Meet the PROs: ARD Builders
When Marty Weiss won the 2014 Fiberon $20,000 Deck Giveaway contest, he chose this talented team from Guilford, Connecticut to bring his deck dreams to life.
If you own a rotting wood deck, it’s easy to see that it needs replacing. The hard part might be imagining the possibilities for a new deck. Sometimes envisioning a new space is easy, but building it is another story entirely. In either situation, an experienced contractor can make all the difference – a contractor like ARD Builders of Guilford, Connecticut.
Whether it’s a kitchen remodel, home addition, or expansive new deck design, co-owners Andy Ramage and Rick Deberadinis III bring a wealth of experience to every project they undertake. They are a referral-based business with a roster of satisfied clients; among them, Marty Weiss, winner of the 2014 Fiberon $20,000 deck giveaway.
Both Andy and Rick pride themselves on applying modern technology (like capped composite decking) to current building practices. Doing so ensures their clients’ projects are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and built to last.
From dysfunctional deck to a party-perfect space
With a background in both landscape design and professional remodeling, Andy is the idea guy. He’s helps clients create outdoor spaces that highlight their property and complement their lifestyles. Sometimes it’s as simple as re-orienting a deck’s layout to work with the terrain rather than against it. Other times it’s more involved. On the Weiss deck project, for example, Andy reconfigured the awkward, dysfunctional layout of the existing decayed wood deck, replacing it with a multi-level design with designated areas for grilling, dining, and relaxing.
To increase the “wow” factor, Andy created an eye-catching, octagonal entertaining area; incorporated deck and rail lighting; and used Fiberon® Horizon® Decking in Ipe on the deck surface, along with a darker border made with Horizon Rosewood boards.
When the design is done, Andy says, Rick “pulls it off” – no matter what the challenge. On the Weiss project, for instance, Rick was tasked with digging 16 holes through rock (“tons of rock”) to install the footings needed to support the octagonal deck space.
Then he set about framing the octagon – no easy task, given that every piece of the octagon pie, so to speak, had to be identical; otherwise, the shape would not “square up” correctly. Starting with the footings, spacing was crucial. Without the right level of expertise and attention to detail, mistakes could be made. The posts might be off and the decking pieces asymmetrical. Rick got it done. He’s a master framer and general contractor with plenty of experience managing large-scale, high-end, new builds. Rick ensures every project is completed on time, on budget, and up to code.
Horizon deck boards are a customer favorite, thanks to realistic colors and textures
Why do these experienced builders recommend Fiberon composite decking? Several reasons. First, it’s a quality product. “Fiberon holds up well,” says Andy. “Other composite boards scratch more easily.” Next, Fiberon decking is easier to work with than hardwoods. It cuts easily and installs quickly. And finally, Fiberon decking is the composite that ARD Builders’ customers prefer. “In my experience, when homeowners go to their local lumber yard to look at composite boards, they usually end up choosing Fiberon,” notes Andy.
The reason: In addition to the easy maintenance, homeowners love the look and feel of the boards, Andy says. Fiberon Horizon Decking, in particular, is a favorite.
“Horizon Ipe has a more realistic color and texture that clients prefer,” Andy notes. And that raises an important point. Today, most homeowners tend to do a significant amount of research –online, in stores, and at the lumber yards – before they ever call a contractor. They understand and appreciate the benefits of composites over wood: no sanding, sealing, or re-staining; no fading, staining, or rotting; no splintering rails or cupping boards. What’s more, these homeowners recognize and accept that a better long-term value might be more expensive initially. “They’ve done their research, and they want composite decking,” says Andy.
Customers want more expansive, well-appointed spaces, too. In ARD’s experience, homeowners are spending more money on their decks overall and adding more amenities -- fire pits, in particular, are “huge” in the communities these builders serve.
Black metal balusters add contemporary flair
Where railing is concerned, black metal balusters are becoming more popular. This infill adds a contemporary touch to any space and affords a more open view into the area beyond the deck. The balusters appear to recede from view, so they complement their surroundings rather than compete with them.
Another popular decking trend: hidden fasteners. Hidden fasteners create a smooth, nail-free, screw-free deck surface. It’s a look that’s more akin to indoor wood flooring, and one many homeowners prefer. For his part, Andy prefers working with hidden fasteners over face-fastening options, finding them equally secure and more visually appealing.
Deck and railing lighting increase safety, adds ambiance
One item that homeowners tend to overlook is deck and rail lighting. Here again, preliminary research makes a big difference. “I’ve found that homeowners who spend time on sites such as Houzz.com are aware of the options when it comes to deck lighting,” notes Andy. “Otherwise, most people haven’t thought about it.” This is another example of how working with an experienced contractor can open a homeowner’s eyes to what is possible.
Given his landscape design experience, Andy is well-versed in how lighting can add visual interest and increase safety on and around a deck space. For the Weiss family’s deck, Andy incorporated Fiberon riser lights on the stair to ensure safer footing after dark and used lighted rail post caps for added ambiance. (The effect is “awesome,” according to his client.)
Another great thing about Fiberon deck and rail lighting: it’s low-voltage, and uses energy-efficient LED bulbs that consume 1/12 the energy of traditional bulbs. Plus, the lights themselves are made from rust-free aluminum and powder-coated with a long-lasting finish that can withstand Connecticut winters and more.
Do your research; consult a deck-building pro
So, what should you do if you’re contemplating replacing that worn-out wood deck? First, do your research and understand your options when it comes to deck design and materials. Then, find a professional contractor like ARD Builders of Guilford, Connecticut, who has the experience and know-how to turn your ideas and must-haves into a finished outdoor space that will provide years of worry-free, long-lasting enjoyment.