PT Wood or Light Gauge Steel
Most decks are framed using chemically treated southern yellow pine lumber, treated with alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), copper azole (CA), or micronized copper azole (MCA). This treatment process involves placing the wood in a container to be pressurized and infused with one of the above chemical treatments in order to make the wood more resistant to rot and decay. Pressurizing and infusing chemicals into the wood makes it more impermeable to the environment, however the copper content also causes a requirement that special fasteners be used as to not induce a chemical reaction with the metal fasteners. A galvanic corrosion occurs when two different metals come into contact in a damp or wet setting. To combat this corrosion, it is recommended to use galvanized hardware and fasteners. You can also use copper or stainless-steel hardware, but the expense would be very high to do so. It is important to note that because of the chemical properties of pressure treated wood, it is toxic to burn and must be disposed of at your local landfill. With the current nationwide shortage on all types of pressure treated materials, as well as the substantial price increase faced by all buyers, what other options are there for framing a new deck?
The decision to use light gauge steel (LGS) as an alternative to wood framing continues to grow in popularity. While the initial cost is higher than wood, there are many benefits to consider. Traditional wood framing swells, cracks, crowns, and warps with time and can do so exponentially faster given harsher environmental factors. LGS is made with precision and each piece is cut and shaped exactly as the last, with little to no chance or movement unlike wood. LGS weighs less than wood and requires less posts due to this materials ability to handle more weight at a greater span than natural wood. This is an excellent feature for those projects which utilize the space underneath the main deck or porch areas, as you have less posts obstructing this useable area. LGS is impervious to fire and termites and will not rot. When it comes to the environment, LGS is 100% recyclable and chemical free. If you are concerned for the environment, choosing LGS means not sending chemically infused wood to the landfill. For those deck and porch projects it is important to note how low-maintenance composite decking and LGS for framing are the perfect match! Because natural wood joists can crown and warp, the composite deck boards on top of wood joists may not lay perfectly flat over time and can end up with a wavy appearance. Today’s best composite decking boards, such as Timbertech, carries a 30 to 50-year warranty! It is wise to marry that powerful warranty with framing that will last just as long.
Whether you are choosing to stay with traditional wood framing or considering a light gauge steel framing alternative, you should always reach out to the professionals at Cedarbrook Outdoor Design Build for a free consultation. Call today at 301-703-8728.