A Practical Guide to Understanding Treated Wood Decking

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Treated Wood Decking

Traditional decks have always been built using treated wood decking. But now, many different materials are available. You might wonder if wood is still a good choice for building decks.

You’d be surprised to learn that modern deck materials have come a long way from the deck boards your grandpa would have used. New technology makes pressure-treated lumber resistant to rot and infestation, making it ideal for outdoor construction.

In this blog, the experts at Deck Guardian will share their knowledge of this hardy decking material, its pros and cons, and what makes treated wood decking a great choice for your next deck project.

What is Treated Wood Decking?

Treated wood decking is lumber that has been infused with chemicals to make it more durable. This treatment helps the wood resist rot, decay, and insect damage, making it ideal for outdoor use.

The main purpose of treated wood decking is to provide a long-lasting, sturdy material for outdoor structures. Pressure-treated lumber is commonly used in various outdoor projects, including:

  • Decks: Providing a strong, attractive surface for outdoor living spaces.
  • Fences: Offering a durable barrier that withstands weather and pests.
  • Pergolas: Creating shaded outdoor spaces with structural integrity.
  • Gazebos: Enhancing gardens with sturdy, long-lasting structures.
  • Playsets: Ensuring safe, durable play areas for children.

What Are The Benefits of Using Treated Wood Decking

Choosing pressure-treated lumber has several advantages, making it an ideal building material. Here are some of the advantages of treated wood decking:

  • Longevity. Treated wood can last for decades, especially with proper maintenance.
  • Cost-Effective. It is generally less expensive than alternative materials like composite decking.
  • Strength. Treated wood keeps its natural strength, so it can handle heavy loads and structural uses.
  • Versatility. It can be used in a wide range of projects, adapting to various designs and needs.
  • Availability. Treated wood is widely available and comes in various sizes and grades to suit different projects.

Why Choose Treated Wood Decking?

  • Durability: Treated wood decking can last in harsh outdoor conditions, making it a good choice for long-term projects.
  • Pest Resistance: The preservatives in treated wood repel insects, reducing the risk of damage.
  • Easy Maintenance: Regular sealing and staining can keep treated wood looking great and performing well for years.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Treated wood can be stained or painted to match any outdoor décor, providing both beauty and functionality.

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The Treatment Process

Treated wood decking is an excellent choice for anyone looking to build durable, long-lasting, and cost-effective outdoor structures. Its versatility and strength make it a popular option for decks, fences, and many other outdoor projects.

Pressure-treating wood is a special process designed to protect the lumber from rot and insect damage. This involves soaking the wood in preservative chemicals, to make sure the material remains durable and resilient in outdoor environments. The process is both fascinating and highly effective.

3 Steps of the Wood Treating Process

  • Loading Lumber into the Retort

    First, raw lumber is loaded into a large airtight chamber called a retort. The door is sealed tightly to start the process.

  • Applying Vacuum and Pressure to Infuse Preservatives

    A powerful vacuum removes air from the lumber and the chamber. Then, the chamber is flooded with a preservative solution.
    High pressure, over 150 pounds per square inch, forces the chemicals deep into the wood, similar to how a sponge absorbs water.

  • Drip Drying and Curing

    After saturation, the wood is placed on a drip pad to let excess chemicals drain and be reused.
    The drying process takes a few days in warm weather or several weeks in colder, damp conditions. Proper curing ensures the wood is ready for use without excess chemicals.

Types of Treated Wood

Treating wood involves two main types of preservatives: water-based and oil-based. Each type has unique characteristics and applications, making them suitable for different projects and environments.

Water-Based Preservatives

Water-based preservatives are the most common type used for residential projects. These preservatives are absorbed into the wood and provide excellent protection against rot and insects. Because they leave the wood surface clean and paintable, they are ideal for decks, fences, and other structures where appearance matters.

Oil-Based Preservatives

Oil-based preservatives are typically used for industrial and commercial purposes. These preservatives penetrate deeply into the wood, providing long-lasting protection even in harsh conditions. You’ll often find oil-treated wood used for utility poles and railroad ties, where durability and resistance to the elements are paramount.

Common Chemicals Used

Several chemicals are commonly used in the treatment of wood, each offering different levels of protection and suitability for various applications:

  • ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary)
    ACQ is a water-based preservative that is highly effective at preventing decay and deterring insects. It is commonly used for decking, fencing, and other outdoor structures.
  • CA (Copper Azole)
    Copper Azole is another water-based preservative known for its excellent performance against fungal decay and insect damage. It is often used in residential construction for decks and outdoor furniture.
  • Waterborne Copper Naphthenate
    This preservative combines the benefits of water-based solutions with the deep penetration of oil-based chemicals. It is suitable for both residential and industrial applications, providing robust protection.

Selecting the appropriate type of treated wood ensures that your project remains durable and visually appealing for years to come. If you’re unsure which preservative is right for your next decking project, contact the experts at Deck Guardian for personalized advice and high-quality materials. Let us help you build a deck that stands the test of time!

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Grading and Standards Treated Wood Decking

Pressure-treated wood is graded based on quality and strength. Here are the main grades:

Grade Description
Premium Highest quality, minimal defects.
Select Very few defects, high consistency.
Number 1 Few splits and knots.
Standard Mid-range quality.
Number 2 More defects, but still structurally sound.
Number 3 Lowest quality–  not recommended for structural use.


Higher grades offer better strength and durability. Choosing the right grade ensures your project meets safety and longevity standards. Always select the grade that matches the demands of your specific project.

Pressure-Treated Wood Deck Maintenance

Treated wood decking can last 20 to 40 years with proper care making it a strong contender against other decking materials There are a few things that can affect the lifespan of your wood deck, like climate, proper installation, and regular maintenance.

Tips for Extending the Life of Treated Wood

Sealing and Staining:
Apply a water-repellent sealer or stain to protect against moisture and UV damage.

Proper Drainage and Ventilation:
Ensure your deck has good drainage and airflow to prevent water buildup and mold growth.

Preventative Treatments for Pests and Rot:
Use treatments to protect against termites and decay, and regularly inspect for damage.
Following these tips will help your treated wood decking stay strong and beautiful for many years.

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Best Wood Species for Treated Wood Decking

Treated wood decking’s strength varies by species. Each type of wood has unique properties that affect its durability and load-bearing capacity. Some common wood species used in treated wood decking are the following:

  • Southern Yellow Pine: Known for its high strength and stiffness, making it ideal for structural applications. This wood is best for heavy loads.
  • Douglas Fir: Strong and less prone to warping and splitting, Douglas Fir is perfect for stable decks as it has less warping potential.
  • Hem-Fir: While not as strong as Southern Yellow Pine or Douglas Fir, it is still a reliable option with good preservative absorption.

Selecting the right species ensures your decking project meets your strength, durability, and budget requirements.

Contact Deck Guardian for Your Treated Wood Decking Needs

Building a durable and beautiful deck in New Jersey begins with choosing the right materials. Treated wood decking is a reliable and cost-effective option. Understand the types of preservatives, grading standards, and wood species to make the best choice for your project. Regular maintenance, like sealing, proper drainage, and treatments, will keep your deck lasting longer.

If you’re ready to start your decking project or need expert advice on choosing the best materials, contact Deck Guardian. Our experienced team can give you personalized recommendations and high-quality treated wood. This will help you build a deck that looks great and long-lasting. Let Deck Guardian guide you to a successful and satisfying decking experience!

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