Merry Christmas From Hometown Decking

Nothing crazy and enlightening here. I just want to say Merry Christmas to all of you and thank you for another good year. I look forward to another good year to come.

Cheap is not good, Good is not cheap

Cheap, but not good

Cheap, but not good

  As a professional deck builder and owner of Hometown Decking for quite some time now I have to say that I have seen things that baffle me. Not only on a structural basis, but as a design and visual basis as well. I have seen new decks, old decks, little decks, big decks, decks that don’t have stairs, decks that have no rails. I have seen decks made of interior material and decks made of pallets for gosh sake. But the thing that frustrates me the most is when I see a customer pay a lot of money for shoddy work. It really gets to me when I go out and see a child or a family put in danger because someone either came in and did not know what they were doing or did not care. Decks are not just something that you throw together on a weekend, have a huge party with 80 people and expect to not be in the news the next day talking about a deck collapse and a pending lawsuit. There are supports, joists, hangers, lags, beams, exterior deck screws. There is proper grades of lumber, proper stains and codes. If all of these things are not done properly then you have a deck that will fail. Does it cost more? Yes, of course it does, but there are ways to make sure you are not getting cheap work that will fail. #1 – hire a reputable contractor with reviews and insurance #2- research material on the internet, it is all over #3 – get at least three bids from a reputable site such as angies list etc. #4 – be comfortable and ask questions of your contractor. They should be able to answer all your questions and make you feel comfortable. These are obviously just a few suggestions, but please take your time and get things done right the first time. I cannot tell you how many decks I redo within a year of them being built or how many I have to go resurface because the wrong material or stain is used. Please, do your research and most of all hire someone that you are really impressed with. You will not be unhappy in the long run. This is an investment and while it may not be cheap, it will be good.  

Deck Lighting

Deck Lighting

Deck Lighting

Ok, why would I need lights on my deck? What would it entail? How much would it cost? These are all good questions. I have to say that this is one thing that we can do that will really make your deck stand out. Keep in mind, when building a deck I am building with lumber that does not bend and make all sorts of shapes without a lot of work and money. Deck lighting can start at $200 for a simple system of 6 lights and go from there to dozens of lights and thousands of dollars. The type of lights you want and number and size of your deck will determine what you need and want. 90% of the time we can get away with a simple 6 light system and it adds low level lighting and makes the deck just really stand out. Talk with your contractor about how to do this and their costs for doing it. Trust me, it will be worth it. Light packages are usually best when done during the build as we can tack the wires and stuff to the deck members, but it is something that you can easily do yourself.

Hidden Fastener System

Hidden fasteners

Hidden fasteners

  What is a Hidden fastener system? Simply put, It is a way for deck builders to place decking of all materials down without having deck screws visible to you on the deck surface. What is the difference?  This makes a difference in many ways. #1- You do not see the screws #2- You do not feel the screws and do not get splinters from the screw holes #3 – Regular face screws leave a mushroom effect on the surface of the board and allow water to sit on the deck surface and penetrate into the board surface and help promote premature rotting to the deck board itself I am not going to sit here and bore you with all of the technical jargon on the different hidden fastener systems out there, because there are a ton of different kinds. There are clips, Camos, preloaded ones, loaded and unloaded ones, there are plastic ones, steel ones, tiger claws and kitten claws and maybe even Santa Claws. The main thing here is not necessarily which one your contractor uses. If they are a good contractor (which I have written about as well) they will have done their homework and use the ones they are comfortable with. Some Hidden fastener systems will add cost on so make sure that you talk to your contractor about how much this will add because it can add up to $1,000 to your project. Most will not add that much and some will not add anything. In my opinion it is important to use them though, Not only will it look and feel better, but will help to keep your deck from rotting the inside out.  

Fire pits in a deck or patio

  A lot of people ask me if they can put a fire pit into a deck or concrete patio. Can we do it? Yes, but is it the greatest idea. I have to say that I do not typically do fire pits and here is why. My biggest problem with firepits that are built into decks or patios is not whether it will burn the deck down or whether it will fall apart. My biggest concern with built in firepits is that once they are there, they are there. There is no moving them, tearing them down, patching it up and staining it, there is no changing your mind. There are a few things to keep in mind before going ahead with a built in firepit. #1 – size and height – will the firepit be the right size for the patio and not cause more problems #2 – the right place – what if you place the firepit too close to the edge and have chairs not able to fit properly around it. #3 – Style  - We just went with a square pit and the new house buyers don’t want square, this may be the one thing that kills the deal. Or they don’t like the rock or the stain or the height or size or they do not want anything at all. I have heard all of these. #4 – We never use it and it takes up a lot of space – I hear this one more than anything. Listen, it looks great and really cool on google deck pictures, but remember they are still pictures. They do not tell the story behind it. Do the owners use it, like it or want it still? These are all questions unanswered. I am not telling you what to do, I am not saying no I won’t do it or you are making a bad choice. I just want you to make an informed choice. A choice that you will be happy with and will use for many years to come. You may very well consider a moveable gas or wood firepit easily. They make them really nice ones now. They make them out of rock, wood, stone, concrete, $100 ones and $2,000 ones. Maybe spend the money that you would spend on a built in on a portable one.