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Thread: Composite Lumber for a trailer deck?

  1. #1
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    Composite Lumber for a trailer deck?

    It is time to refurbish my utility trailer. I need to replace the wood sides which are literally falling apart and the decking as well as clean up rust on the frame and repaint the frame. The current deck is 3/4" PT plywood which lasted probably 10 years (I'm the second owner). I really don't want to use plywood again because its deterioration rapidly increased by me moving tools and other stuff that gouged up the surface. With solid material such as PT wood or composite, I don't thing that'll be nearly as much trouble. I'd still like the bottom to be splash-proof though, which means no space between the decking boards. My two ideas are to use PT lumber with a rabbit cut on each side and overlap to allow for shrinkage. That sounds like a lot of work, especially since the lumber won't be straight. The other thought is to use composit decking, put a bead of silicone caulk on each joint, and butt the pieces together. My only concern is that the 2x2 steel crossmembers are 2' on center rather than 16" on center like a deck would have. Any thoughts or experience with this stuff?

  2. #2
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    I have seen composite decking that comes tongue and groove in full 1" thickness. Your lumber yard should be able to help locate it. Looks like an old fashioned grey painted fir porch floor when assembed. You could also tongue and groove the regular compsite stuff yourself-it machines pretty easily, just requires support to stop the flex. The manufactured T&G stuff would be stiffer though IMHO. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    The composite stuff, Trex, I make pens from.

    It is going to be VERY heavy in your trailer.

    just food for thought.

  4. #4
    I redid my trailer a few years ago , using 1x pt pine holding up well so far.

    if its a open frailer how much of a "splash factor " is there ?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Littleton
    The composite stuff, Trex, I make pens from.

    It is going to be VERY heavy in your trailer.

    just food for thought.
    I was wondering about that too.

    Quote Originally Posted by skip coyne
    I redid my trailer a few years ago , using 1x pt pine holding up well so far.

    if its a open frailer how much of a "splash factor " is there ?
    Did you just butt the decking together? I'm mainly thinking of road grime splashing up. It is an open trailer, so I'm not going to stop a downpour, but I would like to keep a puddle from splashing up on the bottom. Of course the wheels are outside the frame, with fenders, so maybe its not an issue?
    Last edited by Matt Meiser; 06-12-2006 at 9:24 PM.

  6. #6
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    What works best in our area is white oak, and would be stronger with your 2' spacing on the crossmembers, and it will last a Long time compared to other materials. We usually just use rough cut green WO from a mill. The spacing helps the wood dry out after inclement wx, and keeps rot from starting. If you have something real delicate to haul that you're worrying about any splashing, just throw a tarp on the trlr first and then load and tarp the top also.
    "Some Mistakes provide Too many Learning Opportunities to Make only Once".

  7. #7
    matt

    just butt joint , left 1/8- 1/4 between boards (didnt measure just left a slight gap ) . I used the PT pine becouse I found a bunch of 1x4 and 1x6 x 8'-10' for a 1.00 each at the recycle center

  8. #8
    matt, how `bout aluminum treadplate? .02 tod
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  9. #9
    Check into those 2' spans... I know when we were building decks there was concerns about going wider than 16"...
    Jeff Sudmeier

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  10. #10
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    Great idea. I gave up cattle ranching three years ago. My stock trailer floor was rotting. The composite would be perfect for that use.

  11. #11
    Great topic Matt as I need to do the same thing to my 5x12 trailer. I bought it new 6 years ago, trailer deck was 2x PT Pine and it has totally rotted away. I would like to put down some white oak 2x lumber for the bed, but I will have to put PT Pine back down as it's cheaper. You going to put a double layer on your trailer if you putting down 1x lumber?
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  12. #12
    The solid composite stuff is great in certian application and not so in others.

    If the material is going to have to support a load for any duration period the material will flex and flow under the stress. It's plastic after all. Sitting in the sun behing a truck on the highway will heat it and make it flow more easily.
    So where you use it may depend largely on what loaring you will demand of it.

    As mentioned it's heavy too so it'll consume fuel.

  13. #13
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    I saw a SMALL utility trailer at Tractor Supply recently with composite decking. I suspect that it will be fine for materials hauling (such as lumber and sheet goods) but would be concerned if you were "driving" heavy machinery onto the same deck...check the load ratings.
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  14. #14
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    The sawyer I worked with did trailer decking for people really cheap. You might need to replace the decking every 5-10 years, but so what?

  15. #15

    Don't recommend it!

    I wouldn't recommend the compostie decking materials for the following reasons.

    1. It has relatively low flexure strength. Most manufacturers recommend a 12" span and certainly no greater than 16" When it breaks, it breaks without warning. On 16" centers it sags noticeably with very little weight on it.

    2. It is very heavy, probably at least double the weight of lumber the same size.

    3. It marks much easier than wood.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

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