A big pile of tree trunks and a future deck---can they be used as posts?

We’ve got ~ two dozen 10-12ft oak, maple, and beech trees taken down a year ago. We’re also contemplating a new deck, and I’m looking at this stack wondering how to use them as posts on top of cement footings. Can this work, and if so, with what do we need to treat the trunks to prevent decay?

I think you want pressure treated for the use you’re talking about. Contact with cement will rot wood pretty darn quick.

But to use those logs for something, have them milled. There are people with mobile mills that will bring all the equipment to you.


Thanks Simkie! I’m wondering why the trees need to be milled. We’re not necessarily opposed to dimensional and /or pressure treated lumber as much as thinking about how to use what’s already on site and plentiful. Though, my son in law would be thrilled if we brought a mill to the property lol.

At the very least, the bark needs to be removed, or it will invite bugs and rot. Trying to move and position trunks that weight likely 1000+ pounds as deck footers is, at best, massively challenging. Without milling, you don’t know how the interior looks, there may be a failing inside that’s not apparent until you cut it. And it will still rot at the concrete connection. That’s an awful lot of hard work reinventing the wheel to have it rot out.

Mill and use for deck boards, if you want. Use the proper lumber for the footers.

Check the code, too. You may be required to use PT dimensional lumber.


What @Simkie has said! To be honest, I probably would not use any of those for posts. None of them are especially rot resistant in an exterior environment. The ash would be the best of the lot.
As for ‘natural’ versus milled. First, milled posts do expose any defects. Secondly, a round post that hasn’t been milled round is Not round. In addition to the weight issue, this means you have lots and lots of little pockets for water to collect. Now, if you had a stack of red cedar or locust, I would say go for it anyway! Because those are very rot resistant. Ash, maple, and beech…not so much.
Oddly, I would entertain milling and using for the deck itself. Which seems counter intuitive! But, the failure of a deck board due to a seem of rot is no big thing. The failure of an entire post is.

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Thanks guys, I’ve shared this with my son in law. His reply was—but telephone poles! WelI yeah if those were available they’d certainly be cool. But imagine the size of the trough one needs to submerse those things! When I was a kid they were soaked in creasote, is that still the way they’re treated? Tbh I think he just wants to use his new grappling gadget on his tractor. Since he has SO many downed trees to process I think a mill is actually in our future—deck planks or other lumber is always useful!

A reasonable question! Unfortunately, telephone poles are made of very specific wood (Doug Fir and Southern Pine usually). And by the time they have finished selecting, milling, drying, steaming, and then preserving them…they are about as far from natural wood as you can get and still be wood!
On the other hand, if you can get hold of used poles, they make awesome lumber
A grapple on a tractor is awfully handy, we have been having to run our mill without a grapple at the moment. It really limits one. Just another month and that problem will be well and truly fixed though!


Lol but those aren’t trees! For all the reasons @B_and_B listed. They’re grown specifically and so processed. And, honestly, still fail in a way that would be pretty shit for a deck. I see bent ones all the time.

Sounds like your son in law needs a mill, though! :grin:

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Yeah lol----a day of fun for him involves perusing all of the attachments for his tractors and dreaming up ways to justify buying ALL of them. A mill is definitely coming here to live this summer lol. He reminds me of me in a tack shop tbh!!

I get it! I want a mill, too. And more outdoor toys to go with it! :joy:

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