LESLIE: Daniel in Wisconsin is doing some work on a deck. Tell us what you’re doing.
DANIEL: I have some 4×4 posts that are support-structured posts that have warped. And I want to take them out, replace them. And what I want to do is get an idea from you guys – there’s any product out there that I could replace these posts with that would cheer (ph) some of this warping so it wouldn’t happen again.
TOM: Well, is it a 4×4 post?
TOM: Yeah, they do tend to twist and warp a lot. How long are they?
DANIEL: I would say 8 feet: 4 on the – 4 below the deck and 4 above.
TOM: OK. And you want to use like one piece and have it go right sort of through the deck and become part of the railing structure?
TOM: Yeah. I don’t know that you’re going to have any luck finding any better 4x4s. It’s kind of a condition that these things – that that size twists a lot. If you were to upgrade to a 6×6 and do a different kind of railing, you would have a lot less twisting.
TOM: But a 4×4 is very, very famous for twisting and cracking and checking. I’ve seen these things twist 15, 20 degrees; it’s almost like they’re rotating.
In fact, one time, I was putting in a railing system where they had to be covered by a PVC sleeve and we could not get the sleeve over the 4×4 because it had twisted. We ended up having to plane the 4×4 down – all the high spots – so that we could slide the sleeve for the railing system on top of it.
TOM: So with that length, 4×4, you’re going to find a lot of twist. If you’d like to have less twist, you’re going to have to use a 6×6.
DANIEL: OK. Second question, the original – this deck was put in a for a hot tub on top and the original construction person used 20-inch on center spacing. Now, the deck boards themselves have warped because of that, because they didn’t have the appropriate support underneath it.
LESLIE: Because it wasn’t close enough for the hot tub.
DANIEL: It was support for the hot tub but the spacing – see, we’ve taken the hot tub off now and the boards themselves – the decking boards – have warped. And what I want to do is – I’m asking you a question: what size boards should I put in between this 20-inch on center? Should I use a 2×6, 2×8?
TOM: That’s a really odd size but you should be – definitely be able to do OK with a 2×6 because 2×6 could go 24 on center. So I would do a 2×6.
Now, by the way, if you’ve only got a couple that are warped or cracked, you could pop them up and flip them over and screw them down the next time. Because the back side will typically be in almost perfect condition.
TOM: Save some money.
DANIEL: OK. Yeah, I’ve got to get after it and it’s going to be a nice-looking thing once I get it done. I appreciate you guys.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
We need to install some shade sails over our playground equipment. Metal pipes are quite expensive, so we are wondering if 6″ x 6″ pressure treated posts would work. The exposed part of the pole would be about 9 ft high. One of the employees at the place that makes the sails said that they tend to bend over time when they are under tension so we should use metal pipes. What are your thoughts on this?
Hi Patty, 6×6 would probably work but mind you they are very heavy so you’ll need 2 or 3 people for this project. I used these as posts for my hammock last summer and the project came out great. Couple of things to note: (1) you’ll probably need posts that are at least 13 feet long as I’d aim to dig the holes a least 4 feet deep. You can dig them with a post hole digger and then add Quikrete (in the red bag) concrete mix around each one, and make sure they are level. You can pour the Quikrete in dry and then pour water the holes – it doesnt need to be premixed. One last tip I could helpful – I used a router to round over the rough corners of the 6×6 posts before installing them. Best to do all that kind of work before the posts are vertical.