It’s a well-known fact that a takeaway cheeseburger can last for weeks without degrading due to all the preservatives in it. Take the additives out and it’ll rot faster than you can say ‘heart attack’.
It’s the same thing with decking. How do you expect it to survive long-term when exposed to the sun, wind and driving rain if it’s built with poor quality ingredients and treatments?
Unfortunately, not all decking timber is created equal. Some people can’t see the wood for the moolah. But if you go for the cheapest option, you’re likely to get exactly what you pay for.
And, even if you’re trying make your decking project as affordable as possible, it’s fair to assume you’ll also want it to last—because it’s a false economy to pay bargain prices now only to have to tear it down and start again with more expensive and durable materials in the near future.
So, if the timber deal you’re getting sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is particularly the case when you’re purchasing timber sight unseen online. The image you see on that bargain timber website might look and sound great, but you won’t know what you get until it arrives.
Too many owner builders have been stung with so-called “premium-grade” timber bought cheap online that, when delivered, turns out to be full of knots so it’s dangerous to work with, unable to bear weight, or not properly treated to last the distance.
Indeed, in 2014, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) argued that approximately 12000 Australian decks were poorly built using unsatisfactory materials that made them dangerous and with the potential to collapse, leading to injuries and even deaths.
Buying poor quality decking timber can lead to a raft of problems you don’t want to deal with. It could crack and split until it doesn’t look like a deck anymore. It just looks like a disappointment (cue my mum’s voice telling me I need to pay more attention to the finer details).
If you think the problems stop there, you better strap yourself in for the long haul. There’s heaps of other issues to consider including, whether your timber can weather its intended location and how often you need to perform necessary maintenance to keep it looking good and staying safe.
Flawed decking timber has a higher potentiality of rotting or it could just split when you nail your boards to the frame. It could also ‘warp and twist’ once you’ve got it in place—in other words, it might twist inwards and/or outwards as a result of exposure to elements.
And don’t get me started on ethically sourced wood. Guaranteed, that bargain decking timber you’ve bought comes to you care of destroyed ecosystems, higher animal extinctions and dangerous chemical use. It’s a high price to pay for saving a few extra dollars.
As you can see, I’m no fan of cheaper decking wood. It’s simply not worth putting my family, friends and the earth at risk. But, hey, each to their own.