Always get the value of your money. Nobody wants to construct a patio that will only look good for a few months then the cover starts to fall or discolor. All these problems come from poor selection of the wrong quality of lumber for patio covers.
When it comes to patio covers there are three characteristics of lumber that you must consider. These are; the type of lumber, lumber sizes, and lumber grades/texture. A patio cover can be constructed with any other material, but wood is the best because it is durable and always available.
Types/Species of Lumber for Patio Covers
- Cedar and redwood
Cedar can also be called the western red cedar. The cedar and the redwood are the best tree species for patio covers. These trees are rot-resistant and insect resistant due to the natural oils they produce. They have a natural color that is appealing on most patios. The redwood is dark red-brown while the cedar has a yellow-brown hue.
They are both durable trees but the redwood is stronger than the cedar. This is because the redwood has subtle grains that are compact while the cedar has rustic grains that are pronounced.
- Pressure-treated wood
Pressure-treated wood is easy to use and it has a wide range of uses on a patio cover. It can be used for pretty much anything you want to build from wood. This type of wood undergoes a special treatment that makes it resistant to rot and insects especially termites, making it a durable wood. Pressure treated wood decks are the least expensive option when compared to cedar, composite, or exotic woods.
Pressure-treated wood is often thought to be second in class when it comes to aesthetics when compared to cedar, though with the proper care and maintenance can outperform cedar in the long run.
In direct sunlight, the natural wood color of pressure treated lumber will begin to fade to a grey color within a year of installation. A good quality wood sealer can mitigate this problem. You can also get a stain and sealer in one like this Storm product, which comes in a variety of color choices. This is what I use on my pressure treated lumber decks.
Pressure-treated wood has an old concern that it could leach toxic chemicals out that could possibly harm humans or pets. This was true of the old pressure-treating chemical ‘chromated copper arsenate’ or CCA, which is now largely banned by governments around the world. Today lumber is treated with ‘Alkaline Copper Quaternary’ or ‘ACQ’, and is a much safer product for humans, pets, and the environment.
- Chemically Modified wood
This is a strong wood that offers real wood character and is environmentally friendly. This wood is created by modifying the fast growing species of wood. The fast growing trees are treated with a non-toxic chemical that alters the cell structure of the tree. Without getting deep into the science the chemical reduces the ability of the wood’s cellular structure to absorb water. This makes the modified wood stronger, more durable, and less likely to warp or crack.
The modified wood has a natural grain that ages into a silver-gray color. It does not require treating, making it environmentally friendly. Just clean it, stain it (if you want a different color than the natural gray), and it will live longer.
- Tropical hardwoods
These are woods known for most outdoors. The main species are teak, mahogany, ipe, and rosewood. These exotic woods have natural beautiful color which only requires a clear finishing. They have compact wood grains that make them strong and durable. Some tropical hardwoods like teak and rosewood are water resistant, making them the best option in humid areas.
Tropical hardwoods are not used on most patio covers because they are hard to find and very expensive to purchase. These trees also take long to mature and they also suffer illegal logging worldwide. Most counties have placed them on conservation lists.
Lumber Textures and Grades
The texture of the lumber will determine its grade. Lumber grades depend on natural characteristics, milling errors, drying techniques or preserving methods that will affect the durability of the lumber. And the general appearance of the lumber will also affect its grade.
In many cases, the higher grades are costlier than the lower grades of lumber. Choose a grade that is best for your patio, not necessarily the higher grade. Use personal preferences to choose your favorite lumber grade.
Below are the common lumber textures;
Rough lumber, this is lumber that has a splintery surface. It is the cheapest lumber texture that accepts stains and rejects paints. However, a rough texture lumber can be unsuitable for patio covers if it has many knots, absorbs moisture, flat grains and can twist or bend over time.
Re-sawn lumber, this is a re-processed lumber that has gone through a coarse-bladed saw. The coarse-bladed saw creates a scored texture that is rustic and not too rough. It is less common than rough lumber but it accepts both stains and paints.
Surfaced lumber, this the standard lumber texture for most patio covers. You can choose to buy lumber that is planed on all sides or two sides or just one side.
How to Care and Maintain a Patio Lumber Cover
Regularly clean the patio cover. Use a broom to remove the dust and wipe the wood with a wet rug. Avoid using excess water because it will make the wood dump hence attracting molds and mildew.
Stain or paint your lumber patio cover. This will increase the useful life of the wood. Stains and paints protect the lumber from water and destructive wood insects and termites.
Treat the lumber before installing it as your patio cover. Use a pressure washer or buy lumber that has already been treated. Treated lumber is safe from molds, mildew and termites.
Always inspect your lumber patio cover to find out if there is a defect like loose nails and exposed wood. Nail down the loose nails and cover up the exposed lumber with iron sheets or plastic covers.
The best lumber for a patio cover will depend on three factors/characteristics of the lumber. Go to the nearest lumberyard and look at the type of lumber, side of lumber, and the grade of lumber or the texture of lumber. Choose lumber that will be readily available, easy to work with, and cheap to maintain over a long period of time.