WHAT’S UP WITH LUMBER?
A discussion on durability, cost and time spent on maintaining a wood deck
Many homeowners are finding themselves in a difficult decision as to what products to install on their new or refurbished deck. The goal of this blog is to help in minimizing some of the options homeowners find themselves choosing between. Modern pressure-treated lumber for exterior projects has decreased in longevity and durability due to regulated treatment processes within the past 15-20 years, and with a recent pandemic has created difficulty in justifying current lumber prices.
What’s up with Durability?
What many do not consider when installing a pressure treated deck is the components that make up pressure-treated wood, and how this affects the life span of the product being installed. To understand the lifespan of pressure-treated wood, one must understand how the components that make-up the lumber have changed. To begin with, As shown in the picture above, strength and duration of pressure-treated wood has significantly changed since the invention of treated wood in 1918. From the 1940s to around 2004 a primary component of exterior treated wood was chromated copper arsenate (CCA) with the role of preserving wood for decades at a time. However, studies began to come out that swallowing arsenic caused cancer in humans and on December 31st, 2003, through an agreement between Manufacturers and the Environmental Protection agency (EPA), the treatment of lumber with arsenic was brought to an indefinite halt (Pressure-Treated Wood (CCA)). In January 2004, lumber would be treated primarily with Copper Azole, also known as Alkaline Copper Quaternary, producing less environmental risks. However, “they’re also more corrosive to nails, screws, and any other metal fasteners that come in contact with lumber” (Dobson), shortening the lifespan of the lumber by several years, even decades.
What’s up with Time?
Many residential homeowners find themselves maintaining their back deck year after year. Staining their deck to prevent rotting and maintain a quality aesthetic. Studies show that staining once a year is best practice to result in a longer lifespan of a deck, including deck boards and substructure. The majority of homeowners stain only the deck boards of their deck, and the vast majority of homeowners staining their deck boards attend to it at the 3-4 year mark. This results in faster corrosion, rotting, splitting, and cracking creating an unsafe structure for those who want to enjoy their backyard life. The lifespan of an entirely wooden deck varies significantly based on maintenance, hardware, paint, etc. and unfortunately is not an exact science. However, what once used to be a 30 year average lifespan has decreased to an average lifespan of approximately 15 years.
What’s up with Price?
The question everyone wants an answer to. Since 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic the price of lumber has fluctuated significantly and will continue to do so. At its highest point lumber manufacturers were showing a 140% increase in lumber prices nationwide. As of October 2022, lumber prices have decreased from this by approximately 80% bringing the increase in lumber prices since COVID down to about 60%. While the market has seen a general decrease in prices in the past 2 years since the peak price of lumber, the prices are not believed to ever be near the expense they were pre-pandemic. Furthermore, the price of lumber changes and fluctuates monthly, often increasing at the beginning of the month, due to the lumberyards own needs and wants. For homeowners interested in starting their dream projects the best time is now!
About Outback Deck, Inc.
Outback Deck, Inc. brings inspiration to outdoor living spaces. We believe if you have an outdoor space, you should WANT to spend time in it. Our commitment to providing the best customer experience and creating outstanding value in your new deck or porch is unmatched in the industry. For more information, please visit www.outbackdeck.net and remember life happens out back
“Pressure-Treated Wood (CCA).”co.thurston.wa.us, www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehhm/cca.html.
Dobson, Angie. “CCA Lumber vs ACQ Treated Wood: Are They Equal?”fbibuildings.com, info.fbibuildings.com/blog/cca-vs-acq-lumber.