View Full Version : Best wood for car trailer deck?


Iron-Iceberg
06-11-2010, 01:23 PM
I need to replace the wood deck on my car trailer. It has rotted out.
What kind of wood should I use that will last the longest and also what kinda sealer? Thompsons?

Scramblur
06-11-2010, 01:54 PM
Lots of options, but cost/value option would be treated lumber.

willymakeit
06-11-2010, 01:58 PM
Treated lumber. Get what is called ground contact. Has higher treatment factor. Seal the ends well,paint ect.

Scramblur
06-11-2010, 02:16 PM
I saw a guy put truck bed liner down on his and it held up well.

dfndr
06-11-2010, 02:18 PM
Diamond plate, steel or aluminum!

caper
06-11-2010, 02:19 PM
Juniper or Hemlock will last for years without being treated.If painted or sealed they pretty much will last a lifetime.

Joe B.
06-11-2010, 02:22 PM
balsa wood

rsanter
06-11-2010, 02:33 PM
treated lumber is what I have used in the past

another option is to get some 14ga or 12 ga steel sheet and weld it on
then cover with 16ga aluminum diamond plate

bob

Scramblur
06-11-2010, 02:47 PM
Hemlock will rot in a hurry. They use it for barns some times, but it rots at the bottom quick. If you live by a sawmill, you can get white oak pretty cheap and it'll never rot (red oak will rot quick) and it's hard as nails. Cypress will last forever, but it's pretty soft. Juniper is pretty soft.

Falcon67
06-11-2010, 02:47 PM
Steel would be my first choice, followed by treated lumber.

GarageEnvy
06-11-2010, 04:03 PM
Teak !
It weathers great and looks good with minimal slivers

What? Nobody said anything about a budget :bounce:

38Chevy454
06-11-2010, 04:22 PM
I had a wood trailer deck. When it rotted out, I replaced with steel diamond plate using 3/16 wall 1.5 square tubing running lengthwise to support between the crossmembers under the 1/8 diamond plate.

mooman
06-11-2010, 04:31 PM
Our three flat beds at work are oak.

walrus
06-11-2010, 05:37 PM
Hemlock will rot in a hurry. They use it for barns some times, but it rots at the bottom quick. If you live by a sawmill, you can get white oak pretty cheap and it'll never rot (red oak will rot quick) and it's hard as nails. Cypress will last forever, but it's pretty soft. Juniper is pretty soft.

Red Oak will not rot quick. Come walk around my property if you want proof. I have it on my woods trailer, its outside all the time and its been on there for 15 20 years

Scramblur
06-11-2010, 05:46 PM
Sorry, I didn't make it up, red oak is not a rot resistant wood. Boat builders use white oak to build with, but red oak will not hold up in wet conditions.

Cargo
06-11-2010, 05:58 PM
My Brother-in-law is doing his old chevy truck bed with Ipe. Look here for some info:

http://www.ipedepot.com/techinfo.htm

If they sell it for decking then maybe it wouldn't be too expensive for a trailer. It is supposed to last very well outside.

walrus
06-11-2010, 05:59 PM
Sorry, I didn't make it up, red oak is not a rot resistant wood. Boat builders use white oak to build with, but red oak will not hold up in wet conditions.

Whatever. I have 30 acres of red oak, it does not rot quick

Scramblur
06-11-2010, 06:09 PM
Well not while it's growing, just after you mill it and put it on your car trailer... Google it.

lilredex
06-11-2010, 06:18 PM
If you go with wood, and lived around here, my choices would be pressure treated, Beech and then White oak, in escalating costs. Red oak is less than ideal because of its cell structure......it is open at the ends allowing moisture to be wicked in there.

I did the floor of my Lil Red in '88 with Beech and it is still like new. Believe the factory originally used red oak on the floors and white oak for the side boards. An economiclal sustitute for white oak is beech (at least around here) and when finished, look very similar............only a woodworker would see the difference (very slight).

adam728
06-11-2010, 06:28 PM
Whatever. I have 30 acres of red oak, it does not rot quick

Sorry, Scramblur is right. A quick Google search will show lots of woodworking sites that state red oak is not good for outdoor use as it discolors and rots quickly. From boats to outdoor furniture plenty of places recommending white oak and recommending against red oak.

Torque1st
06-11-2010, 06:30 PM
The old CCA pressure treated wood was ~OK. The new ACQ pressure treated wood is very corrosive. It cannot be used in contact with aluminum at all. It will quickly cause steel to rust also. If you are in an area where TimberSil pressure treated wood is available use it. Otherwise go with some of the regular wood suggestions or metal above. Some commercial trailer manufacturers use wood soaked in a 50/50 mix of used motor oil and kerosene.

caper
06-11-2010, 06:34 PM
Hemlock will rot in a hurry. They use it for barns some times, but it rots at the bottom quick. If you live by a sawmill, you can get white oak pretty cheap and it'll never rot (red oak will rot quick) and it's hard as nails. Cypress will last forever, but it's pretty soft. Juniper is pretty soft.

My house is 90 yrs old and has hemlock sills.As solid as the day they were put there.One of the guys I work with has had a juniper deck on his trailer for 10 yrs,bare wood.

slip knot
06-11-2010, 06:45 PM
Why use treated at all? Most of the treated and ground contact lumber is for insect damage not water repelency. I've used SYP for years and get at least 10yrs out of the deck. I'll soak mine down with diesel and oil every few years. park it out of the weeds and out from under the trees keep the deck dry and it wont rot out.

Torque1st
06-11-2010, 07:04 PM
Why use treated at all? Most of the treated and ground contact lumber is for insect damage not water repelency. I've used SYP for years and get at least 10yrs out of the deck. I'll soak mine down with diesel and oil every few years. park it out of the weeds and out from under the trees keep the deck dry and it wont rot out.
The treatment is not to repel water but to avoid wood destruction and rot due to insects and fungi.

KEH
06-11-2010, 07:11 PM
Partly depends on where you are. If you are in a desert area, any kind of wood will last, except for drying up and cracking. Wood has different decay characteristics in cold climates, and I don't know what they are.

Steel works every time.

I have a trailer with red oak, 15-20 years old. Red oak has open cell structure and does not repel water. White oak is a little stronger and will repel water, which does not mean it will last forever. Note that whiskey barrels are made of white oak and that hand made shingles back in the day were made from white oak.

I have some corral fencing made from red oak which is 20 or so years old and still sound, but white oak is better.

If you use any kind of oak, only use lumber that does not have the lighter sap wood which decays rapidly. Also select lumber that does not have knots except maybe small tight ones. If you have a 8 inch board with a 4 inch knot, you really have a 4 inch board. Also avoid cracks in the lumber.

I'm in SC so am describing conditions here.

BTW, don't use red cedar. It won't decay, but it is brittle and weak.


KEH

PassnThru
06-11-2010, 07:23 PM
Partly depends on where you are. If you are in a desert area, any kind of wood will last, except for drying up and cracking. Wood has different decay characteristics in cold climates, and I don't know what they are.

Steel works every time.



Steel rusts - wood rots. All I know is that I'm set up to work with wood - not with steel. And I would think it would be cheaper to replace that rotted wood than rusted steel.
Seriously - I would call it a draw. Either requires maintenance to protect it from the elements. Obviously, steel doesn't need protection from bugs, but then again my trailer wood only needs to be protected from carpenter bees.
Educate me - I don't work with steel. Given what I have said, in terms of low maintenance and longevity (not strength), which would be the winner?

walrus
06-11-2010, 07:30 PM
Sorry, Scramblur is right. A quick Google search will show lots of woodworking sites that state red oak is not good for outdoor use as it discolors and rots quickly. From boats to outdoor furniture plenty of places recommending white oak and recommending against red oak.

I have a trailer with red oak, 15-20 years old. Red oak has open cell structure and does not repel water. White oak is a little stronger and will repel water, which does not mean it will last forever. Note that whiskey barrels are made of white oak and that hand made shingles back in the day were made from white oak.

I have some corral fencing made from red oak which is 20 or so years old and still sound, but white oak is better.


I guess KEH experience is BS also, after all it says in a book:lol_hitti.
White oak may be better, I have no experience with white oak. I have lots of experience with red oak. Will it last forever, no, will it rot like pine or spruce, no it won't. Maybe our problem is you expect more than I do from wood? It rots after awhile I have no problem with that.
I have a bench in my shop thats made from red oak. My dad had a portable mill on our lot in the late 80s early 90s. He had a stack of of 2 by 6s, a pile 4 feet wide, 3 to 4 feet tall,spruce and pine sitting in the woods. I decided to move it to burn pile last year as it was really rotten, I was throwing it on the trailer to move it. Much to my surprise the bottom row was red oak, 10" wide planks, sitting on red oak sticks so it wasn't on the ground but they were soaking wet. I could barely pick them up. Look at the pic of my bench after drying in the barn all winter and then planed out, see any rot?

Rosco
06-11-2010, 08:08 PM
I use treated lumber and coat it with used motor oil every year. Lasting a very long time.

1969
06-11-2010, 08:08 PM
Tamarack, very rot resistant.

Torque1st
06-11-2010, 08:12 PM
I use treated lumber and coat it with used motor oil every year. Lasting a very long time.
Did you buy that treated lumber before 2003? As of December 31, 2003, the pressure treated wood industry discontinued the use of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) as the primary wood preservative used for most residential and general consumer construction. Existing CCA-treated stockpiles were used until exhausted. The new ACQ treated lumber is a whole different animal.

1320stang
06-11-2010, 08:14 PM
I'd go with petrified, it won't rot.....

ihredo4
06-11-2010, 08:20 PM
If you have a saw mill nearby have them cut you oak planks 2" thick and whatever width you need to cover deck evenly. I.E. a 6 foot deck would have 6 12" planks. Once the planks are fastened down e treated them with used engine oil. Good luck doing that today though. We did this 25 years ago and the deck is as good today as when we redecked it.

KEH
06-11-2010, 08:26 PM
"educate me" passingthru said. OK, I have built trailers with wood floors and trailers with steel floors. Haven't had to replace any steel floors yet. The steel floor is not going to rust any quicker than the steel frame under the wood floor. I don't know the thickness of the steel I used, it was all scrounged or given to me. On small trailers floor is maybe 1/16 inch thick, on a 16 foot trailer steel is maybe 3/16 thick. If you have to buy new steel it will be more expensive than wood. Steel floor has to be supported by crossmembers that are closer together than for wood. Without going to look, I would guess 18 inches for steel and 24 inches for 2 inch thick wood.

If you can shelter the trailer, any kind of wood will last indefinately.

An oak floor will support much more weight than treated pine.

Your climate in KY will be about the same as mine in SC for the length ot time wood lasting purposes.

People hauling tracked machinery prefer thick wood floors over steel, presumably because the tracks tear up the steel quicker.

Like your handle BTW.

KEH

Art From De Leon
06-11-2010, 08:53 PM
http://www.tataenterprises.net/PRODUCT/truckflooring-ap.html

Joe69
06-11-2010, 09:07 PM
People hauling tracked machinery prefer thick wood floors over steel, presumably because the tracks tear up the steel quicker.

KEH

It's hard to get traction with steel on steel, kinda like ice skates.

Joe

Keep
06-11-2010, 09:21 PM
White oak is the choice if you want to use oak outside, it is naturally resistant to rot and water. If you have any doubt, ask your local lumber yard, not Home Depot, Not Lowes, an actual lumber yard.

Pressure treated would be okay depending on what you are hauling, pt wood is soft wood, will dent split and crack easier depending on the abuse you plan on giving the trailer.

PassnThru
06-11-2010, 09:24 PM
"educate me" passingthru said. OK, I have built trailers with wood floors and trailers with steel floors. Haven't had to replace any steel floors yet. The steel floor is not going to rust any quicker than the steel frame under the wood floor. I don't know the thickness of the steel I used, it was all scrounged or given to me. On small trailers floor is maybe 1/16 inch thick, on a 16 foot trailer steel is maybe 3/16 thick. If you have to buy new steel it will be more expensive than wood. Steel floor has to be supported by crossmembers that are closer together than for wood. Without going to look, I would guess 18 inches for steel and 24 inches for 2 inch thick wood.

If you can shelter the trailer, any kind of wood will last indefinately.

An oak floor will support much more weight than treated pine.

Your climate in KY will be about the same as mine in SC for the length ot time wood lasting purposes.

People hauling tracked machinery prefer thick wood floors over steel, presumably because the tracks tear up the steel quicker.

Like your handle BTW.

KEH

Yes - I did - and I meant it. But your post didn't sway me in any direction. You mentioned that the steel floor is not going to rust any quicker than the steel frame under the wood floor. That is true - but the frame is thicker than the floor even on a steel trailer. So while they rust at the same rate, thickness matters doesn't it? So the steel floor will rust through before the thicker steel beneath it does.

gsport
06-11-2010, 11:50 PM
how about Trex patio decking... lasts a life time??

Scramblur
06-12-2010, 12:22 AM
Just buy a new trailer.... I'll chip in...

DIC
06-12-2010, 02:13 AM
I would use treated pine, Paint the top side and leave the bottom unpainted so it can dry out....... A friend of mine used railroad ties crossways on a pretty heavy duty trailer I think it's lasted 25-30 years...:)

sammerdog
06-12-2010, 02:44 AM
Heavy trailers (semi trucks) use an Apitong floor.

Stuff would still be going strong after 20 years of abuse.

Approach your local heavy trailer repair facility and see if they'll either sell you some or tell you their source.

kelleybean
06-12-2010, 07:19 AM
how about Trex patio decking... lasts a life time??

That stuff is REALLY heavy and brittle. Some friends just built a deck with it and had to put joists every 12 inches.

NUTTSGT
06-12-2010, 08:03 AM
I replaced my trailer decking about 3 years ago with PT lumber. It originally had regular 2x8 or 2x10 lumber on it. That rotted out and I put PT on it. I just put a coat of stain on it, the same stuff I used on our porches.

When I had the deck off, I added some channel iron where the wheels of my Mustang sit. It was just some cheap insurance in case the current decking rots and breaks while away from home at a race.

pop pop
06-12-2010, 01:06 PM
Old farmers looked for Poplar. Lasts a long time before rotting, is fairly strong, and very light weight. Ideal for trailer use. Never needs paint. Next choice would be Locust, but very difficult to find in large sizes.

Iron-Iceberg
06-13-2010, 05:48 PM
Ill have to ck out the oak. I looked at the IPE and it was $177 for a 2x8 16' long. thats a little steep for me. Doug fir is cheep but I don't think it will last. I was worried about treated because of the slivers. Laying on it to tie down a car would not be fun.

nate379
06-13-2010, 05:56 PM
My trailer is just 2x6 fir. I stained it the first year I got it (2005) and never touched it since. Still looks brand new. Wish I could say the same about the frame though. It was powdercoated and didn't hold up well.

pgreen
06-13-2010, 08:05 PM
If you are going to use a hardwood, like white oak, look for a local sawmill. There are small mills all over. Buy some rough-sawn oak for FAR cheaper than milled furniture grade wood. It is still not cheap, but way way cheaper.

NUTTSGT
06-13-2010, 08:22 PM
Whatever you buy, make sure to measure the thickness of the current floor. I would think the ends and side edges need to fit under the frame.

MotorT
06-13-2010, 09:04 PM
It's hard to get traction with steel on steel, kinda like ice skates.

Joe
Ain't that the truth. You'll never see a hay hauler with a steel deck!!

BigE
06-13-2010, 09:36 PM
Heavy trailers (semi trucks) use an Apitong floor.

Stuff would still be going strong after 20 years of abuse.

Approach your local heavy trailer repair facility and see if they'll either sell you some or tell you their source.

This. The 80,000 lb low boys used to move heavy equipment use either apitong or oak.

Jared
06-13-2010, 09:36 PM
I would just use fir its cheap and easy to get work fine too.

Doug B
06-14-2010, 05:24 AM
Old farmers looked for Poplar. Lasts a long time before rotting, is fairly strong, and very light weight. Ideal for trailer use. Never needs paint. Next choice would be Locust, but very difficult to find in large sizes.

Do you have any real time experience with poplar? I have 3 real nice poplar logs ready to saw and I was thinking about using it on my trailer. A couple of locals tell me it will rot,but they don't really know...thats just what they have heard...Anyone...?

KEH
06-14-2010, 07:11 AM
My experience is that poplar rots quickly here in the Southeast when exposed to the weather. It's not very strong either. It's advantage in furniture construction is that it is stable and dosen't warp. It's used a lot as a base for putting a veneer of more valuable wood on.

KEH

Scramblur
06-14-2010, 12:10 PM
I 2nd KEH's comments on poplar, it's the softest hardwood you can get. It'll rot quick. I won't even use it as a primary wood for furniture, but love it as a secondary wood, inside drawers, casebacks... I still think you should go with rough sawn white oak or oil soak a fir or other cheap wood. Didn't know that the treated woods were so corrosive...

Torque1st
06-14-2010, 12:28 PM
Most people don't know about the corrosive properties of ACQ which is why so many decks and other structures are failing. ACQ is really bad stuff. You need Stainless Steel fasteners and hot dipped G185 metal hangers etc to work with it and even the G185 seems to be failing rapidly. How many people know that there are different grades of galvanized coatings? People just buy the cheap stuff because they don't know any better. People also buy the "ACQ rated" coated deck screws etc. The only problem with those is if they get a scratch during manufacture, packaging, transportation, handling, or installation they will fail. The old CCA is not available in dimensional lumber anymore. CCA was slightly corrosive but not bad. You can still get CCA for certain applications but trailers are not one of them. TimberSil treated wood is not corrosive at all. I just wish I could get some around here.

gfd_703
06-15-2010, 08:10 AM
The types of wood have already been hashed out, now for rest of the story.

The wider the board the better. Imagine a 5 in wide tire on a 6 in board verses a 5 in tire on a 10 in board. Tongue and grove would be the best as it will spread out the load between boards. You also have a solid floor without cracks for hauling loose material.

trbomax
06-15-2010, 10:20 AM
My backhoe trailer has the old cca on it.Its actually a car trailer on steroids (14000gvw) and with a tilt deck.When it was new, the first thing I did was to pick it up in the air a couple feet and spray the whole underside with foundation coating.The wood sucked it up like a sponge,so in a couple days I did it again.On the top,I soaked it with wood guard stain,the same stuff I use on the house. Its made for log homes and is the only one out there with fungiside and bug killing properties.You wont like the price though,it runs $90/gal,but it works. My deck is now 6 yrs old and totally solid. As far as wood vs steel,steel has a lot of problems,as noted above.The rusting is a big one,because where it rusts is in between where it contacts frame members.It will start where ever it is welded and just lay there and fester untill the expansion of the rust pulls it loose where its welded.The wood deck is nice if you haul any machinery ,steel roofing,lumber,whatever, because you can simply deck screw any bolsters or positioning frameing down,then take it off when you are done.

Iron-Iceberg
06-15-2010, 11:14 AM
Yes the new pressure treated wood is pretty nasty and that is why it is out.
I thought about metal but it would lower the deck hight and the doors on my car already just clear the fenders so I would no be able to open the doors after loading the car so it is out.
I thought about Trex and I saw a new trailer with it. But I have a deck with Trex on it and I would say it would need to be supported about every 10" or maybe less to keep it from sagging. So it is out.
IPE was really expensive the quote I got was around $2000 and from what I hear Apitong is even more expensive. So that is out. Unless I find a way cheaper dealer.
I'm trying to find a saw mill around here for the white oak. This is sounding the best or back to Fir.

Scramblur
06-15-2010, 01:10 PM
You're in PA? Should be plenty of mills around. There are some sites I've found in the past that list all the ma & pa sawmills around. Google and see what comes up. You should be able to get it for around $1 a bd. ft. I bought Pennsylvania cherry last week in Utah for $1.50 a board foot.

billspit
06-15-2010, 02:07 PM
That stuff is REALLY heavy and brittle. Some friends just built a deck with it and had to put joists every 12 inches.


Trex isn't very strong (as you say), is very expensive and gets slicker than owl snot when you get a little mold growth on it and it gets wet.

Keep
06-15-2010, 02:44 PM
Trex isn't very strong (as you say), is very expensive and gets slicker than owl snot when you get a little mold growth on it and it gets wet.

And just how slippery is Owl snot? Could it be used as lubricant? Maybe a cutting oil?

(I am bored at work....)

Iron-Iceberg
06-15-2010, 03:24 PM
Sorry Im on the Central CA coast and Im not doing very good at finding a sawmill. Oak trees everywhere but no sawmills.

thunderthud
06-15-2010, 07:40 PM
Long time lurker, first time poster.

Might I suggest Rumber? Many of the new car carriers/rollbacks, and lowboys are being built with Rumber. I'm waiting for a Century rollback with a Rumber deck.

Iron-Iceberg
06-16-2010, 12:18 AM
Wow Rumber, had to google that one. Never heard of it. Looks like a good product. I could not find a place to price it online. Any ideas on price?

thunderthud
06-16-2010, 04:17 PM
Wow Rumber, had to google that one. Never heard of it. Looks like a good product. I could not find a place to price it online. Any ideas on price?


Century had it as a zero cost swap for the wood deck on the carrier. As I recall when I called a 2x8x16 was $50 plus trucking. It is in the Apitong range for cost. I've had a sample sitting in the out my veggie garden since last year to see how it holds up to the New England weather. So far it looks good, hence my order for the carrier this year. The Landoll factory guys at World of Concrete couldn't say enough good things about it, the dealers around here are the usual 'we always dun, dun it that way and we ain't gunna change.'

Brett K
06-16-2010, 04:51 PM
Having built the deck on my house with Ipe (aka Brazilian Walnut, Iron wood, etc), I would seriously consider it. You can have it shipped directly from Ipedepot and it isn't terribly expensive. However, it looks amazing and is about the strongest wood I have ever dealt with. I ate through bunches of saw blades and a few drills installing it. It is very resistant to rot and will last a lifetime if treated once in a while. Be sure and predrill any holes and wax the cut ends with Anchorseal. I believe it is the wood they used to redo the boardwalk in Atlantic City.