by Samantha Plate
DeckExpo 2013 is this week! DeckExpo is a great chance for us at Fiberon to interact with others in our industry, including the amazing builders who build with Fiberon.
In conjunction with DeckExpo, the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) will host their Main Event on 10/16. The night includes the National Deck Competition Awards Ceremony where they will recognize the craftsmanship and beauty of decks built in the last year. For a look at what is possible with a great deck builder, check out this video of all the entries for this year’s awards.
You’ll notice there are more than a few Fiberon decks in that video. It’s no coincidence – NADRA members are amazing builders and the best deck builders choose Fiberon.
Follow our social media channels for updates from the show and if you’re there, stop by (Booth # 2214) and say hi! Stay tuned to see if any of the beautiful Fiberon decks and their amazing deck builders win this year!
by Samantha Plate
Welcome to the final installment in our series designed to help you navigate the steps to getting the outdoor living space of your dreams! If you missed them, here are Part 1 –Design, Part 2 – Materials, Part 3 – Working With Contractors, Part 4 – Budgeting for Your Deck and Part 5 – Care and Maintenance. This week will focus on the fun part – enjoying your deck!
Finally, once your deck is built, you get to take advantage of everything it has to offer. Here are some ideas to maximize your new living space:
- When the weather is nice, try to spend at least a little bit of time on your deck every day. It will allow you to use the deck the way you intended and make the investment worthwhile.
- Grill out and eat dinner on your deck
- Lounge with a good book
- Throw a deck party with neighbors!
- Decorate for the season
- Plan a deck date night under the stars
- Use your furniture and décor to create separate sections of your deck for different activities
- Grilling/Dining Area
- Relaxation/Yoga/Spa Area
- Entertaining/Conversation Area
- Children’s Play Area
- Garden Area
For more great ideas about how to enjoy your deck, you can check out our Pinterest boards, but however you choose to use your deck, it will add value to your home and, more importantly, your life. Enjoy your new outdoor living space!
I hope you enjoyed our six part series on what to expect when you’re building a deck. To find it all in one place, you can download our free white paper What to Expect When You’re Decking.
by Samantha Plate
Welcome to the fifth installment in our series designed to help you understand and navigate the steps to getting the outdoor living space of your dreams! If you missed them, here are Part 1 –Design, Part 2 – Materials, Part 3 – Working With Contractors and Part 4 – Budgeting for Your Deck. This week, we will focus on deck care and maintenance.
One of the things that many homeowners find when they first start researching decks is that care and maintenance can be costly and time-consuming. The good news is that, in general, you can control the level of maintenance required by the materials you use to build your deck.
All decks – wood, composite or plastic – are going to require some general care, both to maintain the integrity of the materials and to ensure it is a place you want to spend your time. There are several important factors to keep in mind to ensure your deck stays beautiful over time. It is critical to follow your decking manufacturer or supplier’s instructions with regards to care and maintenance of your deck as failing to do so may void any warranty offered. Any suggestions or tips in this post should not be taken over a manufacturer’s instructions.
If the gap between decking boards is less than 3/16″, organic debris such as leaves, seeds or pollen can settle on the deck and clog gaps. Water can pool, steeping organic debris that forms a “tea” or tannin which may stain your deck. This organic debris is a strong food source for mold. Keeping the gap clean is the easiest way to keep the deck clean. If gaps become clogged, use a garden hose, a spatula, putty knife or similar tool to remove debris.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are common environmental conditions. Molds grow on decaying organic material such as wood, leaf decay and pollen. Tiny and lightweight, mold spores travel easily through the air. Different climates experience varying degrees of these conditions depending on the amount of moisture and heat present.
To thrive, mold and mildew need air, water, elevated temperatures and a food source. There is no way to eliminate all of these conditions in the environment. A wide variety of building materials including concrete, wood products, vinyl siding and many others are subject to potential mold growth.
To minimize mold on your decking, clean your deck as often as needed, at least twice each year. Climate conditions vary in different regions of the country and may necessitate more periodic cleaning. Removal of leaves, debris, and other organic materials that provide a food source for mold development is important.
Cleaning Your Capped Composite, Uncapped Composite or PVC Deck
As I mentioned above, it is important that you clean your deck as often as needed to remove pollen, organic debris, dirt or stains. Generally, a broom or a blower will work better than a hose for removing scattered organic materials like leaves. For general cleaning, use soap and water or mild household cleaners.
Skilled professionals may use a pressure washer with wide fan tips, at low pressures under 1,500 psi and at safe distances (about 12” above deck). In the wrong hands, your composite deck can be damaged by a pressure washer. Exercise extreme caution.
If you have capped composite or PVC decking, keep the following information, in addition to the tips above, in mind:
- Direct downspouts, downspout extensions and splash guards away from decks.
- Position dryer vents away from decks.
- Maintain a deck that is dry and clean.
- If mold is present on your deck, use soap and water to clean.
- Minimize the use of wet mulch up against the deck structure.
- Items stored directly on top of the deck surface, such as flower pots, prohibit water evaporation and can cause some staining of the deck surface.
Additionally, it is important to protect decking during masonry construction. White or hazy residue from mineral deposits (efflorescence) can leach out of stone and masonry materials after water evaporates leaving the deposits behind. Minerals from soils in certain arid and mountainous environments can also cause a hazing affect when deposited on the deck surface.
This can only be prevented with complete and secure coverage of the decking surface area during the construction phase or installation of the decking after the masonry construction phase. To minimize this affect during masonry construction, keep materials dry and allow masonry and cement to cure properly.
Additional Considerations for Uncapped Composite Decking
Because of the exposed wood fibers in uncapped composite decking, more frequent deck cleanings may be required to keep mold from growing. If mold is present on your deck, there are many commercial products available for cleaning mold.
In addition, the use of wrought iron railing or other carbon steel materials in contact with or above an uncapped composite deck surface may cause dark extractive staining.
Wood Deck Maintenance
When taking care of wood decking, in addition to the mold and mildew prevention tips above, you will need to clean your deck semi-annually and seal and stain it as needed. You’ll need to plan ahead to ensure that the weather doesn’t ruin all your hard work. Clean and treat your wood deck when the weather forecast calls for three rain-free days in a row and temperatures between 50° and 90° F.
To determine whether your deck needs to be sealed and stained, sprinkle a few drops of water on the wood. If the water beads up, you don’t need to treat it yet, but if not, it needs to be cleaned, stained and sealed. Do this test once every six months.
Your deck must be clean and dry in order for the stain to penetrate the wood. Keep in mind that this is a stain that is not meant to come off, so wear clothes and shoes that you won’t mind throwing away when you’re done.
- Remove all deck furniture and plants and trim any shrubs, bushes or trees near the deck to avoid getting leaves and twigs in the stain.
- Repair any damaged or loose boards and sand all the rough patches.
- Sweep off the deck and then clean your deck based on the stain manufacturer’s instructions. Note that some manufacturers require the use of a wood stripper and brightener.
- Clean redwood, cedar, or mahogany with a wood cleaner specifically formulated for these surfaces.
- When working on vertical surfaces, work from the bottom-up to avoid uneven appearances.
- Liberally apply the wood stripper with a pump-type sprayer.
- Let the wood stripper stand for a minimum of 15 minutes, but don’t allow the wood stripper to dry.
- After the wood stripper has had time to work, rinse the surface with a garden hose, or pressure washer on a low setting.
- Mix the brightener with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Apply the solution with a pump sprayer and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Use a cleaning brush on any trouble spots (spots affected by mold and mildew).
- Rinse off the deck with a garden hose and nozzle or pressure washer on a medium setting. Repeat the process if necessary.
- After the deck has been thoroughly cleaned, let it dry for at least 48 hours.
Avoid staining in the heat of the day or in direct sunlight when the stain could dry too quickly.
1. Mask off any parts of the home that may come in contact with the stain.
2. Completely stir the stain.
- If you’re using multiple gallons, combine them into a five gallon bucket to assure color consistency.
3. Pour a small amount of stain into your paint tray.
4. Apply a thin coat to a two- or three-board section with a paint roller.
- Work from one end to the other, assuring that the stain penetrates the wood.
- Apply the coats in thin layers. Generally two thin coats are better than one thick one.
5. Repeat this process on all wood surfaces.
6. Use a paintbrush to apply the stain in tight areas, like the steps or railing.
- The support beams under the deck probably will not need a coat of stain. But you may wish to apply a coat for aesthetic reasons.
7. Allow the deck to dry for at least 24 hours.
8. After the deck has thoroughly dried, put your patio furniture back in place.
No matter which level of maintenance you choose for your deck, following these tips will ensure that it stays beautiful for years to come.
Stay tuned next week as we wrap up our blog series with the fun part – Enjoying Your Deck! Or, if you can’t wait, download our free white paper What To Expect When You’re Decking!
by Samantha Plate
This Friday, October 4th, is the 2nd annual Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing Day was created to celebrate our American manufacturers and to give them an opportunity to show what they do and raise awareness about the skilled labor shortage in the manufacturing industry. For more information about Manufacturing Day, you can visit the dedicated website.
In honor of Manufacturing Day 2013, Fiberon would like to share a little about our manufacturing process with you. In this short video, you’ll see that the beauty of Fiberon composite decking is a result of careful material selection, manufacturing process and quality testing. It’s beauty more than skin deep.
Let us know what you think of the video in the comments section below, and be sure to share it!
by Samantha Plate
Welcome to the fourth installment in a series designed to help you understand and navigate the steps to getting the outdoor living space of your dreams! If you missed them, here are Part 1 –Design, Part 2 – Materials and Part 3 – Working With Contractors. This week, we will focus on the elephant in the room – budgeting for your deck.
Budgeting For Your Deck
There are many factors that will combine to create the cost for the deck of your dreams. The first step is to decide what amount you’d like to spend on the project. Make sure this is a realistic number, which takes into account both materials and labor, and set that number as your target budget. It’s also important to consider the absolute maximum amount you can or are willing to spend on your deck and make sure that you don’t go above that number, no matter what.
Several factors in the design of your deck will affect materials and labor costs. The size, shape, whether it will sit at ground-level or raised up and any extras, such as built-in benches, hot tubs, lighting, fire pits or any curving of the boards, will all have an effect on the total cost of your deck. Additionally, the materials themselves have a range of associated costs.
As a reminder, it’s important to remember that regardless of what kind of decking you choose it will only apply to surface decking. Composite and PVC materials are not approved as a structural material, so you will need to use pressure treated lumber for the substructure of your deck. The substructure for the deck will be what the code calls for in your municipality and some deck designs may require more stringent substructure designs.
For the deck surface, you’ll pay more money for composites than for natural wood upfront, but the added maintenance and replacement costs for wood can make for a more expensive deck over its lifetime, so make sure you consider that when pricing out the deck surface and railing material. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a tool in 2006 for use in comparing the costs of using yellow pine (pressure-treated wood), redwood (hardwood), composite decking and recycled HDPE plastic (similar to PVC) over the life of the deck, broken down by materials, installation and maintenance and gives you an idea of the average annual cost over the lifetime of the deck. Although the numbers have not been adjusted for inflation, this Excel tool has worksheet tabs that allow for cost inputs and can give you a good idea of the cost differences between the materials.
More recently, an article featured on the popular reviewing site, Angie’s List, estimates that on a simple 14’ x 20’ deck with one flight of stairs, you’ll pay around $4,600 more in maintenance costs for treated lumber than composite decking material over the first eleven years you own your deck.
Overall, a deck adds value to your home and has a high return on your investment if you ever sell your home. The lifestyle value allows you and your family to enjoy an expanded and beautiful outdoor living space for years to come.
Stay tuned for our next installment in this series designed to help you navigate the deck of your dreams – Care and Maintenance. Or, if you can’t wait, download our free white paper, What to Expect When You’re Decking.