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Is Pressure-Treated Wood Good for Decks?

A recently refinished deck on a California home

by Im3rd Media is licensed with Unsplash License

If you’re building a new deck or replacing your decking, pressure-treated wood is a compelling option for your project. This wood has been treated with chemicals to enhance its performance as a building material. This makes pressure-treated wood great for decking, as it can withstand many of the common hazards of Los Angeles weather. Read on to learn more about pressure-treated wood to determine whether it’s right for your deck.

What Is Pressure-Treated Wood?

Pressure-treated wood goes through a process that forces chemicals into the wood to make it pest-resistant, fire-retardant, and better preserved. The wood is placed in a sealed vacuum pressure vessel that removes all air from the cylinder vessel and the wood. The cylinder is then flooded with a preservative solution and placed under high pressure. This pushes the solution into the wood.

When the pressure cycle is complete, the vessel is drained and the wood removed. The wood sits on a drip pad for 24 to 48 hours to allow excess preservatives to drip out.

Until December 2003, pressure-treated wood was typically made with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which contains arsenic. There was some concern that this wood could leak arsenic into the surrounding landscape over time or cause harm to someone walking on it barefoot or otherwise touching the deck. As a result, CCA is no longer used for pressure-treated wood.

Advantages of Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood offers several benefits over untreated wood. It’s resistant to rot and decay, which means you can use it for pieces that come into contact with the ground without worrying about damage and deterioration in a short amount of time.

Pressure-treated lumber is also resistant to insects and termites. Any type of small boring insect can do tremendous damage to wood, so there’s great value in lumber that will stand up to these pests on its own.

Some types of pressure-treated wood are fire-resistant as well. While this doesn’t mean that the wood cannot burn, it does mean that it will take a tremendous amount of heat to get it to ignite. This puts you at a far lower risk for fire damage.

Together these perks add up to a treated lumber with enhanced durability and longevity. This low-maintenance option for your outdoor projects requires only an annual application of stain or sealant to maintain its attractive condition.

Disadvantages of Pressure-Treated Wood

Like any wood product, pressure-treated wood is susceptible to fading, splintering, and checking over time. Exposure to the elements can cause it to split apart. It may also sustain dents or scratches. These hazards are common for any wood product, not just pressure-treated wood.

Pressure-treated wood is extremely wet when it comes out of the treatment process. This can make it difficult to work with when it’s new. You may experience liquid dripping out when you drill into the wood. As the lumber dries, it will shrink and can potentially warp. It’s best to purchase pressure-treated lumber that’s already gone through the drying process for an extended period.

Pressure-treated wood can have an uneven appearance. Because it’s been so thoroughly soaked, pressure-treated lumber doesn’t always accept paint well, and you may end up with uneven coloring. This isn’t always the most aesthetically refined option.

Pressure-treated wood is an affordable choice with a price tag that can offset many of its drawbacks. When pressure-treated wood becomes damaged, you can easily replace it with another piece.

Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance will go a long way toward keeping your pressure-treated deck looking great. Sweep your deck off often so leaves and debris don’t accumulate in the corners. Doing so helps deter bugs, rodents, and mold or mildew growth. Move items around as you sweep to avoid issues such as dirt accumulating at the base of your planters or unseen mildew growth occurring beneath a storage chest.

About twice a year, you should clean your decking thoroughly. Remove all the items on your deck, including furniture, plants, and decor. Scrub the deck with mild dish soap and a stiff deck brush. This will remove most of the dirt and grime that has accumulated on your deck. You can attack stubborn stains with a paste of water and baking soda. Use vinegar along with the baking soda for more vigorous cleaning action.

You should give your pressurized wood deck its first application of sealer about a year after installation. After that, you need to seal your deck again once a year to keep it in good condition. Every three to five years, you may want to have a professional, such as Teak Master, fully refinish your deck. This includes a thorough deep cleaning and sanding followed by a brightening treatment and sealer that will leave your deck looking like new.

Alternatives to Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is a great option for your decking, but this isn’t the only wood product on the market. If you’re building a new deck, you should consider all your choices carefully. Many wood products are naturally strong, moisture-resistant, and pest-resistant, even without the chemical application that pressure-treated decking gets. Some popular choices include:

  • Ipe.
  • Teak.
  • Mangaris.
  • Cedar.
  • Redwood.
  • Mahogany.

At Teak Master, we work with all these woods successfully. Though any real wood deck requires care and maintenance, they all offer unparalleled natural beauty and rich, warm ambiance throughout your outdoor space.

Get Expert Advice for Your Deck

Whether you choose pressure-treated wood or another option, Teak Master can help you maintain your deck beautifully throughout the years. We’re experts in nearly all wood decking materials suitable for Los Angeles weather. Give us a call to hear more about the maintenance responsibilities and pros and cons of different decks. We’ll help you find the right fit for your budget, style, and preferences.

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