The Definitive Guide to Pressure-Treated Decking - Dallas Deck Craft
Deck Patio Pressure-Treated Pine Bench

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.