Thursday, July 19, 2012

Deck Maintenance

Decks can last far longer if you follow a good maintenance schedule.  When you first build your deck it will will be solid and sound and hopefully everything you want in a deck.  Over time the wood will shrink and the color will not be the same as it originally was.  A maintenance program can help bring your deck back to its original look as well as prolong the decks life.

As part of maintaining your deck you will need to clean it.  Cleaning your deck will remove the grim and mildew from your deck as well as get any crud out from between the surface boards   Start by getting a good deck soap and applying it to your deck.  Some soaps require scrubbing while others simply require that the soap sit on your deck for a certain amount of time.  After the soap you will need to wash your deck.  The best way to do this is with a pressure washer.  Make sure to clean all parts of the handrail and get between the surface boards.

Many salesmen will tell you that a composite or vinyl deck is a no maintenance deck.  In reality there is no such thing as a no maintenance deck.  The best you will get is a low maintenance deck.  Vinyl and composite decks still need to be cleaned but they do not need to be stained or painted.

After cleaning your (wood) deck you will probably need to paint or stain it.  There are many choices for deck paint and stain.  Your local weather and type of wood will play a role in the type of stain you purchase.  If you live in a rainy area you should look at getting a stain with more water protection.  If you are in a dry sunny area then you should look into a stain that offers UV protection.  If you built your deck with treated lumber you will need to stain it dark enough to cover the original color of the wood.  In some cases this will be very dark.  Other woods such as cedar or ipe can be stained so that the grain of the wood is enhanced and not covered.

While you are cleaning your deck you can inspected it.  Some of the things you should look for are loose nails or screws,  Mold or mildew, loose handrails, and rusty brackets.  If you find any of these things fix them immediately.  Many of these problems can be simple fixes if you catch them early.  A loose screw can lead to a loose board,  mold can lead to rot,  A loose handrail and rusty brackets can lead to deck failure and that is something no one wants to see happen.

The above recommendations should be done every couple of years and should take a couple of days to do.  A good deck should last 20 years.  A good maintenance program should extend the life of your deck. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pool Decks

Above ground pool decks are not like decks that are attached to a house.  Pools are tricky to build around.  Like many other building projects pools are unique.  None of them are the same.  In most cases round pools are rarely perfectly round.  Typically they end up slightly egg shaped.  If you are a first time deck builder you will find it easier to build around your pool using a floating deck.  Unlike a traditional deck a floating can be easily modified to fit the uniqueness of your pool.

Most pools have coping.  When you build your deck the deck boards should go under it.  The coping will look much better with the coping over the decking.  Make sure to check with the pool manufacturer to see if the coping is strong enough to stand or sit on  before you build.

Pools also have strange sizes.  It seems like most pool companies allow a range of plus or minus 4  inches for each size.  An example of this is a 24 ft pool could be anywhere from 23 ft 8 inches to 24ft 4 inches.  So if you you are looking for plans and you measured your pool at 23 ft 10 inches then you are really looking for plans for a 24 ft pool.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A little about fasteners

Deck Fasteners are the overlooked component on a deck.  So often the emphasis is on what type of decking to use or what style of handrail while fasteners get pushed to the back burner.  Although fasteners seem like an afterthought they can make a mediocre deck look incredible or an incredible deck mediocre.

First lets focus on types of screw heads.  There are two common types of screw heads. One is  torx head.  It looks like a star.  The other common style is the Robertson head.  This is a square head.  Both are durable and easy to work with and far better than phillips head screws that tend to easily strip out. If you are at store that only sells phillip head deck screws then its worth the effort to go to store that sells torx head or robertson head deck screws. 

All deck fasteners have a special coating on them that protects them against the corrosive chemicals in treated lumbers.  Without this coating the fasteners would wear out in a couple of years and your deck would fall apart.

When it comes to fasteners for decking there are several options.

1.   Regular Deck Screws.  These are the most basic and easy way to hold your boards in place.  Most of the time they work very well.  In most cases they are paintable so when you stain your deck the screws will be pained as well.  The down side of the screws is that they are great for treated lumber decking but don't look look are good with cedar, redwood, or ipe. Also,  The cannot be used with vinyl of composite deck board.

2.  Color match deck screws.  These are very similar to regular deck screws but are typically used for composite or vinyl decking.  They usually have a special head that cuts into the board and prevents mushrooming.  They also have a wide range of colors to match the different colors of decking.

3.  Hidden fasteners.  Hidden fasteners make your deck boards look like they are resting on the deck frame.  Using hidden fasteners can turn a simple deck into an elegant deck.  There are many styles though and it can get a little overwhelming.  There are clips, and brackets, and track systems.  All of them have there pluses and minuses based on your situation.  If you plan on using them then makes sure to find which style is the best for the decking you plan on using.  Hidden fasteners usually cost more and are more time consuming than just using screws but the results are a great looking deck.

When picking a fastener the best choice will be the one that best compliments your deck.  Sometimes the more expensive choice will work best sometimes the most cost efficient choice is the best.