Do it right the first time
Deck installation FAQ's
Precast deck blocks or poured concrete footing?
Your personal temperament, risk tolerance and expectations are almost as important as the technical issues when choosing the best deck foundation. You have a choice between either dealing with seasonal movement in order to save time and money or a rock-solid deck, which requires investing way more up front. Of course, the physical realities of your backyard and design are also factors.
If you build grade level 10'x10' floating deck and you’re unconcerned about your new deck moving, then deck blocks are probably for you. They’re precast concrete blocks that act like feet on top of the soil, supporting the 4×4 posts that hold up the deck. The deck blocks also have slots cast on the top surface to accept 2x wood on edge. This is for the floor joists of low-slung decks that don’t need support posts.
Another issue is the state of the soil. If it was backfilled within the past year or two, then the risk of settling is high, especially if you’ll be using deck blocks. They’re the most susceptible to settling because they have so much soil underneath them.
Simply placing deck blocks on the ground or on a poured concrete pad a few inches deep isn’t enough to comply with building codes. The deck supporting footing must be set at least 18-24 inches deep in undisturbed soil and about 4-6 inches above the ground. So it must be at least 22-30 inches of a solid concrete column which is impossible to make with precast concrete deck block.
The most popular and one of the best type of general-purpose deck foundation uses thick cardboard tubes sunk into holes that extend below the frost line and are filled with concrete. Wooden posts sit on top of these piers, anchored with metal post saddles set into the wet concrete. Installing this system is a lot more trouble and more expensive than deck blocks, but concrete "column" footings reduce the risk of movement and foundation failure to almost nothing if you put them in right.
If you lose sleep over the fear that your deck might move, and you want to build a deck that you can leave to your grandchildren, then you should NEVER use precast concrete deck blocks for your deck foundation.
What the best beam to post connection?
The best post beam connection involves notching a cavity into the tops of support posts to set the beams using carriage bolt fasteners. Post beam connector hardware is especially useful in situations where notching a post is not practical such as at the intersection of an angled corner of the deck. To optimize performance always use the correct type and quantity of fasteners per the installation instructions. Never apply two boards on either side of a post as a beam in the "sandwich beam" style. The strength of a multi-ply beam is created by its rigid connection to one another.
Maximize the surface area of the beam resting on top of the post to take advantage of the compression strength supplied by the perpendicular grain of the support post. The Building Code requires direct bearing for beams over support posts.
Using a notched post and beam connection will lock the beam in place, secure it from rotating and resist wind uplift. Notching a post does not weaken the structural integrity of the wood support post because the load for the deck is transferred down through the post to the footings. The upright notched section of the post acts stabilizes the beam.
Freestanding deck or attached to the house?
The reason why many homeowners choose a freestanding deck is because it supports itself and doesn’t add any weight to the structure of your home. This can be especially helpful if you own an older home, that shouldn’t bear any more weight than it already is. When a deck is built attached to a house, your home is responsible for supporting half of the weight of the deck, furniture, and people who are on it. This type of deck can be built to appear that it is attached to your home so to the naked eye you would never know it wasn’t attached.
In terms of the deck's overall design, one of the most important decisions deck builders must make is whether to attach their deck to the house using a ledger board or whether to build an unattached "free-standing" deck. Decks built using a ledger board have the advantage of not requiring an additional support beam and related footings running next to the house - to support the ends of the floor joists closest to the house.
The ledger board deck is attached to the house, a ledger board is bolted to the side of the house. To keep water out, metal flashing is should be installed behind and on top of the ledger board.
Should I use pressure treated wood for a deck?
Most deck builders choose pressure-treated lumber for the structural framework because of its low cost and high durability. You can clad your deck posts and fascia with whatever wood you prefer, such as cedar which has rich color and a beautiful grain pattern that is unmatched by pressure-treated woods.
If you prefer the look of natural wood, cedar is the better choice for your decking floor. But the meat of the structure has to be as strong and rot-resistant as you can make it. Therefore, the deck structure should be built with pressure-treated wood.
Most pressure treated decking will last 20+ years if it is not subject to ground contact.
The wood is treated with chemical preservatives to prevent weather and insect damage, rotting and fungus. Non-pressure treated wood will probably rot in spots within 5-10 years, it depends on location. Keeping the surface treated will always extend life.
Cedar is better than non-treated wood but is only rot resistant, not rot proof. Cedar decks require significant maintenance. To preserve the deck’s natural color, you’ll have to clean and reseal it every 3-4 years.
New generation of pressure-treated wood
This pressure treated wood becomes economical when compared to cedar and requires less maintenance and has a light brown color.
The chemical treatment is as safe as current green pressure treating methods. The treatment for modern pressure treated wood is safe and does not include the previously used arsenic from decades past.
With the introduction of new pressure-treated wood to the Canadian market, some are saying that we have a game-changer in exterior wood and building decks.
Vinyl Waterproofing & Deck Edge Flashing
Today if you are looking for long-term waterproofing solutions for your sundeck, to keep the space under your deck dry for living space or storage, you will most likely go to go with vinyl decking. It's an engineered floor covering for exterior use that offers a great option in many situations. The vinyl decking comes in different colors and homeowners usually pay attention only to vinyl itself but what about the rest of the deck waterproofing system?
In this picture, you see a typical problem with vinyl decking when the vinyl membrane is glued down the front face of the deck flashing and then attached with a PVC clip. Over time the PVC clip expands and falls off the flashing enabling the vinyl to curl up off the deck flashing, see picture "2".
This flashing is designed to be installed on the substrate and have the vinyl membrane heat-welded to it to ensure a long lasting finished detail. This system does not require the use of a glue and make a permanent bond between the two materials creating a waterproof deck. This way your vinyl surfaced deck can last 20+ years, depending on location and product quality.
The vinyl deck membranes are designed to waterproof your deck floor surface but we also have a deck flashing that will direct rainwater away from the deck and do not let the moisture get between the vinyl membrane and the deck subfloor. The most popular and the cheapest way for the vinyl deck flashing finishing can be seen in picture "1".
Not only is this unattractive it can also cause your deck to rot and lead to costly repairs. Unfortunately, the only permanent solution is to replace the whole deck with a new vinyl deck covering, see picture "3".
This problem can be solved today by PVC coated deck edge flashing, that offers a permanent and efficient solution for terminating perimeter details.
Can you build a deck in winter?
Yes, we do build decks during the winter season.
We build decks year round and we offer discounts from November to March.
Many people think that a new deck cannot be built during winter months due to the cold temperatures, rain or snow. However, modern building products, building methods, and technologies have made it possible to be able to build new homes in the winter months and building a deck is much easier. The deck building process in winter takes longer time but the project price will be way lower than in summer. The main advantage is there’s no spring rush to contend with, by the first nice day in spring when all your neighbors are scrambling to get on a deck builders list, you and your family are already enjoying your deck and you don't have to wait 2-3 months to get your deck project done.
How do boards turn from trees into building materials?
This is how a tree is used