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Author Topic:   Off Topic - Trex decking
daverdla posted 08-30-2001 10:01 AM ET (US)   Profile for daverdla   Send Email to daverdla  
I know its not about whalers but I was wondering if any of you have installed Trex decking. We'll be installing about 1600 sq ft of decking this fall, salt water dock.

We've replaced most of the deck over the past fifteen years with pressure treated. Since its always been done on as needed basis, the deck really doesn't look too good. My inlaws have to get the bulkhead replaced which means that most of the deck will need to be removed to allow access for the pile driver. We thought we'd take the oppurtunity to replace the entire deck.

Next spring we'll do the floaters.

Thanks
Dave

Tom W Clark posted 08-30-2001 10:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Dave,

I think a dock is a perfect application for Trex. While not a beautiful material in and of itself, it is good for simple flat expanses. It has a nice weathered, bleached out look that you will be pleased with on your dock.

I've done some decks with it for clients who wanted it and my observations are that it's expensive, but durable (so far). It cuts and routes just fine. It weights quite a bit. It will warp, especially if a unit is sitting in the sun at the lumber yard.

It has good traction, better than wood but if in the shade all the time it can get a green slime build up and be slippery.

It is a hard material so you want to predrill for nails or screws. (Not absolutely necessary, but preferable) I nail using 16d hot dipped galvanized casing nails which are counter sunk deeply. The hole through the Trex will swell back over the nail head and be almost invisible.

If you screw, I suggest you try trim head stainless screws which can be countersunk as well. "Deck" screws (of which there are many different brands) work well, but I've never enjoyed seeing a see of phillips heads or square drive heads. I also detest walking in bare feet (yes, I know, I take my chances, but Trex won't give you a sliver) on a deck that's been getting direct summer sun with screw heads or nail heads that are heated to about 2000 F. Ouch! those suckers get hot!

dfmcintyre posted 08-30-2001 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
I was also going to mention the same that Tom had mentioned about warping. An installation I saw down in Bonaire (alot of sun) they ended up redoing the framing, from the standard 18"oc something narrower, either 12" or 15"oc.

Did like the way it weathered and looked, for a dock deck.

For a home deck, I'd lean toward the tongue and groove extruded product that I can't remember the name of, right now. We installed it on a large deck in northern Michigan in a commercial situation, about three or four years ago. Still looks great, and have had no problem with wear.

Don

bigz posted 08-30-2001 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Dave,

We have not used it, however our marina (S. NJ on Maurice River off Del. bay) investigated the use last year for well over 15,000 sq. feet of docks.

One draw back aside from cost is the question of cold weather durability. The Trex is not structural and in the case of the marina docks which are built in 20'x 4' floating sections and removed each winter. The question of handling the sections with a crane couldn't be answered to their satisfaction by the rep nor the factory it seems. The deck material is a structural part of the rectangular "box" for each float section. (I got sort of dragged into the discussions since they knew I was in building materials for some 30 years, I voted for #1 kiln dried 5/4 treated)


From that I gathered and the fact they don't play up "dock" use, that everything seems more residential commercial fixed deck oriented in literature and on the website --- would be a little cautious.

Hey but your only doing 1600sq ft, and depending on how the dock is handled probably be fine.

If you haven't found it yet here are their FAQs

http://www.trex.com/TREX_SITE_1998/Talking_about_TREX/frequent.htm and website

So what it's worth they went with the treated.

Tom

blackdog posted 08-30-2001 01:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
Anyone have any information / thoughts about the environmental effects of Pressure treated Wood? I understand the Arsenic used to treat the wood can be absorbed through your skin. Arsenic bleeding from the wood into the ground is also a concern for ground water.
JohnT posted 08-30-2001 01:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnT  Send Email to JohnT     
Our next-door neighbors at our summer place in Maryland installed Trex on their pier about (I'm guessing) 5, maybe 6 years ago. It was the first time I'd ever seen it; and my cousins also used it for their deck. Both applications have weathered well in winter and summer. I believe they've been well satisfied by the durability and comfort (smoother surface and no splinters) of Trex over pressure-treated. In both cases the decking was installed by drilling first and driving screws.

The one drawback I've heard is that you shouldn't span more than 18" (IIRC), so it may take more stringers below to support the decking.

I haven't used it myself, I've only observed. I do really like the look of their weathered gray pier, though, and the lack of splinters is a huge plus IMHO.

My $.02

Tom W Clark posted 08-30-2001 03:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
bigz is correct. Trex is not for use as anything other than the decking. It is rather "noodley". I have always tightened the joist spacing tighter than they recommend. Since you are replacing existing decking you may be stuck with the joist spacing that's there. Something to consider.

Trex comes in 2 x 4, 2 x 6 and 5/4 x 6 (the 5/4 is actually 1.125" - 1.25" thick) For a dock, especially if the joist spacing were in question, the 2 x 6 would be preferable.

daverdla posted 08-30-2001 03:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
We'll be no greater than 16"O.C. and we'll probably be using pneumatic nailers.

Thanks for all the help.

Dave

bigz posted 08-30-2001 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Dave, just a thought with "guns" make sure your gun nail supplier has hot dipped galvanized. Don't get snookered into electro plated galvanized, in salt air will be rusting in a year and gone in a few more!

Tom C, has the right way for such a small area. Pre-drill and use ss screws.

Good luck, Tom Z

daverdla posted 08-30-2001 05:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
Tom,
Thanks for the tip. You must do alot of this stuff. 1600 sq ft seems like alot to me.
Dave
Landlocked posted 08-30-2001 07:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     
Blackdog,

Pressure treated wood is preserved with a solution called CCA - Cadmium, chromium, and arsenic. There are environmental concerns. Arsenic is a carcinogen. I have performed some facility assessments at treatment plants where ground-water contamination had occurred because of spills/improper disposal of the solution. I don't think you need to worry too much about contamination from treated wood entering groundwater. You'd have to have an awful lot of wood in one place.

Bigest concern is worker exposure through dust particles while sawing and handling freshly treated wood. Best to allow to dry, wear a dust mask when sawing and wash before eating smoking etc.

Ll.

blackdog posted 08-31-2001 08:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
Landlocked,
Thanks for the info. How about just walking or laying on it over a long period of time. Do you think you can pick up much through skin contact?
bigz posted 08-31-2001 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Dave, yes over the years have been involved in a number of large projects of this nature.

Didn't mean to make light of your project at all. 1600 square feet will take some "doing" time. More time will probably be spent dismantling the old dock work!

As Tom C pointed out make sure the base structure is solid, can't depend on the Trex for lateral stability .

Good luck send us some photos when completed next season.

Tom

hmcshan posted 09-06-2001 08:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for hmcshan  Send Email to hmcshan     
Regarding the question about the safety of pressure treated decking, I would like to make a few comments. I am a lumber manufacturer who makes quite a bit of the 5/4 x 6 decking that goes to treating plants and eventually ends up as both dock and deck boards. While both natural wood and the Trex and other composite decking materials have good and not so good properties, the safety of the treated lumber should not be a factor. While this has been a hot topic this summer it has largely been driven by the media to generate a good scare story. CCA treated decking and other products have a long history of safe and reliable use. The EPA has studied it throughout the years and just this year an independent agency also determined it to be safe with respect to both leaching of arsenic into groundwater or through skin contact. Although not recommended, it is interesting to note that a prolific family of beavers has been happily chewing away a pressure treated retaining wall at my father's lake house for years with no apparent ill effects. Regardless of the decking used, the comments about fastening it down securely with good deck screws was excellent advice.
noswah posted 09-06-2001 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     

There are 4 grades of treated wood. First, there is .25, .40, .60, 2.5, the 2.5 is very dark green in color and will not even float. It is good for salt water emersion as well as fresh water. I used the 2.5 in 2x12x16 for fasia on a dock that I built and when I cut a piece off and it fell in the water it sank like a rock. As for .60, it's good for ground or fresh water contact, .40 is good for ground and limited water contact, .25 I think is a waste of money and most building material places no longer carry it, ( Home Depot used to then went to .40) I also would not use galvanized nails, there is a better product called Deck Kings, and screw guns made to install them. Hope this helps.
noswah posted 09-06-2001 11:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for noswah  Send Email to noswah     

Forgot to mention that even if you use galvanized nails make sure they are Ring Shank Nails as they have a lot more holding power and won't be poping back up after a few seasons.
daverdla posted 09-06-2001 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
Thanks for all the great responses.

Here's a link my brother found to an article that has links to the various Trex type products. The article's not bad either.

http://www.taunton.com/fh/features/design/curveddeck/4.htm

Dave

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