In architecture, a deck is a flat surface capable of supporting weight, similar to a floor, but typically constructed outdoors, often elevated from the ground, and usually connected to a building. The term is a generalization of decks as found on ships.
Wood or timber "decking" can be used in a number of ways - as part of garden landscaping, to extend living areas of houses, and as an alternative to stone based features such as patios. Decks are made from treated lumber, composite material, Aluminum, Western red cedar, teak, mahogany, ipê and other hardwoods and recycled planks made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (PS) and PET plastic as well as mixed plastics and wood fiber (often called "composite" lumber). Artificial decking products are often called "wood-plastic composites".
Historically, the softwoods used for decking were logged from old growth forests. These include Atlantic white cedar, redwood and Western red cedar (redcedar). Atlantic City built the first coastal boardwalk in the United States, originally constructed of Atlantic white cedar. However, it was not long before the commercial logging of this tree and clearing of cedar swamps in New Jersey caused a decline in the availability of decking. Atlantic City and New York City both switched to Western red cedar. By the 1960s, Western red cedar from the US was declining due to over-logging. More expensive Western red cedar was available from western Canada (British Columbia) but by then, pressure treated pine had become available.
But even with chemical treatments (such as chromated copper arsenate or CCA), pine decking is not as durable as cedars in an outdoor environment. Thus, many municipalities and homeowners are turning to hardwoods. Decks are often built from pressure treated wood. Pressure treated wood is long lasting and holds up to wet and icey weather conditions. pressure treated wood however is treated with chemicals which have been known to be toxic. slivers received from pressure treated wood most generally become infected. Pressure treated saw dust also contains toxins such as strychnine, also often used as rat poison. These toxins, when inhaled, can require hospitalization for both acute and chronic exposures.
Generally, hardwoods used for decking come from tropical forests. Much of the logging taking place to produce these woods, especially teak, mahogany and ipê, is occurring illegally, as outlined in numerous reports by environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Relief. US tropical wood imports are rising, partly due to the demand for decking.
The deck of a house is generally a wooden platform built above the ground and connected to the main building. It is generally enclosed by a railing for safety. Access may be from the house through doors and from the ground via a stairway. Residential decks can be constructed over steep areas or rough ground that is otherwise unusable. Decks can also be covered by a canopy or pergola to control sunlight.
Larger buildings may also have decks on the upper floors of the building which may be open to the public as observation decks.
Laying deck or throwing deck refers to the act of placing and bolting down cold-formed steel beneath roofing and concrete floors. This is usually done by an ironworker, sometimes in conjunction with a cement mason or carpenter. It regarded as one of the most physically demanding jobs in the iron working industry.