Spring is only a few months away, and if you are considering building a new deck this year you will definitely want to choose the right decking material. But with so many options available, how do you know you're choosing the right one? The following are excerpts from the informative and helpful article, "The World's Most Stable Decking Materials", which should help you make a more informed decision.
Western Red Cedar
Although cedar is a softwood, it is still very structurally stable. Both the tangential and radial shrinkage are quite low, and the differential between the two is very small as well:
Tangential Shrinkage: 5.0%
Radial Shrinkage: 2.4%
Cedar's other mechanical properties - strength, stiffness and density - are also relatively high, making this a durable species good for most decking projects.
California Redwood is another very stable decking material. The tangential and radial shrinkage values are even lower than those of Cedar:
Tangential Shrinkage: 4.9%
Radial Shrinkage: 2.2%
Even though these percentages are lower than those of Cedar, the differential is 0.1% larger, meaning it is slightly less stable than the other species - but not by much.
The tangential and radial shrinkage percentages of Ipe decking are much higher than both Cedar and Redwood; however, the differential is much smaller, making it the more stable wood.
Tangential Shrinkage: 8.0
Radial Shrinkage: 6.6%
A 1.4% differential is great, and combined with Ipe decking's naturally high density, strength and stiffness, makes it naturally suited for decking purposes.
Merbau is another hardwood with excellent structural stability. The tangential and radial shrinkage percentages are:
Tangential Shrinkage: 4.6%
Radial Shrinkage: 2.7%
These percentages are quite a bit lower than those of Ipe, and even though Ipe's differential is only 1.4%, a 1.9% differential is still very good. The low percentages combined with the relatively low differential makes this the most stable exotic decking choice. However, Merbau comes with an unrelated and unfortunate downside - read on to find out what it is.
For more information, read the entire article here.