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Treated Clear Southern Yellow Pine vs. Tight-knott cedar decking

user-2409187's picture

I have a question: What is your experience with clear (knott-free) Souther Yellow Pine deck boards, face-screwed to treated SYP framing spaced 16" OC?  The deck is not shaded and sustains hours of full sun light. The current composite Fiberon brand decking has badly faded despite a 20 yr fade warranty. The dark color my client selected is partly to blame.

For various reasons composite decking is not an option. The choices are face-screwedd 1) regular pt. SYPine decking, 2) clear, p.treated, SYPine or 3) tight-knott cedar. Which product, cedar or clear treated SYP holds up better in the condition described above? Cedar will receive a clear sealant coating.

Thank you. 

Mel Fros

No help but a short rant.... (post #215356, reply #1 of 7)

I would favor SYP. My experiences are that grades are only a number, every batch of SYP RED will be different. I like to see the stack before ordering.

But [inserting rant here] I find peoples expectations of wood that is constantly exposed to the weather to often be unreasonable. Annoying even. 

Here's the deal: this is a deck. It is made of wood or other material left outdoors 24/7. Since it is subject to such exposure weathering is to be expected, if you can't embrace that you need to readjust your expectations to reflect reality.

Why does everthing have to look shiny new? Silly cultural predjudices brought to you by generations of people selling dreams.... 

Rest assured user 2409187 I'm not pickin' on you or even your customer but the system that has created this attitude.


Thanks (post #215356, reply #2 of 7)

I know...I know...sigh :) But...this good client paid $10K shekels and the deck did not match the warranty set feel for my client. He deserves better. But what shape shall "better" take this time around. And since I am paying to have it redone (manufacturer went belly-up, I believe), I want to make sure that my promises this time around matches the expectations. for your pointers. I elected to not go with 20' long special order Premium SYP planks, since I can't see them and they are non-returnable. I'm going to sort through the local supply of 16' long Prem. selection, which happens to be super dry. I'll coat the underside and edges "just to play it safe". The top gets a semi-transp. finish, which is mostly for looks. I will keep an eye on the deck and re-coat as needed. My motto: Our aim is to offer exceptional service; at a profit if we can, and at a loss if we must, but always exceptional service."  (Hey, Donald, you listening? :)

Mel Fros

one other suggestion.. (post #215356, reply #3 of 7)

I think for micronized copper or copper azole treated SYP you must retreat all field cuts with copper napthenate or some such. Those treatments just don't seem to carry very far into the wood.


HI Mel, I have used 5/4"x 6" (post #215356, reply #4 of 7)

HI Mel, I have used 5/4"x 6" western red cedar (tight knots) for quite a few decks including my own.  It is less expensive than PT in my locale, is very stable and seems to be holding up beautifully.  Mine is 6 years old with no finish and has a soft gray color.  It is, as you know, very soft so it scratches and dents easily, but it stlll looks and feels great underfoot.  PT in my experience looks awful, cups, splits, warps, and gives nasty splinters.  Mahogany and cedar are my go-tos...  Good luck.  

5/4 x6 cedar (post #215356, reply #5 of 7)

Thanks for the comments. I am aware of cedar's stability. Do any of your decks get the full force of a midWest summer sun from dawn to dusk? That is my main concern. Do the knots shrink and come out? My only cedar deck is deep in the woods, with constant shade all around. I know that cedar can be periodically cleaned and refinished.  I think my BIG question about Premium 5/4 treated SYP is this: will it crack on the the middle?  By "premium" I mean boards that are practically free of knots and the grain minimizes cupping. The deck is well ventillated. Keep in mind that I will use face screws and that my framing is 16" OC.  Thanks for any insight you/others may have to share.

Mel Fros

Hey Mel,  My deck gets (post #215356, reply #6 of 7)

Hey Mel,  My deck gets blasted by sun all day in New England.  Right now the cedar is looking great, but maybe a little thirsty.  Before the weather turns I am going to give it a light sanding and probably use clear Arborcoat on it.  It has stayed very flat through it's time outside in our harsh environment.  I really can't speak from experience about Premiun yellow pine decking, but I have never seen a PT deck that weathered well...   I will be curious to hear feedback on what you decide and how it's holding up in a year or 2.  Good luck.  

another look at cedar (post #215356, reply #7 of 7)

Thanks for continuing the discussion. I took another look at a cedar deck I built in the woods some 10+ years ago. It received a clear-coat finish. The owner did not maintain it. Two boards need replacement, but otherwise the deck looks good. The boards have a few cracks at the ends, but nothing visually annoying. I'll clean it and make a few repairs, then seal it. I am tempted to do this forthcoming deck in cedar, since cleaning, light sanding, and re-staining seem to work very well.  The attached photo shows a FibreOne composite deck that has "gone south": badly faded. I know there are superior products now on the market, yet I remain deeply annoyed by the loss of color in composite decks. This particular deck cost $15K and my client deserves a product that looks good....sigh.

Mel Fros

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