Curving Decking Lumber for Circular and Curved Decking

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Conventional decking approximates curves using multi­sided straight panels. Circular or curved decking is a beautiful novelty and so much more elegant to see. Trex decking technology can produce clean, durable curved wood railings and floor pieces. These assemble into gently curved decks or circular decks that have a sharply distinctive look and feel.

If you look at it from a cultural perspective, people are deeply aware of the luxury that traditionally surrounded the curve in home design. Curved wood and other building materials have been expensive enough to drive their image into the realm of unaffordable romance.

What has, historically, been called a balcony has a special place in home design. Balconies and decks break the monotony indoor living. A home can feel like a cage or a box if it does not offer the interruption of a preview of nature. Beautiful decks add luxury and romance to a home.

Stairways are a necessary lifeline of any home. They need to be a top priority in designing any deck. Stairways can go way beyond the merely useful and take on a romantic air if they are gracefully curved.

Expensive Wood Curving:

Curving wood railing is very expensive, time­consuming and risky. The process of curving wood is a delicate process of making small “kerfed” cuts into the wood to allow it to bend, or gluing layers of plywood lumber together and forcing the relatively inflexible material into a guide until the material adapts to the contrived shape.

When the kerf cutting is used to allow the wood to be bent or curved, the wood should never be exposed to the elements. When nails are driven through a kerf cut rim into joists, only about 3/8ths inch of solid material is secured. This doesn’t take long to rot. The nails will pull through and the fasteners will release if the wood is stressed. Joints through kerf cuts are weak. The nail only has about 1 inch of space to flex. It will carry very little load.

Curved decks made of glued plywood are often structurally unsound as well. Exterior plywood is not made to be exposed to the elements. It is made of thin layers of soft wood like spruce, pine or fir and a water­resistant adhesive. Voids in the adhesive allow moisture to penetrate. The plywood is likely to deteriorate in a few years.

The process of curving deck material:

The Trex custom curve technology employs proprietary decking materials, especially suited for curvature, a 295 degree hybrid propane­electrical heating/steaming device, and systems of guides and clamps to shape the curved deck material. The decking material is placed in the heated chamber to soften it and increase its flexibility. When the lumber is steamed, the curve can be shaped using the guide system, and will retain the curve when cooled.

The Material:

Trex composite decking is an environmentally sustainable material, made of 95 percent recycled wood and sawdust, as well as recycled plastic, paper and cardboard. Trex uses about 100,000 tons of waste polyethylene plastic each year and claims to keep 200,000 tons of plastic and hardwood scraps out of landfills annually.

Over 120,000 pieces of recycled packaging bags, overwraps and the like can be used to create 500,000 square feet Trex decking. The raw materials are mixed with a pigment and preservative. The mixture is heated, formed into a board shape, then cooled.

In 2009, Trex introduced a “Transcend” line of decking. The extruded board includes a shell around the board on three sides to protect the board from staining, fading and scratching. Because of the shell, the decking material is soap and water washable and virtually maintenance free for years.

Variety of Curved Decks:

Curved decks were rare until recently. Traditional craftsmen were working long, expensive hours making kerf cuts or laminating multiple layers of plywood materials to make curved railings. In moist climates, the kerf cuts would rot, the lamination would weaken, and the curved boards would start coming apart.

The advent of composite materials has seen a blossoming of curved arcs dramatically cantilevered over support beams. There are graceful curved railings efficiently constructed of composite materials, decking with multiple curves swinging in and out around homes, decks that mimic ground terrace patterns around curved pools or fountains. There are circular decks that build a sense of intimacy. There are deck pathways leading out into lawns. There is even curved or circular flooring with inlays of different shades or colors.

Dramatic decks have curved stairways reaching to them from different angles. There are romantic circular stairways that connect levels of a deck, or even connect two stories of a larger home. With so many styles of staircases to choose from, the ones that are strikingly different from all the rest are the ones that are spiral in shape, With modern materials, this kind of fashion can be within reach.

Radial Decks:

Often curved decks surround radially arranged flooring. The flooring radiates outward in a cylindrical shape from a center point. This arrangement can be very interesting visually as it emphasizes the curvature of the railing. The radial pattern can be the opportunity to add subtle color to the planking to emphasize the extraordinary nature of a radial deck. Modern composite materials come in a wide variety of hues and shades.

Woodcraft Design and Build, the deck builders of Michigan, are a full service design and build company specializing in custom decks, revitalizing existing decks, screened porches and enclosures in the Detroit area.

Please contact us for more information.