All hands on deck! Wood decking serves as solid construction technique in California

In Texas, where Arch-Con was founded, metal roof decking is a common construction material. But our Industrial Division is utilizing its wood roof decking expertise on the Bridge Point Vernon and Bridge Point Ontario projects in California to not only save on cost and time, but also to cater to the climate of California.

Why wood decking?

Due to California’s mild weather, wood roof decking is commonly used in commercial construction. Compared to other parts of the country, the state boasts 70-degree weather, low humidity, and little rain or moisture year-round. Since the region doesn’t have extreme weather conditions, a stronger material such as metal decking isn’t needed. However, the state is prone to earthquakes and the plywood allows for more flexibility compared to metal decking. In general, a wood decking system is more economical ($2 to $3 less per square foot than metal decking) and can be installed faster. The only con to wood decking is it’s not as strong as metal decking – but this isn’t an issue for the moderate weather in California. The structural engineer on the project typically specifies whether wood decking or metal decking will be used on the structure, unless the tenant has a specific request. Although wood decking is commonly used in California, metal decking is acceptable and used on occasion.

How the wood decking is installed

With the wood decking system, open web steel joists are spaced on the building floor slab (rather than on the roof in metal decking). This process is called tabling. Then, sub-purlins are installed between the joist, and oriented strand board sheathing is attached to gutters, creating a section of the roof. This section is then lifted while in place and attached to the pre-installed steel girders or beams. The subcontractor has a crew “panelizing” the system on the floor and another one nailing the system in place once it is lifted.

Comparatively, a metal deck roof system needs to be welded after being placed (joists are installed on the roof rather than the floor slab) and the surface needs to be made flatter prolonging the time another trade can gain access to the roof. A substrate system, typically a perlite board, needs to be installed due to the flues of a metal deck sheet which not only adds cost to the project, but also prolongs access for other trades.

First project nearing completion with another underway in California

Bridge Point Vernon is Arch-Con’s first project in California since opening our Los Angeles office in late 2018. It is a redevelopment close to completion in the well-established industrial city of Vernon, California. Bridge Point Ontario, a two-building industrial development totaling 268,714 square feet, broke ground on 11.9-acres in Ontario, California. Both projects were designed by California firm Herdman Architecture + Design and developed by Bridge Development Partners.