Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Recent changes to construction code requires the illumination of deck steps. This is a challenge for contractors and homeowners that are installing a new deck.
What once was strictly a carpenter's affair now requires wiring, electrical connections prone to failure, expensive transformers perhaps even an electrician and local building permit. Wires and transformers and permits Oh My!
All exterior stairways shall be provided with a light source located near the top landing of the stairway. IRC 303.6
For the contractor the issues include a longer project timeline. Worse they now run the risk of increased "call backs". Wired lights are prone to failure when electrical connections corrode. Low voltage systems are also notorious for transformer failures. Worried about not receiving that last payment from the homeowner, the contractor now has to worry about product failure. Product failure was never a concern for the deck contractor when the project used to be comprised of just wood and fasteners - no more.
For the homeowner, wired deck lights add to the cost of a deck installation (whether they know it or whether the cost is hidden in the total project cost). The wired lighting systems have multiple failure points i.e. connections, bulbs and transformers. Many systems also require a manual process to "switch on" / "switch off". Ever forget to turn lights off in a room? Trust me, you will forget to turn your deck lights on too.
The easy solution for both contractors and homeowners is Solar Deck Lights - here's why.
Some of the solar lights can be installed by simply drilling a hole with a spade drill and inserting the light. That's it done. The solar light is fully contained and encapsulated. Nothing to wire - no wires!
The inherent design of solar lights makes them fully independent. The best lights are fully encapsulated and waterproof (look for IP67 or better). Not only does the lack of wires improve installation but you've also eliminated a major failure point.
Auto ON Auto Off
Solar lights store energy during the day and light up at night. Their internal circuitry constantly monitors the amount of lumens or sunlight that hits the solar cell on top of the light. When the sun goes down the light goes on. There it is! You never have to remember to turn "those deck lights" on or get up late at night to turn them off.
Solar lights utilize LED lights which last well over 25,000 years. In fact they last so long that deck light manufactures make no provisions to allow the consumer to change them. If they essentially never burn out why take unnecessary design steps to allow for their replacement - or so the thinking goes.
Beautiful Ambient Light
The best part! Sit back and enjoy the glow.
Cedar decking is highly popular with homeowners for its looks, durability, and insect-deterring properties. However, the Northwest's rainy climate guarantees pests will eventually seek refuge under your deck, and cedar's natural pest resistance isn't foolproof. By planning ahead and making the area less attractive to pests, residents can help prevent an infestation and prevent long-term damage to their deck. Following are five pest-prevention measures for cedar decking homeowners can take.
Secure the Foundation
Cedar decks should always be built on a foundation layer slightly above the ground. If the deck foundation is directly on soil, ants, termites, slugs and other insects will work their way onto the decking. Cedar posts will crack over time, and termites will burrow into these cracks and begin destroying the decking. Residents can prolong the life of their deck posts by building a secure foundation. However, leave enough crawl space for future maintenance to your deck.
Limit Underdeck Access
Although it's not possible to completely obstruct access to the area beneath your cedar deck, homeowners should limit it as much as possible, particularly for larger pests like squirrels, skunks, opossums and rats. A great way to prevent your underdeck area from becoming infested is to install deck skirting. Lattice, cedar boards or various other materials can block off the underdeck, and even improve the look of your deck. Tightly seal all entry points and corners, and leave a small access door for future cedar decking maintenance.
Moisture buildup often attracts pests to your cedar decking, because it provides an ideal feeding and breeding ground for many insects - not to mention increases the risk of dry rot. Hence, it's necessary to ensure your deck has proper drainage and ventilation. To ventilate your deck and help moisture evaporate, correctly space the boards of your deck. To keep water from pooling beneath your deck, lay down some landscaping fabric covered with gravel. Also, you can install underdeck drainage systems to collect and divert water away from your deck. Finally, keep all gutters near your deck unclogged.
All-Natural Deck Defense
You can employ natural defenses to prevent pest infestations in your deck. Did you know certain plants repel insects and other creatures? Try planting a small garden near your cedar decking filled with local plants that have pest-repelling qualities. You could also consider installing a pergola on your cedar decking and hang pest-repelling plants from it. You can find more information on native local plants with pest-deterring properties on the web or at your library.
Although cedar decks are naturally resistant to fungus, insect, and weather damage, it will eventually begin to degenerate and give way to a pest intrusion. The solution is to keep up with routine maintenance and plan for long-term pest control. You can keep any pest problems under control, before they get out of hand, by following these basic guidelines.
For all of your Vancouver cedar deck needs, visit the website of Rick's Custom Fencing & Decking. They have the most experienced decking contractors and the best prices on decking supplies.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
There are several deck railing design ideas for creating your perfect home deck. Decks are an oasis for a homeowner. They provide the perfect outdoor space for an individual getaway or an evening party with friends. Deciding on the type of deck railing, though, is perhaps one of the most important decisions in finishing your deck. Railings have the biggest effect on the deck because they are the most high profile part of the structure. They can be seen anywhere your deck can be seen. You must, however, plan the railing system before you build the deck, because sometimes they require tying into the post system of your deck.
Materials for cutom designs
Your deck railing design ideas don't necessarily have to match the material you use to build the deck itself. You may use a composite wood material to construct the base of the deck because of its durability, but you may not want the look of that material in terms of the railing. You may, however, prefer the deck components not only to match each other, but also to match the colors and materials your home was constructed with.
Some deck railing design ideas include stainless steel cable railing. This type of railing uses a solid stainless steel top rail, but the use of cables instead of balusters. This allows for increased security as well as visibility from your deck. Another deck railing design idea is glass balusters. These offer elegance and sophistication to your deck area as well as increased visibility from the structure. Another deck railing design idea is the use of an ornamental metal like iron. Strong metals like iron offer durability and beauty. It does not, however, always withstand the weather as well as other options do. Metals like iron have a tendency to rust with weather.
Ideas about ornaments and how to include them to look great
One final deck railing design idea is to use ornaments with your deck railing. Flower boxes create a nature paradise on your deck. Centerpiece accessories for balusters come in a variety of designs and create a very classic look on your deck. Post top accessories like post caps and finials that screw directly into the post top to offer an ornamental look to the railings.
There are many different deck railing design ideas, and it can be very difficult to choose the right design for you.
Adam Peters is a freelance author who contributes adding interesting articles to deck porch railings website. Adam publishes interesting deck railing ideas [http://www.deck-porch-railings.com/deck-railing-ideas.html] for railing plans and deck designs . Reach further articles on these plans at his site, exactly into the deck railing designs section [http://www.deck-porch-railings.com/deck-railing-designs.html].
A great patio is only great when it has great features that enhance its year round enjoyment. Patio canopies are one of those great features. Sometimes referred to as shade canopies or deck canopies, they turn a sun baked slab of cement or wood into an oasis of cool outdoor comfort. Every great patio needs to deal with the sun and how it affects the comfort of your guests. Shade canopies come in many different styles to fit any need or decor. The selection is so wide that there are probably a few styles out there you've never seen.
Shade sails, for example, are one of the more interesting types of shade canopy. They are great for patios, decks and playgrounds and are very non-intrusive. They are usually made from polyester or nylon and UV treated to protect against the sun. Often times they are meshed to allow diffused sunlight to stream through. They are usually triangular in shape and need anchor points on all three sides to stay in place and get the desired effect. They are best suited for decks or patios that are close to another structure such as a house vs. out in the middle of the yard due to this anchoring requirement.
Of course there are other types of shade canopies that may met your needs. Pop up gazebos are another interesting solution particularly if you need portable shade. They are perfect for a day at the beach or lake and can be packed into the trunk of your car when it's time to leave. I see these all the time at parks for birthday parties and at craft fairs where the vendor has to protect not only themselves but their products from the damaging rays of the sun.
If all you need is a small part of shade to cover a table and chairs then a simple umbrella might do the trick. These come in many wonderful colors and styles. I particularly like the ones with wooden poles. They give off a very stylish and natural look especially if your patio has teak, rattan or wicker furniture. While they are not as big as a gazebo canopy, they are less expensive and very easy to move around. There are even off-the-wall umbrellas that are half circle shaped to fit up against a wall for smaller spaces such as balconies or small apartment areas!
There are so many different ways to get shade on your patio or deck that no one should have to sit in the sun. Whether an awning, canopy, shade sail or umbrella, there is a perfect solution out there for your particular needs.
I love to design backyards and patios with interesting and beautiful furniture and other landscape ideas. I consider myself a shrewd shopper and like to share my ideas and finds with other like-minded people. Check out our backyard decor site for ideas on deck canopies, pop up canopies and outdoor furnishings such as rattan and wicker furniture.
A deck isn't complete until you add some outdoor deck lighting to it. There are a lot of different choices out there that you can decide on, some are electric others include solar, depending on your yard and how much direct sunlight you get will determine what you need. This article will help you find best things that you can do is extend your home to the outdoors and make it a comfortable and relaxing place to be.
Start Off With Post Lighting.
Post lighting comes in many styles; some include the lamp post while others are just caps or base lights. When installing your outdoor deck lighting and you decide to use a full lamp post you will have the option to bolt them to the floor of the deck or you can space them evenly on the walkways by securing them in the ground.
For on the deck often the best is to use the railing posts to attach post cap lighting. You have many styles to choose from. Some of the choices come in a wood grain that matches your deck, or you can choose whatever you like best like a brass or burnished copper or brass look. Base lights are best placed at the base of a deck post or even on the stairs. This type of outdoor lighting is most often better suited for a softer lower light requirement.
Another Option is String Lights.
This type of lighting is more often used at Christmas time, but can be used for any occasion. They work great as an accent light by attaching them overhead or on the railing with a heavy staple. Most of this type of lighting can be purchased as a LED which uses very little electricity and will last for a very long time. When installing your strings be creative and use your imagination. With this lighting you can easily create an effect that is both appealing and practical at the same time.
Scones Light Fixtures
Scones look great and are one of the best outdoor deck lighting fixture choices for the average home. They work really good to add a little extra light to your outdoor space. In most cases you'll find that this type of lighting works best as an overhead wall mounted light for use when entertaining your guests at night. There are many styles to choose from the trick is to find the lighting fixtures that best suits your style of home.
Jo's site is loaded with articles and deals to help choose outdoor deck lighting fixtures that will make your home the perfect place to be.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Before you embark on your decking design adventure, there is always the question of which decking material you want your deck designs to be. Decking design materials are usually made out of wood or composites. We have all seen the beautiful houses which contain wooden decks extending from its interior. However, we do know that these things rot, and are usually known to be high maintenance or insect prone and always needs refurbishing every year. Not a good thing for your budget you say. Thus, you decide to pick composite decking as part of your decking designs, but wait - is this really the right option for you?
Before we start, let me define what really is this term 'composite decking'. It really is a mixture of 2 materials, typically wood pulp, and recycled material such as plastic bottles or plastic bags of polypropylene. Proponents of composites claim that this is a very environmentally friendly product as less trees are being chopped down to make way for your beautiful new wooden deck. However this notion is all wrong. Although composites are not as high maintenance as the typical wooden decking, cleaning these decks requires a lot of harmful chemicals and would actually strip off the composite finish to get rid of mold. Not a very environmentally friendly way especially if it gets into your garden, is it? In some cases, physical scrubbing may even be needed to remove that stubborn black mold sitting in the middle of your deck.
Furthermore, these materials are always subject to mechanical wear and tear and the usual fading in design. While conventional wood decks can be refurbished every 5 years, your deck cannot be refurbished and has to be replaced. Plus, the limited lifetime warranty of most decking companies do not cover common damage such as mechanical tear, mold growth and fading, and even if you have a legitimate claim, sometimes, labor and disposal is not covered as well. Make sure you check the warranty thoroughly before you decide to purchase composite decks for your home.
Sometimes, if the composites contain wood pulp, this will present another problem. Wood pulp used in these decks are usually leftovers from the paper industry. Thus, the wood present in your deck will start molding in the right conditions and unlike conventional wooden decks, the mold is not easily removed using the acidic cleaners which I have mentioned above. So much for all the claims of "low maintenance" by the companies, right? Okay, so if wood is really not a good option, then maybe vinyl composites are good. Virgin Vinyl is an example of a company dealing with composite decking designs. So far vinyl composites are still doing well, though, ultraviolet rays from the sun would cause some damage to them as they break down the main component in vinyl composites -- PVC.
Thus, with all these problems of composite decking designs it is no wonder why the best option for most of us is to stick to the conventional wood. After all, wooden decks exudes that inherent beauty and formality of a home. For now, the technology of composite decking designs is still in its infancy and the good quality ones are still out of the budget of most homeowners nowadays.
Renjer Marco is a decking design enthusiast who wishes to help homeowners make the right decision about their decks. His website http://edeckingdesigns.com is loaded with free tips and articles to improve your decks and the exterior of your home. Some woodworking plans and advice is occasionally provided as well for those who want to DIY their own decks. Visit his website http://edeckingdesigns.com now to find out more.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
This article is about Trex Transcend Decking. However I have decided to include my experience on a host of other composite type decking so you might use this information as a handy reference in your selection of the best valued product for your next project.
Transcend decking is a member of the newest generation of man made products. I often refer to it as a hybrid since it has combined the best properties of composite decking with the best properties of the new PVC decking products. Let me first touch on the features and drawbacks of these other two products and then I will explain why I believe this new Transcend product is a best value.
First let's talk about composite decking since it has been around the longest. Composite is just what the name implies, depending on the product it is a combination of wood fiber and recycled plastic. A couple of great examples are the Trex Origins and Brasilia products. Composite products are very durable and they have made great improvements to the finishes and colors as exemplified in these two products. However the most common drawback or complaint I hear from my clients is in regard to the issues of fading and staining. These are common problems inherent to all composite products because of the fact that a large part of the material makeup consists of wood fiber. Wood fiber is porous and thus more likely to absorb stains. Because of its porous nature it is also more likely to give up some of its color over time and appear faded. While neither of these issues affect performance or overall durability of the product they do detract from the appearance, and after all you are spending a lot of money on a beautiful looking deck.
This brings me to the subject of PVC decking. PVC products like Timbertech® XLM®Plank are considered by many to be the answer to the issues of fading and staining. Because of their material makeup they are sealed on the exterior with a harder less porous PVC shell. As a result Timbertech® puts a 25 year limited residential warranty on this product. The downsides to PVC are its price as it tends to be on the upper tier of product cost and in my opinion its appearance, as most products I have dealt with directly still have a rather plastic or unnatural look.
Now that we have touched on the basic differences between composite and PVC let's take a more in depth look at why I feel Trex Transcend Decking is the best value on the market today. Transcend combines the cost effective technology of composite core with a tough durable stain and fade resistant outer shell of PVC on the top and two sides of each plank. I went to a very informational training session on this product line recently and the presenter started the session by laying three pieces of decking on a sheet of plastic then pouring ketchup, mustard, Italian dressing, and red wine in a large glob on the planks. We proceeded to cover topics on why this product was so different and installation practices related to the product for the next hour. At the end of the hour we all gathered around the sample and watched him clean everything up with just a water soaked towel. No stains, no discoloration, and best of all, No scrubbing to get it clean. The best part is that with all the value added durability this product is typically priced well under any true PVC product and is actually priced around the price of a good composite making it one of the best values on the market. Did I mention that it also comes with a 25 year limited warranty against staining and fading in residential applications?
Also for those of you who want to Keep it Green, Trex is made of 95% recycled materials, including plastic shopping bags, reclaimed wood and sawdust so Trex saves around 600 million pounds of plastic and wood scrap from landfills every year.
So there you have it, if a new deck is in your future I believe you owe it to yourself to research all your options but pay special attention to the question of how will the products you select hold up to the two biggest deck complaints today, staining and fading.
If you found this article helpful please drop me a note. I am looking for questions to create more in depth articles on this topic or ideas for other related article topics. You can keep up on all my work by checking out my site blog listed below.
Read more about Deck and Patio Design as well as Indoor Living Outdoors through my web site and research.