When weighing your choices, you’ll need to consider whether a deck or a patio is more in keeping with the style of your house. If you have a Colonial-style house and add a wooden deck, it probably will not attract positive comment. Still, decks appear to be the overwhelming choice of homeowners.
You’ll need to think about many factors when considering a deck. One of the most important considerations is the kind of lumber you want to use. Wood treated with chromated copper arsenic (CCA), the pesticide long used as a preservative, has been phased out of residential use. Treated-lumber producers are beginning to offer lesssuspect alternatives to CCA that are more costly, at least initially.
Arsenic is a known human carcinogen, and the government believes that any reduction in the levels of potential exposure is desirable. However, the new lumber, in addition to being pricier than the banned variety, comes with its own problems.
The new treatments, alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) or copper azole (CA), contain a higher level of copper than CCA, which means that they corrode fasteners and fittings used in deck construction twice as rapidly as the banned preservative. Aluminum or electroplated fasteners and fittings that worked perfectly with CCA lumber can be a disaster if used with the new lumber.
Brian Sakal, a building official in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania, has had to order a number of decks using the new lumber to be rebuilt, because the wrong fasteners and fittings were used. He said that only hot-dipped, galvanized and stainless steel fasteners are acceptable for use with ACQ and CA treated lumber, but contractors and do-it-yourselfers appear to be unaware of that fact.