Wood is an excellent choice for your deck at home. Cedar is by far the most common untreated material. It usually comes in 1.25″ thick planks. It can be left raw, but light staining will increase its durability while reducing its chances of turning gray under UV exposure. Red cedar has natural anti-rot characteristics, but its price is high. It is preferable to opt for planed white cedar, available in specialized sawmills. Visiting https://decksforlife.ca/ is the best deal there.
Cedar, on the other hand, is not ideal for the structure. Hemlock is a better choice: it is a very strong and very durable wood when protected from humidity. This type of deck, a mixture of cedar and hemlock, could well last more than 20 years if it is well maintained. Yakisugi wood, usually made from cedar or larch planks, is wood burned using an age-old Japanese method. Called Shou-sugi-ban, it is very durable and can also be an attractive option.
100% Recycled Plastic Deck
There are boards for patios, decks and balconies made from 100% recycled plastic. Very durable, they are a little more expensive to buy than wooden planks but they require zero maintenance, nor products to add. Deck boards, steps and risers also come with a 25-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
Plastic is a huge source of pollution that has a direct impact on the environment and animals. It is clear that recycling this material makes sense. The polyethylene used comes from household and industrial items such as containers of orange juice or laundry detergent, bottles of shampoo and edible products, containers of milk or all-purpose cleaner. A fine example of circular economy is 100% from here:
- The boards are tongue and groove, so no visible screws.
- They are resistant to climatic variations, they do not require painting or staining and the color is permanent (the boards are colored in their entirety).
- They are easy to install and require the same working tools as wood.
- To be installed on joists every 12” (30.5 cm) for 10, 12, 14, 16 and 20 foot boards and on joists every 10” (25 cm) for longer boards.
- Custom length available (minimum quantity required).
- Five color choices available.
- The boards are 6” wide x 7/8” thick.
- Boards in composite materials for outdoor decks
Boards in composite materials for deck and patio
They are made of recycled plastic, wood fibers and polymers and have a vague look of wood (yes, they are very easily distinguishable). They come in different colors, require little maintenance and their lifespan is much higher than that of wood, because water does not damage them. To remove scratches and mildew, a high pressure wash should suffice.
On the other hand, boards made of composite material cannot be used for the structure. They are much more expensive, not recyclable, nor biodegradable. In addition, the wood of the structure under the composite boards is sensitive to water. The durability measures presented below are therefore to be applied in this case as well and with more care if you do not want a beautiful deck on a rotten structure. To the durability measures presented, we can add the option of the galvanized substructure, and the use of stainless steel screws, they will not rust.
Avoid tropical woods.
Although very durable (eg Ipé wood), the market for this type of wood contributes to the destruction of tropical forests. Écohabitation recommends avoiding them and sticking to Canadian wood.
10 tips and tricks to increase the durability of your patio at home
Increase the durability of the outdoor deck © Ecohome
- Cover your joists
Wet wood is no problem, as long as it can dry out. The important thing is therefore to avoid stagnant water on the wood. This is why we are big fans of drip edge moldings – made of metal, elastomer or of the weather barrier type (glued air barrier membrane) – placed on the joists, under the platform. They will allow water that reaches the top of the joists to drain off. Pay attention to the choice of color, the membranes will be slightly visible between the boards.
- Create spaces between the boards
They are needed between the boards for drainage purposes, but also to prevent the accumulation of debris. Based on the assumption that the boards will shrink over time, some builders install the boards very tightly. But this is not always the case, and if your boards are very dry, they could even expand under exposure to rain and humidity. With too narrow a gap, dirt mixed with water may clog the spaces and thus retain moisture.
It is therefore advisable to space the boards properly from the start: a spacing of the width of a deck screw head should be sufficient.
- Don’t overdrive the screws
If you push them too deep, tiny water reservoirs could be created. Better to leave the head of the screw flush with the wood.
- Screw from below and lay tin corners
lay tin corners to increase the durability of the deck © Langevin Forest
This procedure requires extra effort, but the results are visually interesting, with the screws hidden under the boards. A metal bracket is screwed to the side of the joist and under the board. Be careful, this does not avoid problems of stagnant water at the level of the screws. To make sure you have enough flesh for the screw, you will need to use 2×4 or 2×6 boards on the floor (otherwise you could go through the board.).
- Install double joists at junctions
There will always be a slight gap where the boards meet, allowing water to drain and reach the tops of the joists. One way to avoid this problem is to build a two-joist base, with a gap between them. This will take more planning since you will need to determine in advance where the junctions will be, but this method will greatly increase the durability of the structure.
Double joists at the junction, for efficient drainage © Ecohome
NB The ends of the boards are much more vulnerable to water absorption. The junctions on the old decks are always the places to redo first.
- Use stucco wire mesh
They will keep pests (raccoons, skunks and most animals) at bay.
- Check the weather
Depending on the season, the drying time will vary for the application of dyes and protection products, and in general, the temperature cannot drop below zero during application. Check the label for temperature and time recommendations.
- Look at the grain of the wood
If the wood growth rings on the top of the board are convex rather than concave in shape, the grain will in theory be able to repel water from the surface of the wood. Remember that avoiding stagnant water is synonymous with sustainability.
- Avoid connecting the deck to the house
This is where most of the work goes sour. We advise you to erect a deck completely independent of the building (with sonotubes near the wall). This will prevent the structure of the house from being affected if the deck moves.
If you want to connect it, you will have to take appropriate measures to avoid gaping holes in the envelope… holes that could accommodate water, air and carpenter ants. Once the exterior wall cladding has been cut, a metal drip edge will need to be placed under the cladding to carry water away from the rim joists bolted to the wall. Squares of waterproof elastomeric membrane can be placed behind the joist in contact with the wall, which will prevent water from entering the hole created by the bolt.
In short, a lot of unnecessary hassle.
- Don’t forget the slope
Finally, never forget the importance of a 2% slope, which will allow the water to drain in the right direction (away from the foundations of the house). The structure will determine the slope and the decking will simply follow the angle created.