A strong wood with a striking appearance and unmistakable fragrance, cedar is a common choice for decks. Tongue-and-groove cedar panels fit together to create a tough deck that will last years with proper care. Natural qualities in cedar wood allow it to withstand wind, rain, snow and sun.
A coniferous evergreen, cedar trees have a rich, earthy scent. Cedar is also a durable and soft wood, with a grain described as "intricate and beautiful" by American Deck. The flexible nature of cedar makes it a popular choice for use in homes, and natural tannins in the wood provide resistance to insects, though they also cause spotting when it rains. However, as cedar matures and acclimatizes, the spotting stops.
How Tongue-and-Groove Decking Works
Much like puzzle pieces, tongue-and-groove decking planks fit tightly together to form a whole. The thin "tongue" end of a piece of cedar decking is placed into the groove of another plank, joining them. Next the planks are nailed through the tongue to prevent separation. To avoid problems with swelling, cedar for tongue-and-groove decking planks must have a low moisture content, according to the American Wood Council.
Just like any type of deck, tongue-and-groove cedar requires cleaning and care. On a weekly basis, sweep dead leaves off your cedar deck, or as they decompose, they will slip inside cracks and gaps in the wood and cause it to rot. Removing dead leaves also prevents them from becoming rain-soaked clumps that aid mold growth. To clean a cedar deck, rinse it with a garden hose or use a pressure washer outfitted with a fan-tip to avoid denting the wood.
For extra protection from the elements, a tongue-and-groove cedar deck should be sealed. To let the natural look of cedar shine through, opt for a semi-transparent seal. Avoid dark sealants, which absorb heat, making the deck uncomfortable to walk on in sunny weather. Apply deck sealant with a sprayer for an even, smooth appearance. Using a paint roller causes overlap and makes the deck appear two-toned, according to Cedar Restoration.
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