Decks expand your living space and can add value to your already fantastic home in the award-winning lakeside community of Southshore. But before you dive into building a deck (or hiring a contractor), there are preliminary considerations and some definite dos and don’ts. If your aim is additional eating space, you need a deck large enough to accommodate your outdoor table and chairs with a four-foot clearance all around. If you’re more interested in kicking back and relax, plan the size of your space around your lounge chairs and possible fire pit.
Lowe’s has a great video tutorial about initial planning dos and don’ts, and DIY Deck Plans offers step-by-step instruction about measuring and staking out your space. This Old House suggests that whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, you still need to pick the right material for your budget and lifestyle so the deck you build will stand the test of time. Looking for home deck services? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
It’s that time of year again. Deck build overload. The time when it seems like requests for new decks or deck re-builds is coming out of the woodwork (pun intended). And while the extra work is always welcome, it can become overwhelming trying to keep up. The key to staying above water by finishing as many builds as possible is to create beautiful decks that the customer is looking for faster. Faster, in some cases, is not always better, but it is when it refers to new deck builds that are constructed using the highest quality materials. To help you do just that, here are ten do’s and don’ts for a successful deck build that will have your customers recommending you all over town.
15 Do’s and Don’ts for a Deck Build
Whether it’s a backyard family barbecue or an intimate dinner under the stars, a deck is the perfect setting for a wide range of outdoor festivities. Even if you’re enjoying a cup of coffee on a quiet morning before work, space also offers much-needed solitude. If you’ve been thinking about buying lumber and installing a deck as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project, here are a few do’s and don’ts to follow.
- Do talk to your customer:
Spend the extra time necessary to talk with the homeowner to get an accurate description of what type of deck they are interested in having built. Be sure to layout specific plans and get their final approval before you begin. Any miscommunication can have you re-doing what you have started which will put you behind schedule and only frustrate your client. Also, be very clear about how long you expect the job to take. Excited customers can turn into anxious customers if they “thought” the work would be done before it is. Good communication upfront and during the build, can help avoid a myriad of problems.
- Do Your Homework
Apply for necessary building permits as soon as it’s possible to do so. Nothing is more frustrating than having to wait on a permit to get started. It upsets the customer and even more frustrating, you wind up with a crew that’s got nothing to do but sit and wait.
- Do Educate your client.
As you know, there are several different materials that you can use to build a deck. Redwood, Cedar and pressure-treated pine are the traditional woods used to build decks and are still widely used today. The cost will vary based upon current lumber supply. Composite decking is becoming increasingly popular. The cost is significantly higher than wood, but this material is very durable and requires little maintenance. It is important to consider how much traffic the deck will see, and where is it positioned in terms of the sun. Factors like this will help you and your client determine the best materials to use.
- Don’t forget to use a building calculator to help you estimate materials.
Once you’ve got your permit and have started building, don’t make the common mistake many contractors make by underestimating materials. It’s maddening to have to stop a job because you have run out of something you need. Use a good quality deck calculator to help you determine how much lumber, fasteners and railings will be needed to complete the job.
- Do consider the weather when digging footers:
It’s a common mistake made by many contractors, and it can be a costly one too, but it’s really an important topic to consider if you are building in an area with temperature fluctuations. As the season changes, the ground freezes and thaws, so be sure to dig and pour your deck footings below the frost line. This will keep them stable year-round and your deck will be safer and more secure.
- Don’t use any boards with warping, mildew or excessive insect holes:
They are subject to rotting and splitting. It’s so frustrating to have to return or exchange wood with imperfections, and it slows down production, but it’s even more frustrating to get callbacks.
- Don’t skimp on the deck fasteners:
Using the wrong fasteners can make all the difference to the longevity of the deck and your reputation as a builder.
- Do take time to plan the location and construction of the stairs.
Remember that you don’t have to stick with just one set of stairs either. If the deck is large, a set of stairs on each side will help with access and will elevate your project to an entirely different level. It’s more labour but will fetch a higher dollar.
- Don’t forget to check building codes for railings when building a second story or multi-level deck:
If it’s a low-grade deck, a partial railing might do the trick as well.
- Do encourage your customer to enhance their new deck with accents like built-in benches, accent lighting and plant holders:
While they may not like the additional cost upfront, they will be happier when it’s done and more apt to recommend you for your expertise.
- Do Consider what type of material will work best.
There are a number of lumber options to choose from. Some of the more common materials are cypress, cedar, pressure-treated wood, and wood-plastic composite decking. Check out what’s available to determine how frequently the material needs to be sealed, stained, and maintained. Compare costs, so you have a better idea of what’s the most affordable option.
- Do Research what building permits are needed.
A deck installation will most likely require a building permit. Consult your local building inspection authority to find out which ones are needed for materials and construction techniques. If you build your deck without obtaining the necessary permits, you could be fined for noncompliance.
- Do Include materials for stairs and handrails.
Lumber while the actual deck is the main part of the DIY project, stairs and handrails must also be included. Their construction will need components such as galvanized metal hangers, pre-cut stair hangers, and treads, risers, and metal stair brackets. Once you determine what parts will be needed, consult with a lumber specialist to determine how much.
- Don’t forget your guests’ comforts and needs.
You want your deck to be easy and safe to access. The structure should conform to a certain height, width, and weight capacity dimensions. If you have family or friends who have physical limitations, consider a ramp installation to accommodate them.
- Don’t Cut corners on the proper and right amount of bolts.
Not using the required and right size bolts can cause your deck to collapse. Stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized are two of the common types used for deck installation. Check with a specialist to ensure you have all the bolts needed to complete your project.
- Don’t Neglect to include spacers between the wood planks.
Over time, weather and wear and tear may cause the wood to contract and expand. This repeated cycle may trigger shifts in the lumber. To help avoid unwanted movement, use spacers to space the planks apart by one-eighth of an inch between each one.
How to Choose the Right Decking Materials
When you know you have to replace your deck, you typically just know. The finishing on the surface of the decking materials starts to look worn. In more extreme cases, portions of the boards can be completely rotted through or broken. In the most extreme cases, the frame could start to deteriorate, leading to hazardous deck collapses. Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of decking services Melbourne services.
If you’re in a position where your current deck could use some TLC, average repair costs can be in the low thousands of dollars. A whole new deck can cost anywhere from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the decking materials you use, the size of the deck and local labour costs.
Average estimates for how long it takes to complete a deck are around a week or less, whether you use a contractor or build the deck yourself. Deck repair can take as little as a day if repairs are minor. However, contractor schedules can vary.
Below, we’ll take a look at the types of decking materials, covering some basic pros and cons of each. But first, you should assess whether to repair or replace that deck.
Should you Repair your Deck?
The first question you should be asking is whether the frame itself is showing signs of corrosion. Damage to the structural support can lead to deck collapse. Sometimes corrosion will be obvious, like in cases where you can see rot on the edge of the deck frame itself. But you may have to get a professional to perform an inspection if you’re not an expert on woodwork. They’ll look at more technical things, like guardrail and stair connections.
Luckily, decks with structural support intact, but worn boards and railings, can get away with a simple repair to the decking materials. You simply need to replace the individual boards and railings that need repair. Some decks may need only a simple refinishing.
However, if you want newer materials, know that they could be heavier. In cases like these, the deck will need additional supports. The cost of additional supports could approach just putting in a new deck.
As another note, older decks from before 2004 often contained the toxic chemical chromate copper arsenate, a type of lumber preservative that has been labelled a carcinogen due to the arsenic it contains. Fortunately, you can have these types of decks refinished by a professional, which can seal away the chemical.
Types of Decking Materials
The market offers a wide array of options for decking materials, each of which has its own pros and cons. Below is a handy outline of the most common types of decking materials to help you decide which is right for you. Check out our Melbourne decking services services here.
This is made of natural wood, but it’s chemically treated to resist bugs, fungus and rot. It’s affordable and easy to source. However, it can crack, warp and split with time. It also requires maintenance, like yearly power washing and restaining every couple of years or so. And people with natural living and sustainability concerns may want to avoid decking materials with chemical treatments. However, it’s also the least expensive type of decking material.
Natural woods are a great investment for people who want to avoid the chemicals of pressure-treated lumber. Some types of woods have oils and tannins that make them naturally resistant to rot and bugs, like redwood and red cedar. Tropical hardwoods can also have similar resistant qualities, like tigerwood and ipe.
Shop carefully for these types of decking materials, as different types of woods are more hearty than others. And, like pressure-treated lumber, natural woods like redwood require annual power washing and a new stain every few years. Different woods will have their own maintenance needs, so do your homework. Prices can be all over the place based on wood quality and type.
Wood fiber and plastic make up this decking material. It’s a highly durable option that doesn’t warp, rot or split as easily as natural wood can. You don’t need to refinish it, but optional paint or stain can give it a fresh look. However, it looks more artificial, so some people might not like the loss of natural texture and color that can come with moving away from natural woods. And it can grow mold and break down over time. You’ll be looking at mid-range pricing, compared to other decking materials.
This type of deck is usually made from PVC and polyethylene, a couple of popular options. There is also plastic lumber, which is made entirely of 100 percent recyclable plastic. Plastic is more durable, especially in that it doesn’t rot or decay. Plus, it’s very light. However, this style is getting even further away from the natural beauty of hardwood, which can be a con for people who like that aesthetic. It can also be slippery and might sag. Like composites, prices tend to be mid-range.
Aluminum is one of those ultimate decking materials in terms of durability. It doesn’t rot, bugs can’t eat it, it’s mold resistant, it won’t crack or warp and its finishes last and last. For a con, however, it’s the most expensive type of decking. And some people may not like the sterile aesthetic of a metal deck.
As you can see, each decking type has its distinct pluses and minuses. So the right decking for you will depend on your budget, tolerance for deck maintenance, backyard entertainment needs and aesthetic preference.
And remember, if the cost of repairing or upgrading a deck is close to putting in a new one, you might just be better off getting a brand new deck that may last longe