Steel Deck Frame vs. Wood Frame
New Creation Decks has, over the last several years, switched almost exclusively to steel framing in our decks for a number of reasons:
Stability, Uniformity & Precision:
Pressure-treated lumber is factory saturated with a waterborne preservative and is often delivered wet, swollen and heavy. As the installed framing lumber dries out, it is subject to warping, shrinkage, splitting, cracking, and twisting. This was not so much a problem before composite decking. The typical wood 2x6 deck planking that was screwed directly to joists would usually “hold things in place,” resisting any movement and visible transmission of such things as frame warp below. The thinner, more ductile nature of composite decking is more vulnerable to instability in the substructure. A common complaint from customers with wood framing is that their composite deck boards become wavy, rising and dipping in response to the instability in the substructure. With steel, surfaces remain flat.
Steel framing is resistant to rot and termites as well as fire. Composite Decking is also resistant to these threats, so there is some sense to providing a substructure that provides similar resistance. Our steel framing is warranted for the life of your composite decking.
An 8 inch tall, light gauge steel joist can typically cantilever 4 feet beyond its last support beam. Longer allowable spans with steel generally translate into less vertical posts and footings. Stairs work out better with steel as well. Our engineered stair design requires only the outer stringers to allow a tread span width of 4 feet. With lumber, such a stair requires intermediate stringers to support the treads. With pressure-treated lumber, the stepped cuts in the stringer are highly subject to cracking and warping. Wood stairs, because of all the exposed end grain of stepped cuts in the stringer, are often the first things to fail.
As to expense, the current material cost of a 2”x 8” steel joist, 16 foot long, is about 11% more than its wood counterpart: a 2 x 10 x 16’ pressure-treated joist. The structural framing comprises about 20 to 25% of the material cost of the deck, which is small portion of the overall cost, which is often made up for by needing less stringers and vertical supports.
Steel is essentially chemical free compared to pressure treated lumber, and is a sustainable, recyclable resource.
At New Creation Decks, we are committed to steel deck framing, believing it to be the best product that we can provide to our clients.