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Old 01-16-2012, 10:58 AM   #1
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On Grade Wooden Walkway


After paving half the yard so that my wheel chair bound wife can get out in the garden, she has come up with another area she wants to get to. More pavers? No...this time she wants a wooden walkway. What's a guy gonna do, right? Having built lots of decks and such, I know there is no such thing as 'permanent' ground contact wood. My first instinct is to trench out and fill with washed gravel(with adequate drainage, of course), pour or purchase concrete piers and build on that. Lotta work for my old back, and the budget is pretty tight as well. Any of you pros have a better solution?
Criteria are:
Must be at or just slightly above grade...don't want to be building handrails and such.
Must support a large woman in her heavy electric wheel chair(About 550# in a 2 1/2' square footprint).

We have no frost heave here, and the ground is pretty solid...we live in what was once an orchard, and there is a hardpan, about 20" down.
Looking at about a thirty foot run.

Hope I included enough detail, for you guys to give me a decent assessment, and useful advice. An architect/engineer is pretty much out of the question...if I could afford that, I'd have the durned thing contracted out and be done with it.

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Old 01-16-2012, 11:14 AM   #2
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On Grade Wooden Walkway


3, 4 X 4's layed in rows with 5/4 decking boards on top would be the fastest, cheapest way.
4 X 4's are rated for below ground contact and will hold up fine.
Use ceramic coated decking screws.

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Old 01-16-2012, 09:16 PM   #3
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This is going to sound beyond morbid but I agree with the prior post. Around my California house I laid down well treated 4x4 redwood and nailed decking I rescued from a funeral home as sidewalks. It was great looking and given whatever is was soaked in I bet it is still in place.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:21 PM   #4
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Cool...thanks fellas. I had always heard that even PT wood would break down rather quickly if laid in direct contact with soil. Do ya think saw kerfed 2X4s would last? The squaw wants a little curve to the walk way.
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Old 01-19-2012, 01:37 AM   #5
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The most rot resistant woods are white (not red) oak and osage orange. I think the osage orange may be easier to find where you are. And if you get it rough sawn from a mill the cost should be about as much as PT. You can specify a lower grade and have it cut to any size you want. I am not a fan of PT lumber. It is still soft wood and treated with some kind of chemicals, CCA, ACQ, or woman-ized (whatever that is). They aren't the best to have near a garden if you are going to be eating the crops.

And the higher percentage of chemicals they put in the below ground PT wood will make it last longer, but then it's more chemicals leeching out into your yard.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:57 AM   #6
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On Grade Wooden Walkway


Here in NJ we waste as much as we can. You can finds thousands of "good" pallets for free. Maybe the in your area the throw it out mentality prevails
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:20 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by new jersey mike View Post
Here in NJ we waste as much as we can. You can finds thousands of "good" pallets for free. Maybe the in your area the throw it out mentality prevails
Pallets are a great idea. A newspaper in Central Illinois would beg people to come and get them. They were nice and sturdy since they had held paper. Quick pass through a planer and it made good decking. Wood wasn't treated though.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:24 AM   #8
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And the higher percentage of chemicals they put in the below ground PT wood will make it last longer, but then it's more chemicals leeching out into your yard.
Right about watching out for the environment. Used to use some foreign hardwoods for outdoor projects. Hard as steel to get fasteners in and while it took them ages to rot, termites loved the stuff if untreated. Boron can help with that but it can render soil sterile for a long time. Things like redwood and cedar have oils and so forth not appetizing to bugs.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:44 AM   #9
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Mike, I'm with you on recycling...problem is around here, pallets get snatched up quickly and kind of on the 'brother in law' plan. That and I don't own a planer. I have been watching for falling down fences though.

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