Craftspeople and builders love reclaimed timber, but not just for its distressed aesthetics.
A look at timber from 1918 and 2018 reveals a significant difference. Old timber, dating back to 1918, has 60 rings, whereas newer timber from 2018 has fewer rings. Timber from 100 years ago had a more dense composition making it stronger and more resistant to insects.
Today’s lumber is grown and harvested much faster than in the past. What would sound like good news, also brings caution. While we can produce more timber more quickly, the timber may not be as strong or durable, especially if it’s harvested too early.
That’s why some builders prefer reclaimed timber. They say old-growth lumber from virgin forests, grew more slowly with limited light and competition from other trees. This combination led to trees with dense fibers, which makes for stronger lumber. These builders say older trees were more rot-resistance, as well as more stable due to their density.
Today’s tree farms use faster-growing species that can be harvest in as little as ten years. Researchers at the University of Tennessee find that the quality in fast-grown trees isn’t necessarily lower, but it needs to be allowed to mature. With good forestry practices, today’s timber can also be of high quality.
The bottom line, according to Science Daily: Even though a greater volume of timber grows today, it now contains less material than just a few decades ago.
Using old-growth lumber isn’t practical or cost-effective in most new construction, so what can you do when you are building a new deck to ensure it lasts for years to come? Protect it from water damage and rot. One sure way to do this is to seal the deck’s joists and bearers with deck protection tape during construction.
Use a butyl tape such as Trex Protect. A butyl-based tape is stickier, endures less staining, and has less oozing during high temperatures than asphalt tape. Butyl tape is also more rubbery and flows around screws making for a tighter seal and can be installed in a wider range of temperatures.
For an average size deck, you’ll need about five rolls of Trex Protect Joist Tape and one roll of Trex Protect Bearer Tape. For less than a $120 investment, the deck substructure can last as long as the decking it supports.
Today’s timber can last for years to come with the right planning and installation. Protect your deck with Trex Protect.