An outside deck calls for lumber that will stand up to the weather

An outside wood deck, say lumber dealers, is one of the most popular add-on projects for the homeowner. It provides an outdoor living environment for the family, a place for a cookout, an informal meeting place with the neighbors, or a nice spot for just plain loafing after a long day on the job. Whatever your choice, an outside wood deck will more than pay for itself over the years in family fun and added value to the house when it is sold.

It needn't be a demanding job that calls for an abundance of construction expertise. Most home-improvement buffs can handle a deck with little trouble.

Generally, a wood deck is built aboveground, but sometimes a homeowner will place a deck on the ground, as in patio construction. Because a deck is exposed to the weather, the wise homeowner needs to consider the durability of different kinds of lumber available in his area.

Some wood is naturally resistant to sun, snow, wind, and rain. Other wood needs to be specially treated. Pressure-treated woods cost more but are excellent selections for outdoor projects.

Lumber dealers can solve all your outdoor construction problems, not only with detailed building plans, but also with the proper wood for your location.

Here's a list of woods to consider:

* Ash - A hardwood employed consistently for wooden tool handles. The fine, close grain gives this lumber the strength and resistance required for outdoor construction.

* Cedar - Western red cedar is lightweight and strong, has a straight grain, and is knot-free and durable.

* Douglas fir - A very dependable and widely available lumber for preliminary building construction. The lumber's natural color needs no stain.

* Pine - This lumber is soft, yet strong and easy to work with, but it is not naturally durable. Special chemical treatment is necessary for outdoor uses.

* Poplar - A softwood, strong and fairly resistant to decay and warping.

* Redwood - Probably the most favored for deck construction because of its color, grain, and ability to resist decay.

* Southern pine - Decays and warps easily. This wood is as strong as ash and fir, yet difficult to work with.

* Spruce - Widely available, but soft; warps and decays easily.

If it's too late to build a deck this year, make your plans as it snows, and with the first crack of spring, finish the job.

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