20 years ago, the company I work for built decks. Back then you really only had two choices for decking materials that were commonly available: pressure treated or cedar material. The biggest selling feature that we had back then was that we screwed down all of our floors when many people were still just using nails. The problem with these decks was maintenance. Wood decks need a lot of maintenance to keep them looking great. They need to be sealed at least every other year if not every year and there are always cracks, nail pops and other wood related issues to deal with as well. It seemed like every week we had at least one job that we had to go and change a cracked floor board or replace a bad spindle. A lot has changed in the past 20 years, for one thing, I don’t know of anybody who still nails down their deck floors; and with the advent of composite decking and railings, you are starting to see less and less of those wood decks we used to build. Composite decking products like Trex have become a mainstay in the decking industry. They are durable, great looking and most importantly, maintenance free. This is the feature that draws most clients to use them. Here are a few things to consider if you are looking at building a deck on your home.
Materials: This is one of the most important decisions to make. As I mentioned above, wood decks require a lot of maintenance while composite decks are pretty much maintenance free. There are also other maintenance free decking materials such as PVC decking. When choosing a decking material, consider what you want out of it in terms of performance. In my experience, a wood deck will last 10 – 15 years with good maintenance before you will start having to replace boards. This is a hassle most people don’t want to worry about. Many of the composite and PVC materials out today carry lifetime warranties and with proper cleaning, can look as good 10 years down the road as they do the day you install them. The composite materials do cost more however, so with many of my clients, budget has driven exactly how much of the deck is composite, and how much is wood. The other materials to consider would be the balusters. Many of the composite companies do make a coordinating baluster, but aluminum balusters are also a popular choice and offer a great look and design against the other materials.
Fasteners: They type of fastener used for the floor is another option to consider. There is always the traditional screw down method. With wood flooring, you can use standard decking screws, with composite decking, you can use composite decking screws, but these days, there is always the option of hidden fasteners. Hidden fasteners are fasteners that do not screw directly through the top of the decking board. They will typically screw down on an angle through the side, through the bottom; of some manufacturers have a special clip that fits between the boards. Each product line has their own way of integrating the hidden fasteners. There are also hidden fastener systems that work with wood decking. Always make sure that the fasteners you use are designed for outdoor use, otherwise they can rust out and fail.
Size: When designing your deck, consider the items you want to place on the space. Are you just looking for a small sitting area or do you want a large space for entertaining? Will you want to put your grill on the deck or outside of it? You may also have to deal with building codes that limit the size you can build on your property. I have worked with many clients who have actually purchased their patio furniture before ever having a patio or deck to put them on. Knowing how much space you will need beforehand will save you a lot of frustration down the road.
Your deck can be a great space to relax and spend time with family. Proper planning and design will help you to make sure that it is a space you can enjoy for years to come