Many of the decks I repair in Suffolk County often have some swaying in the frame. If you stand on your deck and shift your weight around you may feel the frame move from left to right. This sway can cause a catastrophic failure to the deck frame itself. The sway will cause the nails, screws and bolts to loosen up over time which can lead to its collapse. There is a quick and easy fix to this problem. When I repair or build decks in Suffolk County, blocking is a technique I use to bridge the gap between joists of the deck. Blocking will fix your sway problem by creating more rigidity to the frame by tying the frame together. Blocking can also help prevent the joists of the deck from twisting over time.
Mold: The choice for decking materials has grown considerably in the last 20 years. Many composite decking companies were started after Trex came out with the first marketable composite decking product twenty years ago. The problem with the first composite decking material was that manufacturers used saw dust combined with plastic to give a more desired natural look while providing the longevity of a plastic product. In theory this was a good idea but the problem that many consumers ran into was that over time the decking would develop spotting from mold growth. The organic natural of the sawdust contributed to this problem. Over the last 20 years, manufacturing companies have ironed out these problems by primarily moving to an all-plastic product to eliminate the spotting problem.
Strength: One of the other major problems customers ran into in Suffolk county over the early stages of composite decking manufacturing, was that the rigidity was not strong enough to span 16 inches on center. 16 inches on center is standard building code for the spacing of floor joists on all decks in Suffolk County especially in Brookhaven. As a result of this rigidity problem 2 things happened in cases of replacement decking (applies when an old deck frame is replace with new decking materials.) One, the decking planks would sag or droop in between joists to produced a wavy look to what should be a flat surface, essential ruining the deck. Two, the customer would now have to reposition the joists at 12 inches on center to support the rigidity and counter the drooping. Although this would fix the sagging problem it would add additional costs to reframe an existing structure.
Being a Suffolk County Deck builder, I have had a great amount of experience installing several different types of railing systems. The most important thing about a railing is that it keeps your guests and children safe from falling off the deck. It is also important to make sure people have a stable railing to grab onto in case of a slip, trip or fall. In order to ensure a railing has the proper strength the rail posts must be bolted to the decking frame using (at the smallest in diameter) 3/8 x 6 inch carriage bolts with washers and nuts. You should use at least 2 bolts per post. Be sure that the hardware are galvanized to prevent rust and corrosion. After all rail posts have been attached, you would now want to add 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 supports pieces in between your frame joints (depending on the size of your joists) that the rail posts are attached to and the adjacent joist to create support so it eliminates a week and wobbly railing. A support piece should be put in place next to every rail post that is bolted to the joist. This simple addition will greatly improve the strength of your railing.
Many of the customers I build wood and composite decks for in Suffolk County are often looking for ways to make their decks unique and special. There are a few recommendations I have to give the perfect finishing touches to your deck job. The first thing I would recommend is adding some type of trim or finish around the edge of the frame of your deck. This includes enclosing the space between the frame and the ground. Most customers choose lattice and use a white plastic trip board around the deck frame to give a nice finished look. Some customers do not care for the look of lattice so they will elect to enclose the bottom by vertically attaching the decking boards around the entire perimeter of the frame. Lattice will be more cost effective but both will do a nice job of enclosing the bottom of your deck which will keep animals out and will give a desired finished look to your deck project. Post caps are another nice addition you can add that will bring some uniqueness to your deck. There are a few different options for shapes, colors, sizes and materials. Copper is usually a popular choice on wood decks while white PVC caps are popular on composite post caps. Either way the post caps will bring a beautiful detailed finish to the look of your deck. Built in benches are another way to make your deck unique as well as more serviceable to your family and guests. Low voltage lighting can also be used to illuminate your deck at night and would make a beautiful addition to your back yard or front porch.
There are several options when it comes to deck railing. Many of the customers I build decks for in Suffolk County use a wide variety of railing choices. Most of the time it is a matter of matching colors and materials to the decking itself to make it esthetically pleasing. Most of the composite decking is produced in natural and or neutral colors so the white PVC railing is a popular choice because it will match any decking color. I have installed a wide variety of PVC composite railings and have found that Color Guard is the best brand to use for a few reasons. The first reason is that it has easy to install hardware brackets with bracket sleeves. There are many brands on the market that do not have sleeves and will show gaps between the railing supports and the railing sleeve. Home depot and Lowes carry something similar to Color Guard but the big difference is that their brand does not carry 8’ sections and Color Guard does. Having 8’ rail sections can cut down on costs by allowing the installer to span the posts every 8’ rather than every 6’. Overall it will require less sections to buy and save on material costs. Wood decking can be constructed out of lumber to simply match the lumber that was used to build the deck. As long as the balusters or spindles are less than 3” spaced and is over 36” high then it will meet code. Bend aluminum railings are a special order item than can really dress up your deck for a high class look. Bend aluminum looks great but can be very costly. Each section must be custom measured for manufacturing purposes and sliding adjustable brackets leave some for error during installation. When installed correctly it can bring a one of a kind look to your deck project.
Whenever customers are planning to build a deck in Suffolk County NY, they want to know if they will need a permit before they start construction. Every town has different codes but most of them are very similar with subtle changes in there in bylaws. Generally speaking when building a deck in Suffolk County if your deck is less than 18” off the ground then you do not need a permit to build. This fact may play a role in how you design your deck because if you plan to build your deck without a permit legally (under 18”) then you will save money on the taxes you would have to pay if your deck were over 18”.
Many costumers who are planning to build a deck in Suffolk county often ask me about what the life span of a wood deck would be, and how can they prolong the life of their wood deck. There are a few factors that play in to this answer. Whether and elements play a large role in the answer to this question.
Direct sunlight duration plays a large role in how well your deck ages. If you get direct sunlight 5-7 hours a day, the sun can evaporate any accumulating moisture. Moisture is the # 1 cause of rot and with out the sun it will take a toll much faster.
If you do not get enough direct sunlight it is important to make sure that any moss or mold growth is removed and treated in a timely manner. Moss and mold thrive in shade and damp areas and will promote rot in your decking if it is not addressed.
The elements can play a large role in how much your wood deck weathers as well. It is highly recommended that all wood decks be painted, stained or given a clear sealant to protect your wood deck from moisture, sunlight, wind and dirt. I Build myself a red cedar deck and after a year that rich color faded to a grey color. I stained my deck and a year later the stain started to chip and fade. The following year I re-stained and put a clear sealant over the coat of stain and the stain lasted 2 years. From my own experience I would highly recommend using the clear sealant which creates a barrier that will protect the wood for up to a year. Benjamin Moore carries a few different brands and I found that they all work the same. Speak to an employee and they may recommend one more suitable for the amount of sunlight and moisture that your deck is exposed to. Again these recommendations are for decks in Suffolk county NY.
Living in the North Eastern region of the country (Suffolk County, NY) we are all subject to a wide range of seasons and variations in temperature. This large variation in temperatures causes all materials including plastic and wood to expand and contract. When a deck is built it is important that the decking boards are properly spaced for a 2 different reasons. The first reason is that if the decking is spaced to close together, when the boards expand they can lift and shift which will alter their position on the deck frame. This will cause irregularities on the surface of your deck. This will also cause the boards to pull up its fasteners. This can lead to exposed nail head and painful accidents.
Another problem that occurs when spacing is to close together is there is no space for water, snow, dirt, twigs and leaves to fall through. Cleanliness now becomes a problem because falling precipitation coming off trees and leaves will deposit sap and dirt. With no place for run off your deck will be covered in dirt and sap creating big clean up jobs every time it rains. Standing water will also lead to excessive mold growth.
Any place that sells decking should always provide spacers with the materials. Every product is different and expansion and contraction will be different with every product. This is why the spacers should be from the name brand decking company you bought your materials from. When in doubt you should always call the manufacturer to ensure you are using the correct spacer especiall when you are decking in Suffolk County NY.
During the 15 years that I have been building decks in Suffolk County, I have learned to help costumers shave costs especially when it comes to composite decking. Composite decking can essentially be double in cost compared to wood decking materials (Cedar and Pressure Treated.) I found through my own shopping experience that the large home improvement companies such as Lowes and Home depot offer 5-10% off the first purchase when you sign up for their store credit card. 10% can help saves hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the size of the deck and type of materials. Either way this is a great trick to use when trying to cut material costs. Both Lowes and Home Depot offer 5% but do run promotions about 5 times a year so It is a good idea to call and ask them when they will offering the 10% promotions and try to plan your deck project around those promotions to maximize savings.