You can use treated wood for a variety of projects including, but not limited to, decks, retaining walls, fences, fire-resistant applications and marine pilings. Treated wood is vital in many of these different applications because there are naturally-occurring fungi in the ground that attack lumber, so lumber destined to be used in the ground must be treated to a higher standard, or retention level, of fungi-resistant preservatives in the wood. The end tags on treated lumber will provide you with proper use designations. Look for the end tag on treated wood for proper use application.
AWPA Use Categories for Typical Construction Applications
UC3B (above ground, exposed) – wood and wood-based materials used in exterior construction and not in contact with the ground.
- Materials do not require an exterior coating but may be finished to achieve a desired aesthetic appearance.
- Materials are used for a variety of applications in either horizontal or vertical positions such as decking, sills, walkways, railings, fence pickets, uncoated millwork and joists/beams for decks and freshwater docks.
UC4A (ground contact, general use) – wood and wood-based materials used:
- In contact with the ground, fresh water, or other situations favorable to deterioration
- Above ground but are difficult to maintain, repair or replace and are critical to the performance and safety of the entire system/construction
- Above ground but may end up in ground contact or are subject to hazards comparable to ground contact due to climate, artificial or natural processes or construction
Examples are fence posts, deck posts, guardrail posts, structural lumber, joists and beams for decks and freshwater docks.
HEAVY-DUTY GROUND CONTACT
UC4B (ground contact heavy-duty) – wood and wood-based materials used:
- In contact with the ground in severe environments (such as horticultural sites)
- In climates with high potential for deterioration
- In critically important components such as utility poles, building poles and permanent wood foundations
- In salt-water splash zones
UC5A-C (marine use) – wood and wood-based materials exposed to salt and brackish water
UCFA (fire retardant interior) – used in interior construction where wood is not in contact with the ground and is protected from exterior weather
UCFB (fire retardant exterior) – used in exterior construction that is not in contact with the ground but may be exposed to the full effects of weather
For great tables to use for use categories go to the following link, courtesy of Western Wood Preservers Institute:
Service Conditions for Treated Wood Use Categories
Why Should You Use Wood?
Wood is our only major renewable building product so you can feel good about using it in your building projects. It is an environmentally responsible choice because the trees used are plentiful and fast-growing. The forest industry plants more trees than are harvested each year on managed timberlands. That means that wood, as a renewable resource, will be around for generations. These forests keep reproducing this exceptional building product. Not only that, but wood requires less energy to produce than alternative building products and the preservatives for pressure-treated lumber are manufactured, in large part, from recycled materials.
Because of its environmental benefits, the USDA has recently recognized wood as a true “green” material in green building design. Viance’s very own Ecolife Stabilized Weather-Resistant Wood was also the first decking product of any kind to receive Green Certified Product recognition by the NAHB Home Innovation Research Labs as a NGBS Green Certified Product for Resource Efficiency.
You can feel good about the environmentally responsible choice you have made when you choose treated wood for the construction of your deck because wood is our only major renewable building material. The trees used to make your treated wood are grown in managed forests and are plentiful and fast-growing. Moreover, treated wood requires less energy to produce than alternative building products, and recycled materials make up the bulk of the preservatives used in the manufacturing process.
Many of the composite decking products on the market have surfaces that are embossed to “look” like real wood. However, that is not the reality because it is not real wood. There is only one product that gives us the natural beauty with all of its grains, knots and whirls and that is real wood. Whether it is stained, painted or left in its natural state, the beauty of real wood is hard to mimic.
Treated wood retains its characteristic wood appearance, whereas composite decking may fade and scratch; and in just a few years, the appearance of your composite deck surface may not be what you expected. On the other hand, with effective refinishing, treated wood decking can regain its original look even after years of frequent use, provided there is the right attention to detail and care. Treated wood can also be found a variety of lumber grades making it a very versatile building product when you want to add variety to the appearance of your deck. It can be found in forms from knot-free, close-grained grades to grades that contain more knots and splits or even more wane, which is where there are missing corners where bark once existed. Pressure treating lumber has little effect on its appearance other than giving it a slightly greenish or brownish hue from the treatment process which makes the wood last longer regardless of its appearance.
Easy to Use
When using pressure-treated lumber, there are no special skills, special safety requirements or specialized tools required. It is easy to cut and install. In building, you can’t get much simpler than that. Additionally, replacing surface-mounted deck boards is easy compared to replacing interlocked pieces or deck boards with hidden fastener systems. In those systems, if one of the boards needs to be replaced, you may have to remove a large amount of them to get everything put back together just to replace that one board. Moreover, wood decking boards are a structural material and can span longer spaces than composites can; and if you are going to resurface your deck with composite decking, you might want to check to make sure that you don’t need to spend more money and time to install additional joists to support the composite material.
Pressure-treated wood decking is the value choice. Composite decking usually costs three to five times more than treated wood decking. According to the Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report for projects, wood decking retains more value than composite decking. Additionally, a leading consumer product evaluation report lists wood decking as a best buy. So, save money and still get a beautiful deck.
In determining which product is better for the environment, we need to look at life cycle assessments. Recent assessments show that the production of composite decking is significantly more damaging to the environment than is the production of pressure-treated wood decking. Most composite materials use the earth’s finite resources such as oil, gas, and petroleum in their production cycles. Since these elements are finite resources, when they are gone, that’s it. They are depleted, never to be restored. On the other hand, trees are planted and grow in managed forests every year, creating healthier forests than we had 100 years ago.
It is hard not to believe the hype about pressure-treated wood decking being high maintenance. However, there is no truth in the hype. Just like with a maintenance program for anything else that you own such as your car, a pressure-treated wood deck is easy to maintain with a simple maintenance program. It is important to note here that all treated wood is not the same. While the preservative treatment protects wood against termites and rot, it does not prevent damage from moisture which can cause warping, cracking and deterioration of the appearance of the wood. Some treated wood is produced with a built-in water repellent which keeps the wood looking good longer.
Our Ecolife Stabilized Weather-Resistant Wood (EL2) is an innovative wood stabilizing preservative system that protects the natural beauty of above-ground exterior wood from the harmful effects of decay and termite attack. Its built-in water repellency is pressure-treated throughout the wood making the framing and deck surface more stable, with up to 50% less surface cracking and checking as compared to ordinary treated wood. The best way to be sure of water repellency is to buy our Ecolife Stabilized Weather-Resistant Wood with EL2 noted on the end tags.
See the performance difference video on our Ecolife web page.
Easily Stained or Painted
Whether you like it natural or stained to complement your home, your wood decking will hold good quality water or oil-based stain/sealer of your choice for years. With the multitude of beautiful stain options available for wood decking; ideally, a good penetrating stain designed for outdoor wood is best for foot traffic vs. film or paint products that can wear off much quicker from decking surfaces.
The Natural Choice
Did you ever walk barefoot onto a paved driveway or plastic surface in the hot summer sun? Wood decking has a much more natural and cooler feel than other decking options. Real wood retains less heat and is less apt to burn your feet than are other decking materials. Wood is also the natural choice for your backyard environment, which probably includes beautiful green grass and perhaps a few trees, flowers, plants. A wood deck is a complement to the natural beauty of these components and provides a natural accent to an environment of hardscapes.
Coming into contact with the ground makes wood more susceptible to termite and rot damage than wood which remains above ground. When wood is immersed in seawater, it has an even greater vulnerability. There are standard levels of protection established by the wood preservation industry. These standards, which refer to the amount of chemical retained in wood after treatment, or retention, and is measured in pounds of preservative per cubic foot of wood, are adequate for different hazard conditions. The higher the retention level, the more the wood is enabled to withstand more demanding conditions. Look for its intended use on the wood, which stipulates whether it is for above ground, ground contact, etc.
Pressure-treated wood resists damage from termites and fungal decay for decades, and Viance backs Ecolife and Preserve products with warranties that extend for the life of the purchaser.
Availability of Sizes
Treated wood products are available in a full range of sizes, lengths and even in plywood. You can buy 1” x 4” boards all the way up to 6” x 6” timbers. A popular thickness for decking material is 5/4”, which has rounded edges for a distinctive look. You can even find many specialty products in treated lumber such as handrails, spindles, lattice, step stringers and ball tops, making it possible to beautify your project while, at the same time, making construction easier.
Unlike other decking materials, lumber has different grades which are determined by certified graders at sawmills prior to the lumber being treated. The grade of lumber is stamped on each piece of wood. For the parts of a deck where the wood will not be seen such as the joists, or in cases where you might want a more rustic look such as in a retaining wall, you can purchase Standard or No. 2 grade lumber, which is also a more economical choice. Likewise, in those parts of a deck where the wood is readily visible, you can select a better grade of lumber such as premium or No. 1.
While pressure-treated lumber is not maintenance-free, it is easy to maintain. Like all decking materials, it requires some form of maintenance, even if it is for nothing else but cleaning. While pressure-treatment provides long-term protection against termites and rot, the wood that is treated is still subject to moisture damage. To protect it against weather damage and premature aging, it is advisable to coat the wood with an effective brand of water repellent as soon as possible and to coat it again every two years. For Ecolife, because it is pressure-treated with a water repellent and stabilizer, there is no need to seal it for up to three years after installation.
Safer Preservative Methods
Residential lumber is now protected by newer, safer preservatives such as copper azole (CA) and alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), whereas in the past, almost all deck lumber was impregnated with a chromated copper arsenate (CCA) preservative, now prohibited for residential use except in special applications. The wood treated with the newer preservatives is available from lumber dealers under the Ecolife and Preserve brands. Even more importantly for homeowners, these new treatment options extend the life of the wood thus enabling a deck to last longer which, at the same time, reduces demands on forests and other resources.