Advantages & Disadvantages of Pressure-Treated Decks

Advantages & Disadvantages of Pressure-Treated Decks

Pressure-treated decks are popular and this fact alone underlines the advantages of this type of wood. As is the case with all materials, pressure-treated wood has some downsides too. And since you are likely considering building a pressure-treated wood deck, you need the details that will shape your decision. Should we start?

What exactly is pressure-treated wood?

In one sentence, pressure-treated wood is processed to be resistant. The wood used is pine, fir, or spruce and is placed in a high-pressure environment where special chemicals are pressed into the lumber to make it resistant to rotting, insects, fungi, pests, bacteria, and similar small and big enemies that could destroy the wood.

Due to the high resistance of pressure-treated wood, deck builders use this type of lumber broadly. Due to the chemicals, pressure-treated lumber is used for outdoor decking building only – not for indoor construction jobs. Of course, it is also used for other outdoor constructions, like deck railing, wood pergolas, boards, and fences.

Are all pressure-treated woods the same?

Not all pressure-treated woods are the same. For starters, the lumber is not always the same although spruce, fir, and pine are all softwoods. Then, the grades of pressure-treated lumber vary. There are three main grades with the higher one having the least defects. For deck building, grade 2 or 3 would be best.

Why do we use pressure-treated lumber for deck construction?

Unlike non-treated lumber, pressure-treated wood is particularly resistant and so, it won’t be affected by moisture and the elements. That’s when it comes to timber. Naturally, there is a variety of materials – like stone, aluminum, and concrete, which are particularly durable and resistant but they are also very expensive, especially when compared to pressure-treated wood. And then, when we talk about decks, we all want wood. And pressure-treated lumber is both affordable and resistant. For a deck builder, it’s also easy to use, cut, and shape.

Are there any safety concerns?

These days, there are no safety concerns. One of the chemical compounds – the harmful one – used once for the pressure treatment – that’s chromated copper arsenic (CCA) – is no longer used for residential wood deck building.

Which are the main advantages of pressure-treated wood decks?
  •          Pressure-treated wood variations

Apart from the wood species and grade variations, lumber can be treated to be used close to coasts. Some types are treated for above-ground use. And there are options for ground-contact pressure-treated wood for decks low to the ground.

  •          Long-lasting wood deck

Pressure-treated wood decks may last 50 years. Even ground-contact pressure-treated decks last for about 40 years.

  •          Cost-effective wood deck

The price tag is lower than that of other wood species used for deck building – redwood, cedar, and others. Since it’s long-lasting, it’s considered even more affordable.

  •          Highly resistant outdoor decking
Advantages & Disadvantages of Pressure-Treated Decks

The whole point of getting pressure-treated decks is to avoid problems with insects, fungi, rotting, et cetera. The treatment of wood does exactly that – it makes the lumber resistant to bugs, insects, moisture, mildew, termites, and anything that could damage the deck.

  •          Durable wood for deck building

It’s strong and also resistant to scratches, dents, damage, and wear. Hence, it holds well under daily pressure and does so for years.

  •          Versatile in terms of appearance

Pressure-treated wood decks can be stained or painted in the color of your choice. And so, you can choose what you want for your home. Also, you can change its looks over the years.

Which are the main disadvantages of pressure-treated wood decks?

  •          Color fading

Since the lumber is treated with chemicals, its natural color is greenish and not even. This may affect the deck’s appearance, especially if it’s stained and not painted. Also, with time, the wood color becomes dull and grayish, particularly if the deck is exposed to sunlight.

  •          Prone to checking, cracking, and splinters

Since the wood used for the treatment is saturated during the processing, it dries and this may cause some shrinkage, cracking, and warping in the long run. It may also splinter and split due to the temp fluctuations and the natural cycles of drying and wetting.

  •          Possible chemical risks

Although CCA is no longer used for the wood process, the lumber is infused with other chemicals. As we said, this is the reason why such treated woods are used only outdoors. And although they are not harmful if you walk barefoot on deck, possible deck damage that would release chemicals may cause some problems. Of course, this is rare. Even if it comes to that, you can just walk away and let a specialized deck contractor take over.

  •          High maintenance

Since the colors are fading and the lumber may splinter or crack, it’s good to check and maintain it regularly.