Back To Nature
Michael Ebner
205 Twining Road, Oreland, PA 19075
215-885-1866 · Contact by Form

If you are planning on building a deck or outdoor living space in 2009, we recommend booking as early as possible. Please contact us sooner rather than later about your project!

Deck Building and Construction Tips
Questions to ask, things to consider and design ideas to maximize your investment!

Deck Planning
Attractive, functional and durable decks require good planning. Since the deck is an extension of your home, sufficient planning before you build will result in you and your family getting the most enjoyment out of your deck.

How long will your deck last?
"Traffic", or use, will affect its life span; but so will environmental factors such as humidity, sun and wind. By investing in quality materials and sound building practices you can extend the life of your deck and enhance the value of your home.

Some Key Points to consider before building are:
What do you want to use the deck for?
How often will you use it?
What time of year?
How many people will use it?
How much privacy will you want?
What type of deck amenities will you include in your plans?
A spa, barbecue outlet, deck fire pit, outdoor heater, seated bar or snack counter, are just a few of the myriad of options that we can implement.
Will it be in direct sunlight or in a shaded area?
Do you want to achieve more or less exposure to the sun, or a balance of sun and shade?
Where do the prevailing winds come from? Do you require a wind block?
How long do you want the deck to last?
Where will you locate the deck furniture?
Do you have sufficient room to walk around the furniture when people are seated? This is often overlooked!
How much maintenance do you want to have on your deck installation?
Will your deckís location be affected by a fence, landscaping, garden shed, or other fixtures?

Local Building Codes
Review all local building codes and requirements in your planning. Many localities require that you obtain a permit before you build. All decks are a little different - if you are unsure about something - do not be afraid to seek professional help from your local building supply store or a professional deck contractor. For a small fee, a professional contractor may be able to draw up your plans and obtain any permits you may require.

Slope the ground below your deck installation away from your home a minimum of ľ" per foot so water will drain away from your foundation.

When building your deck in an area where the ground is subject to frost there are two main types of foundations used:

Plan your foundation to ensure adequate support of the deck surface. Consult your local building codes or a professional in your area to develop your plan. In general, you can reduce the size of the beams required by allowing for more footings or pier blocks.

Likewise, by reducing the span between joists and beams you can reduce the number of footings. Use the most practical method for your site. Variable site conditions can play a key role in the planning of your foundation.

Select straight boards to start your construction. Where possible, avoid using boards with defects, such as mildew, rot, insect holes, warp and checks or splits and wane that affect more than one edge or side. If some defects are unavoidable, cut them out.

Place the joists crown up in your installation.

Use DeckZoneTM Joist Cap to cover all joists. The number one cause of deck decay is the rot migration between the deck boards and the joists. Sealers donít reach this area so use preventive measures to prolong the life of your joist structure.

Choose the correct fasteners and hardware for the desired life of your deck. Stainless steel fasteners are more expensive initially, but will not rust out. Galvanized or coated nails are better than untreated fasteners.

Blocking between joists contributes to a solid deck structure.

Choose the right material for you. Cedar, Redwood and pressure-treated pine all look different when they are new. You can leave them in their natural state or apply deck coatings to them. If you apply a coating use semi-transparent deck stain. Solid color stains hide the wood grain and tend to show traffic wear much sooner.

Today there are many types of composite deck boards available for your deck surface. When designing your deck structure, consider the weight of the deck boards you intend to use; as some composite boards are heavier than traditional woods, and may require a stronger joist or beam structure.

When nailing boards, blunt the end of the nail before driving it into the wood to reduce wood splitting. Pre-drilling boards before nailing or screwing will also prevent splitting.

If there will be an exit door from your home to your deck it is best to plan for the deck elevation to be 4" - 6" below the level of the door. This will help prevent rain, snow and wind blown debris from entering the home.

Follow local building codes and good sound building practice.

The DeckZoneTM Stair Bracket simplifies the job of building stairs to a low or mid level deck. These brackets replace the need for cutting risers out of wood or using metal brackets that need to be painted. They require no cutting and will not rot or rust, saving you time and money.

Plan your steps from the deck surface to grade. It isnít always necessary to have one run of steps. It may be desirable to plan for a landing half way up the stairs so that you can approach your deck from another direction or fit the stairs into a smaller area.

It is more functional and practical to have a concrete pad, precast block, or landscaping blocks at the base of your stairs. This reduces traffic wear to your lawn.

Decks are more functional and attractive with wider stairs. Especially on low level decks, stairs up to 10í wide are not uncommon. They can also be used for seating during backyard family barbecues!

Be sure to follow local building codes. In most areas - decks closer than 20" to grade do not require a railing but you may still consider a partial railing if your garden or some other obstacle is close by.

High level decks require a taller rail (usually 42") from the deck surface than lower level decks (36").

Incorporating glass panel rails onto your deck will not only give you a better view - they also serve as a windbreak. If you prefer more privacy and a simple windbreak, consider smoke colored or reflective glass panels.

Accent & Safety Lighting
Check out the DeckZoneTM Solar Lighting - no wiring is required and the deck lights automatically turn on at dusk; providing an attractive accent lighting to your deck installation.

Where low voltage lighting is used - make sure that you hide all wiring from view, below the deck, so as to give a proper finished look; as well as to provide additional protection to the wiring. Use an exterior grade wire with the right protective cover.

Deck lights do not need to be high wattage, and look best as an accent light.

Auxiliary lights that shine on outdoor trees and shrubs also provide welcome focal points and create a relaxed ambiance.

Lighting that illuminates your stair treads, or under seating areas, are typical ways to add evening accents and make your deck safer!

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