Everything You Need to Know About Hardwood Decking
If there’s a better option for a deck than hardwood decking, we couldn’t tell you what it is. The strength and beauty of hardwood is without match, and its durability seals the deal for anyone considering hardwood as a deck building option.
Hardwood decking provides the best long-lasting alternative to synthetic materials or softwoods. It boasts a natural beauty that gets better with age, much like a fine wine.
Nobody can deny the durability of hardwood. As an example, the hardwood Ipe Decking used on the Coney Island Boardwalk lasted 70 years. When torn down, the wood was re-used on other products.
If you’re looking to create an unforgettable outdoor oasis for your house then hardwood is where you should start.
Here’s everything you need to know about DIY hardwood decking.
What Type of Hardwood to Choose
The first step is choosing the right hardwood for your project. Here, we’ll break down 5 of the most popular options so you can choose the right one for your project.
If you’d like to know what other types of hardwoods are available, then give this a click!
1. Ipe Wood
This is the most popular decking option for builders using hardwood. Color options range from olive-brown to dark brown. Some even have a blackish tone.
The wood grains vary widely.
Ipe wood will provide a gorgeous, long-lasting deck. It’s incredibly hard and will last over 40 years with the right installation and care.
If you live in a harsh environment with extreme weather, you can’t go wrong with Ipe wood.
2. Garapa Wood
This is the second most popular hardwood solution.
Grarapa decking features a beautiful golden brown to light yellow color. As it begins to weather, it turns a silvery gray.
The best part about Garapa is that there’s no need to apply an annual sealer. It’s naturally resistant to decay, rot, scratches, splinters and even fire.
Also known as Brazilian Ash, its moderate cost makes it a great alternative to Ipe or Teak hardwoods.
This type of hardwood is one of the most durable timbers on earth. It’s a very cost-effective sub for Ipe decking in many applications.
It has a straight grain and reddish-brown hue. Some people refer to it as Brazilian Redwood.
If you’re looking for a Mahogany appearance, Massaranduba is a great way to go.
4. Cumaru (Brazilian Teak)
Cumaru provides a long-lasting, cost-effective alternative for hardwood decking.
It glows in a warm and attractive golden-brown color that’s unmatched by most hardwoods. It also ages gracefully and is long-lasting.
Cumaru has a similar density as Ipe but at a much more moderate cost.
Teak surpasses most all other woods for outdoor use. True teak decking, known as Tectona Grandis, has natural oils which completely eliminate the need for sealants or preservatives.
It’s the most expensive hardwood option but is also the highest quality. It’s so high quality that it’s used on many luxury yachts.
If you’re looking to build a one-of-a-kind deck, Teak is the best material.
Choose the Right Profile
The decking profile you’ll use will depend on the fasteners you’re using and the location you’re installing the deck.
Use this profile for face screwed decking. Then, plug it to give your deck a completely seamless look.
Use pre-grooved decking when you want to allow hidden fasteners to be installed so that the decking boards don’t show any of the fasteners.
Tongue and Grooved Decking
Use this profile for porch flooring or when your deck will be covered. It should only be used when you aren’t concerned about water drainage.
How to Choose the Right Fasteners
First, note that all hardwood decking requires stainless steel screws. You’ll also need to pre-drill each hole due to the hardness and density of the wood.
Stainless Steel Screws
No matter what type of hardwood you’re using, employ stainless steel screws. The wood is going to last 40 or more years, so you’ll want your screws to last just as long.
In addition, other fasteners cause discoloration and staining in hardwoods.
Use stainless steel screws for hidden fasteners, face screwing and if using wood plugs.
When face screwing, wood plugs can be used. You’ll need to counter-sink each screw to allow you to cover the head of each screw with a wood plug.
Typically the wood plugs will then be planed or sanded to be smooth with the deck surface.
Hidden Deck Fasteners
When you’re using pre-grooved decking, you’ll want to use hidden deck fasteners. They’re used to clip the decking boards to the span and are almost completely hidden by the deck grooves.
Sanding and Finishing
Once your deck is installed, you’ll want to consider treating it will an oil-based finish. That’ll depend on the hardwood you’ve chosen and the look you’re going for.
How to Sand and Seal Your Decking
First, you’ll want to seal all of your fresh cuts with AnchorSeal. Then, spot-sand as needed. It’s not recommended that you do orbital sanding because it will leave unsightly circular scratches in the wood grain.
If you’re OK with your deck developing a natural “silvering” color, you don’t need to worry about finishing. Your deck will still last many, many years.
However, if you’re looking to keep the wood coloring of the original hardwood you should look for a penetrating oil-based finish that’s transparent. It should also have UV protection.
Before you apply, clean and brush your deck’s surface to remove all dust and dirt. Then apply several transparent coats and you’re good to go.
Maintenance and Care
One of the best features of hardwood decking is that it’s very low maintenance. However, you can still help improve its appearance and make it last longer.
The Best Way to Clean Your Deck
A couple times per year put together a simple water and soap solution and take a stiff brush to your deck. This will keep is shining like new.
Pressure washers are rarely recommended for a hardwood deck. When it’s time to rinse, a garden hose and spray nozzle will work just fine.
When you need to remove stains or age from finishes, look for a commercial cleaner that’s made specifically for hardwoods.
When refinishing, make sure to clean the deck thoroughly before you start. Some finishing products may not need to be stripped off the deck prior to applying a new coat. If you have questions about this, contact the product manufacturer.
Hardwood Decking is the Way To Go
With all the options, durability and beautify of hardwood, it’s difficult to see a better option for your new deck.
If you learned from this article, take a look at some of our ebook downloads that can further expand your knowledge base.
Good luck with your deck project!
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