Does A Deck Need Airflow? (Is Ventilation Under A Deck Important)

You might think that it is important to have your decking relatively low to the floor, but this is often not the case. Giving your decking breathing space is crucial for maintaining its integrity. Moisture will slowly cause your wood to weaken and eventually collapse if you are hosting people on it regularly.

Another reason you need breathing space is that wood often moves – literally! It can breathe and expand from rainwater and other such elements. It’s because your decking is in the open that you will have to worry about these harmful elements.

If you have wooden cabinets inside your home, then you won’t have to worry about such expansion and damage.

Does A Deck Need Airflow (Is Ventilation Under A Deck Important)

So what is the best method of causing air to circulate through your decking? Why should you make sure there is enough space underneath your decking? How much space do you need to have on all sides of your deck area? Why should you stop all moisture from getting to your wood? Is wood the best decking material?

Well, if you want answers to these questions and a whole lot more, then you should definitely keep reading this article. Once you have read this article, you’ll know how to properly kit out your decking to preserve its longevity and reduce the risk of it collapsing.

Why Have Air Ventilation For Your Decking?

Due to its material, you should always make sure that your wood has room to breathe. This is because wood is very susceptible to moisture damage, such as wood rot and mold that can really damage the composition of your decking, even causing it to collapse.

If you have more moisture on one side of your decking than you do on another, then you can expect your decking to expand very unevenly on one side. This might cause your wood to start bulging, which might upset some of the furniture that you are resting in it.

You need to make sure that your wood has enough room to expand. Wooden furniture tends to expand indoors, but this is at a much slower rate, due to the absence of moisture in most homes.

The Problem Of Moisture

One issue with outdoor decking is moisture. Even on wood that is coated, you can expect to go through dramatic expansion and construction. This is because it will be drenched with rain one minute and then baked in the hot sun the next.

If you don’t have space between the boards in your decking, then you can expect the water to pool, as it will have no place to go. This will cause rot to set in, which can be hugely detrimental to the composition of your boards.

Water is also the perfect place for insects to thrive, often laying their eggs in the wood of your decking. This will cause the wood to slowly rot and eventually break down. This might occur underneath your decking where you cannot see it, so by the time the decking is completely rotten, you might have no idea.

All you need is around 20% more moisture in the atmosphere to encourage insects to burrow and worm their way through your timber. Most lumber that is used for decking is especially aerated to ensure that no moisture will get into your wood.

But one of the reasons that you should have plenty of drainage under this wood is so that the water can run away a lot easier. Once the water is gone, then insects and rot will have a  much harder time getting into the cracks.

The Difference Between Softwood and HardWood Decking

There are two different types of wood decking: that is softwood and hardwood. Softwood is often made from cedar and is pressure treated to avoid wood rot. Hardwood decking is usually manufactured from Ipe, Cumaru and Machiche wood. Hardwood is denser and more durable than softwood.

However, softwood is the decking that is least affected by moisture, as the wood is pressure treated and will expand with very minimal damage. You should have this type of wood for your decking if you live in a particularly rainy climate.

Hardwood decking will give you a much longer life for your decking, lasting twice as long as some of the pressure-treated softwoods. You should make sure that you have adequate ventilation underneath and at the sides of your decking. You’ll need to make sure that you have plenty of room in the cracks.

This way your wood will be able to release the pressure that naturally builds up through expansion and contraction. If you have composite decking, then you can expect mold and other rot to build up in the wood fibers.

Can You Achieve Proper Deck Ventilation?

You should make sure that you have at least 150 cm of room underneath your decking. If you look at a lot of other decking, you’ll see that it is quite high off the floor. This is to make sure that plenty of air can circulate underneath and in between the gaps.

You should make sure that your boards are not too close to any soil or grass underneath, as the temperature of that will affect the temperature of the air that passes through it. You should also make sure that the hinges of your decking are oiled, as this will avoid warping and cupping and add an extra layer of protection.

Making sure that you have enough air underneath your boards will ensure that your decking has a lot longer lifespan and will perform a lot better. Remember: you should also sweep debris from your decking, as dead leaves and mulch can become a breeding ground for wood-eating bacteria.