If you’re like me, you prefer the feel of your feet walking across a nice wooden deck. Yes, many campgrounds offer sites with expanded concrete parking pads or pads laid out with additional concrete areas specifically for your outdoor grill or furniture, but in many cases these can be rough and uncomfortable to walk on, or too smooth and when wet can be very slick to walk on.
For many RVers, the alternative to bare concrete, gravel or in the case of boondocking in some remote areas in the southwest area of the U.S., the desert and dry, baron part of our country. Many RVers choose to lay down a piece of carpet or indoor/outdoor artificial grass, but the problem with those applications is that they hold sand or dirt, and worse yet, water or moisture.
When you break camp to move on to your next site, do you really want to roll up and load up a piece of wet carpet to one on your storage bays? My guess is no, and in this article, we’ll look at a great alternative for providing a comfortable seating and lounging area, that is easily assembled and transported in you RV, whether you drive a 5th wheel, travel trailer, or any other type of motorhome.
- Package contain 10 deck tiles. Each deck tile is approximately 4 square feet
- Dimensions/tile: 23-7/8” x 23-7/8" x 1-11/6"
These 24” x 24” decking squares made from Ipe (pronounced “EE-pay) wood is a dense wood that comes from South America. Much like teak, its density allows its longevity to be far longer than most lumber made from softer woods such as pine or maple. In fact, when properly care for, it can last for over 75 years.
I never refer to an RV or any of its accessories as an investment, and I won’t with this product either. However, buying a product with a longevity of 75 years is well worth the extra cost of many of its competitors with similar designs.
Connecting your RV deck panels
Securing your deck panels in place for long term stays or short stays is easy when using the DeckWise connectors. I recommend using the four-way connectors.
Each panel comes with a pre-drilled countersunk hole that lines up with their connectors and those connectors hold the deck tightly in place.
Once in place, these connectors will hold your portable RV deck securely and are easily removed and installed between visits to various camping locations. In fact, an 8’ x 10’ portable wooden deck can be quickly assembled in less than an hour once you have learned how easy it is to accomplish this task.
One of my favorite DeckWise connector designs is that they include pre-molded lines on the underside of the connectors that allow you to bend them so that they detach from the other part of the connector. This makes it easy to hide your connectors under the framework of your deck on its outer sides.
On the downside, it’s likely that while your properly cared for Ipe wood decking will last 75 years, these plastic components will last a fraction of that time. If fact, I would expect them to fail within 3-5 years as they can’t hold up to moisture, UV light and other natural elements, so you should plan on inspecting or replacing them on a regular basis.
Proper care for your Ipe wood
Ipe wood is extremely dense and as such it doesn’t absorb protective oils as easily as soft woods. However, the real reason to apply an oil treatment to Ipe is that it shields it from UV exposure or rather, sunlight damage.
As a rule, Brazilian Walnut or Ipe, will always have a rich, dark grain much like teak wood or ebony. However, over time sunlight will bleach these hues out of the wood grain and the wood will eventually become more of a gray tone so I would apply some wood oil to prevent this from happening.
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- Perfect for all exterior hardwood and thermal wood surfaces including decking, fences and railings
It will also cause some additional cracking on the deck surface, and while not taking too much away from its longevity, you would be well advised to regularly care for your decking and its connectors.
Are there other alternatives?
Yes, but you’ll find that most alternatives will have more components and will take you longer to set up. For example, this product made of Acacia wood comes in 12” x 12” panels that are secured in place by using Polypropylene carbonate (PPC) framework forms that allow you to snap them in place piece by piece.
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- UV PROTECTED FOR LONGER LIFE: Our wood tiles are made of acacia wood material coated with oil for...
Related: Best RV portable decking
What is Acacia wood?
Like Teak and Ipe wood, this lumber is very dense and is a plantation type of wood. In other words, it grows quickly, is good for construction in outdoor locations and it’s easily harvested using shorter growing timelines. While Acacia wood can be farmed in South America’s wetter locations, it’s best suited for harvesting in places located in southeast Asia and this helps to keep it’s cost lower. Acacia wood does require some maintenance such as staining, or it will discolor over time. To be honest, staining the wood can add a few years of life onto the wood, but in all reality it won’t be much.
Using plastic polymers for framing
The biggest problem I have with using Polypropylene carbonate (PPC) forms for holding your wood products in place is that as a rule, plastic is unreliable in terms of when it’s matched with environmental issues. Too often, these plastic substrate products don’t stand up to varied temperatures, ultraviolet lighting and uneven surfaces and are likely to fail far more quickly than using a design that is based upon a long lasting wooden slat design such as the Ipe wood framework.
Whatever your choice is when choosing a portable deck to travel with, keep in mind that these components will take up storage space in your camper as well as time to set them up when you decide to use them. Are those factors something you’re willing to deal with during your travels? If they’re not, then buy yourself a small piece of indoor/outdoor carpet and use it instead. On the other hand, if you intend to stay at a location for an extended stay, then a nice wooden deck would work better for you. It’s really all about what you prefer to do, as is all traveling the country in your RV.
As always, thanks so much for following along with my DIY articles and I’m happy that I can share my thoughts with you. Once again, my friends, I wish you safe travels and I hope to see you out on the road someday.