An example of proper deck flashing and water sealing.


Here we see vinyl deck flashing with a short return down the face of the ledger joist (the first board attached to the home), the siding was cut and removed and the ledger attached directly to the house framing and sheathing. adhesive flashing was also placed behind the ledger and extends down and just over the next siding board so that any possible moisture penetration is routed outside the siding again. The vinyl flashing extends up under the door and the siding adjacent to it. You can also see how a small notch was cut into the outside joist so that the 3/8″ return on the vinyl flashing can extend down through it so no water can travel across the top of the joist.

   It is important that the flashing either be vinyl, stainless steel or that Vycor deck protector either covers the pressure treated wood or is used in place of traditional flashing. Standard painted or galvanized flashing will rust away in short order.

Protecting metal components from ACQ pressure treated wood.

It is important to understand that the corrosive nature of ACQ treated wood comes from electrolysis, not a low PH(acid) quality of the lumber. One of the easiest ways to use a non ACQ rated metal component is simply to insulate it from the copper in the treated wood with an adhesive flashing barrier. This interrupts the conductivity between the steel component and the copper in the wood. This is actually a building code approved method for when a hanger or other engineered component that is unavailable in a resistant form must be used. In the photo you can see how I have bedded the post with a strip of Vycor “deck protector and then scored the outline of the hinge to remove the excess flashing around the hinge. You can learn more about ACQ and electrolysis in my related post below.

Incorrect stain application will yield unstiafactory results.

I received a call today from a homeowner that was concerned that a stain they had purchased had damaged the wood on their deck. They used Cabot Australian wood oil, which is actually a pretty good product. The wood was darkening and looking stained. After having them send pictures and asking questions it was clear that the problem was  the application methods. One other problem that doesn’t help is that doing the project on the cheap and using Douglas Fir 2×6 instead of an actual decking is never going to last. First the deck was stained right after installation not allowing the wood to “cure”, dry and and be ready to accept stain deep into the material. Second, the stain was applied way too thick. Both of these things allowed stain to stay on the surface of the wood rather than penetrate. When stain remains on the surface it gathers contaminants and undergoes a chemical change and darkens and looks horrible. This also frequently happens when people re-stain a deck without adequately removing all of the old stain. The old stain will block the new from penetrating yielding the same unpleasant results. I recommend leting a deck or fence dry for 4-6 weeks and then make sure to wipe away any excess stain with a tack free cloth or apply more sparingly.

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Fence bracket install tips

When attaching rails to a fence post  it is important to use a fastener that will survive the corrosion present when using pressure treated ACQ wood. My previous post on ACQ goes into detail about this corrosion.  When attaching an angled rail that will not fit the Simpson FB24Z  bracket I like to use a stainless screw like the one pictured here. The increased pull out resistance afforded by the screw is useful in keeping the rail fast during wind or other stressors.  A typical steel screw will become brittle and frequently snap or shear off in this application, even ACQ rated screws. I also use the stainless screws on the upper fence bracket for this same reason.fence bracket install2

I prefer to use a strap nailer like the one pictured below to attach the lower brackets where the pull-out force is not as great. This gun shoots a 16d 2″ hard galvanized nail. The heavy thickness of this nail and it’s hard galvanized coating ensures it will resist the corrosion present from ACQ treatment. Nail steel is also much more elastic than screw steel and far less likely to become brittle and shear the way a screw might. Careful choice of fasteners is another small detail in constructing a long lasting fence project. There are a wide array of materials available, choosing the correct one for your specific application will ensure a successful install.

Proper techniques are essential to ensure long life of fence posts


The fence post pictured is only 7 years old, this fence had many years of life left except for the breaking posts. Even pressure treated posts can be vulnerable to decay if not installed properly. Excluding the direct contact of soil to the post is an important part of a good installation. Decay is not the only enemy, when water is allowed to pool right where the post meets the concrete, caustic chemicals in the concrete are able to weaken the post.

I always make sure to create a small pyramid of concrete around the base of the post to route water away from it. this moves the exposed post a couple of inches above the grade of the surrounding soil as well. Most posts are 4×4 in size but, MBA Deck and Fence uses a special 5×5 post which is extra strong and resists warping too.

What is co-extrusion anyways?

When composite deck first came onto the market it was a simple wood fiber plastic mix. Heat and pressure bonded the two components into a durable board. This product changed the decking market forever, less maintenance and no reoccurring staining costs were a great benefit to consumers.

There were some shortcomings though. Traditional composites could be scratched, not easily but, just the same, on a product designed to last at least 25 years, things happen… Color fastness was an issue too, also resistance to staining. Barbeque grease was the bane of composite decking oil-based product meets grease, not good. Azek products introduced their cellular PVC and co-extruded boards and the market changed dramatically. Initially other manufacturers followed with their own PVC boards but soon marketed their traditional composite with the co-extruded layer added.

Ok, so what is co-extrusion anyways. Simply put, when the board is formed, extruded from a machine heated and under pressure, it comes out with a layer of a different material over it. In most cases it appears to be a polymer layer, trade secrets so no manufacturer is forthcoming with it’s exact nature. In the photo you can see quite clearly the outer layer and the inner core.Image

What does this mean for the consumer? The outer layer is a much harder and stain resistant material than the inner core. The polymer layer is also capable of being died in rich and variegated colors that are quite striking. With the exception of Earthwood (see related post) I find it difficult to imagine a scenario where damage could be incurred to a co extruded board. They are just that tough. The color fastness is absolute, I’ve compared long installed material with new pieces and can detect no color shift whatsoever.

I find this development very exciting for the industry. I would encourage any prospective deck buyer to consider using a board of this construction, it really is that good.