Tag Archives: 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: #7 Pride

Listening to advice leads you down the right path when you build your brand new deck.

Listening to good advice leads you down the right path when you build your dream deck.

Dear Future Deck Owner,

You’re looking to build a new deck, and you probably have a lot of questions on what the entire process entails. I used to boast to my neighbors about how my deck was the best on the block, that was until it started falling apart. It turns out that composite decking, doesn’t look pretty after a few years. I had to save a lot of money to redo the damage. Now, after a lot of money and a lot of hard work, I can look back at my new deck and feel the journey was worth it. Hopefully, this letter helps you learn from the mistakes I made. So, here are some tips I’d like to share with you to make the entire process a little less intimidating.

What I thought to be easy, was actually the most challenging part of my experience, finding the right contractor. Since I’m a little handy around the house, I always thought I knew best, and every contractor was beneath me. This was a difficult pill for me to swallow. It’s hard to find a person who is knowledgeable and trustworthy with your money. If you think about it, you’re handing over money to someone you probably aren’t familiar with, and are trusting them to safely build a deck for your family to enjoy. If you do your research, and even a background check, you’ll find the right guy. If you’re lucky, he can be a contractor you can continue to go back to and build a professional relationship with.

The decking market has been introducing new materials, each promising to be better than the next. What can you believe in an over saturated industry? Composites claim to be “green” and “no maintenance,” but I’ll tell you, this is far from the truth. The plastic material used to construct each individual board is made with chemicals that can be toxic. As far as “no maintenance,” nothing worth having is “no maintenance”. Every deck needs to be cleaned and cared for if you want it to last.

Soft materials like pine and cedar look great right after installation, but after a few years the weather can take a toll and cause the material to be nothing more than an eyesore.

I have found in my research, after I was burned with a composite deck, that exotic hardwoods have the best qualities. They are dense, strong, and have a natural resistance to pesky mold and bacteria. Teak used to be the top notch decking material, but what if I told you there is a better material out there than teak? Ipe decking is stunning, and outperforms teak. It’s strength and density contribute to its structural integrity. If you allow your decking to mature to a patina gray and you decide you want to bring the color back, you can! A pressure washer and a little Ipe Oil™ will bring back its rich colors. Try doing that with composite!

What I am trying to share with you is my experience. If you’re anything like me, you have a big head and you know everything about everything. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your sense of good judgement. Learn from my arrogance, and create the best deck in your neighborhood.


A Happy Deck Owner

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: #6 Sloth

Giving your decking a good sweep throughout the year can add many years to its lifespan.

Giving your decking a good sweep throughout the year can add many years to its lifespan.

When a company advertises their decking product as “no maintenance,” it’s far from the truth. There is a difference between “no maintenance” and “low maintenance.” Neither one of these mean you can neglect your deck altogether. Being lazy without routine maintenance could just be a recipe for disaster.

If you are unsure about the safety and stability of your deck DO NOT STEP ON IT! Call a local licensed contractor to come and inspect the deck before hand, and let them make any needed repairs.

Annual cleaning and inspections can add years onto the life of your deck!

Check your fastening system!

One of the main reasons why decks fail in the first place is because of the types of fasteners that were used for installation. If your deck is older than 15 years, then you may not have the proper fasteners holding everything together. Nails were once an approved form of deck installation, but over the years they have been phased out, and lag bolts or screws are the industry standard.

When you are inspecting your deck for the fasteners, if you see any that are rusted or corroded, replace them! Stainless steel, although is a little pricy, will last you a lot longer than typical galvanized steel.

Clean your decking!

The simplest thing you can do for you deck is to give it a really good sweep! Organic elements such as pollen, dirt and debris can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. The mold and mildew can enter any tiny crevice it can find on your decking material and have a party on your boards. Composite materials are susceptible to this too, in fact they are one of the worst materials for mold and mildew problems.

Freshen up your Deck!

Just a simple scrub with some warm water works wonders. If for any reason you don’t feel like this is enough and you would like your deck to look a little brighter, you can use an APPROVED decking cleaner. Messmer’s Deck Cleaner & Wood Brightener and great products to use on decking materials, and you can even use them on materials such as Ipe and Cumaru!

After you have finished the cleaning and inspection process, you can go the extra mile and apply a coat of Hardwood Deck Finish. This enhances the colors and increases its overall lifespan.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: #5 Greed

If you're not careful about the material you choose for your deck, you could end up with this!

If you’re not careful about the material you choose for your deck, you could end up with this!

You have been dreaming about this for years! Your neighbors have built a deck, your friends have built a deck, even your parents have built one! Now it’s your turn, and since you’ve waited so long, there’s no holding back. You want lights, stairs and fancy railings, something that’ll really make an impression.

You dive right into the deck building process. You start looking at materials and accessories. You want an exotic hardwood deck. You start pricing out how much your new dream deck will cost, but it seems to be a tad more than what you were planning to spend.

You start to research other options for decking materials. Composites are comparable with pricing and they promise a no maintenance, fade proof look. That sounds perfect! You get a material that costs less and you will have no maintenance, you decide to go for it.

Next, it’s time to pick a contractor. You make a few phone calls and you hire the guy who gave you the best rate. He arrives at your house for the meeting before the project begins. He’s accepted your material choices and design. You tell him you would like to save some money on installation, and he assures you he will provide you with a reasonable deck at a reasonable cost.

It’s been a year since the deck has been installed, and the material has started to crack and peel. You wanted to save a few bucks so the contractor you hired used nails to hold everything together. This poor installation has caused the boards to cup and pull up off the joist system. Nails aren’t even code with deck installation these days. You’ve tried calling him and he wont answer. The composite company wont honor your warranty because it was installed incorrectly.

Because of your greed of wanting to save a few bucks, you have cost yourself even more money. If you want to avoid a situation like this, do some research! Choose the right contractor. Make sure they’re reputable, can obtain the proper permits, and are licensed and insured.

Choose a material that is heavy duty. Advantage Ipe™ has been used in residential and commercial applications and has been proven to last 75+ years without any treatment. It looks gorgeous and with minimal maintenance it will look better in five years then your composite deck looked after a year.

It’s important to not cut costs because it could cause problems for you and your deck. Always do your research and make sure the project is done right the first time. Enjoy your deck, don’t be a slave to it.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: #4 Gluttony

Grill and fire safety will help you enjoy your next outdoor gathering safely!

Grill and fire safety will help you enjoy your next outdoor gathering safely!

When you think of summer, you think of BBQs, holidays, and pretty much outdoor activity that allows you to be gluttonous to the fullest extent. With these outdoor gatherings, there’s almost always a grill or a fire pit involved. Don’t let your celebration of summer eating interfere with grilling and fire safety.

You can’t have a cookout without a grill! Grilling is the perfect because it allows you to cook for your guests while still being able to socialize. There are a few things to keep in mind while you’re cooking on your grill, whether it be gas or charcoal.

Regardless of the type of grill you are using, it has to be kept away from any type of siding, railings, soffits, and trees! All of these elements have the potential of melting and/or catching fire. This doesn’t seem like the ideal way to enjoy your BBQ, does it?

Let’s say you’re using a charcoal grill, nothing tastes better than a hamburger on a charcoal grill. You’re brother’s kids are running around on your deck, they’re getting anxious to eat. Out of nowhere little Billy runs into the charcoal grill, spewing lava hot briquettes everywhere. DON’T GRAB THE BRIQUETTES! These little suckers were made to burn at 600ºF for an hour! Some can even reach 1000ºF!

Now, this is why it’s so important to have a fire extinguisher on hand! If you have a soft wood deck like pine or cedar, this entire scenario could end badly. If you have a deck made of composite materials, be prepared for some melting, and maybe even some flames. If your deck was made out of Advantage Ipe™ you are extremely lucky! Advantage Ipe™ has up to a Class A Rating for flame spread!

Don’t believe me? Watch the Fire vs. Decking and Charcoal vs. Decking of DeckBuster™!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: #3 Lust

Choosing the right contractor can make or break the entire deck building process.

Choosing the right contractor can make or break the entire deck building process.

So you’ve been contemplating a new deck for a while. You’ve chosen the materials and the basic design, but now it’s time to choose the right contractor. This is the most crucial part of the deck building process. Your desire for your new deck can cloud your sense of good judgement, If this begins to happen, step back from the situation and remember theses things before you trust someone with your new deck and your money.\

Know What You Want to do

Don’t hire a contractor before you know what you want to do. Having a solid plan will allow you and your contractor to start off on the right foot.

Ask Around

Ask for references from your neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Chances are you know someone who has used a contractor for a home project. They will be able to tell you who’s good, who’s bad, and who you should go to.

Once you’ve found someone make a few phone calls. Call up the contractor’s suppliers to see if they have a history of paying their bills on time. Ask the contractor themselves for references. If they are reluctant to supply you with references, take this as a red flag.

Do a Background Check

Ask your contractor for their insurance and licensing information, but don’t rely on this alone as a green light. Contact the providers yourself and ensure everything is up to date. Remember, if the contractor you hire gets injured on the job, or one of his workers do, you can be held liable if his insurance and licensing isn’t valid.

Sign a Contract

This protects you and your contractor. It outlines the work and the payments so you know exactly what you’re receiving and they know when they will receive their payment(s).

Make a down payment.

Putting down a third for a down payment is normal. This allows the contractor to purchase the necessary materials for the job. Never ever pay for the entire job upfront! You can even go as far as holding 10% until the job is completed exactly how you want.

If you keep this list in mind before you choose a contractor, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches and potential issues. Don’t lust after a new deck– plan for it with AdvantageLumber.com!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: Sin #2 – Wrath

Which on of these materials do you want for your deck?
Which one of these materials do you want for your deck?

You’ve had it! Your deck is an eyesore. Boards are cracking and splitting, there’s some green stuff that has overtaken a board over in the corner, and screws and have rusted their way through the railing. You’re so angry you could go out in your backyard and just start hammering your way through this monstrosity.

Slow down! This is the perfect opportunity to take that rage and turn it into something positive. Show your old deck who’s boss and replace it with a stronger, more durable material.

First things first, contact a local licensed contractor that is familiar with demolition and construction of decks. They are the professionals and know exactly what permits and safety precautions need to be taken to ensure everything is done properly.

The most important decision to make when building a new deck is choosing the material the deck will be constructed with.

Pressure Treated Pine, Cedar, & Redwood

These are common materials used in deck construction. They look great at first, but they require lots of maintenance to keep them looking fresh. They are quick to split, decay, and rot. And if for any reason your grill gets tipped over on your deck, there’s no saving it.

Composite & PVC Decking

Composite and PVC decking materials are trying to take over the decking market. They boast a “no maintenance” promise and swear up and down the product will last 25+ years. Composite materials have traces of wood grain in each board where moisture gets trapped, causing mold and swelling of the boards. The colors fade, and just like I mentioned above, if your grill tips over on your deck and hot charcoal flies everywhere, not only are your deck boards ruined, the burning plastic releases toxic fumes into the air.

Stay Calm with AdvantageLumber.com Decking Materials

With AdvantageLumber.com you can select from any one of our sustainably harvested, exotic hardwood decking materials. For instance, Ipe is proven to last 75+ years with no treatment, has up to a Class A Fire Rating, and is naturally resistant to mold and decay. Not only does it have the structural integrity you need in a decking material, but it looks gorgeous as well!

Choosing the right material for the job is the first step with designing your new deck. Do you want to replace your deck in the next 15 years, or do you want your deck to outlive you?

The 7 Deadly Sins of Deck Building: Sin #1 – Envy

Learning about the entire deck building process can help you have the deck of your dreams!

Learning about the entire deck building process can help you have the deck of your dreams!

Your neighbor has just finished a new backyard renovation. With their renovation they built a brand new composite deck that looks stunning. Every morning you walk out onto your older deck and you just catch yourself staring endlessly at what they’ve done with their place.

A few months have passed and you have made the decision build a new deck. You decide to talk to them about their decision and learn from their experience. After your conversation, you learned a lot about the entire deck building process.

Composite Decks are not all they’re “cracked” up to be!

Your neighbor tells you how their composite deck, which looked so gorgeous in the beginning, has begun to have problems. Mold. some peeling and fade faster than they expected it to. They contacted the manufacturer of the material, and although they will replace the deformed boards, they will not pay for the labor associated with the install. If only they had a contractor they could trust!

A good contractor can make or break the process.

They went with a contractor who gave them the lowest cost and who seemed promising, but he came and went as he pleased. Outlining a solid contract with a time frame and scheduled payments protects you and the contractor so you both know your job will be completed and their payment(s) will be received.

Choosing the right material, and you’ll never replace your deck again.

When you spend a pretty penny on a deck, the last thing you want to think about is having to replace it in a few years. When you choose a proven material like Advantage Ipe™ or Advantage Cumaru™ you’re building the last deck you’ll ever need. These materials are made to last 50+ years without any chemicals or preservatives.

In the end, you might envy your neighbor’s deck, but if you’re open to learning from their mistakes you can build a deck worthy of your time and efforts.

Call or visit AdvantageLumber.com today to learn more about your available decking options 1-877-232-3915.