Tag Archives: Reno Expert

Reno Expert: Decks

Durable Decks: Five ways to make your deck last longer

Latest News


Durable Decks: Five ways to make your deck last longer

Photography: bigstock.com

The kitchen is the hub of any home. But once the warm weather rolls around, in most cases the deck becomes party central, serving as an outdoor dining room, living room, and food preparation space, all in one. If you’re looking to replace a rickety, weathered, old deck this summer, here are five things to consider so that your new one lasts a lifetime.

Be code-compliant

Depending on where you live, the size of the deck, and how high it is off the ground, you may or may not need a permit to build a deck. But even if your project doesn’t require a permit, you or your contractor should definitely follow the building code specs during construction.

The city of Markham has a free, downloadable guide (search for “Residential Decks: A Homeowner’s Guide” on their website markham.ca.) that covers the Ontario Building Code requirements, along with helpful diagrams showing how the parts come together.

Key items include the minimum height required for railings, the maximum gap allowed between the vertical pickets supporting the railing, and the maximum and minimum allowable height and depth of each stair tread.

Plus, no one wants to get themselves in the situation where a neighbour calls the city and you find out after it’s built that your new deck is too close to the property line.

A solid foundation

Any structure, including a deck, is only as durable as its foundation. The footings that support the deck need to extend below the frost line – in southern Ontario that means at least 4′-deep.

The wood used for the framing should be pressure-treated (PT) to prevent rot and insect-damage. If you’re splurging on higher-end materials, such as cedar or composites for the deck surface, a properly designed deck will cover up and shield the green-hued PT from view.

Note that PT wood is corrosive to most screws and nails, so you need to use PT-approved hardware – look for an “ACQ-approved” label on the packaging. Also, keep in mind that the ends of any PT lumber that is cut will need to be treated on-site with preservative.

Composites

Composite deck boards are rot- and insect-resistant manufactured lumber that is made from a mix of recycled plastic and wood. When they first came out, some composites were plastic looking, excessively hot to the touch, and could even start to sag in the heat. Since then, the technology is much improved and there are a number of realistic-looking options available in a variety of colours and textures. Composite deck boards also come with warranties up to 25 years, protecting you against defects. If seasonal expansion and contraction causes a wooden deck board to start developing foot-stabbing splinters, you’ll have to foot the cost of replacing those boards.

Whatever material you choose for the deck boards, be sure to leave a gap between each to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction of the material and to allow rain and debris to fall through.

Aluminum and glass railings

As I mention in my last column (Planning for the Future, in the April/May ’19 issue), glass and aluminum railings offer a low-maintenance, splinter-proof, weather-resistant alternative to the standard wooden railing. Of course, most people choose this option for the unobstructed view that these products offer.

Maintenance

A deck is not a build-it-and-forget-it project. At least once a year, inspect components and wood for signs of rot, paying particular attention to key structural elements, such as railings, stairs, and the main support posts. You should also check and tighten any nuts and bolts used as fasteners. Periodically clear out any pine needles and other debris that gets stuck between the deck boards, as those will hold water against the wood, leading to rot.

Every year or so, you should scrub the deck with a cleaner specifically formulated for the type of deck boards you used. These products are applied with a broom or brush, and then washed off with a hose. Don’t use a pressure-washer as the intense spray can breakdown the wood fibres leading to rot, or even carve gouges in the surface. After scrubbing, you’ll want to seal the surface with a UV protectant.

Finally, change up the furniture floor plan on your deck periodically so that you don’t get sun discolouration in sections, and avoid using exterior carpets that get saturated and hold water against the deck boards.

CAPTION: Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


SHARE  

Featured Products


Reno Expert

Planning for the future – Five long-lasting exterior products to use in your projects now

Latest News


Planning for the future – Five long-lasting exterior products to use in your projects now

by Jim Caruk

It’s amazing how often the saying that “you get what you pay for” rings true. With almost any home improvement project, if you’re willing to pay a bit more upfront for good quality materials, the long-term payback will more than make up the difference. Here are five durable options to consider for your next exterior project.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

Metal roofing

Your home’s roof takes a beating, from the baking summer sun and pounding rain to the weight of snow and ice in the winter. Metal roofing is one of the most durable options out there, and manufacturers are willing to back that claim up with warranties lasting as long as 50 years.

One common criticism is that metal roofs look too commercial or barn-like. But today’s metal roofs come in options that mimic asphalt, cedar, and slate so your roof will blend in with the streetscape. It will just last decades longer than your neighbours’ roofs will.

Composite decking

Natural wood is wonderful for a lot of things, but a long lifespan on outdoor structures is not one of them. Without regular maintenance, cedar or pressure-treated lumber will eventually weather, fade, and start to chip and warp, turning a $10,000 deck into an eyesore in a matter of years.

Composite decking is a durable alternative made from wood fibres and plastic, with the latter often being recycled material. Composite deck boards are both insect- and rot-resistant, and available in a variety of colours and patterns, all without any foot-jabbing splinters to deal with.

Brick and stone veneers

Has the cheap vinyl or aluminum siding on your house seen better days? Some longer-lasting alternatives to consider are the various brick and stone veneer products on the market today. While offering the durability of brick or stone, thin veneers don’t require the skills of a trained mason to install. In fact, some brands are marketed for competent DIYers to install themselves.

Glass railings

The cheap and cheerless way to build a deck railing is to nail some wooden pickets to the frame and top them off with some lumber. Glass railings mounted in aluminum frames offer an attractive, low-maintenance, weather-resistant finish that provides an unspoiled view across your property. The glass is also tempered so if there is an accident and a panel gets damaged, there’s no risk of injury from jagged pieces. The railings are available in a number of different colours and profiles, some so slim that on first glance you don’t even notice they’re there.

Natural stone

When it comes to durability, it’s hard to argue that anything will likely last longer than pieces of granite, slate, or other natural stone that are already millions of years old. There are cheaper options out there for stairs, retaining walls, patios, and other landscaping projects, but for a timeless look that will last to the end of time, I’d always at least consider natural stone.

Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan
Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan
Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


SHARE  

Featured Products


RENO EXPERT: Counter intelligence

10 space-saving ideas to save kitchen counter space

Latest News


10 space-saving ideas to save kitchen counter space

Photography: bigstock.com

No matter how much floor space in your home is dedicated to the kitchen, it seems like there’s never enough room to fit everything you want to have at hand. Careful planning and design, of course, can alleviate some of the biggest issues. But there are also a number of innovative and ingenious items to help you maximize the space you have.

1. Appliance storage

Adding a cupboard for storing small kitchen appliances is a great way to free up valuable counter space, and minimize the visible clutter. Sliding or retractable doors on these are best so that you don’t have to keep the area in front of them clear.

2. Magnetic knife holder

Ditch the bulky wooden, countertop block and store your knives on a wall-mounted magnetic strip. This allows you to display your set and ensures you’ll never reach into the rack again and pull out the wrong one.

3. Corner shelving

Corner cabinets often become the dumping ground for large, rarely used kitchen gadgets. But since you have to remove everything to get to the items in the back, things often get forgotten about. Keep everything accessible by storing it on a swing-out shelf system.

4. Pot lid holders

These mount on the inside of drawer and cabinet faces so that you can hang your lids and stack all the pots and pans in a tidy pile. If you happen to be in the market for new pots and pans, another option is to look for a set with removable handles for easier storage.

5. Adjustable shelving

Adjustable cabinet shelves allow you to experiment with different heights so that you can fit all the tall items in the pantry, while minimizing wasteful voids.

6. Slide-out cutting boards

Create an extra workspace by installing a slide-out cutting board, mounted below the counter, then store it away out of sight when not needed.

7. Hanging pot racks

If you’re going for the “chef’s kitchen” design, finish the look off by hanging your pots and pans from a ceiling-mounted rack. It saves drawer space and saves you time spent rummaging around in the drawers for the item you need.

8. USB electrical sockets

With all our phones, tablets, and other electronic devices clambering for outlets, we often come up short when trying to plug an actual appliance into a kitchen outlet. These sockets replace a standard one, with room for two plugs and two USB cables for charging electronics.

9. Pullout filler drawers

If you’re installing a new kitchen, rather than using filler strips to fill gaps and leave room for doors to swing open, use pullout filler drawers to store spices and other small items. Some models are as narrow as four inches wide.

10. Nesting bowls

If your assortment of hand-me-down bowls is hogging up too much cupboard space, consider replacing them with a nesting set that fits together like Russian dolls. In addition to mixing bowls, there are a number of other products that stack neatly, including measuring cups, mixing spoons, and more.

CAPTION: Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


SHARE  

Featured Products