Several years ago, concerns surfaced about this material being a health risk because certain chemicals used to treat the wood could leach into soil. After exhaustive testing by the EPA, pine industry, and other organizations, it was determined that the amount of arsenic in soil was miniscule and really posed no human health risks. However, the wood industry has changed its pressure-treating process. For residential use, all chromated copper arsenate (CCA) lumber should be pulled from the shelves and replaced with alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) by this spring.
There's no need to pull out your existing lumber to replace it, but this process should remove any doubt or concern about pressure-treated wood. The new lumber will perform in the exact same way as the pressure-treated pine you're used to--perhaps even better. You can place nails or screws in it, stain it, and seal it like you always have. Some retailers have raised the price, but it's still the most affordable option at $2 to $3 per square foot.
It's a good idea to seal pressure-treated wood annually. Also, always let new wood dry for at least six months prior to staining or sealing it.
Keeping Your Deck in Shape
- Rinse your deck's surface with a hose twice a year to keep it in good condition. Then, using either a cleaner made specifically for decks or diluted bleach, scrub the surface of the deck with a long-handled, stiff-bristled brush. Rinse the surface again. If you must pressure wash, do so carefully and on a low setting. A high-power pressure washer used close to the boards could raise the wood grain and damage the surface.
- Periodically check the decking for any nails or screws that have pulled free. Reset them with a hammer or screwdriver. It's a good idea to use screws instead of nails; although this is more labor intensive, as wood dries out, nails can pull free.