If you are considering a new deck or porch and your contractor’s proposal or plans note that #2 pressure treated deck materials are specified you may want to reconsider your choice of materials. Pressure treated (PT) pine, a popular outdoor product, is treated to resist pests, withstand rot, and rated for ground contact. Treating the lumber elevates the moisture content of the material which means the material will need to dry out after installation. As the material dries out it will begin to shrink, crack, and may even warp depending on grain and milling the material. Even Premium grade, or #1 grade, though a little more in cost and cleaner in appearance, behaves comparably.
I have seen countless decks that even when sealed or stained after drying out, lose that fresh appearance, shrink, warp, and crack in a few years. Before you sign on that dotted line you may wish to consider, if you want a quality wood deck that will keep up its just like new appearance, going with a vertical grain KDAT. So what is vertical grain you ask? Most common lumber sold is “flat sawn” where annual growth rings run roughly parallel to the face of the board. As a result of being milled this way the lumber tends to shrink across the width of the board and cup. Lumber suppliers can get more boards out of log using this method of milling. Vertical grain lumber is quartersawn which produces a “vertical grain” where the annual growth rings are vertical to the face of the board. This method of milling creates a board that is more stable as the boards tend to shrink across the thickness and stay flatter. Being pine, the material will still show some of the characteristics noted earlier but will show minimum shrinkage and warping. The KDAT process will enhance the appearance of your new deck and offer more stability within the material.
KDAT (Kiln Dried After Treatment) is a drying process which increases the stability and performance of a pressure treated deck. After the material has been milled and treated it goes through a drying process that reduces the moisture associated with treating. Controlled drying the material before installation provides more stability and durability and allows for finishing at time of installation. Most KDAT suppliers recommend that the material be finished immediately and protected from the elements to maintain its stability. If you wish to stain your new KDAT deck select a stain that has the longest manufacturers warranty, includes a UV protector and repels water well. If paint is your preferred finish make sure the painter begins with an oil based primer and then applies a high quality exterior grade acrylic latex paint.
The difference in cost between a standard pressure treated deck material and a vertical grain KDAT may run about 30 or 35 percent more (check with your local lumber supplier for accurate pricing) but will still run less than most composites and offer a natural beauty to your outdoor area.
Whether you choose to use wood or a composite for your new deck or porch be sure to research all the options that are available for your particular location, home, and maintenance needs with your contractor. Your new beautiful low maintenance deck or porch will provide years of enjoyment and add value to your home. Please work with a NARI Atlanta remodeling professional when you choose to add or renovate a deck or screen porch this summer or fall.