Wood Decking: Quality checking your decking planks

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Wood Decking is a commitment that many homeowners are willing to make. They want the unique finish that wood provides, but are unsure of how to know whether or not they are getting high-quality products.

Don’t waste time on Google researching the different types of decking planks and the pros and cons of each one. Here is an all-inclusive handy guide for any homeowner looking at purchasing timber decking planks.

Why do you need to quality check your decking planks?

While at first glance it may seem that getting the most affordable option is the best, we can assure you that it is not always the case. Timber is a natural element, therefore, is vulnerable to multiple natural deterioration processes.

Some of the main concerns with low-grade quality decking planks include:

  • Decking Planks splitting and Splintering

The quality of the timber is of the utmost importance. Low-grade timber usually gets cut out of premature, fast-growing or burnt trees.  This type of timber does not offer the strength and durability of the higher-grade timbers (specifically slow grown for 20-30 years) making it prone to splitting, having loose knots and even splintering which poses a potential danger to people walking barefoot on the deck.

Wood Decking Old
  • Natural Deterioration

As previously mentioned, wood is a natural element. Some of the vulnerabilities are rot, mold, wood-eating insects like carpenter bees and termites, etc. If you would like to know more about this topic, you can read our extensive article on the 14 factors of the natural deterioration of wood to consider when building and buying timber.

Ensuring the quality of your decking planks:

 Consider the following when buying timber decking planks:

Wood Decking supplier/manufacturer

The first thing you need to look at (before even looking at the timber itself) is the company or person you are busying from. This is vital in making the correct choice. Unfortunately, as in any other business, there are companies and/or people who try to take shortcuts by providing a product at a much cheaper price, but the planks have not been quality checked or approved for construction timber.

A few things you have to ask your supplier:

  1. Are your Decking Planks SABS approved? If not, you know that the decking planks have not gone through the rigorous checking and are very likely not to meet the basic standards that they are required to meet by the South African Bureau of Standards. You can request to see the certification as proof if you are unsure.
  2. Do you have any customer reviews? Asking for customer reviews or references when making a big purchase is not unfounded. As the client, you can also personally check reviews on places like their Facebook page and Google Business page. Ensure that you do your due diligence in checking if it is a reliable company.
  3. Are you members of SAWPA (South African Wood Preservation Association)? While this is only relevant in South Africa, and with treated decking planks, it is a little bit of extra knowledge that could give you peace of mind. Note: It is NOT a requirement for all manufacturing companies to be members of SAWPA. However, a company that is a member, are regularly checked and you can be sure that their treatment plant and practices are kept to the latest standards. Therefore, while this checkpoint is not vital, it is good to know.

Origin of Decking planks

The origin of the decking planks may not seem very important. However, it is vital for you to know from what grade timber the decking planks were cut. The highest quality decking planks are cut from S5 (Construction grade) timber. This means that the decking planks are strong, will last longer and will be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear over the wood.

This is applicable to softwood and hardwood decking planks. Enquire regarding the timber grade that the decking planks were cut from. As a customer, it is your right to know the details of the product that you are buying.

Check the knots

Most low-grade timber will have loose knots. This can wreak havoc on a timber deck within a few months. Why do you not want loose knots in your timber decking? It can cause:

  • Cracking
  • Warping
  • Reduces strength of timber
  • Loose knots fall out leaving a gaping hole on your plank.

Therefore, it would be in your best interest to personally inspect the decking planks and look for any loose knots.

Check treatment and/or type of timber

When purchasing treated wood decking planks, you need to ensure that your supplier is reliable and produces high-quality products. If the products are not properly treated, it can make your deck vulnerable to the natural elements and insects as mentioned above.

A simple way of checking this is by asking for certification of your products with SABS. You can also contact SABS directly to enquire about the supplier you are working with, they can confirm whether or not your supplier is registered with them, and under which specifications they are registered.

NOTE: Each product (decking planks, construction-grade timber, wooden poles etc.) has a specific code that they need to adhere to. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact SABS directly if you have doubts about your supplier/manufacturer.

Duration of warranty on wood decking planks

Something as simple as a warranty can tell you a lot about a company’s faith in its own product. While it’s not always applicable, it is good to ask for a warranty and the duration of that warranty.

Follow these simple guidelines, and we are sure you will find the perfect wood decking planks for your project. If you are in need of decking planks, feel free to contact us, our sales agents will be happy to help you!

Johannesburg Timber


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