My company has built numerous outdoor living projects using a multitude of materials and products, but when it comes to the framing for decks, our go-to has been light gauge steel (LGS). When we first started using LGS approximately seven years ago, it was new to the market and the options were limited. With the help of our architect and approval of the local building inspector, we cobbled together our first design from several LGS manufacturers.

Since that time, it has become easier to obtain steel deck framing materials, with several manufacturers now offering exterior steel decking products. On our most recent deck project, the homeowners wanted to use Fortress Evolution steel framing, primarily because they liked the look of the framing once completed. Because the deck is 11 feet above grade, the underside would be highly visible.

Corrosion-Resistant Design

Evolution framing has a duplex coating system—the steel is first galvanized and then powder-coated—which drastically increases the expected life span of the steel, even in harsh conditions. Because of this corrosion protection, Fortress offers a 25-year limited warranty on the product (10 years when installed within one mile of saltwater).

This compares favorably with pressure-treated (PT) lumber, which in our area is southern yellow pine, though even the premium PT products containing water repellents and mold inhibitors don’t have the same life expectancy as the CCA-treated lumber of the past. Meanwhile, several composite-decking manufacturers offer 30- to 50-year warranties on their products. To us, it didn’t make sense to frame a deck with PT or LGS (neither came with warranties a few years ago) to support decking that’s expected to last several years or even decades longer than the framing. Now that there are manufacturers backing their framing products with warranties, it is easier to upsell premium decking products to our clients.

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