful memories on your professionally built outdoor living experience. You have invested a lot of time and money into your home. Does it really make sense to pinch pennies and use inferior pressure-treated decking? Of course it doesn’t.

Take Smart Action Today

Give us a call today at 214-384-4267, and we here at DallasDeckCraft.com will come out and provide a deck quote. Yyou can pick our brains, and we will provide 35 years of deck building experience in Collin, Rockwall and Dallas without charging you a penny. You may just find that spending more for some select, premium pressure-treated decking makes a lot of sense. You will also end up loving your deck, rather than resenting it and working on it.

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Redwood Decks

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The Pros and Cons of Redwood Decks

Redwood decks look absolutely gorgeous. That marvelously rich, red, deep color naturally evolves into a soft gray/red blend over time. You just can’t beat the look, as opposed to simple pressure-treated wood, composite and most other decking materials.

But like anything else, there are pluses and negatives to redwood. As far as a Redwood Deck goes, keep the following information in mind if you are considering this gorgeous, long-lasting and durable hardwood for your next decking project.

Redwood Decks – the Pros

  • Redwood decks are going to cost less to make, in most cases, than hardwood decks and those constructed of man-made compounds and materials. (You save money.)
  • Since redwood decks are easier to build because the wood is more “construction friendly” than hardwoods, your decking contractor can provide you with lower labor costs. (You save money.)
  • Redwood decks are less prone to warping, splitting and shrinking the outdoor living experiences constructed with pressure-treated wood. (You save money, and your deck looks better longer.)
  • When you use heartwood, which is the older and stronger part of the redwood tree, there is a lower chance of rotting, and it is much tougher for insects to take up residency in your deck. (You save money on maintenance, and enjoy a safer deck.)

Redwood Decks – the Cons

  • Hey, you probably understand that you get what you pay for. That is the case with homeowners that build redwood decks. You will pay more money than you will for the lower-quality pressure-treated decking which most homeowners choose.
  • When untreated, you can only expect about 15 or 20 years of life before you will have to consider repairing or replacing your redwood deck.
  • If you deal with an unknowing or unscrupulous deck builder, you may end up paying top dollar for inferior redwood lumber that is made from outer (newer) tree growth. This can lead to a shorter life expectancy and more maintenance on your part.

Your Redwood Decks Bottom Line

The takeaway here? Redwood decks cost more money to build than basic pressure-treated decks. And you will have to retreat your deck every few years. Also, if the redwood selected by your deck builder comes from the wrong part of the tree, you could be paying more for lower quality redwood material.

But since redwood is so easy to build, you save on labor costs. And when you team up with a reputable and respected decking contractor, you benefit from the longer life and higher quality product that using the “right” part of the redwood tree delivers.

If you decide to go cheap and use pressure-treated wood, you are going to be retreating your deck anyway. You may as well choose redwood, spend less money over time, and enjoy the gorgeous, deep red color that just cannot be matched with more expensive, composite woods and hardwoods.

If you still have questions about the pros and cons of redwood decks, take a couple of minutes right now and give DallasDeckCraft.com a call at 214-384-4267. We will come out to your house and provide you with a deck quote at a time which is convenient for you. You benefit from our 35 years of building outdoor living experiences in the Dallas, Texas Metropolitan area, and we would love to add you to our long list of satisfied clients.

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Composite Decks

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Composite Decking Questions Answered

Have you considered composite decking before but disregarded the option because you did not know enough about it? Have you wondered how is it made and what is it made of?

You are in the right place! Here your questions regarding composite decks will be answered, and more. Composite decking has been around for decades, but there still seems a lack of familiarity with it. So let’s start off with the basics and look at the material a little closer.

What is Composite Decking?

Composite decking is a pseudo-wood product created from a mixture of recycled plastics and wood fibers. Color pigments and protective additives are incorporated into the mixture to form a traditional wood-like deck board but with added resilience that requires less maintenance than other decking materials.

There are several polymers used in manufacturing composite decking such as polyvinyl chloride, high-density or low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene.

Wood flour is then added to stabilize the plastics and also protect it from ultraviolet rays that may damage the plastics. Choose a brand that uses finely ground wood fiber as the consistency allows for a more uniformed look throughout the deck.

How is Composite Decking Made?

Most new generation composite decking products are manufactured using “extrusion,” a forming process wherein the melted mixture of wood and plastic are forced through an opening or a mold to produce boards that have consistent shape and size. It’s just like putty pushed through a mold.

Another popular manufacturing method used for modern composite decking is “compression molding.” The melted plastic and wood materials are placed in molds which are then compressed in extreme pressure and heat levels so that a strong physical bond is created.

The pressure squeezes out air pockets that might weaken the product and a highly compressed board is created.

What are the Benefits of Composite Decking?

We have a comparative review that discusses the benefits of composite decking vs. wood decking. But let’s talk about some of the benefits of composite decks when used for outdoor living.

Weather Resistance

Because of its density, composite decking has a high resistance to decay and rot caused by constant or prolonged exposure to the elements, especially moisture. And because there is less moisture in the boards the possibility of mildew, bacteria and insects are also reduced.

Durable

Composite deck boards are made to be resistant against stain such as food and beverage stains. You won’t have to worry about mustard, barbecue sauce, coffee and wine seeping through your decking. Cleanup is also easy. Because it is resistant to stains, the life and beauty of your deck is preserved.

Ultra-Low Maintenance

You won’t have to spend more just to have a long-lasting deck. Composite decking does not need stain, sealers or paint, so expenses for maintenance is greatly reduced. You just need to keep it clean by sweeping or mopping, remove stains with composite deck cleaners available commercially, and hose it off twice a year for general cleaning.

Complementary Colors

Many composite decking brands offer boards in a wide range of colors to complement any home. You won’t need to paint or stain the product because the boards already come in different beautiful colors to choose from.

Ten years ago, there were only about 10 choices when it comes to types and composite decking colors. But as the industry has grown over the last few years, more and more choices have become available. In fact, there are now over 50 composite decking products in the market.

Your Ultimate Composite Decking Resource

Knowing more about any product before you buy will greatly help in making an informed decision, and will significantly reduce stress and future regrets.

Sometimes we miss buying what’s best for us because we lack knowledge of it. So don’t be afraid to explore and don’t avoid composite decking just because you are not familiar with it.

Read on and find out more about the ins and outs of this product and get your information first-hand from Dallas Deck Craft, the decking experts serving the Texas counties of Dallas, Collin and Rockwall since 1980.

With more than 30 years of deck building experience, we share valuable insights that will help you with your deck building needs, not only on composite decking, but on many other decking materials as well.

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Is Pressure-Treated Wood the Right Choice for My Outdoor Deck?

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Pressure-Treated Wood Decking is Right in a Lot of Situations

If you’re still considering what kind of material to build your outdoor deck with, chances are you’ve encountered pressure treated wood, or also called Wolmanized pine as a potential option.

As one of the most commonly used materials in outdoor construction projects, pressure-treated wood has an excellent track record as a long lasting, affordable material, making it a deck builder favorite. Pressure-treated pine is commonly used for outdoor decking.

But what is it? What does “pressure treated” mean? Is it right for you? Let’s explore this common building material and find out.

What is Pressure-Treated Wood?

Pressure-treated wood is any kind of wood which has been saturated in a mixture of chemical preservatives. The wood is placed inside a closed tank along with the preservatives, and then the air is sucked out creating a vacuum which forces the preservatives into the wood.

These preservatives are specially designed to protect the wood from pests (such as termites), rot, and wood fungi.

It is important to note that pressure-treated wood still needs to be treated with a weather sealant, as the chemical preservatives generally won’t fare well against weather and aging.

Addressing Safety Concerns of Pressure-Treated Wood

Most of the concerns regarding the safety of the chemical preservatives used to create pressure-treated wood stem from old manufacturing processes which are no longer used.

For many years, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was the de-facto preservative used in pressure-treated wood—which caught the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency in the early 2000s.

Even though there was some degree of controversy as to how dangerous the use of CCA was if the wood was properly maintained, it has since been banned in residential use, prompting the lumber industry to use safer and more environmentally-friendly preservatives in the creation of pressure-treated wood.

It’s important to remember that if you hear that pressure-treated wood is somehow unsafe, the source is likely using poor or outdated information, as pressure-treated wood using CCA as the preservative hasn’t been sold for residential purposes for at least a decade; it is, however, still used in a variety of industrial applications, which homeowners should be aware of when purchasing pressure-treated wood for their residential projects.

Deck Construction with Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood has been a long-time favorite for deck construction because of its affordable pricing, durability, and how long the wood will last when properly sealed and maintained. When compared to other common woods used in deck construction, pressure treated wood remains a common choice because of its pricing without sacrificing functionality—compared to, say, redwood, pressure-treated wood can cost 30 to 40% less while still retaining all of the benefits of redwood and/or other woods which are well known to be durable.

This comparatively low price bracket means that pressure-treated wood might be a great choice if your deck project is a particularly large one; the savings will add up with every square foot.

Pros and Cons of Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is one of the most commonly used materials used in outdoor construction—and there’s plenty of good reasons for that. The longevity as well as the durability make it the perfect framing material regardless of what type of material you choose for your outdoor decking needs. While the pros certainly outweigh the cons in most situations, here’s a brief overview of both.

Pros of Pressure-Treated Wood

  • Long lasting, many manufacturers offer a 30 or more year warranty
  • Very affordable
  • Difficult to dent or scratch, strong
  • Prevents mold, fungi
  • Prevents insects from taking up residence

Cons of Pressure-Treated Wood

  • Can only be used outdoors
  • When burned, chemicals can be unsafe; poses a potential health hazard in the event of a house fire
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Wood Deck vs Composite Deck – Which is Better?

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If you’ve decided to have a wood deck installed in your backyard, chances are you’ve been surprised at just how many different options there are for the type of wood decking you can use.

Recent years have seen some positive developments in the quality of a composite deck and a plastic deck—but are they really better than the real thing?

Common Types of Wood Decks

To give you an idea of what we’ll be comparing against, let’s take a few minutes and discuss some of the more common types of wood decks used in residential projects.

Redwood Deck

Popular on the west coast but used country-wide, redwood is known for its longevity and beauty.

Although when it comes in contact with moisture or even concrete it can create a deteriorating process so it is recommended to use pressure-treated material for framing and support. If properly maintained by keeping a good weather sealant/stain it can last for many years.

Cedar Decking

Cedar is standard species used for many kinds of decking and construction projects. It has many of the same characteristics Redwood and as such needs the pressure-treated pine for the framing as well as the weather sealant.

Tropical Hardwood Decking

Ipe, tigerwood decking and red balau woods, from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Brazil, have become popular in recent years due to their extreme durability and density and are a great choice for a deck.

The tropical hardwoods probably have the best longevity of all woods. With the heavy density weather sealant is not required unless you don’t mind reapplying about every six months. Relatively affordable considering these types of wood are imported.

Pressure-Treated Wood Deck

Probably one of the most affordable, this type of wood has been treated with a chemical preservative to stave off rot, fungi, and pests and therefore has a great longevity.

You must maintain a good weather sealant/stain applied as needed to keep the appearance up on a pressure-treated deck. It also helps to minimize warping as well as checking.

Wood Decking vs. Composite Decks

There was once a time when any serious homeowner or contractor would shy away from composite decking—however, composite decking has made substantial improvements over the past few years, resulting in less fungal buildup, much slower decomposition, more longevity as well as a reduction in price.

Composite wood is made up of wood particles and plastic. The plastic is usually polyethylene, and may or may not be recycled, depending on the manufacturer. Certain brands of composite deck boards are hollow and therefore understandably cheaper but are generally not as strong or sturdy as solid composite boards.

Another consideration is that composite wood can get quite hot if the temperature outdoor gets high enough—as it does here in Dallas, Texas due to the plastic components of the material retaining heat. This heat can be lessened to some degree by the color of the composite wood.

The lighter the wood color the less heat it will retain. It’s still doubtful that anyone would want to walk around barefoot on a composite deck in the middle of August.

Composite decking performs quite well in very humid areas, of which there are a few in our region. The plastic isn’t quite as prone to the absorption of moisture as 100% wooden decking which can possibly lead to a longer lifespan.

Wood Decking vs. Plastic Decking

Plastic decking has been touted as being low or maintenance free—however, this isn’t necessarily true. As both composite and plastic decking will require a good cleaning at least once a year in order to prevent color fading.

Technically the deck would likely remain functional, but it sure wouldn’t be pretty if left unmaintained. Recent technology in the formula used for plastic or otherwise known as PVC has minimized the effects the sun can have on this material.

Cost of Wooden Decking vs. A Composite Deck

The cost of decking, either wood or composite varies quite a bit depending on the quality, brand, grade and type, but it’s safe to say that in most cases, composite materials are not necessarily cheaper than “real” woods. In the low to middle end of the spectrum, composite woods might be a little higher.

To give you an example of the price variances, a pressure-treated wood deck might cost as little as $10 per square foot, whereas a very high-end composite deck could run upwards of $40 per square foot. Ultimately, which material you choose for your decking will depend on preference and budget.