Pressure Treated Pine – A Maintenance Nightmare?

Un-maintained Treated Pine Deck

I just returned from visiting a client whom inherited a pressure treated pine deck and was disgusted with its condition. His initial intent was to tear down the entire deck and start over. He truly liked the look of wood and understood maintenance was involved but he didn’t realize that treated pine does have advantages. At the end of our meeting we agreed that removing the entire deck was not necessary and we  just replace the flooring and rails. I thought it might be useful to share more information to you about Pressure Treated Pine (PTP).

PTP still remains the #1 choice for outdoor structures. Whether used for decks, screen porches, playground sets, fencing or sandboxes, PTP is the best value for your buck. All PTP comes with a lifetime warranty against rotting (fungal decay) and termite infestation. The characteristics and maintenance of this species are integral to understanding its benefits and imperfections.

The term PTP means the pine when milled is infused with chemicals to provide the warranties discussed above. The wood will essentially not rot and can be placed in the ground. The chemicals used have been changed over the last 7 years. I won’t go into that as it’s quite convoluted. The main point is the warranties provided. The main characteristic about PTP is the susceptibility to changes in temperatures, humidity and overall weather. In a nutshell this species will expand and contract based on climate conditions. Remember the sun is your enemy. The hotter its gets, the more it will expand. Ever notice decks built with PTP where the floor, rail caps or stair treads are cracking? This is a result of the sun. Ever notice how decking boards appear to “cup”. Cupping occurs as the edges of boards are stretching towards the sun in hot weather. A misnomer about cupping, it is not because the grain of the boards were placed incorrectly upon installation. It is simply a result of expansion and contraction.

Another consideration about PTP, the material needs to dry for at least 3-6 months prior to sealing or staining. When first installed, most boards will be damp. This is due to the chemicals within the product. You may notice the top of the deck boards are dry within a week or two, but that does not mean the entire board is dry. Remember vaporizing (drying) goes up through the board. In addition, as it dries the boards tend to shrink leaving gaps between deck boards.

The best advice I can pass on about PTP, is to keep the deck wet in the summer months. This does not mean hosing your deck off daily, but be conscious and apply as needed. Factors such as exposure to the sun (i.e. orientation of your deck to the sun) and shade need to be considered. I would suggest keeping an eye on the floor boards. If they show signs of cracking, hose it down. Once the cracking occurs, you will never be able to reverse that trend. So keep it wet!

Maintenance such as staining, stripping and cleaning are an integral aspect with any wood product exposed to exterior elements. This maintenance, on average, depends on exposure to the sun. Usually I hear people say they have to complete the work once per year. Ever notice how PTP has a light hue to it when a project is first built outside? Look again 3-6 months later (if not stained or painted), it begins to turn grey. This is due to the UV rays from the sun. In order to maintain a PTP product you can apply several methods:

 Semi-transparent Stain

 Opaque Stains

 Transparent Sealers

 Painting

Semi-Transparent Stains have a small amount of stain in them combined with UV protection. Lots of staining products on the market indicate claims and warranties that their particular goods contain UV protection. Of course that doesn’t take into account, normal wear and tear. This includes high traffic areas. The slight amount of stain in these products assists with deterioration. I see the best results with this method.

Opaque Stains are simply a stain that will change the color of the wood. If you really like this look, go for it, but be aware that your high traffic areas will deteriorate quicker. Compare that to low traffic areas where the stain is holding up. Now what do you do?

Transparent Sealers have no stain in them and just provide UV protection. Remember the UV rays are powerful and the decking will begin to turn grey, eventually. This is the easiest of methods as the “stripping” phase is less time consuming.

Painting is a bad idea especially with “horizontal” surfaces. This includes deck flooring, rail caps, bench seats, planters and steps. Paint will begin to chip and deteriorate when exposed to the elements over time. Think about it, where does the water sit? If you want to paint “Vertical” components (i.e. railing posts, pickets, porch posts, that will last longer in most cases.

Here are some recommendations and websites of products we have had good feedback on. The best of these products is Cabot Stain http://www.cabotstain.com More expensive than most yet remember, you get what you pay for! I have seen success with Sherwin-Williams products as well. http://www.sherwin-williams.com Lastly, I must profess, we do not provide staining or painting services as part of our business, but we do recommend an awesome painter if clients inquire.

Does this all mean that PTP is awful? Of course not. Many folks still build with PTP but we want to ensure clients understand how the product will perform. If you like the look of wood, PTP is a decent option, but be aware the maintenance required to maintain the beauty. I hope this helps. Cheers!

Home Show Display Features Low Maintenance Decking

Your guide to Central Ohio Home and Garden Show

Archadeck Home/Garden Show - 2008

Yes, spring will be here soon enough!  A great way to taste the eventual break from winter is to join Archadeck of Columbus at the Central Ohio Home and Garden Show beginning Saturday, February 27th – March 7th, 2010.  Our new display will feature a double level curved deck using Timbertech wood/plastic composites as well as XLM (PVC decking).  We will also be showing Azek PVC decking as well as Fiberon products.

If you have not attended this Home Show and you are considering any home improvement, you should not miss this.  You can find most anything related to home improvement from decks, landscaping, windows, glass block to seminars on gardening and cooking tips. 

This show has been one of our biggest generators of leads throughout the year.  We get to meet folks whom are interested in our services but it also gives us a chance to assist homeowners with their questions.  The best part is the energetic atmosphere that spring is just around the corner!

2010 Home and Garden Show Display

Some tips if you are truly interested in using your time wisely:

  • Go on weeknights (the schedule can be found on the link below)
  • Avoid weekends!  We would love to see you but I must say it is packed until about 5pm.
  • Plan ahead and look for vendors whose products and services interest you.  The link (below) will help you as well as the free program which is provided upon arrival
  • Be sure to talk to the vendors.  Most spend a tremendous amount of time setting up their respective displays and are eager and appreciative when people come by.
  • If you are a DIY (do it yourself), be respectful that most vendors are interested in speaking with potential clients.  Please advise them early that you are going to do something by yourself, but are interested in their experience.  Most vendors will help you if their time permits
  • Don’t forget there are two separate buildings conducting the show.  The Multi-Purpose Building is where most home improvement companies reside and the Celeste Building is where the Garden Showcase is located as well as other home improvement booths.  There is an enclosed walkway between both buildings.  By the way,  Archadeck of Columbus is located in the Celeste Building near the showcase
  • Don’t miss the Garden Showcase.  The themes and displays are unique and change each year and the flowers give you a true sense of spring
  • Senior Day is Wednesday, March 3rd.  Discounted tickets are available and hours are from 12 noon – 9pm

http://www.dispatchevents.com/home_garden.php

Carol, Seth and I will be there throughout the week.  Please feel free to come by should you require our assistance. Happy Hunting!

Michael

Wood Plastic Composites vs. PVC Decking

What are the differences between composites and pvc decking and how to keep composites clean?

Timbertech XLM Desert Bronze, Columbus, Ohio

When we began designing and building decks and screen porches, the majority of customers were interested in wood with a small percentage intrigued about composites, or low maintenance decking.  In the last 10 years, we have seen exponential growth in the low maintenance decking class in brands, color choices and styles.

Over the past 5 years, we have built approximately 70% of our projects in composites or with the newest technological advancement….PVC decking.  If you are not familiar with wood/plastic composites or PVC decking options, here are some differences to consider including a couple recommendations on products and cleaning solutions.

Wood/Plastic Composites

Composite decking is nothing more than wood flour mixed with plastics and extruded into a “low maintenance” decking board.  Please note I did not say “no maintenance”.    Most composites contain 50% wood and 50% plastic.  Natural products such as wood are affected by the elements.  This equates to fading, scratching and contending with dirt, snow, rain, etc. which necessitates some cleaning.  This may sound somewhat counterproductive, but it surely is easier than stripping and staining a wood deck every year.

My wife and I have 2 young boys, so we are constantly in man to man defense and they still spill drinks all the time!  The simple answer is when it gets dirty, or you or someone else spills something, hose it off.   Most soap and water solutions will remove the grime.  You can use a power washer, but it is not recommended (have you seen what a power washer can do to concrete?).  Should a “stain” go unclean for a longer period, it may need more “elbow grease”.    Some recommended cleaners are:

  • CorteClean
  • OxiClean
  • Cabot’s Composite Deck Cleaner
  • Jomax

Mold and mildew is a different issue.  Mold can grow on anything.  The quality composites contain mold inhibitors which hinder mold spores from feeding.   For more information on mold and how to remove it refer to this article written by the North American Deck and Railing Association. http://www.nadra.org/consumers/understanding_mold.html

Our most requested wood plastic composite is Timbertech.  We have used many composites around the country and by far Timbertech is the top of the class in the category of wood/plastic composites.  Their three products in this series are:

  • Reliaboard is their newest product to enter the market.  Colors are Cedar and Grey.
  • Twinfinish is the standard and comes in 3 colors, Cedar, Gray and Redwood. 
  • Earthwood series is beautiful and includes black streaking within the product to give a look of exotic hardwoods.  Colors include Teak, Walnut and Rosewood. 
Timbertech Twinfinish - Cedar
Timbertech Deck Columbus, Ohio
Timbertech Earthwood Deck Columbus, Ohio

The products are listed according to price point, Reliaboard being the least expensive.  Feel free to read their user-friendly website (link above).

PVC Decking

This category of decking entered the market about 5 years ago and has grown in popularity.  The main difference is there is no wood mix.  They are solid core cellular pvc, or in other words, pure plastic.  The advantages of this is they are more stain and scratch resistant than wood/plastic composites.  With the lack of wood in the products, they are denser and less porous which means lower maintenance; simply clean periodically with a soap and water solution.  Another advantage is they will fade less compared to composites (no wood in them).

The disadvantages of this type of decking is cost and, to some, appearance.  They do have the look and feel of plastic.  In addition, color choices are limited but lately we have seen additional darker colors choices including streaking to enhance the appearance.

Timbertech XLM (extreme low maintenance) entered the market 3 years ago.  They have the most beautiful board, Desert Bronze (streaking included) but it is the most expensive.  Other colors available in XLM are Sand Ridge, Mountain Cedar, and River Rock.

Timbertech XLM Deck, Powell, Ohio

   Azek is another option to consider.  The Harvest Collection series offers basic colors, but in my opinion, are a little bland.  They introduced two new series, the Terra Collection (2009) and the new Arbor Collection (2010) with darker colors.  The least expensive is the Harvest Collection up to the Arbor series.  Check out their website for more information.

Azek Brownstone
Azek Brownstone with White Vinyl Rail, Columbus, Ohio
Azek Brownstone with Cedar Rail, Powell, Ohio

There are many more choices to consider, such as Evergrain, Fiberon and Trex.  We at Archadeck are the largest conglomerate of design and build services in the Decking and Screen Porch industry.  The recommendations of Timbertech and Azek are Archadeck’s definitive favorites, especially Timbertech.  Feel free to contact us should you have any questions!

Michael

Plan earlier for Spring!

Planning earlier for your deck, screen porch, pergola, gazebo to attain maximum use for warm weather.

Outdoor living is almost here!  We in the industry eagerly await the “season” to arrive.  We are implementing marketing plans, preparing or participating in home shows, developing action plans, meeting with potential customers regarding their plans and signing contracts.

It surprises me every year that more people don’t plan earlier for their project(s).  I know, like you we are caught up in the daily challenges of life; kids, work, homework and American Idol (I have to admit, it’s addicting).  Typically the phones really begin to ring (off the hook) by mid March and continue through October in this region of the country.  On average, by the time we meet, draw optional designs, implement contracts, submit for permits (including home owner associations and zoning requirements) and manage logistics, we typically cannot begin construction for at least 3-6 weeks once a contract is approved. 

On average a typical deck project takes about a week to construct.  For those that do plan in March, they can begin using their new addition by mid to late April.  What about the majority of our customers who wait till late April or May when it truly begins to get warm?  Unfortunately for those, it can be late June or July before they begin to use it.  Beware of contractors whom can start tomorrow!

My suggestion is to plan earlier.  If you are planning graduation parties, birthday parties or other events, please contact us earlier (or whomever you are thinking about contracting with).  Hopefully, contractors want to ensure they meet your deadlines.  I can assure you it’s vitally important to us. 

Did you know that Archadeck of Columbus can build year round?  Even though we experience cold weather, it doesn’t impede us from completing decks, screen porches, etc.  Annually we are fortunate enough to have business throughout the winter and build them.

Good Luck and I hope you attain your outdoor project this year and can use it all season!