How to Choose Wood for Your Decking

Whether you’re an experienced DIYer, or a novice at making home improvements, you can follow these steps to make your decking project as smooth as possible. Most people with a house and garden prefer the look of decking out back, and it can also increase the utility of your outside space. Laying down decking is an easy enough job you can accomplish yourself, even with the least experience, it’s just a matter of going through the steps to get things right.

  1. Choose your wood

Wood for building projects is known as timber, or sometimes lumber. Timber is then categorised into two broad types, and this depends on what it will be used for. Hardwood is stronger, heavier, and denser of the two. It is used where strength over versatility is necessary. Softwood is used where the wood needs to be shaped into something more easily. It is light but still very strong. It doesn’t offer durability for outside decking though, so for this you’ll need to use a decent hardwood.

  1. Choose a decent supplier

If you’ve never stepped foot in one before, timber merchants are the places you go to purchase wood for building projects. To find your nearest timber supplier, you can search on the internet or local directories, and you’re choices will be laid before you within a reasonable distance from your home. If you live in Essex, then type in ‘timber’, and over 100 suppliers will come up. There are several merchants supplying hardwood decking in Southend alone, more in Basildon and Chelmsford. You’ll easily be able to locate a timber yard near to you.

  1. Get the right grade

Hardwoods are classified into different grades, according to the number of defects. They are based on the size and number of clear pieces that can be obtained when the wood has been cut and planed. Here is a brief guide to different grades you can choose:

  • First and Seconds (FAS) / (FIF) –This is the highest grade possible for hardwood, it contains 83% usable material on one or two faces, and is mainly suited for high-quality furnishings, solid wood mouldings and interior joinery.
  • Select (SEL) – Also contains 83% usable material, but for a smaller minimum board size than First and Seconds
  • 1 Common (1C) – Contains 66% usable material.
  • 2A Common (2C) – Contains 50% usable material.
  • 2B Common (3AC) – Contains 33% usable material.
  • 3A Common (3BC) – Contains 25% usable material.

Whichever grade of hardwood you choose is up to you, depending on how many defects you can accommodate into your flooring. Get down to your local timber merchant and take a look.

  1. Get the right grain

Generally speaking, you’ll want to choose a hardwood for your decking, because it offers most durability, but which one? And what kind of finish do you want? Wood will always be treated to meet outside weather conditions, and can also be stained, so no need to concentrate too much on the colour, but think more about the quality of the wood. You can shop around and choose a natural hardwood like oak, or you can buy an imported hardwood. Ask you timber supplier what they have in stock and compare the finishes.

Once you’ve chosen your wood, you can get on with building your deck. But these four important steps come before any building work can take place. First, choose between hardwood and softwood. Next, find your nearest timber supplier. Then, choose the grade you want for your decking. Finally, choose the kind of wood you’d like and then get started with the job.

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