is checking inevitable?


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Old 08-23-02, 11:49 AM
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is checking inevitable?

I'm about to the point of putting in the 4x4 railing supports on my deck, or at least to the point of deciding what to do. Now, I would love to put in western cedar so that I would be reasonably certain that the would be dry and there would be no checking down the line. However having just priced a 4x4x8 at $22.47, I think it likely I'll pass on that since a 4x4x8 PT is only four bucks. Is it inevitable that they will check? Is there some way that I can at least minimize the inevitable? In the last deck I built I had one support open up at least 1/2", unsightly to say the least. Also rather obvious that it was no where near dry I would say.

Thanks for your help,
 
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Old 08-23-02, 02:16 PM
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Hi Cindy,

If you pick out 'quality' 4 x 4's with as little knoting as possible you shouldn't have a problem.

Have you considered a white vinyl post and rail/baluster system? If I were building a deck right now I would seriously consider vinyl. Much less maintenance.

fred
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Old 08-23-02, 05:29 PM
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Minor update: I only need (if my calculations are correct) 10 railing supports, which would be 5 4x4x8s. Now while this is $115 for cedar compared to $20 for PT the husband (whom I approached with this number this evening) didn't seem to think this was too out of line. I may well go with the cedar although that extra 100 bucks would buy an awful lot of 5/4 decking boards. Ah well, it'll probably be another 2-3 weeks before I have to make an actual decision anyway.

Fred, I've looked at the vinyl, but never seriously. Call me old-fashioned but vinyl looks like, well, vinyl (and it's white, which I think would contrast way too heavily with the area where this deck is going.) Despite the problems associated with wood I much prefer its natural warmth. It appeals to the artist in me . Also although the different components of the deck won't match 100% since it will be a mix of cedar (if we do go that route) and PT SYP, I think the rustic appeal of the stained wood will blend in better with this 50+ year old suburban house!
 
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Old 08-25-02, 11:54 PM
josh1
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there is an anti check liquid penetrating formula offered by .. i think Veritas? they make woodworking tools (a whole lotta em) i cant remember the name but im fairly certain it was their product. It was offered for use with smaller lumber but i had recommended it before for 4x4s. Most of them ive used will check. Havent personally tried this product whose name i cant remember but it sounded like the ticket when i read about it. just not building any decks recently. i know whats wrong with me i should be

Hope this helps-Josh
 
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Old 08-27-02, 10:21 AM
Davef15
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DIY Lady - you can form your own opinion but here are my experiences with PT lumber. I never saw a single PT board, post, or 2by that didn't eventually check, split, warp, or develope deep cracks - except for some 6 by under my deck that are not exposed to sunlight.

Long time ago, I built a rather large deck with 45 degree angles. I approached the PT railing (ballasters) with the precision of a cabinetmaker. The top of the railing was a 2x6 laid flat (for the beer to sit on), neatly mitered with tight joints, and as straight as could be. Imagine my dissapointment two years later when the miters were all opened up - some as much as 3/8 inch on the inside corner and the ballasters were all twisted and the top board warped, checked, twisted etc. Years later I tore it all off and replaced the entire railing with cedar - posts, turned ballasters, rails and everything (this is not without its problems but at least it didn't split, check, twist and warp). One thing I will note with this deck, its situated such that the house shades the same approximately 1/4 of the deck at all times. The condition of the deck boards is like someone drew a straight line across the deck and said, on this side of the line there shall be no deterioration - no checking, little twist, few splits etc. Conclusion, the sun has a lot to do with the situation.

Did I learn my lesson? No! I had to replace a small two level deck for the front entry way. I selected the best PT 5/4 stock I could find. No knots, straight grain, no checks, no wane, no nothing (the guys at the yard were not happy with me). Put it all together. butted the 5/4 decking tight together, nailed it well and this time I applied a recommended seasoner material for new PT lumber. Let it set for a year as directed and then applied a clear finish, CFW. Last night, another year later, I applied another coat of CWF. The boards are checked, they shrunk such that there is a 1/4 to 3/8 gap between them, they have curled. The 2x4 noseing that was tightly fitted at the corners has opened up and, as the grain runs off the edge of the board, it splits away. The deck is in the sun about 5 hours per day

Next time - cedar or one of the composite decking materials (also, composites are available around here for railings and some don't look too bad).

Just my opinion!!!!
 
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Old 09-07-02, 01:32 AM
josh1
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im slow but steady. Its called Pentacryl. Its offered by lee valley tools. (woodworking tools) . Havent used it but supposed to prevent checking. I think it was 40 dollars. Its probably listed on their site. Leevalley.com. However if you like woodworking you should request a catalog. They have everything you could want and more.

Hope this helps-Josh
 
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Old 09-07-02, 05:14 AM
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I've got the leevalley cat.s, I'll have to see if I can't find the stuff.

If sunlight is the main culprit, *maybe* I won't have too much of a problem as this deck is completely shaded by a huge ash tree and a couple of pecan trees. I was going with cedar for the posts, but I called the one place in town where you can get cedar 4x4s and they say they won't have any in 'til after the first of next month! Pooh. . As far as finding clear 5/4? Where did you find it? I can tell you the big box stores don't have it, I did find some very pretty pieces to do the ramp with, but I'm now of the opinion that was a "marginal" load that was closer to #1 than #2. I can usually find some good stuff picking through the #2 (just have to be patient) but not lately. Off to Marvin's this morning to see if they're any better. At least I only have to load the stuff once there!
 
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Old 09-07-02, 06:18 AM
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Dave,
Have you tried any of the kiln dried PT wood? Not a complete answer for shrinkage and warpage but noticeably better. Cost a bit more but not outta line.
Dennis
 
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Old 09-09-02, 08:51 AM
Davef15
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Can't seem to find the Kiln Dried stuff around here - at least I couldn't a couple of years ago. I'll have to look around again - might be the answer.

DIY Lady - I found the clear PT material at Home Depot believe it or not. They seem to have some real good PT material around here but it may be because there is a lot of competition. It is definitly not kiln dried though.
 
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Old 09-09-02, 12:42 PM
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Well, we went ahead and bought the "pre-made" posts. At least they seem to be dry. However they seem to be a bit undersized, 3.25x3.25 rather than 3.5x3.5. This precludes putting any pre-made caps on them of course. Also went with 5/16" bolts as I felt that even 3/8" was too big given the size of the posts. And 1/4" is just too wimpy. I *prefer* 1/2" but I've put blocking behind the posts. I don't think they're going anywhere in this lifetime.

I've also resigned myself to buying the "Thompsonized" decking <shudder> and later stripping it down. I can*not* find anything that's decent looking within a reasonable distance.

I've been spending the day fitting corners. It's amazing what being off 1/8"will become by the end of a 25' run. I really don't know why I'm bothering trying to fit this stuff together so well given that I *know* that it will open up later! Hmm. Maybe if the corners on the banding open up too badly (the deck is diagonal decking with a 3 board wide "band" framing it) I'll just route a 1/2" groove down the joints and slap a 1/2" piece of teak or mahogany or something in there. Now *that* might be interesting!
 
 

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