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Old 11-09-2011, 07:40 PM   #1
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pressure treated wood project -- acceptable quality?

Our contractor is in the finishing stages of rebuilding a pressure treated deck, stairs, and columns on an open air covered deck. I have some questions about quality, and I'm hoping you all can give me some answers:

1. The wood has dark brownish/grayish spots and in some cases whole areas of stain. My contractor tells me this is normal and will wash off with no difficulty. True?

2. The installation used galvanized screws, and there are significant "gouges" around the screws. What can be done?

3. Some portions of the cuts between the stairs and the stair post have 1/8" gaps between the horizontal stair tread and the base of the staircase post. I don't think its structural, but we are in the northeast, and I'm afraid of ice buildup. What should be done at this point?

4. The bannister is installed at a height of 40" off the ground without any spindles (span is just 3 steps). I'm concerned this is too high. Also the bannister and the post do not align correctly, with the bannister being 1/4 inch above the post and the bannister being slightly too wide or just not placed correctly in relationship to the post. How can that be fixed?

5. The bannister post (and a few other 1/x8 decking planks) are already showing serious cracks (8"or longer on one side, for example). Is this normal, or should I replace?

6. pressure treated lumber was used for the columns (square columns) and it is riddled with Knots. I assume I will now need to paint, right? Do I need to wait out winter and paint in the spring, or should I prime now?

7. Should I seal all the seams with exterior gout or paintable filler now? Bondo?

Thanks in advance for all your help!


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Old 11-09-2011, 07:49 PM   #2
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Pictures will help. Treated lumber does not hold up well in finish applications. Splitting and knots are very commonplace. The wood will also shrink a lot, so whatever is tight now will soon have a gap. Did you look at any other decks that he built?


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Old 11-09-2011, 07:51 PM   #3
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We did the best we could when choosing a contractor.

What do you think about the dark spotting? thanks!
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:10 PM   #4
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The wood will age and change color during the process. No one knows how the "spotting" will end up looking later . I assume you had son authority over the type od treated wood used. Obviously, it is not redwood or a premium material and you may end up staining it to the tint of your choice. Any treated lumber will shrink because it is used so it can absorb the "treatment", so a previous poster is absolutely correct.

If you used 8" wide deck boards, the cracks created by the normal shrinkage and some slitting can expected. can be expected.

The height a hand rail is controlled by code (safety reasons), as is the spacing of any spindle spacing is also code controlled.

Normally treated wood should be allowed to dry out, shrink and stabilize before staining or sealing. After all, it is just lower grade lumber.

If you posted your location, the climate effects could be estimated better.


Last edited by concretemasonry; 11-09-2011 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:31 PM   #5
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Personally I feel PT wood is garbage and should really not be used at all, especially for decking. Every year the lumber get's progressively worse. Pictures would help tremendously to check for workmanship issues, but even then there is only so much workmanship you can do with garbage material.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:09 PM   #6
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I recently replaced a few boards on my parent 35 year old pretty large pressure treated deck, while fixing some poor initial design problems (like cutting a 4x4 post down to a 2x2 and expect that to work as a floating railing end ). They used 16' 2x4s as deck boards (with 24" joist spacing). I reused most of the length of those 2x4s in other projects. the failures were pretty localized and not catastrophic. The pool deck is also pressure treated and is doing good after about 25 years.

PT doesn't look top notch, but it usually last pretty well. The only problems I've seen with it is when you have a 4x4 cut off an exposed to the elements in a vertical orientation. the treatment doesn't fully penetrate sometimes and the middle can rot. If capped, they are fine.

Are the spots just water spots?
IMHO, don't seal or paint anything. I think it makes PT look worse, and isn't needed.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:17 PM   #7
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pt lumber does twist and split like you wouldnt believe... but you can work with that... it requires picking through the lumber at the yard more... and planning your cuts..

regarding 1/8" gaps in the boards around the posts. is pretty common place with this being on the outside of the house where its going to be subject to the weather its better to give the wood room to breath. reason being the wood will expand and contract. if its too tight the wood can buckle or split

having the handrail higher is actually better in the long run. even though the deck is low off the ground. if codes change and they require a higher hand rail than 36" your already covered... that is unless codes want the handrail to be at 42" regardless the height of the deck. canadian code states that guardrails must be 42" off the deck or landing when the height of the deck is 6' or higher


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bannister , pressure treated wood

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