When building a deck, designing there is some kind of wood you can use for deck frame. The structural integrity of your deck relies on the subframe. How long your decking will last, how much load your deck can bear, and how durable and steady the deck is will depend on the quality of your frame. For this reason, homeowners must make the right decisions involving the design of a deck frame.
One of the few decisions you will have to make is to choose the material to use for the frame. For many, wood decking will always be the best choice for its quality and cheap cost. But even so, you will need to decide what wood to use. Which is the best one for deck frames?
Wood Materials for Deck Frames
Because the deck frame is closer to the ground, they are more susceptible to issues, such as moisture damage, mould growth, and insect damage. More so if you are planning to build a ground-level deck. As wood can be easily affected by the said issues, you will have to select wood resistant to these problems. Here are some of your options.
There are two different types of wood lumber, softwood and hardwoods. Softwoods are more common and usually less inexpensive. Softwoods vary in terms of quality, but most are not as durable as hardwoods. While they can rarely match the quality of hardwoods, many softwoods are suitable as deck frame materials. Here are some of them.
Cedar – Cedar is a softwood sporting a light, yellowish shade. As time passes, it turns silver-grey. Aside from being readily available and cheap, another reason it’s an excellent choice for deck frames is its natural weather resistance. Another advantage of Cedar is a compound called tannin. Not only does it give the wood its colour, but prevents insect damage as well.
Redwood – Another excellent softwood to use as deck frame materials is redwood. Redwood lumber, like Cedar, is cheap and easy to find. However, it is slightly more expensive than Cedar. In terms of durability, it is also better than Cedar. It can also last longer. Due to high tannin content, it also is resistant to moisture and insects. It has a darker, reddish colour as opposed to Cedar’s lighter shade.
Hardwood is another type of wood used in many construction applications, such as decking. It is more durable, lasts longer, and easier to maintain than softwoods. For this reason, many choose hardwoods for their decking projects. Some examples of hardwoods are Oak, Ipe, and Cumaru. These are some of the best materials for decking boards, and produce some of the most beautiful wooden decks.
However, many people do not use them as frame decking material for their high cost. Hardwood materials will cost at least three times that of the usual softwood materials. For this reason, some homeowners may use the cheapest hardwoods available. Whether it’s worth the added cost or not depends on a lot of factors. What is sure is that using hardwoods will provide you with an overall better deck frame.
As previously mentioned, some softwoods may have lower quality than more popular varieties. With that said, they are not entirely unusable. However, before they can become viable decking materials, they will need treatment.
Wood, especially of less durable varieties like Fir and Pine, undergo chemical treatment. Treatment usually involves poking microscopic holes in the wood and draining the air and moisture on the wood through them. Then, preservative chemicals are then injected through the holes, filling the entirety of the wood.
Because of the chemical treatment, the wood now has better resistance and durability. Pressure-treated lumber is weather-proof, resistant to moisture, moulds and mildew. The chemicals also preserve the wood, making it last longer than other non-treated lumber. Pressure-treated wood is also slightly cheaper than most wood, making it a preferred choice for construction materials.
Pressure-treated wood varies in quality. The difference depends on how much the wood received. If you plan to use it, best ask your manufacturer if you can use it for your intended purpose.
While pressure-treated wood is an excellent choice, there are a few things you have to consider. Because of the chemical treatment, it is less sustainable than natural wood. The chemicals on the pressure-treated wood’s surface, when burned or peeled, are also highly toxic to humans and animals. Lastly, due to the holes, pressure-treated wood is more prone to splintering and cracking.
Other Options for Deck Frames
Aside from woods, there are a handful of other options that you can choose. For sturdier and more durable decks, many choose metallic framing, such as steel and aluminium. However, homeowners rarely use them because of their high costs. Another option is wood alternatives, such as PVC and composites. PVC is a material made out of pure plastic, while composites use both wood and plastic. Both are excellent choices, but composite decks look more natural than PVC.
But if you still plan to use wood framing, the best you could use will depend on your budget and needs. Pressure-treated wood is a cheap choice but can be harmful when mishandled. On the other hand, Cedar and Redwood, despite being slightly more expensive, are 100% safe.