woods to avoid/or use when building a deck

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merk

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i hired a contractor to rebuild our deck...turns out to not be the most reliable so i'm double checking everything he says/does.

Right now he was saying he was going to use redwood for the deck. I think that's a pretty soft wood...is that ok for a deck?

deck will be about 15x30 feet, about 1-2 feet off the ground and it'll be in the san francisco area...so not too hot or too cold and somewhat damp at least during certain times of the year.

it'll also get the full sun when it's out - there's no trees or anything providing any shade.
 

Sparky617

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Redwood is very rot resistant and insect resistant and commonly used for decking on the west coast. On the east coast it is mainly pressure treated southern yellow pine.
 

merk

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ok thanks guys, just wanted to make sure he wasn't just picking the cheapest material
 

nealtw

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Not enough info, we don't see redwood up here, at least I havn't seen much.
But did he tell you what size of boards, thickness, length and most important the grade. Are they wet or dry and if dry, what gap will he leave.
 

slownsteady

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Along with asking more questions with Neal, if you have doubts about this guy, and you are unfamiliar with wood types; take a short trip over to the local lumberyard and see what redwood looks like. Also gives you the advantage if he tries the ol' switcheroo.
 
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Chris

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Redwood is very common and usually the better of the woods here in California. If maintained will look great for decades to come. One of my mountain houses had a redwood deck put on in 1978 and never refinished and it is still in great shape, that is here in southern California.
 
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Chris

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Not enough info, we don't see redwood up here, at least I havn't seen much.
But did he tell you what size of boards, thickness, length and most important the grade. Are they wet or dry and if dry, what gap will he leave.
The redwood here is usually dried. Should be 2 x 6 or at least is everywhere around here. Grade will be the important factor and clear or knotty. Lowes and the other big box stores don't carry the very good stuff but most of our lumber yards carry good redwood.
 

nealtw

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The redwood here is usually dried. Should be 2 x 6 or at least is everywhere around here. Grade will be the important factor and clear or knotty. Lowes and the other big box stores don't carry the very good stuff but most of our lumber yards carry good redwood.
The terms that a contractor or saleman should be using depend on the lumber and it's grading system, but it should be something like utility, select, 2 and better, If you don't know the grade, you won't know what you are paying for.

We have one guy up here that says you uses select treated 2x6, the grade for it is 2+ better, fir , pine and spruce mixed. When I asked him what he ment by select he said " well I select which peice goes where".
The common stuff we use is treated 5/4 x 4 or 6 rounded edges and every yard carries the same product, I think it all come from the same mill and always the same grade.
 

bud16415

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We have one guy up here that says you uses select treated 2x6, the grade for it is 2+ better, fir , pine and spruce mixed. When I asked him what he ment by select he said " well I select which peice goes where".
I think I know the same guy. He was painting a house and I reminded him it was to get two coats of paint and he said yes sir. Then he showed me with his brush here is the first coat and then went back across and said there is the second coat.
 

merk

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well now i have to worry about how he's making the foundation for this.

I called the building dept and they said the piers have to be at least 24 inches deep, up to 30 inches deep depending on the soil.

I talk to the contractor the next day and he says they arent going to dig piers. What he described was getting a piece of wood, i think he said 4x12, laying it across the ground (there's concrete under the deck) and then having that support the deck. Seems odd to me - thought it would be bad to have wood just laying on the ground. Doesn't that promote rot? Not to mention the concrete on the ground could be decades old, so couldn't it possibly crack?

anyhow, building inspector is coming on tuesday so if he says this isn't good then they'll have to undo whatever they've done and dig the piers.
 

slownsteady

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Laying a board 'across the ground' sounds like a tripping hazard at the very least. What height is the deck?
 

merk

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sorry the board would be under the deck itself. They apparently are finished with the foundation of the deck since they've started attaching the flooring of the deck. Which makes me a little worried since there is a visible point where the framework/foundation of the deck is not a straight line. One half if leaning relative to the other half.

as far as i can see, they only sunk one pier into the ground the rest is just on top of the ground. And the side on the house it looks like they just bolted that right onto the house itself.

I'll post some pics.

It looks like this is the lumber they are using for the top of the deck
https://www.popscreen.com/prod/MTg2MzE3MTcz/2-in-x-6-in-x-16-ft-Construction-Common-Redwood-Lumber436429


The back right corner of the deck (facing from the sliding doors out onto the deck)

back left

close up of the back right corner
 

merk

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close up of the back left corner

front left corner

top of the deck

 

bud16415

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You didn’t mention where you live and what the frost depth is there. I built a deck similar to yours last year and have about 5000 pounds of hot tub sitting on it. Like yours it abuts my house and kind of like yours mine is free floating. We get very severe weather and last winter we had a sub zero F month and weeks where it was negative 30F. they recommend 4 foot here and 4 foot didn’t cut it last winter. My deck does not touch the house it is 1 inch away on all sides it is also in the summer 3” below the threshold leading into the house and is free to move with the frost. It worked fine all last winter and again this winter. IMO what you don’t want is a mix and match footing system like what you have. Some points above the frost line and some below and attached to the house that is a fixed anchor point if that is what you have. I also designed mine with movement in mind and the whole deck is self-supporting and able to move as a unit even with the weight of the tub on it. a deck floating and moving at different rates with frost as some points are fixed and some not will pull and loosen nailed joints IMO.

I would say all to depth is best or if you are going to float be in a warmer climate or build a deck framed to take the flexing that will happen. Last winter my deck came up about an inch and in the spring went right back down. My hope is it does that for many years.
 

nealtw

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The would he used has all the knife cuts so it is rated for underground use. I would have built it on pillers, there is a reason the building dept called for 24", I have never seen anyone build a deck frame with 24" on center.
 

merk

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this is in the san francisco area, so i dont think frost will be an issue.I've only been here a little over a year but i dont think it typically gets cold enough for there to be frost.

building inspector is coming tomorrow so we'll see what he says.
 
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