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Cedar decking and Camo tool

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  • Jul 29th, 2019 8:21 am
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[OP]
Member
May 24, 2011
229 posts
21 upvotes
Edmonton

Cedar decking and Camo tool

I am looking at building a deck from cedar. I have never built from cedar in the past so I am looking for inputs from those who have. I have used pressure treated wood several times and I’m wondering if you have to account for shrinking of the wood when it comes to spacing as one would with pressure treated wood? Do you pre-drill the screw holes to prevent splitting of the wood?

I am planning on using the camo tool for the first time. I notice there are a couple types of this tool - one with 1/16” spacing and one with 3/16” spacing. Which would be best to use with cedar? The website says the 3/16” spacing one but if cedar does shrink, that would leave larger gaps as well.

Any recommendations/tips are greatly appreciated!
23 replies
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2008
637 posts
159 upvotes
Leask
Oh I am interested in this thread as well! Sorry I know nothing about cedar but I bought a house full of cedar patio...
Deal Fanatic
Jun 24, 2006
9170 posts
3427 upvotes
A few things I have learned building my deck with cedar and living with it for almost 10 years.

Leave a gap. I did not, cedar does dry but it also swells a lot when wet. Only on the driest of summers to I get a gap on my boards. I often have to pull some out in the spring just to let the deck breath and dry out.

Pre drilling is not required, but if you have the time and tools, do it. It will save the risk of cracking. If the boards are wet when you install them, it will reduce the risk though.

Don't stain the first year. This is best year you will ever have for the natural color. When you are done just put your furniture up and pour a beer, or wine with you wife ( or husband, not assuming) and enjoy your new deck. However don't wait too long either. I didn't stain until year 4, if I had to do over again it would be year 2.

Here is my deck last year after a stain. Still looks okay, but as you can boards are way too tight together and done breathe properly and expell rain well.

Image

Image
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2008
637 posts
159 upvotes
Leask
I want to make my cedar deck last long. Is thompson water sealant any good? Or another product?
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
3167 posts
2136 upvotes
Toronto
I used the Camo tool to do my deck and a dock at my cottage a few years back. After a number of harsh winters and tons of exposure, they are holding strong.

They can be fiddly to work with, but I like them a lot. No visible fasteners.

The tool could easily put dents in the soft cedar boards though - you'd need to be careful with it, but over time these small imperfections will blend in with all the other dents and 'character' the deck will take on.
Jr. Member
Aug 2, 2006
150 posts
92 upvotes
Calgary
I used the Kreg Deck Jig 2 years ago with a cedar deck and it's held up well. The Kreg jig comes with 1/4" and 5/16" spacers but I opted for 3/16" and it seems that's the minimum spacing to fit the jig in. My deck has gone through 2 winters already and the gap hasn't really changed too much or at least for me to notice so I think 3/16" is the perfect spacing. I found the spacers at Princess Auto for just a few bucks.

I don't think the Camo tool requires pre-drilling holes but the Kreg deck jig does. I prefer pre-drilling holes to avoid cracking any boards so went with the Kreg. Took only a little bit longer since I had a separate drill and impact driver on hand.

My only regret was using a stain called C2 Guard, you can see it on the stairs only in the picture but we did the whole deck. It was supposed to come with a 6 year warranty for decks but started peeling just after 1 winter. We've left it alone to just weather as we don't mind the look.
20170731_192105.jpg
Jr. Member
Sep 12, 2017
109 posts
59 upvotes
I've used the Camo tool on cedar decks. I always thought the old 3/16" spacing was a bit too much. I think I would prefer the look of the 1/16" instead. However with a larger spacing you do get more air/water passing through the deck so it can dry better. If overhanging trees are dropping a lot of leaves they are easier to clean out of a 3/16" space than a tight 1/16". So for spacing I'd say there is no right or wrong, just personal preference.

I have never predrilled. Not much splitting with them. On occasion if you're near a knot or a split it will. The holes will look more obivous at first but after they are in service and the wood swells and shrinks from moisture they are greatly reduced visually.

The only real downside is that using the tool and dropping screws into it really slows down production. The end result of a screwless surface is worth it though.

CHM
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
3167 posts
2136 upvotes
Toronto
This is what a fresh Camo install looks like - perhaps a few months old. 5 years later and the wood has aged, but no boards have lifted.
DSC02497.JPG
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2008
637 posts
159 upvotes
Leask
How much is pricing for cedar nowadays... If I were to do it again, i probably would go with the low cost composite (lowes has them for $18 per board at one point).
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2011
229 posts
21 upvotes
Edmonton
Gutty96 wrote: A few things I have learned building my deck with cedar and living with it for almost 10 years.

Leave a gap. I did not, cedar does dry but it also swells a lot when wet. Only on the driest of summers to I get a gap on my boards. I often have to pull some out in the spring just to let the deck breath and dry out.

Pre drilling is not required, but if you have the time and tools, do it. It will save the risk of cracking. If the boards are wet when you install them, it will reduce the risk though.

Don't stain the first year. This is best year you will ever have for the natural color. When you are done just put your furniture up and pour a beer, or wine with you wife ( or husband, not assuming) and enjoy your new deck. However don't wait too long either. I didn't stain until year 4, if I had to do over again it would be year 2.

Here is my deck last year after a stain. Still looks okay, but as you can boards are way too tight together and done breathe properly and expell rain well.

Image

Image
Thank you for the tips! I hadn’t considered how much cedar swells when wet. For some reason I was actually thinking the opposite! I love the look of natural cedar so I’ll likely go with a natural looking stain.
torontotim wrote: I used the Camo tool to do my deck and a dock at my cottage a few years back. After a number of harsh winters and tons of exposure, they are holding strong.

They can be fiddly to work with, but I like them a lot. No visible fasteners.

The tool could easily put dents in the soft cedar boards though - you'd need to be careful with it, but over time these small imperfections will blend in with all the other dents and 'character' the deck will take on.
Good to hear! I’m in Edmonton so we do get the spectrum of weather here, minus the humidity that you would have. I like the idea of not having to look at screw heads all over. I’ll definitely keep the denting in mind though.
goldfish1818 wrote: My only regret was using a stain called C2 Guard, you can see it on the stairs only in the picture but we did the whole deck. It was supposed to come with a 6 year warranty for decks but started peeling just after 1 winter. We've left it alone to just weather as we don't mind the look.
20170731_192105.jpg
That’s my biggest fear in a stain. I am currently looking at trying either Cutek (oil based) or Sansin (water based). Have heard good thing about both of those thus far.
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2011
229 posts
21 upvotes
Edmonton
THINKPOD wrote: How much is pricing for cedar nowadays... If I were to do it again, i probably would go with the low cost composite (lowes has them for $18 per board at one point).
Here in Edmonton I found a place that is selling at $0.85 per linear foot for a 5/4 deck board. So for example, a 12’ board is $10.20.
Jr. Member
Apr 7, 2014
184 posts
120 upvotes
Kirkland, QC
I used Camo Marksman Pro when I was building my cedar deck ;-)
it provides with automatic 3/16 inch spacing. 5 years later it still strong.
I noticed gap widening during the summer time though.

I didn't treat it with any sealer or stain and left it untreated.
I'm cleaning it every 2 years with Sun Joe SPX3001 pressure washer

Image
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5053 posts
1423 upvotes
Toronto
Gene290 wrote: I used Camo Marksman Pro when I was building my cedar deck ;-)
it provides with automatic 3/16 inch spacing. 5 years later it still strong.
I noticed gap widening during the summer time though.

I didn't treat it with any sealer or stain and left it untreated.
I'm cleaning it every 2 years with Sun Joe SPX3001 pressure washer

Image
So that pic is with the right half pressure washed and left half after 1 year since last washed?
Jr. Member
Apr 7, 2014
184 posts
120 upvotes
Kirkland, QC
boyohboy wrote: So that pic is with the right half pressure washed and left half after 1 year since last washed?
Correct.
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2008
637 posts
159 upvotes
Leask
Gene290 wrote: I used Camo Marksman Pro when I was building my cedar deck ;-)
it provides with automatic 3/16 inch spacing. 5 years later it still strong.
I noticed gap widening during the summer time though.

I didn't treat it with any sealer or stain and left it untreated.
I'm cleaning it every 2 years with Sun Joe SPX3001 pressure washer

Image
I just have a electric pressure washer. Curious how many PSI your pressure washer is as it seems to be doing a good job.

Do you add any cleaning solution when you pressure wash it? Or just water?
[OP]
Member
May 24, 2011
229 posts
21 upvotes
Edmonton
Would I be right in thinking that if the cedar is wet, use a 1/16 spacing as it would contract as it dries leaving a larger gap; if it is dry, go with the 3/16 spacing to allow room for expanding if it’s wet? And would the stain help reduce the wood from expanding/contracting a bit?
Jr. Member
Apr 7, 2014
184 posts
120 upvotes
Kirkland, QC
THINKPOD wrote: Curious how many PSI your pressure washer is
The Sun Joe SPX3000 electric pressure washer generates up to 2030 PSI of water pressure and 1.76 GPM of water flow for maximum cleaning power.

I used Thompsons WaterSeal 3-In-1 Wood Deck Cleaner following instructions.
"Apply to no more than 5-10 boards (20 sq. ft.) at a time to maintain adequate surface wetness and allow best results. Immediately and thoroughly rinse any overspray or accidental spills with water.
Allow Thompson's® WaterSeal® 3 in 1™ Wood Cleaner to remain on wood for 10-15 minutes."

but next time I'm not going to use any cleaner. Just pressure washing with 25º nozzle.

Here how the gaps look today:
Image
Image
Sr. Member
Oct 29, 2006
501 posts
40 upvotes
Ottawa
Does anyone know where the marksman pro X1 (1/16 model) can be purchased here in canada?

Seems like any searches only bring up US homedepots and lowes.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 7, 2016
1624 posts
730 upvotes
Ontario
I did the same as Gene290, though a traditional install with screws through the top. I didn't finish it as everyone in our neighborhood that does, has to redo it every few years anyways, so I just pressure wash it like him over a weekend every few years. I have tried a few cleaner and none seem to make any difference in the time it takes or how it turns out so I don't bother now, just water fwiw...
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