Protecting Reclaimed Wood from Water Damage & Rot

Craftspeople and builders love reclaimed wood, but it’s not just for its distressed aesthetics.

A look at wood from 1918 and 2018 reveals a significant difference. Old wood, dating back to 1918, has 60 rings, whereas newer wood from 2018 has fewer rings. Wood from 100 years ago had a more dense composition making it stronger and more resistant to insects.

Today’s timber is grown and harvested much faster than in the past. What would sound like good news, also brings caution. While we can produce more wood more quickly, the timber may not be as strong or durable, especially if it’s harvested too early.


That’s why some builders prefer reclaimed wood. They say old-growth lumber from virgin forests, grew more slowly with limited light and competition from other trees. This combination led to trees with dense fibers, which makes for stronger lumber. These builders say older trees were more rot-resistance, as well as more stable due to their density. 

Today’s tree farms use faster-growing species that can be harvest in as little as ten years. Researchers at the University of Tennessee find that the quality in fast-grown trees isn’t necessarily lower, but it needs to be allowed to mature. With good forestry practices, today’s wood can also be of high quality.

The bottom line, according to Science Daily: Even though a greater volume of lumber grows today, it now contains less material than just a few decades ago.

Using old-growth wood isn’t practical or cost-effective in most new construction, so what can you do when you are building a deck to ensure it lasts? Protect it from water damage and rot. One sure way to do this is to seal the deck’s joists and beams with deck protection tape during construction.

Not all decking tapes are the same. View this chart to compare the asphalt and butyl tape options available on the market.  Buty-based tape generally performs better than asphalt tape. Butyl tape it is stickier, endures less staining, and has less oozing during high temperatures than asphalt tape. Butyl tape is also more rubbery and flows around screws making for a tighter seal and can be installed in a wider range of temperatures.

Typically, deck protection tape costs less than $100 for an average-sized deck.

Deck flashing tape can help protect today’s wood to ensure you can enjoy your deck for years to come — no matter what type of wood you use.