Wood Deck. 

Step by step instructions on building a wood deck... 

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Wood Decks

How to build a deck.

A deck may be one of the best single investments you can make in your house. It gives you added space, opens the house up to the yard, and ties indoor activities with outdoor activities. You can entertain on it, eat on it cook on it or just lounge around on it. Start planning your deck today. Its a great do-it-yourself project.

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Pictures of a Blue Ridge Modular log home being install by a large crane. This modular log home sets on a full basement and was install in a day

        Outdoor lighting

Installing low voltage lighting.

Here is a way to provide pleasant illumination to outdoor areas for a small amount of money. You can purchase most of the components in a kit. Some kits come with a timer or a photovoltaic sensor to turn lights on at night and off during the day. Installing low voltage lighting is a good do-it-yourself project.

   

 

 Choosing the best wood deck finishes

 

Some species of wood deck planks will last for many years outside without a finish of any kind. But I guarantee the results won’t be pretty.  Sunlight and moisture take their toll, turning the colors and textures of unprotected wood into something gray, checked and fuzzy. For those of us with wood decks  choosing the right finish is crucial.

 

Sunlight is one of the enemies to a wood deck.

 

When someone talks about wood decks being damaged by sunlight they’re really taking about damage from ultraviolet rays Wood is essentially a combination of cellulose fibers and lignin the glue that holds together those fibers. UV light is especially good at destroying lignin, and as that happens the cellulose fibers loosen and wear away. This exposes a fresh layer of fibers and lignin and the process repeats.

 

 

 

 

Water is the second enemy to your wood deck.

 

Wood deck planks come from trees and trees love water. They suck it up at any opportunity. As wood takes on water it expands across its width perpendicular to the direction of the grain.  As it dries it shrinks. The cycle will be slower in dense wood decking than in soft wood decking such as cedar.

Wood decks in many parts of the country are exposed to frequent wetting and drying cycles. Board ends are most susceptible to this expansion and shrinkage, which is why you often see small cracks at these areas. More cracks mean more water absorption and the cycle continues. Penetrating wood deck finishing aren’t designed to waterproof a deck board completely but rather to slow the wetting and drying so that the wood is less likely to develop cracks from dramatic swings in moisture content. Coating the ends of each board with finish is essential part of sealing wood deck. The moisture level is also a factor in the growth of fungus on wood deck planks.

 

How to build a wood deck for you back yard

 

Which is the best finish for your wood deck.

It would be nice to single out one type of wood deck finish as the best. Unfortunately when it comes to preserving wood in such a torturous environment, there is no such thing as best. No matter which finish you choose, you are faced with a trade- offs. It’s also nearly impossible to make concrete statement about brand X being better than brand Y, about oil base deck finishing better than water based and so on.

 

 

 

 

 

Three groups of wood deck finishes.

Wood deck finishes break down into three groups oil base , water base, and hybrid.

Group one oil, linseed, alkyd. Oil finishes are the traditional option for wood decks, although their composition has evolved somewhat from old linseed oil formulations. Linseed oil is still used but it’s most often combined with alkyds, a synthetic alternative that better resists yellowing. In general oil base finishes penetration wood better than water base finishes do and are easier to recoat.

Group two waterborne modified, oil/latex, acrylic oil, acrylic alkyd, water reduce able. In an effort to combine the best parts of an oil base finish with the best parts of a water based parts of a water based finish, manufacturers have focused recently on hybrid finishes. The chemistry combining oil with water sounds counterintuitive, but the result is a finish that has the penetration of an oil base product with the color retention reduced VOCs, and soap and water cleanup of a water base product.

Group three acrylic, 100% acrylic, latex, silicone, waterborne. Thicker paint like water based wood deck finishes can be cleaned up with soap and water rather than solvents. Acrylic and latex also are known to retain their color better than oil formulas although they won’t absorb into wood as easily. More over prepping the wood deck for future refinishing is more involved.

 

 

 

Wood deck finishes come in different pigments.

Solid color for wood deck finishes.

Solid wood deck stains offer the best protection against UV degradation, so all other factors being equal they last the longest. They are also a good choice if you need to conceal a severely weathered wood deck. Pigments don’t absorb into wood, so these stains essentially sit atop the surface of the wood, which has its draw backs. First the stain is vulnerable to wear and tear from foot traffic and patio furniture. Second the grain and color of the wood are obscured. Finally if water gets below the finish there is a higher likelihood that the finish will peel. Expect warranties to range from 5 to 10 years.

Semisolid and semitransparent deck finishes.

Some companies offer both semitransparent and semisolid options. In general semisolids and semitransparents offer far more color options than toners, and they are the best protection you can get while still retaining some visibility of the underlying wood. These finishes are a good choice if your wood deck doesn’t have dramatic imperfections you are trying to hide. Expect warranties to range from 3 to 6 years.

Toner finish on a wood deck.

In this finish the color and the grain of the wood deck appear virtually unaffected but UV light is blocked. Typically the colors in this category are wood toned such as browns and reds. These stains can be matched in color to the wood substrate so that they appear nearly clear even when they’re not. Expect warranties to range from 2 to 4 years.

Clear, transparent, translucent wood deck finishes

Low end clear wood deck finishes which are typically water clear or a milky white that dries clear, offer no UV protection. These are clear finishes that tend toward an amber color they contain organic UV absorbers and stabilizers. These organic stabilizers however break down quickly and leave wood vulnerable to color change and surface damage. Warranties range from 1 to 4 years.

 

 

 How to build a wood deck

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