Pressure-Treated Wood
Advantages: Economical and plentiful, pressure-treated wood lasts around 15 years when properly treated with a water repellent every two years. Disadvantages: The dominant PT species, Southern yellow pine, checks and splinters as it dries. Left untreated, some PT turns muddy gray (use a semitransparent stain or clear sealer). In addition, PT preservative chemical residue may cause health problems. If you're doing the building, wear a dust mask. And be sure to wash yourself carefully and your clothing separately after working. Availability: PT is widely available at lumberyards and home centers. Most is sold in 5/4x6 boards and all 2-by dimensions. Recommendations: Southern yellow pine is treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), an insecticide-preservative. Use 0.40 (chemical density) CCA for decks and joists and 0.60 for posts. Consider PT that's factory-treated with water repellent; Hickson's Thompsonized PT and Osmose's Armor All PT are two examples. You can also get prestained PT, such as Osmose's Woodshades, which comes in three colors. Two less-toxic alternatives are ACQ Preserve with UltraWood water repellent and Kodiak lumber. Both are preserved without arsenate, and are backed for life against termites, decay and fungi. Quality grades run in descending order. Choose grade No. 1 for railings and benches, and grade No. 2 or BTR for decking. Also check the grade stamp for the letters KDAT (kiln-dried after treatment), which is more dimensionally stable than air-dried wood. And use hot-dipped galvanized, aluminum or stainless-steel (ring-shanked) nails, screws and other fasteners. Cost: About $10 to $16 per square foot installed. CCA PT decking itself costs around $1.50 to $2 per square foot; add 50 cents per square foot for Kodiak and UltraWood.
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