A privileged place to enjoy the outside of a house in springtime, the terrace creates a convivial place opening onto a garden, a swimming pool or simply onto a balcony.
Many materials are available for its construction, such as tiles, stone, paving stones, concrete, synthetic turf and wood. Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages. In this article we will focus on wood.
Choosing wood to build a terrace is above all choosing a warm, ecological, durable and easy to work with material. However, not all wood can be used on a terrace. The choice of wood will vary according to the exposure of your terrace to sunlight or humidity for example... Several criteria must be taken into account, including your budget, the type of wood you want, its appearance, its characteristics and also the class of wood used.
To help you choose the right type of wood for a deck, we have detailed below the main characteristics of the woods to be used in the construction of a deck.
For the construction of a terrace, we recommend the use of wood of class 4 or 5, only these woods can withstand bad weather and stagnant humidity. There are several families of wood, softwoods are the most affordable, but those with the shortest lifespan. Exotic woods are to be preferred because they are more resistant even if more expensive, thermo-heated and composite woods can also be used.
THE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF WOOD USE
To help you choose the right wood for your purpose (indoor furniture, outdoor terrace, parquet flooring, etc.), job classes have been created. The differences between the employment classes are linked to differences in exposure to the environment, which can make the wood degradable by biological agents.
There are 5 classes of use for the use of wood.
In concrete terms, classes 1 and 2 are recommended for use of wood indoors or under shelter. The wood in these classes cannot withstand humidity of more than 20%, so they should not be used for terraces and outdoors in general.
Class 3 can be installed outdoors as it is weather resistant. However, this class has very little resistance to stagnant moisture. It is preferred for claddings that are vertical surfaces on which water runs off easily.
To adapt to outdoor exposure on a terrace (horizontal surface), class 4 wood is ideal. The wood will be able to withstand direct contact with the ground and fresh water.
Class 5, which is rarer, has the particularity of being able to withstand sea water, and is therefore intended for the construction of a pontoon or a wooden deck at the seaside in direct contact with salt water.
To sum up, before you start installing a deck, make sure you use class 4 (or 5) wood..
WHAT TYPE OF WOOD SHOULD BE USED?
For use on terraces, the woods can be arranged in 4 main families: pine, exotic woods, thermo-heated woods and composite woods.
PINES, KNOWN AS RESINOUS WOODS OR CLASSIC WOODS
Douglas pine, autoclave-treated pine and larch are softwoods that originate in France and Europe, whereas red cedar comes from North America. They are among the cheapest wood species on the market (except for red cedar). This family of wood requires regular maintenance to ensure good physical and aesthetic durability over time.
The "bestseller" of softwoods, available at the most affordable price, is autoclave pine. It is a class 4 wood, treated by pressure injection of a chemical product that makes it rot-proof. Formerly available in a greenish hue, it is now mostly found in a characteristic brown colour that could be called "autoclave brown". However, its lifespan is about 10 to 15 years. If you choose Autoclave Pine for your terrace, we advise you to use suitable treatment and protection products such as Autoclave Wood Saturator SBA600.
Douglas fir, or Oregon pine, is highly resistant to fungi and insects, has a salmon colour and a lifespan of about 15 years. Its natural appearance and texture are enhanced when a douglas fir colour saturator is applied, which can be brown or even grey.
Red cedar, which is naturally resistant, takes on a nice grey tint over time and has a lifespan of around 15 years. It has the highest purchase cost among softwoods.
Larch is a fairly light-coloured and naturally rot-proof wood.
Robinia, or faux-acacia, is a fairly expensive wood, costing around 60€ per square metre, as its peak popularity has made it difficult to find. This class 4 wood has a nice light colour and good resistance to mould, fungus and insects.
To preserve their colour and protect them from the sun's UV rays and bad weather, you will find all our treatment and protection products adapted to the maintenance of your terrace in our Outdoor Wood or Terrace. We particularly recommend Terrace Wood Saturator ST600 for the protection of wooden decks..
They form the top of the range of wood species for the realisation of a terrace. Padouk, Ipé, Garapa, Cumaru, Taliou and Teak are imported from Central Africa, South America and Asia and are available at a very high price.
Extremely dense and naturally rot-proof and weather-resistant, these woods have incomparable intrinsic durability, which is why they are so popular for use as terrace decking.
Ipe, an exotic wood from South America, is the best known and most widespread for its use on terraces. Dark reddish-brown in colour, it has a beautiful grain. Beware of its price, which has soared in recent years.
Teak, a wood from Asia, has become extremely difficult to obtain because the species is protected. The price has therefore also become very high.
Padouk, coming from Central Africa, has a beautiful red colour and beautiful veins. The advantage of this wood is its density which does not splinter. This wood has one of the longest lifespans of any exotic wood. In spite of its high cost, you can count on its presence for many generations! For more information, see our article on the maintenance of a padouk terrace
Cumaru is a wood that comes from South America, despite its great resistance to stains, it is quite nervous and can become deformed if it is not dried properly. It is therefore necessary to ask your supplier about drying after cutting.
We can also mention Garapa, Tali, Itauba, Bankirai, Massaranduba and Merbau.
As a whole, exotic woods, due to their high density, are much more resistant to weathering and stains than softwoods. By purchasing this type of wood, you are choosing a noble and high-quality material. It is the best product available for a wooden deck.
To protect them better, against the sun's UV rays and chlorine at the edge of the pool for example, and to preserve their beautiful original colour, we recommend using a treatment and protection product such as Exotic Wood Saturator SBE600.
Another type of wood, thermo-heated woods are woods such as ash or poplar, which can be laid as decking after having received a high-temperature treatment.
The treatment consists of hardening the wood by heating it to more than 200°C in an oven. It then becomes more resistant to fungi, mould and insects and is less subject to damage from the humidity surrounding the terrace. For a price equivalent to exotic woods, thermo-heated woods have a lifespan of around 20 years.
This type of wood for terraces appeared quite recently (about 15 years ago). Very different from natural wood, we can say that wood composite is a hybrid between wood and plastic. It is made of plastic and wood fibre or sometimes plant fibre such as hemp or bamboo. Pigments are added to colour it in the mass. It can be considered as an alternative to exotic wood, victim of massive deforestation.
Its main advantage is that the boards can be laid with invisible fasteners. In contrast to natural wood boards that can be screwed down, composite woods have snap-on fasteners. Although relatively resistant, this material will still require maintenance with products such as waterproofing or wood composite protector.
As a professional, we would like to warn you that you can find composite woods at low prices, but these are mostly of poor quality. For quality composite wood, do not count less than 80 € per m².
PROTECTION AND MAINTENANCE
Whether you choose softwood, exotic wood, thermo-heated wood or composite wood for your deck, be aware that it will be necessary to apply a protective product to prolong its life.
You will find two types of protective products on the market. Film-forming protection products (glazes, varnishes) and impregnating or non-film-forming products (terrace saturators). We advise you to apply this second type of product because film-forming protection products (film-forming) peel off over time and make it very difficult to maintain the wood. Unlike saturators, which will impregnate and nourish the wood and are easy to maintain because they can be directly covered.
To find out more about the protection and maintenance of wooden decks, we advise you to read this article on the subject : « How to protect and maintain a wooden deck? ».
If you have any questions, our specialists at Anova Bois are at your disposal to answer them. Do not hesitate to call us or send us an e-mail here.