Which wood for large deck?

live4everDecember 26, 2009

We are embarking on the planning and construction of a large patio/deck/outdoor kitchen. When I say large, I mean large. We're planning in the neighborhood of 3,000 sq. ft.

I've been pricing out various woods. Our favorite option (by far) would be IPE with the hidden IpeClip system but I don't think that the budget can handle that, even with cedar railings. At that square footage we're looking at nearly $3-4k for the clips alone. Composites have been ruled out, and budget-wise, they're in the neighborhood of IPE anyways.

So we may go with something a little less exciting. Clear cedar or redwood are options we're considering, which seem like they will cut down the material cost by 25-50%. I was wondering if any of you had any recommendations or favorites for wood when you're trying to keep the cost down. Also if you have any good online sources for lumber you'd recommend I'm all ears.

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I have no claims to expertise on this topic, but I have recently seen on-line ads for decking made of bamboo. It is supposed to cost similarly to cedar and to have weather resistance. It comes "prefinished" and looks to be only about 5/8" thick. It has a groove and hidden clip system too. Here is a link. I hope some of the experts on this forum can come up with opinions/advice about it.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 9:29PM
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Dont use the clips on ipe.

Dont use bamboo outside decking unless you can go see one out for 3-5 years or get a straight anwser from sales. I have never been able to get either one.

It might be possible to get a 20% price differance between ipe and construstion grade western red cedar but not a clear grade and defentley not 50%. 2x6 redwoon even a grade that allows sap wood will barley beat out Ipe.

Garapa is a lower cost South American lumber. Good supplier for both ipe and garapa>> East Teak Lumber 800 338 5636 J.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 6:08PM
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Thanks nerdy and John.

John - why do you recommend against the clips for Ipe? Would you recommend screws and plugs instead? Certainly a cheaper route (I think) so my wallet won't be complaining.

Your point about cost is well-taken - maybe not much of a savings with the cheaper stuff when all is said and done.

I think we'll probably plan the deck in a modular fashion such that we can do about 2,000 sq. ft. of it now and then easily add on the other third to half in the future. This way the cost of the project won't prevent us from even getting started and we can use the lumber we really want (Ipe).

Thanks for the rec on East Teak - I'll probably get a quote from them and Advantage.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:36AM
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The complet failure rate of the clips used on ipe can be found on this site and several Pro forums. But say nothing goes wrong, you beat all the odds , you dont make any mistakes,the ipe stays in the clips during several weather changes, you dont put down a defective product. You still look down see the clip the screw and the extra wide gap its not a hidden fastener at all.

You have also spent a lot of money and paid for a bunch of labor,about twice what screwing/pluging/ sanding would take, and have a silly look compaired with a sanded plug. P&S probley seems to a diy to be a lot of work but really its not you can get the plugs from East Teak,use tightbond 111 glue,buy a makita random orbit 5'' sander with 80 grit pads, a forstner bit and a few 1/8'' drill bits bang bang your ready.

I have been puting down a lot of Grappa its worth checking into. J.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 12:32PM
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As others have stated and you discovered the hidden fasteners are a bit more of a risk. I also have wondered but have no experience with the possibility and or difficulty of replacing a board if one had to when using the clips. Does it then require you to remove most of the deck or cut the peice out and screw it back down ? I have had several clients use the clips and to date neither has said anything about any problems. It seems it could be more an issue if your deck is closer to the ground and has less ventilation where moisture and cupping could be more of an issue...Im not sure. If cost is the issue the partial deck now seems like a good idea. 2000-3000 sf is a huge deck. Maybe you should look closer at that and see if the plans really call for that much. If you can cut it down a bit the cost factor may go away. As others have said there are some very similar decking products that are a bit cheaper. I had good luck recently with ABS wood. Dont know where youre at and how their costs compare to East Teak's or how far /shipping may affect costs. The screws left exposed are not the worst to look at either since they are pretty small head. Also I am assuming you have looked into the realities of IPE. It is a great product but nothing is perfect. It still needs to be treated every 1-3 years to keep your deep color look. It can be left to age without it and still performs fine but loses that luster many prefer. I am sure that large a deck will not be fun to maintain. If its that big I assume its at basically ground level..maybe not..but have you considered a concrete or pavered patio ? They are much less maintainence have a more permanent look and feel and cost probably about the same and less in the long run.. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 5:56PM
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I agree with bigkahuna: you should look into a patio if the contour of your property allows for it (i.e., it's not on a big slope). That'll be cheaper and less maintenance.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 6:49PM
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Congratulations Live4Ever. This sounds like a wonderful project. Premium hardwoods are the best investment. Maybe you can go with an "ipe alternative" like garapa to save money. Garapa performs almost the same as ipe and is beautiful. Hidden fasteners are NOT a problem when installed correctly. Look at the Deck Clip intructions on the instructions page at BWDepot.com. This clip performs as well (or better) than ipe clip, costs less and is easier to install. A way to save more money is to use the SS GRK screw, which virtually dissapears into the deck surface OR the coated steel GRK is even cheaper than the SS screws. Sinking below surface of decking negates likelihood of corrosion stains from steel years later. Go with the hardwoods. I have purchased decking from ABSWood.com several times. They have the best prices (and support) for garapa and several other species costing less than ipe. Tell them that it's for the S/D common area, which will likely lead to more home owners buying decks from THEM. You need a GREAT deal or you can't buy decking. Sell it. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 9:26AM
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The clips are not hidden at all and Are a problem used with South American lumber installed correctley or not.

Using coated screws is a gamble above the surface or below it for a lot of reasons. J.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 6:22PM
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Ok Man let me run this by ya far as maintenance free steel like your saying.

When you run the screws in what protects that, how much glavanised is run off while doing that, what happens when you make all those cuts on your site what protects that, what happens to the dings in the glav metal during transport and counsturtion when its beat up and bare metal is showing, why do you think steel bridges require constant maintenance, what kind of value option is it when rust sets in.

On the flip side this is a good site for your span the only restrants are common sence. J.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 5:14PM
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Zinc is a sacrificial corrosion protection - the zinc protects the steel by corroding first - same as using zinc bars strapped to the hulls of freighters (and these last for decades). Paint is a barrier corrosion protection, preventing oxygen from getting to the steel - this is why they constantly paint bridges. Cut edges from screws or cuts remain protected and won't rust.

Here is a link that might be useful: Galvanized Service Life

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 7:57AM
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Put that in print. This frame will never rust or need any maintance and I will leave you alone. J.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 5:17PM
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I bought one of the first evolutiondeck systems, and looked into the claims they are making - they are a professional engineering company and do provide a 30-year structural warranty. Now there isn't any warranty with natural granite stone pavers (same as with cedar) - but the only maintenance we perform is the occasional washing down with a hose, and probably a sealer every three years.

I had a 4-year old cedar deck replaced because it was checking and splitting, and I was tired of trying to maintain it. We looked into composites and found there really isn't a maintenance free option or a true warranty we can rely on against stains, mildew etc.

I am just putting this option out there to consider.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 9:00AM
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Intersting John. I see on the site instrustions to make any cut for curves/angles and such my questions are in this area as well as the self seal they are talking about with the pre drill.

30 years is way above your adverage warenty but as I looked the fine print was a bit slight there is of course the conection to the foundaiton,rusting that dosent make the project fall down just sag a little but still in their idea of structrual,how much does the install go against a warenty at all that is more detailed instrustions would be required for a steel strusture if your basic Carpenter tried one on, things like that.

Intersting though the JonMon is always considering. If you please how long has your deck been up,exposure to the weather,did you make any cuts in the steel or was it a kit.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 6:33PM
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We used bigfoot frost footings and came up to the underside of the beam with concrete columns. We bought the kits and made the cuts in the field. We used heavier single c-channel steel beams (supplied with the kit) spanning 10-feet with 2-feet overhang each side - so no sagging. It is a pre-engineered system, and although the warranty doesn't cover ground settling, it is pretty clear in that you follow the instructions and the structure wont fail for at least 30 years.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 8:41AM
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The cuts in the field what did you use on the exposed metal. How long has your project been up. Pretty clear is not good enough in writing this kit installed corectley will not fail for at least 30 years not including the foundation at all.

And if it does start to rust out what will the Co do for the Wallet. J.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 9:25AM
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Got nothing for me ol son??? I figured as much. Nice spam job though. J.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 11:47PM
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Thanks John. At some point we need to just look at all the options out there and decide what's right for ourselves.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:02AM
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