Posts tagged ‘elite deck’

Vinyl Fence with the look of real wood!

Vinyl fencing has been a reliable alternative to wood for years. Crisp white finishes always look brand new if kept clean. Some homes and situations are not a good match for that bright white appearance. I just performed an install in just such a situation. The job was further complicated by the desire to have a fence nearly 8 feet tall. A real wood solution was what was originally requested but I suggested the owner look at vinyl, at first they hesitated because white would reflect so much light onto their living space as the backyard was quite small. I showed them some samples of a tan colored vinyl and tongue and groove infill of a product called “Peak”. Peak fencing has a real wood look but all the desirable attributes of vinyl.

One complication with 8 foot fencing is that you must have a permit and engineering, we were able to obtain loading calculations direct from the vendor rather than hire an engineer for the task. This saved us hundreds of dollars in the permitting process. We were able to use a metal insert inside the vinyl posts to obtain the required loading limits for this area.

The customer is very happy with the installation and product, they have the height, privacy and ease of maintenance they were hoping for.

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Mixed Review on Elite Deck

I recently installed a deck using a treated lumber product, Elite Deck. I have avoided treated decking in the past because of the tendency of the the fir lumber it is made from to split, cup, and check as it dries. This product comes in three colors and grey was chosen for this project. I was very concerned about this material because of my past experiences with similar products.

My general impression of the material is mixed, I liked the color, it is pleasing and goes good with the color of the home and was uniform. The overall quality of the lumber was below average in my opinion, I can pick a little better grade out of framing lumber at the yard, knot content and straightness was slightly below average for fir lumber. I would expect a decking material to be above average. The efficiency during install was a little low, the material had a tendency to split on the butt joints even when pre-drilled so you will want to budget a little extra lumber if  you choose this product. This sounds overly negative I think but, considering the cost and the lack of needed maintenance down the road it may be worth it. The proof will be if it resists the splitting and cupping that this type of product has been prone to. This particular installation will get a deck cover and that played into the decision for the customer, the sun and UV radiation is the primary problem for this family of decking product.

I took several steps to safeguard this installation. First I tried whenever possible to use the factory butt joint as it has been treated with the chemical solution already. When it was necessary to use a site cut edge I treated it with a end-cut solution as in the installation instructions and followed that with an application of Anchor-Seal. Anchor-Seal is a product that is often used during the installation of hardwoods. It is a liquid paraffin that absorbs into the end grain of lumber. The rapid gain and loss of of moisture through the end grain of lumber is what is responsible for cracking and checking at the end of boards, stopping this by sealing it is an effective way to prevent this type of damage. Lastly, immediately after install I applied a coat of Wolman clear deck sealer to trap the moisture inside the boards to slow the drying. Rapid drying can also lead to surface checking and cracking. This is the opposite technique than that of un-treated decking which you would want to dry completely before you applied a sealer.

If you do not want any maintenance on your deck and are on a budget, treated decking may be a good choice for you, you just should not expect a perfectly defect free surface. Treated decking is excellent in longevity just not high in appearance.

What do batteries and electrolysis have to do with deck and fence construction?

Several years back environmental regulation mandated the removal of arsenic from the treatment of wood products, definitely a good thing. Heavy metals were being found in the soil beneath play equipment at schools and other sites. This posed a real challenge for wood product chemists and manufacturers, how to market a pressure treated wood without the usual chemical cocktail. The way they achieved this is by adding large amounts of copper to the formula, ACQ. Here’s the battery part, batteries are made possible by the placement of dissimilar metals in an electrolyte to create a current by the corrosion of the metals. The same thing happens when steel or zinc plated hardware and nails  come in contact with the high level of copper in treated woods. There are specially coated hardware and stainless steel alternatives to most products you can use on a deck. If you use a standard metal component the level and rate of corrosion is shocking. literally in a couple of weeks a regular zinc plated hanger will look like the battery post on an old car, greenish fuzz and all. One area of particular concern is deck screws. the steel used for screws is less elastic than that of nails and the  ACQ treatment causes them to become very brittle and in the case of composite decks which expand and contract slightly the fasteners are highly prone to breakage. Even the ACQ rated screws are not immune to this. I almost exclusively use stainless steel fasteners on my composite or cellular PVC decks and only use stainless nails on fences. Not only is stainless more corrosion resistant but, the steel is more elastic as well resisting the shearing caused by the deck movement. Stainless will cost more on the front end but, save you big in the end.