Feb 6, 2018 10:04:16 AM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Jaclyn Kueny
Get a Quote
Did you know that DecksDirect provides free design consultations? We are here to help throughout your entire deck experience, including the early planning stages. Our specialists can help you design your dream deck and provide you with accurate measurements, drawings, and prices to make purchasing simple and quick.
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Let us know how to reach you so that you can benefit from our free services that include:
Jan 18, 2018 9:49:24 AM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Jaclyn Kueny
Improving the Deck Experience: Estimating Tools
At DecksDirect, we see your deck as a lifestyle. We know the deck experience is much greater than just the materials you choose, products you buy, or who installs it. We stand behind you as you successfully put all the pieces together and make memories on it for years to come. There are a few ways we strive to improve your deck experience. One way is through the use of our estimating tools. We currently have two different calculators that make ordering products even easier, and we are always working on more! Our Baluster Calculator and our Zip-Up UnderDeck Calculator make calculating supplies easy.
Not sure how many balusters you need? What about how far apart you need to space them? Take the guess work out of ordering balusters with our calculator! Simply input your total length of railing, the number of posts you have, the size of the posts, and the width of the baluster. The system will tell you exactly how many total balusters you'll need! It takes into account building codes like baluster spacing, and gives you the perfect number to complete your project!
With the Zip-Up UnderDeck Calculator, we build your shopping cart for you. All you need to do is tell us the length and width of the underside of your deck, and we'll calculate it all for you! We create a comprehensive list of the items you'll need for your project that you can add straight into your cart!
Oct 18, 2017 3:37:45 PM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Jaclyn Kueny
Preparing Your Deck for the Changing Seasons
The 2017 deck season is quickly coming to an end, and DecksDirect is here to help you prepare your deck for the changing seasons. As we say goodbye to the sunshine and warm weather, we want to ensure that your deck is in the best shape possible to handle fall and winter. You’ll need at least 2 days of dry and moderate weather for the best results in prepping your deck for fall.
Those ketchup spills and dirty foot prints that your deck gathered all summer need to be scrubbed clean so that they don’t become permanent this winter. Make sure to clean any debris that may be stuck between the deck boards and sweep away any loose dirt before washing. With a little elbow grease, those summer stains will be a distant memory.
DecksDirect carries a variety of products to help you prepare your deck this fall.
Decks age over the years, so routine inspections are crucial to prevent small problems from becoming large and expensive issues. Take a good look at your deck and check for any easy fixes. If a board is loose, nail it back down! If a fastener is loose, tighten it back up! If the hardware is beginning to rust, replace it! These are relatively easy fixes that homeowners can do themselves.
It is crucial to look for any structural damage caused by moisture or animals. An easy way to check for rot is to stick the tip of a screwdriver into posts and joists. If the screwdriver easily pokes into the wood, your deck is showing signs of deterioration and it may be time for a renovation. Now is a good time to schedule a thorough inspection with a deck builder. One of our favorite local pros recommends getting an early jump on your project:
“It's never too early to start planning a deck project. The best time would be the end of the season (Fall) for a project to start the beginning of next season (Spring).” - Tim, Phi Decks
Once your deck is clean and repaired, it is important to apply a water-resistant sealant. This will protect your deck from mildew and the damage that leaves, snow, ice, and other debris can cause. DecksDirect offers a wide variety of stains to keep out the elements.
One thing that many people don’t think of when preparing their deck for fall is the area around the deck. Make sure to trim any trees, bushes, or foliage that may have grown closer to your deck during the summer. Keeping them at least a foot away from your deck will prevent mold, moss, and rot.
There are also a few things that you can do throughout the colder months to ensure that you will have a beautiful deck to enjoy for years to come. As you’re raking the fallen leaves from your yard, don’t forget to make sure to clear off your deck as well. Leaves can add harmful moisture and weight to your deck that can lead to decay and damage. They also serve as nests for critters trying to escape the cold weather.
Before we know it, snow will become a daily reality for those of us in colder climates. Whether you get a dusting or a blizzard, make sure to shovel your deck. Removing snow and ice will help keep your deck dry and protect its finish.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
Give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve done the hard work to ensure your deck survives the winter and is ready for another outdoor season come spring time.
DecksDirect is here to help you get the products you need to complete your fall deck maintenance to-do list. Our team strives to exceed your expectations by providing honest, accurate, and friendly service that you can trust.
Because we are the nation’s largest stocking online retailer of deck accessories, you can trust that nearly all items will ship the same business day if the order is placed by 3:30pm CST, Monday-Friday (excluding special order items).
At any point in your project, even if you have just a few simple questions, feel free to give our deck specialists a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mar 28, 2017 10:03:50 AM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Jeff Schultz
Understanding Deck Screws, Bolts, and Fasteners
Screws and bolts hold the world together - literally! Because the little guys have such important jobs, they come in wide varieties of shapes and sizes. Your backyard deck is constructed with a handful of specialty fasteners. Each of these has a specific purpose in ensuring you enjoy a well-built deck for years to come.
Whether you are a homeowner making a decision based on aesthetics and value, or a pro builder looking for the slickest installation options, we have you covered. So fasten your seatbelt and enjoy our guide to selecting the best deck fasteners for your project.
Quick Anatomy of Screws vs. Bolts
A simple distinction between these two fasteners is that a bolt passes through its anchoring material and receives a nut, while screws thread directly into their anchoring material. The head, neck, shank, thread coarseness, tip, and material/coating of both screws and bolts will vary according to their application.
Stainless or Coated Screws?
To stainless, or not to stainless? That is the question. Stainless steel screws provide the most corrosion resistance and are typically required in coastal applications. For most other applications, stainless steel is an optional and expensive upgrade.
Carbon Steel with Alkaline Copper Quant (ACQ) approved coating is the most common and recommended deck screw. The copper element in treated lumber destroys non-coated metals. Pro-tip: keep this in mind when other metal decking products, such as railing posts and flashing, come into contact with treated lumber. A small scratch left uncoated can lead to a costly repair down the road. Coated Screws are also stronger and less expensive than stainless steel fasteners.
With these basics covered, let’s dive into the world of deck specific fasteners.
Decking Installation - Face Screws or Hidden Fasteners?
Basic Deck Screws are used to hold down your decking material in a face screwed application. This is the tried and true, old-fashioned way. There are a few key considerations for this type of decking installation.
Pros and Cons of Face Screwed Decking
Ease and speed of installation
Maximum hold-down power (hurricanes, extreme winds, etc.)
Aesthetics - Screw heads remain visible
As your deck experiences seasonal expansion and contraction, screw heads can become exposed
Introduces an entry point for moisture into the deck’s surface, which can shorten the lifespan of wooden decking
The Two Types of Deck Screws - Flat & Trim Head
Deck Screws come in flat head and trim head designs. Flat head screws offer a slightly larger head than Trim Head screws and will drive to a flush finish on the top of your material. Trim head screws are very similar to Flat head screws but with one major difference, they’re designed to eliminate dimpling while disappearing beneath the surface of your decking. Trim Heads can also be used with plug systems to make them virtually disappear.
Most hold-down power
Often used with pressure-treated decking
Most visually appealing
Less mushrooming effect
Often used with cedar and composite decking
Hidden Fastener Systems
For those who love the clean look of a fastener-free deck surface, hidden fasteners are the way to go. The aesthetics and smooth walking surface of your decking is retained. You will not have unsightly screws to look at or trip over.
Maintains integrity of the decking surface
The best option for maintaining most composite decking manufacturer warranties
There are a wide variety of hidden fastener systems available. We’ve put together an infographic to help you decide which system is best for your application.
The Short Version - Face Screws vs. Hidden Fasteners
When should you face mount your decking?
When cost is the primary factor
When required by building code
When should you use a hidden fastener system?
When aesthetics are the primary factor
When maintaining the warranty of composite decking is important
Even though framing fasteners are often an afterthought when constructing a deck, choosing the right screw or bolt will ensure a solid foundation for your deck.
Through-bolts or ledger screws are used to attach a deck’s ledger board to the house. Through-bolts are used when the interior of the wall cavity is accessible during installation. Ledger screws function like lag bolts and are driven into the home’s rim joist. Building code will determine fastener selection and will vary depending on where you live.
There are some innovative products in this category. ThruLok Screw Bolt By FastenMaster is one of them. ThruLok offers speedy installation with the strength of a through-bolted connection. No need for pre-drilling or for a second person to hold a wrench, simply install with a drill in seconds. ThruLoks are a great choice anywhere you would use a traditional carriage bolt and nut.
Basic flat head decking screws are commonly used for most framing applications. This includes joist, blocking and stair stringer installation. The most popular screws we sell for this purpose are the R4 Deck Screws By GRK Fasteners.
Often used in place of traditional lag bolts, Structural Screws are used for load-bearing applications such as attaching a deck’s beams to its structural posts. They can also be used for ledger attachment, and for other outdoor structural projects like building retaining walls or for log and timber framing. The 5/16" RSS Rugged Structural Screw by GRK Fasteners is one of our top sellers in this category.
There are two main types of concrete fasteners used in deck construction - anchor bolts and concrete screws. Anchor bolts can either be set in the concrete while it is poured and wet, or drilled and set into place using the wedge bolt variety. Concrete screws are very similar to general purpose construction screws, but have special threading and require a masonry drill bit for installation.
We’re here to help
Selecting the correct fasteners for your deck project is important to ensuring you enjoy a safe outdoor space.
Whether you refer your builder to us or shop with us yourself, DecksDirect is here to help you get what you need for your deck project. Don’t worry about searching for parts across multiple retailers. We have what you need and our website is designed to guide you through the ordering process.
Our team strives to exceed your expectations by providing honest, accurate, and friendly service that you can trust. Because we are the nation’s largest stocking online retailer of deck accessories, you can trust that most items will ship the same business day if the order is placed by 3:30pm CST, Monday-Friday (excluding special order items).
At any point in your project, even if you have just a few simple questions, feel free to give our deck experts a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Mar 14, 2017 1:44:58 PM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Jeff Schultz
How to Hire a Pro to Build it For You
A well-built deck is a solid investment in your home. Your new deck will provide a relaxing space to entertain and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. The addition of a deck can also increase the resale value of your property.
Even if you consider yourself a handy person, having a professional build a deck for you will ensure you are satisfied with your project and have a safe and enjoyable outdoor living space for years to come. Here are some tips to get the best outcome on your deck project with a professional builder.
Plan and Prepare for Your Search
Hold your horses! Before you contact potential builders, it’s important to gather some preliminary information to make the selection process go smoothly.
Establishing a budget will help you narrow down the vast array of choices available for your new deck. This is a good time to give DecksDirect a call. One of our experts can help you evaluate the options of different decking and railing materials.
When you meet with a builder to design your deck, you should have an idea of the rough layout. Decide how many levels and sets of stairs there will be, as well as any premium features you may have in mind. A built-in fireplace, an outdoor kitchen, or a pizza oven are increasingly popular upgrades.
Here are some helpful places to find design inspiration for your new deck:
Pinterest is the world’s catalog of ideas. We’ve created a huge library of inspiring deck pins to help organize your ideas and share them with your builder.
Houzz is another popular online resource dedicated to helping people design their dream home. It’s also a great resource for searching for a qualified builder.
DecksDirect - We’ve put together several galleries that show off the projects of our customers, as well as galleries dedicated to different product categories and manufacturers.
Now that you have an idea of your budget and design direction, you’re ready to gather a list of builders to screen for your project. It’s worth investing time here. Regardless of your project's size, you’ll be working with them for several weeks. Make sure it's someone you don't mind - and preferably appreciate - having on your property. More importantly, you’ll notice the quality of their work for years to come and will want to be happy with it.
To get the most candid perspective, start with builder referrals from friends and family. We recommend contacting 7-10 builders for an initial phone interview.
Here are some online resources to help compile a list of prospective builders:
Manufacturer Websites - Several decking and railing manufacturers operate recommended builder programs.
Not sure how to screen potential builders? Here are some discussion topics:
Licensing, bonding, and insurance - The importance of this conversation and these documents can’t be understated. Take some time to research these topics. Only work with legitimate businesses.
Do they provide design services? Architectural drawings are valuable for permitting, cost estimating, and ensuring you are on the same page when you sign a contract.
What kind of experience do they have? How long have they been in business? If you have a material or manufacturer preference at this point, have they worked with this product before?
Do they have a portfolio of photos from previous projects? Ask specifically for them to point out previous projects that are similar to yours.
Do they offer a warranty on their work? Ask about warranties on materials as well.
Will they handle the permitting and inspection process? There is no shortage of paperwork, scheduling and project management that is best left to a professional.
What is their availability? It's common for a reputable builder to be booked several months in advance. Try to start planning your project early to simplify scheduling.
How will they manage thejobsite and labor? Do they use subcontractors or have workers' comp insured employees? Is there a jobsite supervisor? Do they do background checks? Remember that you are inviting them onto your property.
Ask for references - Especially for recent projects, nearby projects, and ones that resemble your specific project.
Advice from a Pro
We asked one of our favorite local builders, Tim from PHI Decks, for some advice on searching for a builder. Here is what he had to say:
What general advice would you give a family member looking for a builder living in another part of the country?
Meet with several builders and get a feel for who they are as a person as well as a builder. Your project will go much smoother if you are comfortable with the person building it.
Should a homeowner select a general contractor or a builder who specializes in decks? Why?
Deck specialist for sure. There are thousands of available products and more often than not general contractors either don't know about them or don't know how to use them.
What if a specialist isn’t available locally?
Do research on your own and don't rely too much on a general contractor for deck specific needs. Contact someone like DecksDirect to help walk you through products and bring that knowledge to the builder you eventually choose.
Are there any red flags a homeowner should look for when selecting a builder?
Lack of product knowledge. There are thousands of products available for decks and not every product is suitable for all applications.
What initial questions should a homeowner ask a potential builder?
Examples of work and design ideas. It's pretty easy to tell who knows what they are talking about and who doesn't.
What questions do you ask a homeowner in an initial interview?
What is their end vision for the project? What will the space be used for? What is your budget?
What time of year should the deck planning stages begin?
It's never too early to start planning a deck project. All reputable deck contractors will be booked solid for two or more months out so beginning the conversation in April for a summer project probably won't be early enough. The best time would be the end of the season (Fall) for a project to start the beginning of next season (Spring).
Narrow Down Your List and Get Estimates
Time to clear your calendar and clean off the kitchen table! After completing your initial phone interviews, narrow your list down to the top three builders and invite them to your home for a consultation. Be prepared to spend about an hour with each builder. They will walk around the jobsite and take measurements, as well as sit down with you to discuss the value they can deliver to your project.
This is a step that sometimes gets skipped, but can prevent a negative and costly experience for yourself and your family. Make sure you call the contacts each builder provided and inquire if they’d be open to you visiting their location to see the builder’s quality of work. Most importantly, ask them if they enjoy their deck and the experience they had working with the builder.
Making the Final Decision
You’re in the final stretch! After receiving estimates and meeting with your short-list of potential builders, the choice should feel obvious. We recommend that you sign a contract when hiring a builder. If you need specific advice, consult an attorney.
Here is a short list of items that should be included in your contract:
Copy of the contractor's insurance policy
Copy of the contractor’s business license
A clear deadline for project completion
Explanation of fees and costs for changes
Complete breakdown of pricing for materials and labor
Payment terms - never pay 100% up front
Warranty and Accidental Damage policies
We’re Here to Help
Give yourself a high five! You’ve done the hard work to ensure you enjoy the deck of your dreams by hiring a competent, professional builder.
The builder you select will typically work with a local lumberyard to source materials. This is a great option for decking and framing. You may find that the builder’s supplier carries a limited variety of deck railing, lighting, drainage and other deck accessories. This is a common problem since local lumberyards don’t always have space or in-depth knowledge on a wide selection of deck-related products.
Whether you refer your builder to us or pick up the phone yourself, DecksDirect is here to help you get what you need for your deck project. Don’t worry about searching for parts across multiple retailers; we have what you need and our website is designed to guide you through the ordering process.
Our team strives to exceed your expectations by providing honest, accurate, and friendly service that you can trust. Because we are the nation’s largest stocking online retailer of deck accessories, you can trust that nearly all items will ship the same business day if the order is placed by 3:30pm CST, Monday-Friday (excluding special order items).
At any point in your project, even if you have just a few simple questions, feel free to give our deck experts a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sep 8, 2016 9:09:51 AM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Rachelle Gordon
With the end of summer looming and kids getting ready to head back to school, it’s time to start thinking ahead to fall and winter. This is especially true for your deck, particularly if you live in an area with a cold climate and lots of snow. These harsh elements can wreak havoc on wood, and can cause splitting, fading, and degradation. Read on for some tips on how to prep your deck before fall arrives.
Clean the Deck Properly
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, particularly when it comes to your deck. Ground-in dirt and food stains can be problematic for wood, so a thorough cleaning before the cold comes is imperative. Messmer’s Liquid Cleaner is a great option as it both cleanses and brightens wood in one easy step. For a more in-depth cleaning, try Penofin Pro-Tech Complete Wood Care. This three-step system helps to strip wood, cleanse, and brighten and is perfect for any budget. It is vital to clean and brighten before applying stain, otherwise tannin stains may develop. These are unsightly black dots that occur when wood is not ready to receive finishing oil.
Seal and Protect
Once your deck is clean and dry, it is vital to apply a water-resistant sealant in order to defend against snow, sleet, rain, and ice. Wood left untreated could be susceptible to water entering the fibers of the wood, which can lead to cracking, warping, and splitting. Fortunately, DecksDirect.com offers several quality finishing oils meant to seal and protect. NatureBlend One Step Deck Finish by Structures Wood Care is a one-coat, semi-transparent finish available in three colors to enhance and shield wood from the elements. Penofin Cedar Oil is derived from Brazilian Rosewood Oil that coats individual wood fibers in order to safeguard against mold, mildew, and fading - and is only available here at DecksDirect.com!
Inspect for Damage
Doing a deck safety check at the end of the summer is very important, even if you do not use the area during the colder months. By checking for wear and tear, you can help prevent small problems from becoming big ones once spring arrives. Check hardware for any signs of rust, ensure ledger boards are properly connected, and inspect all support posts to make sure they are functioning properly. Check out our list of deck safety tips for more ways to protect your deck.
Living in a cold climate makes you appreciate your time on the deck even more, so be pro-active and prevent Mother Nature from taking its toll - you’ll be glad you did.
Jul 28, 2016 10:12:48 AM |
Posted in How-to Tips
By Rachelle Gordon
Deck Safety Tips
With the summer season in full swing, more Americans are out on their decks and patios than any other time of the year. The team here at DecksDirect wants to ensure your deck is safe and sound - read on for some pro tips tricks, plus accessories you may want to consider purchasing.
Deck Safety Tips
Decks are supposed to be a place where families and friends can hang out and relax - this is why keeping “safety first” at the forefront of your mind is so important. The North American Deck and Railing Association - NADRA - recommends checking the following components of your deck for signs of wear and tear:
Ledger Boards - Doing a thorough check of your ledger boards is imperative. Correctly attaching the ledger board will ensure the deck will not fail. Make sure the correct hardware has been used for the specific type of material the ledger board is attached to, be it brick, siding, stucco or veneer.
Hardware - Do your railing fasteners, metal posts, or baluster connectors have a reddish color? This could be a sign of rust corrosion and could spell disaster if not dealt with immediately. Regularly inspect any and all metal hardware on your deck in order to prevent future damage.
Framing - Having a secure frame for your deck sets the foundation for everyone and everything on it. Look at the wood used - is it untreated, warped or rotting? Check for loose framing boards and missing connectors or joist hangers. Any issues found with the framing need attention immediately
Support Posts - It is vital that any and all support posts are properly secured to your deck framing; if even one connection is off, there could be dangerous consequences. Inviting a professional inspector to your property is a great way to ensure all support posts are correctly fastened and that everything else on your deck is in good working condition.
Ways to Increase Deck Safety
Aside from doing thorough inspections of your deck and all of its components, there are other ways to ensure optimal safety. Consider installing railing gates, which can help to prevent wayward kids or dogs from leaving and/or falling. Recessed lighting is an excellent way to increase visibility while timers ensure you’re never left out in the dark. All of these additions are available now from DecksDirect!
For a comprehensive guide to consumer deck safety, take a look at this 10-Point Safety Checklist from NADRA. Remember that decks are supposed to offer another way to relax and have fun - utilizing the tips and tricks above will ensure you and your family are both safe and secure all year long.
Sep 26, 2014 10:00:49 AM |
Posted in How-to Tips
Friday Quick Tip...
Preventing Your TimberTech Bulb from Burning Out
Like most deck lighting companies out there, TimberTech has switched their low-voltage lighting line to LED. This means you can find TimberTech’s previous incandescent lighting line at discounted prices.
After years of selling the incandescent lighting line, we received mostly rave reviews on the products. One issue came up time-an-time again: the bulbs keep burning out. The great news is that this is easily prevented by not touching the bulb with your fingers during installation! Simply use gloves or a soft cloth to install the Xenon bulb in your incandescent TimberTech light and your bulb should keep on shinning.