Decking Words of Wisdom
A T&G porch is a cross between a deck and a floor. T&G Decking is blind screwed and looks like a floor. Howver, T&G decks are not waterproof – you must always allow for drainage and ventilation because there will not be a dry area underneath. Gently sloping the soil under the deck away from the house and covering soil with plastic is recommended for any type of deck installation. Freezing winters are hard on exposed T&G due to expansion and contraction. For decks without roofs, standard decking is recommended.
Unlike wood floors, the finished deck will exhibit the level and squareness of the framing underneath. Therefore, before installing decking be sure you look again for level and squarness. Always ensure the connection between the decking and the main structure is flashed with ACQ compatible flashing.
Always use ACQ Compliant fasteners when installing decking into PT. You cannot use indoor flooring fasteners as the chemicals in PT will quickly destroy them. For optimum results, stainless steel fasteners are recommended when in contact with P/T lumber. Pre-drilling is required with Brazilian decking as it is harder than oak and will laugh at you if you try to just screw into it. Finally, be sure to use end seal wax to the boards where cut to prevent end cracking aka checking.
All wood will shrink and expand at a far greater rate outside than indoors. So, a deck may end up buckling if boards are jammed together too tightly during installation. T&G decking is not indoor flooring and must not be installed too tightly – this will prevent the deck from warping. Standard decking should also be installed to leave some room for expansion. All wood displays minor shrinkage and expansion after installation. T&G porch flooring will expand and contract in proportion to the width of the boards. Therefore, 5″ wide T&G planks will have cracks 65% bigger than 3″ wide planks. This is one of the reasons that houses were built with very narrow flooring before we had HVAC to control the climate inside a home. Narrower planks display smaller cracks during times of low humidity like winter.
The beauty of wood is the unique characteristics between the species and from board to board. For example, Cambara’s mahogany-like grain displays minor checking when dry which closes when humidity returns; long planks of Ipe’ and Cumaru may occasionally have small BB sized holes; and American pine planks have large knots. Products without these characteristics would be extremely expensive and diminish the wood’s appeal.
Unlike traditional decks and porches, Brazilian hardwood does not need any painting or finishing. Like most woods, if you choose to leave it unfinished, it will weather to a silvery gray. If you desire, you can greatly reduce the graying by treating your Brazilian hardwood with a good sealer. Sealers which include UV protection like Penofin are very effective.
All wood splinters. Wood workers are very familiar with this basic law. Common sense precautions should always be observed. For example, use gloves when handling and do not slide on wood decking or flooring.