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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a landlord of 43 yrs. I enjoy rehabbing older houses. Regards porches, for over 43 years, I have had bad luck with tough-in-grove high quality pine, porch floors. At several locations, I've gone to replacing deteriorating tough-in-grove porch flooring, with 5/4 deck planks. In 5 locations the 5/4 deck approach has lasted 20+ yrs. A few years ago, I was confronted with the decision to go with 5/4 or try tough-in-grove (t-n-g) again. I talked myself into believing that my bad experience with t-n-g was because I was "cheaping-out" on material quality. So, I went to a well established lumber yard in Kansas City (in business 50+ yrs. ---NOT a box store) and asked for the best t-n-g porch flooring they had. --Less than 4 yrs. later, the porch flooring failed. Ok, 5/4 deck planks have proven to be a great long lasting solution; however, I worry about a potential problem. Problem: I am constantly concerned that one of my smoking tenants will carelessly drop a cigarette down, between the 5/4s ---thereby staring a fire under the porch. Question: Is there a surface material that I can put over the very sound 5/4s, to eliminate the spaces between the 5/4s?? Obviously, this material could not be a layer of galvanized metal (too slippery in winter). ----and don't suggest t-n-g pine. Ok, you know the situation ---any suggestions/ discussion, would be most appreciated. ---Jaes.
 

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You don't say if your porches are covered or exposed to the elements and what is underneath if a cigarette did fall through. Regardless, pine is a poor product for horizontal exterior surfaces, especially if unfinished (and even then, still a poor choice). There are exterior deck coverings such as Duradeck that are marketed as water and weather proof but I don't know of their fire retardant properties.
 

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I've been on fire dept. off and on for over 40 years, not once have I been to a fire caused by a smoker causing a fire under a deck.
 

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HIGHLY unlikely that a cigarette would get dropped and manage to fit between the cracks and fall to the ground and start things ablaze. That would be way down my list of worries....to the point that I've never even thought about it! Where I am if we use PT we lay it tight with maybe a 6p finish nail between....and end up with final product that has small gaps of up to maybe 1/4" as it dries out. Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
First, thanks to everyone for your input. I will look into "lenaitch"'s suggestion of "Duradeck. To "ront02769", --I also lay the 5/4 tight (no space, when installed) --After some time, there are spots where gap exceeds 1/4" (not much more). Regards, "Carpdad"'s idea --"sweep sand into joints ...add more sand until you have a 'floor' underneath that won't burn." ---On average, the space underneath the porch floor and the ground is 30 inches. On average the surface area of the porch is 200 sq. feet. --To pour sand between the 1/4" spaces between the 5/4 flooring--- and fill that 30 inch high space (X 200 sq. ft.), would require 2 or more large truck loads of sand, and I would need to seal the perimeter of the porch so the sand would not leak-out the sides and front of the porch. -- Any other suggestions about products like "Duradeck" would be appreciated. ---Jaes.
 

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There's several flame retardant coatings for wood available.

My experience, though is that solid lumber isn't all that easy to catch on fire. I burn scrap pine all the time. My go to for fire starting is a 500,000 BTU propane flame thrower. This thing sounds like a jet engine and still takes a good 30 seconds or so to ignite even very dry pine.
 

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You could try putting down a layer of exterior or marine grade plywood and painting it black before you apply your planks. or attach the thin galvanized metal to the bottom of the planks.

Another option is to double layer your deck board so they offset with however big of a gap you want the down side of this is you will need your deck to slope with the grooves.

and another, and probably the best, option is to use shiplap.
 

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Ayuh,.... Not that I'm a fan of plastic lumber, but,....

Lay the deck with plastic planks, Tight, 'n they oughta stay that way,....

They don't shrink like real wood,....
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for several good ideas. I appreciate the time you took to reply. ---Regards, the cigarettes getting between the spaces ----As it happened, just hours before I posted the Thread, there was a stove-top fire in one of my units (I had no fires for past 25 yrs.). ---Fire Dept. arrived; but, fire was out (tenant used fire extinguisher). ---As the fireman and I were standing on the front porch, he looked down at the porch, ----he said "I am concerned that some of your smokers might carelessly drop cigarettes between deck cracks ---we've had several fires like that." Although it would not address the "cracks" problem, he suggested, at very least, having an approved cigarette disposal canister. I appreciate previous suggestions, and would appreciate if there are more. ---Jaes.
 

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A cigarette butt can lay in between the cracks for several minutes heating just that small area. And cause the wood to smolder, and then take flame. A good receptacle for them is a great idea.
 

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Ayuh,.... Bein' a smoker, here in NYS, ya, the cigs are fireproof, they go out while still in yer lips,.....

The fire hazard I see is if a cig that ain't NYS approved fireproof, fell 'tween the cracks, 'n landed in the tinder pile that tends to accumulate under enclosed decks,...
Old leaves, candy wrappers, etc,....

A cig on a deck board will go out, or burn up, leavin' a scorched spot,...
 

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I'm thinking about having a raised concrete deck in my back yard for piece of mind with my grill. They make metal pans, which are then filled with concrete. Very strong and 100% fire proof. Add decorative stamping or other finishes if desired. Not cheap, though.
 
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