Friday, November 9, 2007

Decking Options for docks, decks and walkways

There are many decking options available to dock and deck owners here in Central Florida. In this article I will try to touch on a few of the wood decking materials I use with the benefits and challenges associated with each one.

The natural wood decking materials can be the domestic Southern Yellow Pine or Cypress or the imports such as the Brazilian Hardwoods. The Southern Yellow Pine decking normally offered on the standard deck or dock is pressure treated to .40 ACQ or CA. These treatment chemicals are now in use since the EPA ruling making the use of CCA pressure treated wood illegal for all marine uses except for structural timbers. The #1 grade of Southern Yellow Pine should be used as a minimum if you choose to go with a Pine deck. I recommend the use of 2”x6” boards for the decking without a gap being placed between the boards. As the deck boards dry out, they will develop their own gap of approximately 1/4".

The 2”x6” Pine decking will allow you to have your joists spaced 24” on center whereas if you use the less expensive 5/4”x6” Pine decking I would space the joists 16” O.C.

If you are on a tight budget, the 2”x6” #1 pressure treated Southern Yellow Pine is the way to save money in the short term. However, in order to keep the wood surface looking good for years to come, you will need to perform periodic maintenance on the decking. This includes lightly pressure cleaning and sealing every 12 to 24 months for the life of the deck. There are several types of stains and paints that are made specifically for use on pressure treated Pine decking. The one I recommend most is Spa-n-deck from The Flood Company. The best price I have found for this ultra-violet wood protectant and stain is from Decks & Docks Lumber at 4801 95th St, N St. Petersburg, FL 33708. Contact: Mr. Dan Gileo phone: 727-399-9663 fax: 727-399-8453 email: website:

Of course the #1 Pressure treated Southern Pine decking is available from several lumber yards around town. I deal with Southern Pine on Hansel Avenue in Pine Castle. They deliver in a timely manner and the quality of the decking is good. Their phone number is 407-251-1900.

Another type of Southern Yellow Pine decking that I recommend is the “UltraWood” 2”x6” decking. This Pine is a grade above the basic #1. It is a #1 dense or better grade which means the wood grain is tighter, the knots are smaller and because the edges are rounded(eased), there is very little wane. This means almost every piece of the wood is good for decking and requires very little culling. Another reason and I feel the most important reason to buy this “UltraWood” is that during the pressure treatment process, it is also treated with a water repellent. This means that the normal hydration and dehydration which occurs to the decking when it rains and dries out does not occur with the “UltraWood” to the extent that it does with normal #1 Pine decking. This constant expanding of the wood when it gets wet and then shrinking again when it dries out causes the wood to splinter and crack prematurely. Certainly painting and applications of the “ultra-violet wood protectant” to the normal #1 will help slow this natural weathering and inevitable aging of the wood, starting with the “UltraWood” decking is a great way to make sure you deck will have a long life. The “UltraWood” can also be stained and treated with the ultra-violet wood protectant.

The most beautiful of the wood decking products that I have found are the Brazilian hardwoods. This material is sometimes called “Ironwood” and there are several different types with different colors and grains. It is the same decking used by Disney World on most of their wood deck area. It is very good for not splintering since the fibers of the wood are very dense and almost hair like when they are cut. There are three ways you can go with the maintenance of this wood. You can choose to simply do nothing to it and it will dry and weather to a silver gray. You could also choose to apply a nut oil called “Penofin” to the Ipe to get a very rich Mahogany brown color and deep luster to the wood. The challenge with the Penofin is that it must be applied several times over the next few years. The Penofin oil tends to build up after every application so that the frequency the application is required decreases over the years. The Penofin is available from 84 Lumber in Tavares at 352-742-8500 or Ace Hardware in Cape Canaveral at 321-784-1528. The final treatment I have found for the Brazilian Hardwoods is Floodpro Supreme Performance available from Decks & Docks Lumber as listed above. This coating is water based and carries a 3 year warranty on decks.

The Brazilian Hardwoods are very dense and pre-drilling and counter sinking of the screws is required. You must use carbide blades for sawing and carbide drill bits for drilling. A 5/4”x6” deck board can span up to 36” but I always use it with 24” O.C. joists. Lumber dealers carry the Ipe in a 1” nominally thick deck board which is reported to span up to 24” but I have not tried it as I use the 5/4” thick board. Even though there is some periodic maintenance required for the mahogany look of the Ipe to be maintained, I think as it is the most beautiful natural wood decking, it is worth it.

Next article I will write about the composite and plastic decking that is setting the market on fire.

Cloud 9 Services, Inc. is a Central Florida Marine Contractor. We build boat docks, boathouses, decks, boardwalks, gazebos, pergolas, seawalls, retaining walls- both commercial and residential. Our State Certified General Contractor's License number is CG C026854. Our website is We can be reached by email at Our phone number is 407-481-2750. We are members of the Florida Marine Contractor's Association whose website is

1 comment:

deva said...

Thanks for the massage. It was awesome..

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