Decks and Patios
What kind of wood should I use for my deck?
Here's a quick rundown on some of the more common types of wood used for deck surfaces.
Whatever type of wood you use for the
deck, use pressure-treated wood for the substructure, or structural wood that has been
carefully treated with waterproofing solutions. Otherwise, the joists will rot out well
before the deck needs replacing. Put the deck boards down with deck screws, not nails.
Most common on the
West Coast, where prices are still within range. One big value is that it is highly
rot-resistant and does not need to be treated with wood preservatives. But sealers with
UV protection will help maintain the wood's natural appearance. Redwood is soft, but
weathers to beautiful gray in sunlight. May darken in damp, wet places. Can be lightened
by washing with Clorox and water. A pressure hose cleans it very well and restores color.
Also popular on the West
Coast, and it's rot-resistant. Weathers to beautiful soft gray. It is soft and splinters
easily. Treating cedar and redwood with penetrating sealers will maintain the wood's
natural look longer.
Often known as Brazilian walnut or ironwood, it is hard wood that weathers beautifully.
Also a hard wood, it resists rot and can be allowed to weather or be treated.
- Pressure-treated pine:
will weather to an attractive gray, and it's cheaper than most other decking woods. It comes
in different grades, so select the top grade for the decking material.
Do I need to apply a sealer to my deck?
It depends on the type of wood. Redwood
and cedar do not need it because they are so naturally rot-resistant. But sealers with UV
protection will help keep the wood looking natural, rather than turning dark or gray,
depending on the amount of sunlight on the deck. With woods other than redwood or cedar,
use a penetrating sealer, even on pressure-treated wood, to reduce its tendency to crack
and splinter. Look for "penetrating" specifically on the can of sealer. These sealers do
much better than cheaper sealers that just lay a thin film on the wood.
What about plastic wood for decks?
Plastic wood has
several good qualities: Polymer decking will last forever, is maintenance
free, and is easy to install. Its tongue and groove form gives it greater
rigidity over longer spans. In a year or so, plastic wood will fade
to an even tan color. Also, it is made from recycled materials, which
benefits the land. The chief drawback is the plastic appearance. Also,
if a damaged board must be replaced, all boards up to that one will
have to be removed because of the tongue and groove construction.
I can't decide: brick patio or wooden deck?
Part of the decision is the finished
look you want in your yard, whether it will be the more formal brick or the more casual
wooden deck appearance. Brick can be laid directly on sand, which makes it a little more
casual, or it can be laid on a concrete slab and mortared in place for a more lasting and
formal appearance. Brick readily conforms to any curves or angles you wish to apply, as well as a
great number of patterns.
Wood decks are generally
quite linear, running the length of the boards. Changing the direction
of the run, however, can easily break up long, straight lines. Decks
go down relatively quickly. And, of course, if you are building several
feet off the ground, a deck is vastly easier than trying to construct
a support system for a brick patio. Wood decks require some maintenance,
such as sealing, cleaning, and repairs to damaged wood. Both brick and
wood can be slippery and mossy in wet, damp areas.
I have seen concrete in lots of different patterns and I was told that the
patterns were stamped in. Where can I find these stamps?
They are not sold to the public, but only to licensees of the maker, Bomanite Co. Go to the maker's site at
www.bomanite.com to find the licensee nearest you.
How do you go about building a retaining wall?
Retaining walls can be built out of
almost anything, including bricks, fancy interlocking blocks, field rocks, old railroad
ties, or even broken pieces of concrete. What material you choose reflects how formal or
informal you want it to be. If the wall is going to be higher than 4 feet, you should get
professional advice because you do not want it collapsing on someone. But for smaller
walls, tilt the wall back slightly as you build up, and keep filling in behind it with
dirt. But before you even begin, remember the most important aspect of the wall
construction: drainage. Unless you live in near-desert conditions, put a perforated
drain line behind the retaining wall near the bottom. Slope it to carry water away. Next,
be sure to put weep holes, usually made from ½-inch plastic pipe, near the bottom so water
can escape that way too. Add more weep holes higher up if the wall is over 2 feet high.
Email this page to a friend