Should You Use Pressure Treated Decking for Your Deck Project?

Building a deck on a budget can be a little stressful; especially when most of your budget goes to the materials. Finding a decking material that is cost effective can be the difference between making budget and going over. Pressure treated decking seems like it would be the perfect solution. Pairing an inexpensive wood with chemicals that resist rot and deter bugs seems like a great match for a deck surface that will be exposed to the elements. But traditional treated decking has several problems that make it a substandard material for your project.

Three Reasons To Avoid Pressure Treated Decking

pressure_treated_decking1. Moisture

Most treated deck boards that are available for purchase from building supply stores are wet. The treating process immerses the boards in a combination of chemicals that protects the boards from bugs and rot, but also adds moisture to the wood. So when you buy treated deck boards you can expect the boards to be heavy and feel wet. When you cut them or drill them, the boards will “bleed” as the moisture is released. Because the boards are soaked, it might seem like a good idea to let them dry out first. But the next problem makes that impossible.

2. Shrinking, Warping and Twisting

When the boards begin to dry, the boards will begin to shrink. Even a well-built deck that has no gaps between deck boards can end up with half-inch spacing between boards after the boards have dried out. And as the boards begin to dry out, the fibers in the board will contract and the board will twist and warp. This can render boards that haven’t been installed useless as their shape prevents them from remaining straight. On installed boards, this can cause the board to pull on the screws (which is why you should never use nails to attach wood decking). The drying can also lead to cracks and splinters, which not only make the boards ugly, but also make it a dangerous surface for bare feet regardless of the outdoor temperature.

3. Finishing the Surface

Finishing the surface of treated deck boards is also tricky. Most pressure treated deck boards are pre-colored. But the color is inconsistent from batch to batch and is not very pleasant to the eyes. Painting may seem like a great way to fix this, but paint will eventually peel and chip. Worse yet, paint will seal moisture into the wood and can lead to premature rot even in treated wood. There are heavily pigmented stains that can address this problem but should be tested on a test piece to ensure that the color looks right.

If you are on a budget and are considering using treated decking to save money, there are better options that will look better and last longer. At the Deck Superstore, we have a variety of options including low end composites and stabilized woods that avoid the issues treated decking brings. Give us a call or send us an email and one of our knowledgeable sales team will help you figure out the best solution for your project.

Jonathan Mitchell


Most lumber yards carry supplies for every building project but we specialize in decks. The Deck Superstore has more decking products than any other store in the Denver area. From framing to finish, we have the supplies you need stocked in our indoor warehouse.


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