1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Decking options

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by begreen, Aug 20, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,075
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    We need to get started on our porch stairs. Because of the raised house height, we are going to come down 6 steps onto a small 6 x 8 deck, then exit with two side steps off of the deck. The top steps will be wide (almost 8 ft wide).

    This is on the north side of the house, so it will slime up in the rainy season. The problem was so bad with the old steps that the last time I painted them I added a little sand to the paint. Otherwise we couldn't use them safely when they were wet, which was most of the winter.

    This is an old craftsman style house. We'll be running bevel sided wing walls along the steps. We don't want the California redwood porch look, nor exposed pressure treated lumber. I've thought of wrapping the 4x4 PT posts in cedar and maybe using that for the risers. What are our wood options for stair tread? What would you suggest for the deck?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Waterford, WI
    I would go cedar all the way. I just re-built an old deck off of the dining room last year, which is about 6 1/2 feet above the patio. I used pressure treated for the framework and cedar for the decking, stairs and railings. I am going to cover the outside of the joists on each side and the front with cedar siding to complete the look. I opted to leave the posts pressure treated and not wrap them in cedar.

    We looked at a number of different manufacturers of the "fake deck" and just couldn't find one that I liked as well as the look of the natural cedar. That being said, this deck is only 9' x 10' so it's not much to maintain. If we were doing a much larger deck, I would have "fell in love" with one of the maintenance free options.

    Another popular option for decks is Ipe, or Iron Wood. The stuff is hard as nails and is supposed to withstand the elements very well. It also has a rich look, almost like installing a hardwood floor outdoors.
  3. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Messages:
    804
    Loc:
    North Worc. CTY MA
    BeGreen...For Decking/stair treads???

    I would go with the next generation Trex (don't know exactly WTH they call it these days) but it now comes in other colors than dark battleship Guilford grey...

    They have colors that look like oak or redwood, and seeing as it could be considered plastic (like azac) ;) it will last a good long time in the climate, it is somewhat textured to avoid being slippery in the wet weather. I guess in your area...that is a wise thing to take into consideration.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,075
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Ipe has been recommended to us by a friend. He did a deck with it and it came out very nice. Pricey stuff and only available in certain sizes. The means the stair treds would need to be 2 piece instead of a solid plank. Will cedar be hard enough for stair treds? We have a lot available in the NW, so it's a much easier wood to obtain.
  5. nshif

    nshif New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    954
    Loc:
    Pioneer, Ca (near Lake Tahoe)
    BG
    Ive got about 1000 sq' of deck and 2 stairways, one full height and one 5 steps. We dont get as much rain as you do but a significant amount and probably more snow and ice. I used a Trex knock off mostly for the maintainence value and its just as slippery as real wood. I just keep a bag of rock salt handy and coat the stairs as needed. I fiqured the composit stuff would hold up to the salt better than real wood. another option is the "sandpaper like" tape strips you can put on the treads but its not that attractive.
  6. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Waterford, WI
    Cedar should work just fine for stair treads. You will actually be able to span a larger gap with cedar than with the composite decking. The same is true for the decking itself; composite will require joists to be closer on center than cedar, which will require closer spacing than Ipe.

    When I did my stairs, I put a third stringer in the center and only span approximately 16" - 18" with the stair tread (I tend to overbuild rather than cut it close). With that set up, the treads don't move a bit when you walk up and down the stairs.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,075
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Thanks for the advice. I checked out trex with a couple local owners. They both say it's slippery as heck after a couple years. That wasn't from ice, but from slime. And I don't think it would look as visually correct on this old house.

    I'll probably end up using cedar, though I just heard about Brazilian redwood (Massaranduba) today, that is supposed to be quite nice, ages in a year to silver and not as pricey as Ipe.
    http://www.ocfp.com/Downloads/BrazRdwd.pdf

    Griz, you'll get a kick out of this. The old stairs (that probably were 30-40 yrs old when I took them out) had just one central stringer for a 92" span. Funny thing is they never felt too springy. The carpenter said that's because a lot of the support comes from it resting on the riser of the next step. For the stairs he's recommending 5/4 treads, with stringers on 24" centers.
  8. nshif

    nshif New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    954
    Loc:
    Pioneer, Ca (near Lake Tahoe)
    Griz
    my comp manuf only called for joists 16" oc and I think Trex is thye same ( useing 5/4 decking )
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    First of all a single stringer in the middle of 4' steps does not cut it the spacing is too wide I use 4 stringers Even in a 3' wide set of steps that pushing the spands

    What I used is the composite product called portico has groves in the side for stainless steel clops no surface nails or ugly mushroons screw divits nice clean apprarance cost a little more takes more time but looks fantastic. I have also used the composit railing system but tomorrow I using the PVC vinyl again not cheap but never checks cracks or warps.

    Wood cedar is too soft for stair treads I know some use it I use mahogany nailed with 10D ring stainless steel nails.


    Bear in mind the new CCa presure treated wood eats metals All joist hangers have to be double or triple plated to reduce the chemical reactions All frooring fastening has to be watched stainless steel or cermanic coated deck screws prefered if not common galvanized nalis will last about 2 years..

    Believe it or not common joist hangers and galv nails were used a year or two back and decks colapsed the cause the hangers rusted out as did the nails Even bolts chould be coated or double dipped. I think things should be done right paid for once. I thought one should get some background info before attempting a deck or having one built. If you doubt me atleast do some research. Composit flooring should no be an issue at 16" on center joist then again its not the flooring that governs joist spands its the codes I know of no code tha allows larger than 16" oc in decks decks are designed for a higher load design than common interior living space
  10. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I may have no sense of aesthetics, but if I were building a set of steps for a wet and slimy environment I'd be wanting to get away from wood, and probably from the fake woods as well. I'd possibly be looking at something like aluminum diamond plate or expanded metal as something that had serious built in skid proofing and drainage.

    If I was going to go with wood, I'd look at trying to do a laminated grid type design with lots of thin planks on edge, with narrow spaces separating them - again the idea being something with inherent skid proofing - although it might be difficult to maintain, so you'd need either a very high durability wood or an ultra long lasting finish.

    (Fortunately I don't need to worry about such things, at least not this year...)

    Gooserider
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,075
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    No worry Elk, we will be going with 24" apart stringers. I was just surprised when I took down the old ones that there was only one central stringer. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll look into portico, but I haven't seen a synthetic I like so far. Your advice is good and I've decided to put this off until October so that I can research it some more and speak to more homeowners of synthetics and wood decks. As to cedar, if clear grained old growth, it's not bad. That's what our old steps were made of and lasted a generation.

    Goose, lol, diamond plate ain't gonna happen. I am looking into massaranduba. Just about as hard and heavy as Ipe but about 30% less. Very rot and insect resistant.

    Edit: found the portico, but it's not sold on the west coast.
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,655
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    BG - watch out for the "maint. free" decking. It ain't maint. free. True, it doesn't need to be stained or painted, but my trex deck needs a yearly spray down with a water bleach mixture. I have about 1000sqft of the stuff, and if I were going to rebuild my deck, it wouldn't be with that. Keep in mind also that the trex is NOT used for any structural support. My deck is quite solid, but I used all 2x4 for the decking on 16" centers. For stairs, I would NOT use the 5/4 board, but I'm kind of a big boy (kinda look like one of the guys that stare at the ball hiker for a living) and I like things solid.
  13. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Waterford, WI
    WOW... I can't believe that those held up over time as well as they did. I definitely think your carpeter is on the right track for the new ones.
  14. TedNH

    TedNH Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    102
    Loc:
    Surry NH
    Trex gets REAL hot in the sun.
    Bare feet beware.
  15. jqgs214

    jqgs214 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    685
    Loc:
    Riverhead, NY
    Trex has the habit of growing a mold/slime, the other composites in my experience are much better. Cant remember that name of the last one we used here at the marina (wet and slimy conditions) but we coated the treads with a two part epoxy/sand nonskid. worked well and has held up for 5 years now.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page