The elements that determine the soundness and quality of a wooden construction are its design, its installation and, obviously, the performance of the materials it is made up of.
In this respect, wood is a material that boasts numerous assets. Wood is highly efficient in withstanding major stresses.
Durability and use class (EN 350-2/EN 335/EN 460)
Due to its organic nature, wood is likely to be damaged by biological agents such as insects and fungi. The natural durability of wood reflects its intrinsic resistance to biological attacks.
These risks depend on the exposure of wood to moisture.
Before designing wooden decking or weatherboarding, it is essential to choose a suitable wood species. This choice is determined by various parameters such as durability, aesthetics, mechanical performance, machinability, environmental impact , availability, price.
In order to choose the wood, special attention must be paid to the identification of climate conditions and external stresses specific to the environment where the decking or weatherboarding will be installed, as well as the class of use of the chosen species. In fact, it is imperative that the wood feature durability, natural or conferred, sufficient to withstand relevant moisture conditions.
Wooden decking is typically assigned to class of use 3 or 4. Weatherboarding is assigned to class of use 3.
The durability of wood is obviously one of the major properties to be taken into account when choosing the species.
The durability is essential for designers, architects and contractors as it allows to choose the species to be avoided and/or the preservation treatment required depending on the type of structure, its purpose and its location.
Wood used for construction of decking must show durability type 1, 2 or 3.
||Equivalence(for information only)
||> 25 years
||15 to 25 years
||10 to 15 years
||5 to 10 years
||< 5 years
|Natural durability is a notion that cannot be dissociated from conditions of use of the wood.
Standard EN 335-1 describes 5 use classes:
||Examples of use
||Wood always dry.Wood moisture always < 20%
||Interior carpentry sheltered from moisture: parquets, interior staircases.
||Dry wood, not in contact with the ground, whose moisture may occasionally exceed 20% (surface wetted temporarily or accidentally)
||Ventilated framework and structure.
||Wood not in contact with ground, subjected to alternately moisture and drought (e.g., inclement weather or condensation).Frequent moisture < 20%.
||All outdoor vertical construction or carpentry components exposed to rainfall: weatherboarding, windows, etc. Unventilated framework. Sheltered components showing condensation.
||Wood in permanent contact with the ground and fresh water.Permanent moisture < 20%.
||Piles, pillars, solid or glue-laminated timber in contact with the ground, wood immersed in fresh water, etc.
||Wood in permanent contact with sea water.
||Port constructions, landing stages, breakwaters, etc.
Resistance to termites
Resistance to termites considered is the natural resistance of the heartwood in accordance with NF EN 350-2 or else resistance provided by an adapted preservation treatment in accordance with requirements of standard NF B 50-105-3 for the use class claimed.
M: Moderately durable
During their service life, wooden deck boards undergo, depending on climate fluctuations, shrinking and swelling cycles. During said cycles, timber is subject to warping, splitting, gerses , etc. It is important that the designer be familiar with the properties of each species in order to end up with a quality structure regardless of the species chosen.
To do so, the following scale of values was selected in the summary table of species:
MS: Moderately stable
Hardness (NF EN 1534)
Four level classification:
A: 10 to 20 N/mm2
B: 20 to 30 N/mm2
C: 30 to 40 N/mm2
D: > 40 N/mm2
Wood is a heterogeneous material by nature that boasts a certain number of singularities originally or that show up as it ages (knots ,gerses ,etc.). The presence of said singularities on a deck board does not mean that it is or will become unsuited to the planned use. The impact on its technical specifications is often non-existent.
Geometric properties required for deck boards
Maximum width/thickness ratio for the board cross-section
In order to prevent excessive warping during the service life of the board, the width/thickness is limited to a maximum threshold. This threshold depends on the species’ intrinsic natural stability. Hence, the more the species is said to be stable during the shrinking and swelling phenomena, the higher the allowed upper limit.
Authorised values are listed in the attached summary table (“Species” menu).
Minimum thickness of boards
For reasons of stability and safety, it is recommended not to choose board thicknesses lower than the values listed in the attached summary table (“Species” menu).
Upper ridge of the boards
The boards’ edges must be cassées . In the event of a rounded edge, the bend radius will exceed or equal 2 mm.
Wood and moisture
Wood is an hygroscopic material, i.e., it has the ability to absorb and release moisture compared to its environment. During its transformation and installation, its moisture content must be adjusted depending on the situation in which it will be used. Aspects linked to water play a critical role in the installation of wood and if not taken into account, may lead to numerous problems, including: Warping before or after installation, decrease in mechanical properties, drying flaws, etc.
The warping or bending phenomenon
The phenomenon of warping is inherent to wood. It represents one of the most frequent pathologies in wooden floor covering (decks, parquet floors). It must be allowed if it remains within acceptable limits. For further information, refer to, among others, report 2/2008 (book 9) of the CSTC and to applicable standards.
Parameters affecting the scope of the bending
Moisture content gradient within wood:
the difference in moisture content between the top and bottom sides of the board constitute the decisive parameter in the warping phenomenon. In fact, it is this gradient that leads to a differential in the swelling or shrinking of the wood and that explains the warping that is sometimes concave (the top side has the lowest moisture content), sometimes convex (the top side has the highest moisture content).
Wood sawing method:
since wood warping is considerably greater (practically double) in the tangential direction of the fibres than in their radial sense, the sawing method (flat cut, quarter cut, rift cut) inevitably has an impact on the degree of warping.
Just like sawing, the wood species has an impact on warping, insofar as a wood that is less stable will display greater warping, for the same variation in moisture content.
The boards’ width/thickness ratio :
reflects the ration between the width and thickness of the boards. It is obvious that the higher the ratio, the greater the risk of warping.