Over the years, the quality of the pressure-treated lumber used for framing decks seems to have gotten progressively worse. Making it difficult to produce a quality finished product that maintains itself for a reasonable length of time. It is frustrating to see a beautifully crafted deck deteriorate as the lumber shrinks, warps, and twists, resulting in uneven surfaces, slippage at joints, and sloppy-looking miters. Luckily there is a fantastic alternative that has been in use for many years, light-gauge steel.
While LGS (light-gauge steel) is quite common in the commercial world today, residential decks are overwhelmingly still constructed with pressure treated lumber framing. There are many advantages to using LGS framing for even simple residential decks. These include material precision, meaning all corners, dimensions, and angles will be precise and will not degrade or warp over time as pressure treated lumber does. Steel framing is also able to span significantly larger distances while maintaining a smaller dimension and weight than the pressure treated equivalent. These advantages not only affect the overall quality of the deck but the labor cost as well allowing for quicker less labor intensive construction on certain applications when compared to lumber. Generally LGS framing will cost more than lumber, however, there is often less material used as well as fewer footings, thus often resulting in overall costs for either material being about even. In addition to these benefits, there is also more design flexibility allowing for greater customization to fit the exact needs of your space.
The main factors deterring homeowners from choosing to use LGS framing stem from a lack of knowledge or understanding of methods, techniques and the material in general. Cost is a major concern for most skeptics, fearing that it will be significantly more expensive or too labor intensive to be affordable. Typically the minimal cost difference is well worth the value of the finished product. Ultimately, if you are in the market for a new or replacement deck, then you will want to talk to your local professionals about what options are available to you. Knowing the possibilities before you make a costly investment will empower you to make a decision that your family and friends will enjoy for many years to come.