Five Things to Expect From Your Deck Builder

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Hiring an experienced deck builder to construct your outdoor living space makes sense from a financial standpoint. Your money will be well spent and your backyard area designed with function and value in mind.

Some homeowners opt for the cheapest option and regret not investing in the expertise of experienced Virginia deck builders. Spend wisely and learn what you can expect from a deck builder with the know-how and skills to complete your project.

1—Modern Design

Any deck installer can build you a rectangle platform. If you’re looking for a space with modern features and comfortable, yet cutting edge design, only an experienced deck builder can deliver. With access to the latest trends and the knowledge to construct a deck that reflects your tastes and lifestyle, experienced deck installers offer much more than your average contractor.

Lighting, multiple levels, attractive railings and shapes that work with your house and yard are all features available through established builders. Hire a company that has built decks of various sizes and knows how to work with you to design the perfect Northern Virginia deck.

2—Solid Warranty

You want to invest in a company with roots in your area. A solid warranty offers you peace of mind today and far into the future. Look for a contractor that offers coverage for both the materials and installation.

Manufacturer warranty applies to materials in most cases, but experienced companies provide this information ahead of time. Depending on the deck design, this may include treated wood, composite materials, aluminum railings, tempered glass panels and other deck materials.

Installation warranty covers workmanship. Post or pier depth determines the stability of your deck through the first few winter seasons, while installation of railings, stairs, deck boards and framing determine safety and comfort while on the deck. Hire a deck builder that offers solid warranty coverage for both aspects.

3—Skilled Labor

You should expect to have at least one very experienced installer on your job site at all times. This person can supervise the entire project, work on more complicated sections of your deck design and troubleshoot issues as they arise.

Skilled labor is well worth the additional cost. Trust your contractor and lean on the years of experience available to design and build your dream deck. Challenges inevitably come up during the construction phase, and only skill can overcome these issues with creative, yet safe solutions. Skilled contractors also have knowledge of the local Virginia building code, an important consideration for any property in the state.

4—Quality Materials

New deck builders have access to quality materials, but those with experience have the knowledge to choose each piece of lumber wisely. Companies that have an established relationship with suppliers receive quality materials on a regular basis and enjoy the ability to filter out those of a lesser quality. Bank on that experience to obtain top quality deck materials for your project.

5—Timely Service

An established decking contractor has spent years building their name in the community, and they work hard to maintain that reputation. You can expect professional service from your deck builder, including timely communications, complete and honest answers to your questions and on-time delivery.

Many things are out of a contractor’s control, such as the weather and delivery times, but experienced deck builders stay in contact with their clients and maintain a high level of service throughout the project.

You can expect these five things from your deck builder, as well as many other smaller elements. Invest your money wisely by hiring a company you can trust to construct a space you will love for years.

Top Four Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Northern Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Investing in your outdoor living space provides an area for relaxation and seasonal fun. If you want to make sure that your Northern Virginia deck is designed properly and built with longevity in mind, avoid these top four common mistakes and create a true backyard paradise.

Do Think Long Term

Design your deck to meet current needs, including size, shape and desired maintenance levels, but remember to consider the future. You may want to incorporate a children’s play area with a sandbox, swing or other play equipment. Or perhaps you dream of a hot tub or outdoor kitchen. Think about how well these features will age and whether or not you’ll be using them in a few years time.

Consider the balance of your yard as well. Do you plan to install a swimming pool in the future, expand your gardens or build a patio? How does the deck design fit into these plans, and how can your Virginia deck builder ensure that your long term goals are accounted for, without sacrificing the comfort of today.

Do Not Over Design

Deck features add style, beauty and function, but including too many to your Northern Virginia deck results in chaos and busyness in an area designated for relaxation. Think about what you hope to do on the deck (suntan, eat, read, nap, etc.) and focus on features that complement those activities.

Remember to consider other members of your family. Although you may never use it, a hammock hanging in one corner may be appreciated.

Certain features add value to any deck, including:

  • lighting
  • shade structures
  • built in seating

But be careful not to over design the space. Find a balance that accounts for the size and shape of your new deck.

Do Expect Disruption

Deck construction is a messy job. From digging post holes to hammering nails and cutting stair stringers, your deck builder will tackle plenty of tasks that create noise, mess and disruption. That’s not to say that your home will be turned upside down during the construction phase, but you must have realistic expectations about the process.

Deck piers require heavy equipment, which is often driven over your grass and gardens. Avoid laying fresh sod or planting new material until the deck crew finishes your project. You’ll also need to provide a space for lumber storage; conscientious contractors often tarp an area of the lawn or driveway for this purpose. Be prepared to share your space with workers and materials during the course of construction.

Do Not Forget to Contact the Local Building Department

Your local Virginia state building department offers guidance on building codes and requirements involved in residential construction. Consult with them before and during the deck design phase and take their valuable direction into consideration.

Contractors know the code and should build a deck to suit it, but wise homeowners familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of building codes in order to make better design decisions.

Avoid these four mistakes and build your Northern Virginia deck with confidence. The project will add value to your property and plenty of space to enjoy the warm season.

Tips on Designing a Northern Virginia Deck for Entertaining

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Warm weather provides countless opportunities for outdoor entertaining. From backyard barbecues to a sunny Sunday afternoon brunch and any event in between, avid entertainers love to throw parties on their Virginia decks. But good design and a thoughtful layout are essential to creating the perfect outdoor party, and the advice of your Virginia contractor goes a long way toward achieving this.

Tip # 1 – Go Big

Who knows how many people will show up for your backyard bash, and it’s much better to have plenty of room for everyone. Design an oversized deck to maximize the opportunities. Standard deck sizes run from 12ft. x 12ft. (just enough to hold an average patio set) to expansive decks wrapping around the back of large homes. Entertainers need to aim for the larger size, and should consider building a multilevel deck for better traffic flow.

Find out how large you can build your deck, taking into account the local building code and any underground wires or pipes. You cannot build your deck over a septic bed, although an experienced contractor can figure out a way to install a larger deck over asphalt, gravel, turf or garden.
Whatever size you decide on, ensure your deck is well supported and built to recent codes regarding structural limitations.

Tip # 2 – Think Barefoot Comfort

Homeowners have several choices of finish for Virginia decks. You can opt for treated wood and stain or paint the product to achieve the look you want. Cedar wood can also be stained or painted, but presents fewer splinters, cracks and splits than treated wood. This type of wood provides a smoother, more comfortable surface for walking and ensures lower risks of injury for your younger guests.

Composite wood provides another option. This product combines plastics and wood byproducts, and creates a comfy surface. It can be manufactured in a wide range of colors that never require staining. Your best bet for barefoot travel on the deck, composite costs at least twice as much as treated wood.

Choose your deck board wisely and consider how the products ages. If your deck is exposed to full sun, drying and cracking present a threat. Decks that rest in the shade for more than a few hours tend to grow mold, mildew and other organics, which can create a slippery deck surface. Consider your comfort level, exposure and budget when choosing the deck board.

Tip # 3 – Include Kitchen Essentials

Outdoor kitchens transform your backyard into a functional space. Think about incorporating a grill, sink and refrigerator into the deck design, providing the perfect space for food prep and serving. Be sure the area is equipped with power and water, as well as natural gas, if applicable.

Build the kitchen in a strategic location, near both the entrance to your home and the outdoor seating. Keep the traffic path free of obstacles and avoid steps or ramps. Create multiple levels to make this design safer and more functional, or consider building the main deck area higher up.

Tip # 4 – Built In Seating Means Less Furniture

Adequate seating makes your deck party more comfortable for everyone. Think about incorporating built in seating by replacing railings with high-back benches or building low, wide-lipped planter boxes that double as seats. These insignificant features make a major difference when you have guests, and leave the balance of your deck open for patio furniture.

Get creative when designing Virginia decks for entertainers. Think about size, comfort, food prep and seating to ensure your outdoor space provides the ideal area for entertaining a crowd.

Five Benefits of Using Cedar Wood for Your Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Contractors and DIY enthusiasts often use treated wood to build decks, but you have several other options for your Virginia deck. Composite wood products and exotic woods tend to be expensive, but cedar wood presents several benefits to Virginia residents, making it a great choice for your backyard living space. Compare deck materials and choose the best option for your property.

# 1 – Cedar Weathers Well

Cedar heartwood is used for decking materials and provides natural resistance to rot. Although decking contractors recommend using treated wood for the in-ground applications (framing and posts), cedar deck boards, stairs and railing materials should last 15 to 20 years without major structural decay. And that’s without applying any stain or treatment products–a good quality cedar stain could extend that life by a decade or more.

Left to weather naturally, cedar turns a silver color. This attractive appearance matches well with modern and traditional homes and provides a casual atmosphere for your outdoor living space. Many Virginia homeowners want this look and cedar delivers with minimal effort. For those consumers who want to maintain the rich red color of new cedar, annual cleaning and staining are required.

# 2 – Cedar Presents Fewer Splinters

Many deck installers prefer to handle cedar, as it tends to present fewer splinters. This may appeal to young families and pet owners in particular. Cedar decking surfaces remain smooth and comfortable for years.

Cedar sawdust may trigger an allergic reaction in some people, but it does not contain any chemicals and can be safely composted. Scrap cedar can be burned (where allowed by local bylaws) and this wood can be safely used for indoor and outdoor applications.

# 3 – Cedar Costs Less Than Other Premium Products

Cedar decks are more expensive than those designed using standard treated lumber. Expect to pay about 40 to 50 percent more to finish your Virginia deck in cedar wood. But this added cost is much less than composite wood, which runs closer to double or even triple the cost of standard treated lumber.

# 4 – Cedar Allows for Flexible Deck Designs

Are you dreaming of a round deck design or something with a little personal flare? Cedar is fairly flexible and can be used to construct decks of varying sizes, shapes and designs. A soft wood that allows for bending and cutting, cedar provides a skilled craftsman with hundreds of design possibilities. When compared to hardwoods, treated wood and composite products, cedar allows for more variation in your design.

# 5 – Cedar Presents Less Cupping and Warping

Cedar does not absorb moisture as much as spruce, pine or fir (woods used in treated lumber). This natural property means that cedar does not split or crack as readily and quickly as treated wood. You’ll find less cupping and warping on a cedar deck, allowing for a more professional appearance now and over time. Cedar may grow mold or mildew, when left in the shade, but it will perform very well in all other areas.

Talk to your contractor about using cedar wood for your Virginia deck. This building material provides several benefits and is well worth the additional investment.