What Is a Cantilever Deck?

Residential decks are often framed vertically from the foundation to the railings. However, some homeowners prefer a slight overhang past the beam. This structure is known as a cantilever.

A cantilever deck is simply a deck with joists extending past the beam creating a cantilever or overhanging end on the deck’s exterior. The decision to have your deck cantilevered often comes with the wish to extend an existing deck. 

However, a cantilever deck may not be as simple as a regular deck. The extension requires precise measurement as recommended by the local building code.

Employing the services of expert deck builders can help you in putting your cantilever deck without any issues.

What Is the Purpose of a Cantilever?

A cantilever deck design is often chosen to add space. In addition, the overhang provides an additional area which is advantageous if your yard is small.

In terms of structure, the cantilever also adds aesthetics as the design can be an intuitive solution for lack of space or limited footprint drive.

Cantilever decks also function to save more money.

One example is a second-floor cantilever deck. Instead of putting up a foundation on the ground, specifically footings, and piers, you simply use two large brackets connected to the house’s exterior in a diagonal position.

What Is the Difference Between a Cantilever and a Beam?

In a standard deck design, the beams are placed perpendicular to the main house structure supported by the columns, piers, and footings. In contrast, a cantilever can simply be a flat surface attached to the house through the ledger and without a foundation.

However, it is important to remember that a cantilever can simply be a beam. But instead of being attached to the underneath structure, it overhangs on the outer side of the frame.

In short, it could be simply an overhang of joists extending from the beam.

Nevertheless, when it comes to decking, the description of a cantilever may be versatile depending on the presence or function of the beam.

How Far Can a Deck Be Cantilevered?

Joists cantilever should have an overhang limited of up to 24 inches. The drop beam can extend to a maximum of ¼ of its length over a post.  

For example, if the back span of the joist is at 16 feet, you can cantilever for up to 4 feet.

Advantages of a Cantilever Deck

While cantilever decks are uncommon in residential areas, they are still considered a reasonable choice with several benefits.

For starters, you can choose a cantilever design if you want a larger deck without spending too much on resources.

Of course, to achieve this purpose, you will have to make sure that your deck is building code compliant. Also, you will need quality decking materials from trusted brands and manufacturers like TimberTech.

Check out some of the advantages of having a cantilever deck.

1.      More Space

Since you will be extending your deck, its substructure and flooring, naturally, would give a larger space for your household to hang out.

This is advantageous, especially for those who had their deck made on the second floor.

In some cases, people choose to have a cantilevered deck if their backyard space is too small. This way, the area underneath the deck, since it is located on a higher floor, will remain unoccupied for a significant part. 

2.      Panoramic View

Cantilever decks can be designed in such as way that the exterior is elongated in the middle. With this form, you can have a panoramic view of your neighborhood or immediate area.

Unlike a regular deck, you can have the freedom of adjusting the shape and angle of a cantilever deck.

Houses near the beach or mountains where the scenery becomes a vital highlight can go for cantilever decks.

The overhang adds a spot where you can see a wider view of the sea or the mountain ranges making your stay in the deck worthwhile.

3.      Visually Appealing

It is pretty tricky to design a regular deck into whatever form you want, as you may need to add more materials on the way. 

But in the case of cantilever decks, you can choose to accentuate the overhang without the hassle.

Cantilever decks provide a visual appeal that adds value to your entire house. Modern designs often include cantilever decks to enhance the façade of the house, especially with curved especially if it is also treated as a balcony.

On the other hand, if your cantilever deck is on the ground floor, you can have it formed in shapes or add several corners, depending on your style.

Disadvantages of a Cantilever Deck

Cantilever decks may add the pizzazz you want for your home, but they also have disadvantages that often occur if the structure is not built correctly.

While a do-it-yourself project can be an exciting way to build your cantilever deck, it may not be the best way to go if you’re inexperienced. Here’s why.

1.      Complicated to Make

Cantilever decks may look simple, especially the balcony type, but they require precision and the proper knowledge of choosing quality materials.

Also, you will have to abide by the standard and calculations prescribed by the local building code. Otherwise, you may end up tearing your deck apart.

The length of the cantilever should not exceed the recommended measurement, or else it could create structural issues in the long run.   

2.      Requires Added Support

A cantilever deck that only has one side for support may require other ways to strengthen the structure.

Although an overhang fixture to the house’s exterior can suffice a smaller deck, if you’re building a larger one, you may have to consider your choices when it comes to support materials. Unless, of course, you will stick to a joist or drop beam overhang.

But if that is not the case, it is still best to ask for professional assistance.  

Are Cantilevered Decks Safe?

Cantilevered decks are safe if built the right way. That’s why hiring a contractor, and professional deck builders like TNT Home Improvement can be worth the money as it guarantees proper construction.

The deck has to abide by the prescribed length via the local building code to keep the overhang safe and well-built.

For instance, the length of the cantilever has to correspond with the lumber species, grade, and size. Another attribute you need to consider is the size and spacing between the joists.

According to the building code, the standard cantilever length for a 40-pound load per square foot is 40 and ½ inches. If you wish to extend, you will have to consult with your contractor or engineer.

Other Deck Designs You May Want To Consider

Cantilever decks are worth your time and money as it gives a modern and stylish aesthetic to your property.

But in some cases, a cantilever deck design may not be suitable for your location and house structure. Nonetheless, you can still choose from other designs that builders may recommend, such as the following.

1.      Attached Deck  

This is the most common type of deck design wherein the deck is connected to your house through a ledger board, and the framing sits on groundwork.  

2.      Floating Deck

This deck is not attached to any structure. Instead, you can put the pier blocks straight on the ground.

3.      Wraparound Deck

A wraparound deck in an exterior structure that surrounds the entire house.

4.      Multi-level Deck

This deck has multiple levels or stories strategically raised on top of the other.  

5.      Roof Deck

A roof deck is simply a flat surface on the roof designed for casual foot traffic.

Summary

Consulting with professional deck builders is essential when you are building a cantilever deck. Not only will your deck have quality construction, but you can also ensure that the installation is done according to the standards of the building code. If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or visit the deck services page and fill out the contact form to make an appointment to discuss your next home improvement project.

What Are the Different Parts of a Deck Called?

pic of a Composite deck built in fort collins, co

Knowing the different parts of a deck can guide you in understanding how a deck installation works.

A deck has several components that contribute to its strength, capacity, endurance, and safety. The major parts of a deck include the foundation, framing, decking, railing, stairs, drainage system, and hidden fasteners.

If you are curious about what makes an ideal deck, stick around, and learn its essential parts. 

Parts of a Deck

1.  Foundation

Like any other building or house component, a deck should have a solid foundation that holds up the entire structure. Three major parts make up the groundwork of a deck.

1.1   Footing

The footing is the very foundation of your deck. First, it is laid on the excavated portion of the ground. Then, concrete is poured to strengthen and carry the overall structure of the deck. Simply put, the footing acts as the base.

However, before you can plan on how much concrete and how deep the footing should be on the ground, you have to check your local building code and the frost depth requirement in your region or state.  

For a standard 12 X 12 deck, you should aim for at least three footings. But if you’re planning to add stairs, add two more footings for better support.

1.2   Pier

The pier is also made of concrete poured into a column or cardboard tubes. Of course, the number of piers or posts depends on how many footings you have. These posts function to hold up the beams.

Moreover, having sturdy piers or posts not only allows good airflow. But they also ensure that you can perform underboard repairs safely and conveniently.

Hence, enabling smooth maintenance of the deck.

2.      Framing

Once the foundation is laid down, here comes the framing that gives the deck a case structure. The frame includes the beams, joist, ledger, support columns, band board, and post base.

2.1 Ledger

The ledger is connected to the house and usually leveled to the floor of the main home structure.

It is typically made of pure or treated lumber measuring at least 2×8 nominal and attached horizontally to the house’s exterior wall.

The size should be the same as that of the measurement of the joist.

Although the foundation plays a big part in holding up the deck, ensuring that the ledger is fixed tightly on the main building is another vital safety precaution for homeowners. That is why the installation process should comply with the building code.

2.2 Support Columns

The support or structural columns/posts are connected to the pier and hold the beam. The size of the columns depends on the expected capacity of the deck.

Standard sizes for support columns range from 4 feet x 4 inches to 8 feet x 8 inches. 

2.3 Beam

A deck beam is a longitudinal piece of lumber placed on top of the structural columns.

The beams are essential for framing and substructure support. They are typically made of wood or composite materials.

Beams are usually positioned perpendicular to the joists. You can opt for either flush beams or drop beams.

Flush beams are placed at the same level as the joist, which is attached using the joist hangers. If you’re building a smaller deck or one with an atypical form, then flush beams are the way to go.

On the other hand, a drop beam is placed right under the joists. This position provides better weight support for the frame. 

Furthermore, if you choose a drop beam, you can extend and add a cantilever that enhances the deck’s aesthetic.  

2.4 Joist

Joists are planks of pure or treated timber that support the deck boards. They are placed on top or at a similar level as the beams and are positioned parallel to one another.

Likewise, joists often run perpendicular to the house as the deck boards are parallel to the main building.

The distance of the joists depends on the position of the beams and ledger. The local building code dictates that residential decks should have the joists distanced at 12 inches to 16 inches apart when it comes to spacing.

2.5 Rim Joist

The rim joists are lumber that act as the outer joist covering parts of the deck structure. They are connected perpendicular to the joists.

2.6 Header

The header is located on the opposite end of the ledger. It covers and supports the outer side of the joists.

3.      Decking

After the framing is complete, the next step is decking, wherein you install the deck’s flooring.

While this is considered the most exciting part of the deck building process, there are several considerations when choosing the best flooring materials, particularly the deck boards.

3.1 Deck Boards

Deck boards make the surface of the deck that people walk on. Available deck boards come in different species of timber and composite materials made by combining wood components and plastic.

As a rule of thumb, the first thing you have to think about when choosing deck boards is thickness.

The strength of the flooring relies on the foundation, framing, and deck board thickness. This attribute is also influenced by joist spacing.

If the spaces between the joists are too far apart, you may want to consider stronger deck boards for optimum support.

Nonetheless, one of the best decisions you can make is selecting quality deck boards that could last a lifetime. With this choice, you can rely on deck board collections from TimberTech.

4.      Stairs

Putting stairs on your deck is vital, depending on the height of the structure. Naturally, the stairs allow you to go up and down the deck without having to go inside the house.

For deck stairs, the essential components include a tread, riser, and stringer fascia. In some cases, stylish railings are added.

The tread is the part you step on when you ascend or descend.

On the other hand, the riser is positioned vertically to the tread.

The stringer fascia provides the overall support and framework of the stairs and holds the treads.    

5.      Railing

It’s hard not to imagine a high deck without railings.

On the other hand, for houses with low decks, this seems to be a common occurrence.

Nevertheless, adding railings to your deck will not only provide additional safety, but it can also make the structure visually appealing.

5.1 Top Rail/Cap Rail

The horizontal structure at the very top of the rail is called a cap rail or top rail. It provides efficient finishing on the railing system.

Choosing a top rail depends on the overall design of your deck.

Materials for the top rail should be carefully screened. You can opt for a metal or timber top rail.

 If your deck style works well with wood, choose quality lumber to avoid cases of splinters.

Also, you can go for composite materials to keep the beauty of the wood while providing added strength and endurance.  

5.2 Base Rail

The base rail is a horizontal structure attached to the flooring of the deck. It also contains the baluster and keeps the entire structure fixed to the deck perimeter.

5.3 Baluster

The balusters provide the intended barrier of the railing system. They are placed in between the top and base rail with enough space for airflow. 

6.      Drainage System

In some cases, a drainage system may be considered optional. However, it is necessary for decks that store water unintentionally.

Since most decks are made of wood, prolonged exposure to water can cause irreversible damages. Hence, installing a drainage system can be beneficial.

Consult with your contractor if your deck needs to have a draining structure. 

Summary

Deckbuilding need not be complicated if you know the parts and how to install them properly. But if you truly want to get the convenience you deserve, it is still best to hire professional deck builders.If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or visit our deck building services page and fill out the contact form to make an appointment to discuss your next home improvement project.

What is a Footer (or Caisson) in Deck Construction?

There’s obviously more to building a deck than just laying down some timber and hoping for the best. But when you look up what equipment you need, there’s a lot of construction jargon that might not make sense to you. One of the most important words you’ll see when wanting to know more about building a deck is ‘footer’ or ‘caisson’. 

Footers provide support for your deck. They are essentially a hole dug into the ground filled back in with concrete to create a strong base for your deck. You can use the word footer, footing, caisson, and pier when referring to deck footers as they all serve the same purpose. To support your deck and the weight transferred on the deck between people and furniture. 

Naturally, as progression goes, there are numerous types of footers that you can use depending on the size and style of your deck. There will be footers specifically recommended for certain types of construction and it’s always best to speak to a professional if you’re unsure. Carry on reading below for further information on footers, how they work and why you need their support. 

How Does a Footer Work?

The footings carry and evenly spread the weight of the deck and any weight on top of the deck such as people and/or furniture as well as any other constructed patio or pergola features. Decks will usually have a maximum weight load that they can handle depending on how they’ve been designed, and which materials have been used in the construction process, including your footers.

The find out the exact specifications of the size of footers for your deck project, you will have to consult your local building permit office. They can tell things like exactly how deep and how big in diameter the holes will have to be to pass inspection.

Here is a simplified step-by-step guide on how to install a commonly used footer and how a footer works:

Dig a hole

Once you’ve checked with your local utilities and building department that it’s safe to dig in your yard, dig a hole that goes a few inches below your frost line. If this is a permitted deck then you will have exact dimensions of how big the hole will be.

You don’t want to incur any extra fees or damage costs for hitting and breaking plumbing pipes so it’s imperative to find out where it’s not dangerous to dig. 

Compact loose dirt.

Compact the loose dirt in the hole so that the bottom is flat. Then check each hole’s measurements to ensure they are the same so each caisson works efficiently. 

Put a hollow cardboard tube in the hole (if necessary). 

Some deck projects may require the use of cardboard tubes to extend the caisson up out of the ground a certain number of inches. 

The concrete footers can be poured directly into the hole without using a cardboard tube for most projects but for some yards, the grade or other circumstance might dictate the use of these tubes to ensure the measurements are correct and the supports are the same across each footer. 

Get an Inspection Signoff.

At this point, you should have a set number of hollow holes in the yard and if this is a permitted deck project (as a very large number are) then it’s time to call in an inspection to get your permit signed off on caissons. 

Add wet cement and fill the hole completely. 

You can now start adding the cement to your caisson holes until they are completely full of cement. Smooth out the top layer and let the cement fully dry ensuring the posts are completely set within their footings before building your deck on top.

Add anchors if necessary. 

This is also the point in which you want to add any type of anchor system for making a caisson to post connection. For instance, you may choose to add ‘J’ anchors to the wet cement. You can then come back after the cement dries and install 4×4 post bases to the threads of the ‘J’ anchor sticking out of the completed caisson.

So how does it work?

The footing ensures a sturdy and strong deck even in harsher weather. They make sure ‘live’ and ‘dead’ weight is evenly distributed across the deck’s surface. Footings are an extremely important part of your decking especially if you have a larger and elevated deck. 

What is a Concrete Footer?

The above process is one of the most common footing installments for decks and is what’s called a concrete footer. 

The digging and the time-consuming process might take a few days and a lot of effort, but by using concrete footers you will thank yourself in the long run for the durability and longevity of this type of footer. 

Here are a few advantages of using concrete footers for your deck:

  • Can support larger items and more weight. 
  • Can be used for larger decks by area size. 
  • Sturdy and durable for longer-lasting deck support. 
  • Permanent, strong, and weather-resistant. 

What Size Footings do I Need for a Deck?

The size, shape, and number of footings you need for your deck will depend on the size and shape of your finished structure. 

Typically, most deck footers will not be spaced more than 8 feet apart. Larger footers for bigger decks can cope with more space between them. To ensure safety and sturdy decks, many builders will place the footers approximately every 4 feet apart, but it will really depend on the size and shape of your planned deck.

Here are a few options for deck footers that you might consider depending on the type of deck you’re keen to build:

  • Poured concrete footers. 
  • Pre-cast cement blocks. 
  • Buried post footings/footing pads.
  • Stackable cement piles. 
  • Screw piles.

You can find everything you need to know about deck footings and spacing here in the International Residential Code, Significant Changes to Deck Provisions.

What is the Frost Line?

When we refer to the ‘frost line’, we’re talking about the point at which the depth of the inground soil can freeze. The frost line can freeze and thaw depending on climatic changes and that’s why it’s important to ensure your footing is below the front line. 

To avoid your deck moving or ‘heaving’ as we call it from thawing and freezing soils, we dig and place the deck footers below the frost line. 

The frost line in Colorado is approximately 36 inches below ground level although some colder areas in Colorado can be as deep as 48 inches. 

To confirm the depth of the frost line in your area you should call your local building department to check. If your deck requires a permit, you’ll need this information handy on your application form too. 

What is Sonotube used for?

We mentioned hollow cardboard tubes earlier. For construction purposes, these are called Sonotubes. They are large, hardened, hollow, cardboard cylinders or tubes that are specifically designed for pouring concrete into them once placed in pre-dug holes. 

At TNT Home Improvements we use Sonotube for caissons that need to extend further out of the ground for permit reasons. They ensure a cleaner finish to the deck footing and are an easy way of keeping the post and cement directly where it’s meant to be to ensure weight coverage for the decking. 

Sonotube comes in a variety of sizes and lengths making it easy to buy or cut to measure with little waste. 

Because they’re made from reinforced cardboard, Sonotube is lightweight, cost-effective, easy to work with and they provide a perfect column-shaped footer for a more attractive design to the bottom of your deck. 

They also help to make measuring the pre-dug hole easier as well as keeping the cement and post in place, to the desired measurements.  

Conclusion

Ensure your deck is safe, stable, and secure by installing the right footings for your dream deck. If you want to ensure the safety and stability of your deck by having the footings installed accurately, you might consider hiring a professional company to build the perfect deck for your home. Here at TNT home improvements, we’ve dug thousands and thousands of caissons and have the expert equipment to make this part of the job a breeze.  

If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or fill out the contact form to make an appointment to discuss your next deck or home improvement project.

What is a Ground-Level Deck? The Benefits and Features

Have you ever wondered if you could build a deck directly on the ground? And if so, how long would the deck last? If you’re wanting to spend more time outdoors and want to landscape your yard to a cost-effective budget, you might consider a detached, ground-level deck to add conveniently usable space to your yard.

A ground-Level deck is a freestanding deck that’s constructed less than 30 inches above the ground. Any deck higher than 30 inches requires guardrails, stairs, and possible permits. If your ground-level deck is not attached to your house and is less than 200 square feet, you do not need a permit. (With some exceptions on a per county basis).

How nice would it be to have a secure and stylish deck in the middle of your yard just under that shaded tree you’re so fond of? Or tucked away in a corner behind some shrubs for some morning coffee privacy in your pajamas? You can build a ground-level deck anywhere in your yard and the best part is that it’s easy to build in a day if you have the right equipment on hand.

Read on to find out more about ground-level decks, the benefits, and some ideas that might fit your budget, your time constraints, and your backyard. 

Ground-Level Deck Benefits.

You might hear of ground-level decks also being called floating decks, free-standing decks, island decks, or platform decks. This is because of their proximity to the ground and because of their detachment to a house or dwelling. 

Although the names are commonly used together, you might find some differences in these decks across different companies and construction businesses. 

You can legally build a ground-level deck anywhere in your yard as a type of platform or floating deck as long as you adhere to any easements and setbacks to your property line. 

There are numerous advantages to building a ground-level deck that make them a popular option for homeowners across the country. 

If you’re just starting to research good options for a backyard deck, here are the benefits of building a ground-level deck that might help you to decide:

  • Ground-level decks are cost-effective.
  • You don’t need stairs or railings
  • Less risk of injury from height-related incidents.
  • No permits are required if the deck is detached from the house and not used as a house entry, is less than 30” from grade level, and in some cases can not exceed certain square footage sizes. (Check your local guidelines for confirmation on the acceptable area)
  • A ground-level deck can legally be built anywhere in your yard. (You still have to follow the rules in your county concerning easements and setbacks from the property lines)
  • Less time-consuming than elevated decks. 
  • Frost-depth footings aren’t required. (Although here at TNT we overbuild everything so we still recommend following your local caisson depth requirements to avoid future issues.)
  • They’re generally easier to build because of their closeness to the ground. 

You can read more information on the Building and Construction Code and Standards here for any permit and construction queries you might have. See Section 105.2 “Work exempt from building permit”. Alternatively, here’s an easy-to-read PDF brochure from Larimer County Community development on residential deck information for your property

Do I Need Footings for a Ground-Level Deck?

At TNT Home Improvements we recommend using footings for every deck, even ground-level decking that “hugs” the ground. What you don’t need for ground-level decks are the typical frost depth footings for higher-built decks, depending on your area of the country. 

Footings provide the foundation of a solid deck. Ensuring that the deck doesn’t quickly rot, fall, or tip, and blow away in strong winds. You need one footing and/or support block for every angle of the deck.

12 inches below ground is the recommended and required depth of the footings for ground-level decks. Some platforms and free-standing decks can be supported by concrete blocks instead of footings. 

At TNT Home Improvements we recommend using footings to support the overall weight of the decking as well as to maintain the structure longer and to avoid fast rotting by being so close to the ground. 

Ground-Level Deck Ideas

There are a few options that you can choose from to support your ground-level or free-standing platform deck. 

You can opt for the traditional footings, dug 12 inches below ground level or alternatively, you can use blocks. Blocks can be DIY or store-bought, either way, if you want a stronger deck, no matter what the size or height, supported decks are stronger and longer-lasting decks. 

Here are a few options that might work for your ground-level deck:

Concrete Deck Blocks/Pier Blocks

One of the cheaper options is concrete blocks. Depending on the style of your deck, these might not be the most attractive option so you might want to spend a little extra on having them covered up. Then again, maybe you like the rugged concrete look!

The pier blocks were designed specifically for floating decks so they’re a popular option. 

Depending on the height of the blocks used, keep in mind that you may need to partially bury them in the ground to ensure your ground-level deck doesn’t exceed the 30-inch limit, resulting in it no longer being a ground-level deck and needing to rethink the whole project. 

Remember, solid concrete is heavy, so you might want to work with a partner on this one if the blocks are a little heavier than you realized. You might also need gravel to support the blocks if you’re needing to dig them into the ground. 

Keep in mind this is the easiest, but the most temporary solution which doesn’t always make it the best; especially over the long run. Here at TNT, we don’t even give this as an option to our customers as it’s more of a DIY solution. Not commonly seen on a professional grade deck.

Wood Post Anchor

A more costly but more attractive DIY option is the wood post anchor. 

A great option to help avoid premature rotting and is quick and easy to install. If you have a good hammer, you can easily install these anchors in the ground without needing to dig or spend any more money on gravel. 

They also come in a few different options, including colors and sizes depending on what your deck requires.  Some, which may be of interest to you and your design style, can be painted. 

You might want to check the hardness of your ground area where you plan to build your deck before going out and purchasing this option as it’s essentially a giant spike that needs forced down into the ground. If the foundations of your land have concrete anywhere underneath, this might not be the best option for you. 

Composite Post Foundation

No need for concrete or gravel, this lightweight composite post foundation is tested by third-party engineering labs, approved and certified by the International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC) and can provide support for your deck and up to 2355lbs (1068kg). 

Simply dig a hole that fits the footer, flatten the bottom of the hole, place the footer in and attach the decking structure for a wholesome and peace of mind type of ground-level or elevated deck. 

A huge pro is that these footings pads aren’t too expensive depending on how many you require and another bonus is their lightweight design meaning you can carry these on your own.

Concrete Filled Caisson

This is definitely a more permanent, long-lasting solution that we here TNT are more prone to use for the majority of our projects big or small. This solution doesn’t require you to break the bank, but it does require a bit of sweat equity as we dig all of our caissons to at least the 30” frost mark for Northern Colorado. If the deck does require a permit then you will have to adhere to the exact width and depth for your footer holes.

After digging the required (or even non-required) caisson hole size, be sure to ‘bell-out’ the bottom of the holes making it impossible for any future uplift. Then run on down to your local builders’ supply and grab a flat cart full of bags of the appropriately rated concrete mix. With the right amount of water to concrete mix ratio, you can fill your holes and add any required hardware to the top most surface.

If this one sounds too hard/complicated then you may have to make a decision to either settle for a less secure method… or call in the pros. Here at TNT Home Improvements, we’ve got the big-boy tools like giant two-man augers that can make the job of punching 10+ holes in your yard fly by in just an hour or two.

What Timber Should I Use for my Ground-Level Deck?

On every outdoor deck we build, we use pressure-treated lumber for the framing of the structure. Pressure-treated wood is wood that has undergone a process to make it more durable and sturdy, less vulnerable to rot and decay from the elements, and in some cases is even fire retardant. If you are planning on setting your deck framing directly ground (which we don’t necessarily recommend), then you would have to use special ground-contact lumber to further prevent rot for your ground-level deck.

As far as the decking that you pun on top of your ground-level deck, you can go with either a natural wood (like a redwood) or you can choose a synthetic decking material (like a composite or ‘Trex’ material). Keep in mind that referring to Trex as composite material is very similar to referring to Kleenex as a tissue. Not every tissue is created by kleenex just like not every composite deck board is created by Trex. There are many options for composite decking material manufacturers.

Here at TNT Home Improvements of Loveland, Colorado, we recommend TimberTech decking materials to all of our customers. With numerous composite decking options to choose from, TimberTech has a sustainable approach to designing your decks. 

Up to 100% of the wood used at TimberTech is made from recycled materials and since 2001 Timbertech has helped to save over 3 million trees. 

Conclusion

TNT Home Improvements can help you to design your dream ground-level or elevated deck using high-quality materials and dedicated, experienced, professionals in the construction and building field. If you are located in the Northern Colorado/ Southern Wyoming area, then give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or fill out the contact form here to make an appointment to discuss your options for your ground-level deck vision.

What are the pros and cons of composite decking?

pic of a Composite deck built in fort collins, co

More and more homeowners are looking for durable ways to improve their homes. Many want to increase the value of their property by installing decking. The most common version is the traditional wooden decking. However, an increased amount of people is interested in more durable variants, such as composite decks.

Composite decking is gaining rapid popularity. They have greater durability and are easy to clean. They have a longer life span than traditional wooden decks as they are resistant to mold, insect damage, and the elements. Composite decking is more expensive but definitely worth the money.

In this article, I will take you through all the advantages and disadvantages of this durable version of decking. I have no doubt that after reading this article, you will have all the necessary information you need to make a well-considered decision.

What are the advantages of composite decking?

If you are a homeowner who’s looking to improve their home with a durable deck, you might wonder, what are the advantages of composite decking? I listed the most relevant advantages down below. 

  • Less maintenance

Nowadays, people are always busy. They are working around the clock and want to spend the time they have left with their loved ones. Therefore, it is extremely valuable to have decking that requires as little maintenance as possible. No wonder that this is one of the biggest advantages when it comes to composite decking.

As wooden decking is very prone to mold and rot, it needs lots of maintenance. On the contrary, composite decking is very resistant to rot and is therefore easy to maintain. The material doesn’t require repainting or resealing. However, it is good to regularly clean the composite deck. This can easily be done with water and soap. 

  • Durability & Lifespan

We want every part of our house to be as durable as possible. Therefore, composite decking is an excellent choice. To put it easy, the material is a mix of wood and plastic. As this material is resistant to rot, it is an extremely durable option. Its lifespan is also a lot longer compared to the wooden variant. Where traditional wooden decking can last up to 15 years (with proper maintenance), composite decks can last up to 30 years. This is double the lifespan!

Composite decking does not fade or stain, which makes it the most comfortable option for families with kids and pets.

  • Slip-resistant

We all know these winter mornings, where we have to be extremely careful when going outside due to the danger of slipping. When having little kids, composite decking is the perfect solution. You don’t have to worry that anyone might slip, as most composite decks are slip-resistant. 

  • Resistance to weather conditions


The traditional wooden decks can get discolored and weakened by extreme weather conditions. Composite decking withstands these circumstances better and causes your decking to have a longer life span. You no longer have to worry about frost, rain, or extremely high temperatures. Your composite deck will survive it all! 

What are the disadvantages of composite decking?

In order to make a well-considered choice, you should also be familiar with the possible disadvantages of your purchase. So, what exactly are the disadvantages of composite decking? Below I listed the disadvantages you should be aware of.

  • Price

Something that might be seen as a disadvantage of composite decking is its price. As it is approximately double the price of a traditional wooden decking. However, considering the fact that it has double the life span, we could conclude that it is definitely worth the investment. Besides that, considering all the costs you save on maintenance, a composite deck ends up paying for itself over the years. Also, a good quality composite deck can even increase the value of your house, as the next homeowners will be able to use it for many years more.

  • It’s not natural

Another disadvantage that some people might mention, is the fact that the materials used for composite deck boards are not natural. Therefore, some people have the opinion that they lack the natural look and color. However, for most people composite decking is famous for its striking resemblance to natural wood. I guess we could say that it is a matter of personal preference and taste.

  • Scratches

Composite decking is made of a combination of plastic and wood. This blend increases the life span of the deck. However, it is good to remember that the material is not indestructible. There is still a risk of scratches when replacing outdoor furniture. Handle your deck with great care, to enjoy it for a long time.

What is composite decking made of?

As mentioned before, the two primary ingredients of composite decking are wood and plastic. The materials have often been sourced from recycled materials. Therefore, it is an eco-friendly choice. The blend of these two materials provides more stability and better performance.

TimberTech

A well-known company providing composite decking is TimberTech. Their deck boards are made of 80 % recycled materials. The core is a blend of wood fibers and composite material coated in a protective cap. The materials used, result in decking with all the beautiful features of natural wood, but without the risk of mold, insect damage, and maintenance costs. The deck boards won’t rot or weather, as the traditional wooden version tends to do. 

Read more about the advantages of TimberTech composite decking

Does composite decking get hot?

Many people are afraid that composite decking is more sensitive to temperature than wood, and therefore gets hotter. So, the question is, does composite decking get hot? 

Like any surface that is exposed to direct sunlight, composite decking might get hot. However, while the early composite decks were very sensitive to high temperatures, the newer versions are much more resistant to heat. Good quality, modern composite decking won’t become any hotter than the traditional wooden boards.

If it’s important for you that the deck remains as cool as possible, it is wise to choose a light color of decking boards. As with any other product, black attracts more heat than white. Therefore, it is wise to choose a light color of composite decking, as this will reduce the temperature during summer. 

Is composite decking worth it?

If you are thinking about installing composite decking, you might wonder if it is worth the cost. We understand that you don’t want to be spending a lot of money on something that might not be worth it. As you are going to spend almost double the price of a traditional wooden decking, it is understandable that you want to make sure that it is worth the investment.

Taking all of the above pros and cons into consideration, we can conclude that composite decking is definitely worth its price. After all, in this case, double the cost means double the life span. So, you are not actually spending more money. As mentioned above, with all the money you save on maintenance, the deck actually pays for itself! Besides that, many disadvantages are not valid anymore due to new designs and techniques. 

We would definitely recommend composite decking, as it is the best way to improve your house in a durable way. To learn more about our deck construction services click here. If you live in the Northern Colorado, area give us a call today at 970-663-2868 to talk to someone about your next outdoor project.

How To Build A Second-Story Deck

Adding a second story deck to your home is not only a great home improvement idea, but it can increase the living and entertainment space of your home and also increase its value. Decks can be at ground level but can also be constructed for other house levels as well. You may wonder if a second-story deck is right for your home and how to build a second-story deck.

Building a second-story deck on your home requires special consideration for the design, structural engineering, and material choice for construction. The structural requirements and design are more complex than ground-level decks and usually require professional construction and advice.

Building a second-story deck has some additional considerations to be mindful of over a ground-level deck. The support requirements will be different, as well as the design aesthetics and the costs involved. The support of the upper-level deck is of particular importance. It should not be neglected at the design phase of your planning.

Considerations For Building A Second-Story Deck

Building an upper deck is a project that many homeowners choose to undertake because of the benefits a deck provides to increase the home’s living space and increase its value.

Suppose you are planning on building a second-story deck. In that case, you may want to consider the following before you embark on the project.

  • Aesthetics of the deck. How is the deck going to impact the look of the outside of your house? The designs of some homes do not lend themselves to the construction of a second-story deck.
  • The support of the deck. Because of the deck’s height, there are additional code requirements and engineering requirements to factor in to ensure the deck is sturdy, safe, and will last a long time.
  • Access to the second-story deck. You will need to modify a second-story room to allow access to the top deck, which will involve structural changes to your home that you need to plan for and factor in as an additional cost to the deck’s construction.
  • External deck access. Suppose you intend to add stairs to the deck to make it accessible from the outside. In that case, you need to design the stairs carefully to minimize the visual impact they will have on your home and any lower-level windows or access point. Stairs also need specific types of support to make sure they are safe and robust.
  • Additional taxes. A deck adds value to your home, and as such, you will pay more in taxes for your home once the deck is complete.
  • Insurance costs. You may want to consult your insurance provider to determine any insurance risk requirements and costs before going ahead with your second-story deck project.

Some of these points of consideration can be tricky to decide on and get right from a code and structural point of view, and that is where we at T-N-T Home Improvements can help you out.

Deckbuilding is one of our specialties. We have in-house engineers to help you with designs and structural concerns, as well as advice on the best materials to use for your deck construction!

How To Support A Second-Story Deck

Structural support is certainly one of the most important considerations for an upper-level deck. The deck’s height will be a dimension that will dictate the type, structure, and distance between the deck’s supports.

Supporting a second-story deck has different requirements to be remembered, not only for the deck itself but also for the house.

Some homes have a gap between the ceiling of the ground floor and the floor of the second-story to accommodate air conditioning and heating ducting, electrical wiring, and bathroom plumbing. This height difference between the two stories must be factored into the deck’s final height calculations and how the deck is to be secured to the house.

The support posts of the deck need to be sized correctly for the height of the deck. Generally, a 4×4 post is recommended for a deck that is 8 to 9-feet above ground level, but if your deck is going to be higher than this, then the 4×4 posts will not be the best choice to support the deck.

If your deck is higher, you may need 6×6 posts or even 8×8 posts. These posts are significantly thicker and thus more expensive than 4×4 posts, so to design your deck cost-effectively, you need to know what the right size posts are to use for your deck. This is easily determined by our on-site engineer, but if you don’t have one of those, you will need to read up on the requirements and building codes in your area. 

Using unnecessarily thick posts can lead to unnecessary expenses. While using posts that are too small could result in a deck that is dangerous or that will not last long.

You may opt for a different support material altogether in certain instances, such as structural steel support or even giant glulam beams. But these are usually found on very custom decks and not as common as just 4×4 posts and 2×8 joists.

The footing (or caisson) for the posts is also important. As is the connection hardware between the post and the caisson.

Second-Story Deck And Patio Ideas

If you are considering adding a raised deck to your home, you may have a basic idea of what you want but not sure of a design that would fit in with your house layout and design.

Often, the biggest problem is visualizing the design and seeing it in your mind’s eye and how it affects your house’s look.

A good idea is to get a CAD drawing done of the deck and your house, which will leave you in no doubt about how the design will look in real life and how it will affect your home’s appearance.

T-N-T Home Improvements can render a 3D CAD drawing of your proposed deck so you can get an excellent feel for what your proposed project will turn out like.

Design aspects for your upper deck that you should also consider include: adding a roof for the deck and the railing design around the deck.

A roof could provide you with shade, shelter, or both and improve your deck’s usability across the different seasons and the weather they bring.

The deck railing is not only a safety feature but also an aesthetic element that needs to fit in with the style and décor of your home.

The material you choose to build your deck will determine how it fares and weathers over the years and ultimately how it makes your home look. The material used will also be a factor determining how much maintenance will cost you over the years.

An excellent way to get some ideas for second-story decking is to look at what some other people have included in their deck designs to see what could work for you. Take a look at our T-N-T Home Improvements deck gallery to view some of the projects we have completed for our customers.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Second-Story Deck?

The cost of building a raised deck is subject to the material you use, the height of the deck, and the dimensions of the deck.

The material used is a factor that affects the initial cost to build the deck and the ongoing maintenance costs of the deck. Synthetic materials have a higher initial price than natural wood. Still, they have a significant saving in the long run on maintenance and replacement costs.

Natural lumber has a cheaper entry-level cost to get the deck installed. Still, the deck will require annual maintenance costs that will significantly increase your home’s maintenance cost. 

In certain applications, wood works better than synthetic materials, and you may still want to go the natural material route. 

Finding a contractor who can give you practical advice from experience with both materials could quite possibly be the best choice you can make in the construction of your deck.

Conclusion

The decision to embark on a project to put a second-story on your home is a good idea to add outdoor living and recreational space to your home and increase the value at the same time.

While a second-story deck is a little more complicated than a ground-level deck, it is not beyond the reach of most homeowners and adds an attractive and functional feature to your home.

Wherever possible, use an experienced contractor who specialized in deck construction to give you valuable input on the design, materials, and construction of your deck. 

We at T-N-T Home Improvements can not only offer advice on design and materials but have in-house engineers to advise you on the structural aspects and choices of your deck. We can assist you from design to engineering and construction of your deck to make sure you have a professional outcome and the deck of your dreams!

Which Option Is Cheaper: A Concrete Patio Or Wood Deck?

Outdoor living spaces such as patios and decks are just what you need for entertaining guests outdoors or truly getting to enjoy your space. Adding a patio or deck can also be an excellent way to increase the value of your property. It can also create the proper atmosphere for creating many happy memories. 

Overall, a concrete patio will generally be cheaper to install compared to a deck. While your specific house and yard set-up may determine which is cheaper for your individual needs, a wood deck is likely to have a better return on investment compared to a concrete patio. Of course, there’s no rule that prevents you from having both a deck and a patio. After all, they are both excellent spaces for entertaining. 

While both patios and decks can be wonderful additions to your property, it is first important to understand what each of them is as well as which option is cheaper to help you make an informed decision for your budget.

What is a Deck?

A deck is a raised platform that can be made of different materials, which include pressure-treated lumber, wood, PVC, composite, and more. However, here the focus will be on wood decks. A deck can sit high above the ground raised by posts and accessed via a staircase or be built low to the ground raised only by joists.

What is a Patio?

A patio is an outdoor seating area that’s typically flush with the ground and is often made of concrete. While concrete is probably the most popular material used for building patios, you can also use gravel, stone, and many other materials.

Decks vs. Patios: Which Option is Cheaper?

If you would like to add either a patio or deck to your home, you need to consider several different things. You also need to ask yourself questions. Is it cheaper to build a patio or deck? Which option is easier to build? Simply put, a patio is generally cheaper than a deck. However, that’s an oversimplification of the reality since the cost will depend on several different factors, which include:

  • Materials used (wood, concrete, vinyl, etc.)
  • Location of the addition (above ground, on the ground with supports, etc.)
  • Features (seating, railings, built-in barbecue, supports, etc.)
  • Size of the addition

Other Factors that Determine Which Option Is Cheaper Include:

Slope of the yard on which you wish to place the deck or patio

A patio is usually placed directly on the ground, which is why it is preferable to choose a level space. A patio is often not the ideal option for uneven ground since the cost to create a foundation can double or even triple the cost of the addition. If you have uneven ground in your yard, a deck would be the cheaper option since the cost of installation is almost always never affected by the slope of the yard. 

Installation Difficulty

Installing a deck is generally more difficult compared to that of a patio and is best handled by professionals. Structures for supporting the deck have to be cemented into holes that are drilled into the ground. You also have to make additional considerations when it comes to properly attaching the deck to your home.

You can build a deck on land that is not level, which makes it a great option for sloping landscapes or uneven yards. Waterproofing materials might be required in some cases to avoid compromising your home’s foundation.

Installing a patio is generally easier, but it requires extensive preparation of the ground surface where you will lay it. It is best installed in areas that are relatively flat and even because patios are typically installed on the ground directly.

The area where a patio is installed will often require reinforcement with rebar too if you are using poured concrete and the ground underneath has to be compacted. You can do it as a DIY project, but it will probably be a lot of difficult work.

When it comes to installation difficulty, installing a deck is generally more expensive since it usually requires a professional, but while installing a patio is generally cheaper, it might end up being quite an expensive project if your yard is either sloping or uneven.

Installation Cost

The cost of installing a deck will depend on the size of the deck, the materials used, and whether you hire a professional or do it yourself. A deck measuring 16-feet by 20 feet may cost anywhere from $7,500 to upwards of $15,000. However, the cost will vary depending on the material used. For instance:

  • Redwood and cedar cost anywhere from $25 to $30 per square foot, on average, with the cost of installation included
  • Composite or PVC costs anywhere from $30 to $45 per square foot with the cost of installation included.

You can save significantly on costs if you build the deck yourself. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1.75 to $5.50 per linear foot for the decking materials needed and between $4 and $8 per square foot for posts and joists materials.

The cost of installing a new patio depends on the material used to construct the patio and whether any leveling or groundwork is needed before installation. A patio measuring 16 feet by 20 feet will vary in cost from $2,500 to $9,500 depending on the materials used and the labor needed.

  • Concrete patio pavers cost anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot on average
  • Regular concrete has an average cost of $9 per square foot on average
  • Stamped concrete cost anywhere from $12 to $15 per square foot on average.

All the above prices are inclusive of the installation costs.

If you compare the installation costs of patios vs. decks, it is quite clear that patios are generally cheaper, but that’s just half the story. Depending on the materials used, it is still possible for patios to cost more to install than decks.

Maintenance

Maintenance is an important consideration when choosing between a patio and deck since it may determine which option is cheaper in the long run. A wood deck requires just power washing annually to protect against mildew and mold. Decks should generally be stained and sealed at least every 2 years to increase lifespan and improve durability. And quality composite decks just need hosed off and offer 25 – 50 year warranties against staining,fading,splintering, and warping.

A patio, on the other hand, can be cleaned easily with a hose and requires minimal ongoing maintenance. Inspecting regularly for cracks is necessary at times to prevent water from leaking under the patio thus causing erosion. In some of the extreme cases, the patio can crack and the whole surface would require removal and replacement.

If you compare the maintenance requirements of wood decking it becomes clear that patios are the cheaper option since they require less maintenance while decks are not as cheap to maintain since they require power washing annually, which often involves a professional, unless they’re built with composite or PVC decking.

Return on Investment (ROI)

If you are considering selling your property in the coming years, it can be a good idea to consider the ROI for a deck vs. a patio. Your choice in building materials will obviously contribute to the costs. 

The average ROI for a deck is roughly 75 percent more than that of a patio. For instance, a homeowner that spends $10,000 to build a deck can expect to get back $7,500 after reselling the property.  In contrast, a homeowner that spends $3,500 to build a patio can only expect to get back $1,500 after reselling the property. But the value of a deck can also increase with the overall home as local property values increase along with it.

If you consider the ROI, the concrete patio is no match for the deck since decks have a generally higher ROI than patios. But it may also be the centerpiece of the house that is unique to its space and helps sell it. Buyers want a peaceful sanctuary they can envision themselves enjoying. Look around your neighborhood and make note if the other houses around you have deck or patio additions, it might be what sets yours apart.  

A Professional Guide To Building A Deck Around A Tree

a picture of a multi tier deck with a tree in the middle of it

A wooden deck is a thing of beauty, an excellent way of adding some oomph to your outdoor living area. It expands the living space while serving as a focal point for your outdoors. 

Building it around a tree might seem to complicate the project, but that is not the case. You can work with a floating deck that rests on above-ground piers or underground footings. It just depends on what your permit office wants to see. The tree’s size could influence the deck’s dimensions, the layout of the foundations, and the joist layout as well.

Why Incorporate Surrounding Trees?

A mature tree or two in the spot you plan for the installation can be a blessing in disguise. The plants can serve as natural shade and at the same time, you get to feel good about helping your environment. Furthermore, a deck that encompasses a tree or two looks phenomenal, a presentation that can make people have a deeper appreciation of your outdoor setting.

deck

How To Build Your Deck Around A Tree

Installing a deck is not something that you should brush off as easy and undertake it as a DIY project. We highly recommend that you let the professionals at TNT handle the installation, especially when you have an obstacle, such as a tree, that can impact the construction. Also, this guide explains just one of many different ways to approach the same project. Basically, be careful, use common sense, and always wear safety gear and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using power tools.

Below is a quick guide that shows steps we follow when building a deck that will surround a tree. 

1.   Assess Your Trees

As we layout and plan your deck we will get an idea of where the tree is going to be in relation to the deck space and plan accordingly. This will help us to not only make it easier to frame around but also plan for how it will fit into the decking or any railing obstacles we might encounter.

Most tree species stop growing upwards when they reach a certain point but most every tree keeps growing wider adding rings every year.

On a lot of installs, we will butt the decking boards right up against the tree all the way around and then at the end we carefully take a jigsaw and run it in a circle around the tree with one side of the blade guard up against it so that when you’re done you get an even gap all the way around the tree.

This will also help for future growth so in 10 years if the girth of the tree is grown out and is about to or is already touching the deck boards you can go ahead and use a jigsaw and cut another gap around it.

2.    Plan Your Deck

Be realistic and honest about how you plan to use the deck. Do you want to use it for barbecues or outdoor dining, as a casual entertainment spot for guests, or maybe somewhere to do yoga or coffee in the mornings?

If you have a lower budget, it would be best to consider installing something small with a potential second phase in the future. We believe a smaller deck can help create a more intimate space.

The size will also be determined by the space available. We will advise you accordingly while also considering the slope of your yard and the different support structures needs for the deck.

Permits will also have a huge influence on what you can and can’t do in your particular yard. We will dive into this more in step 4 but things you will have to keep in mind that the permit office will most likely be checking for are things like:

  • Setbacks (this is the amount of space there needs to be in between the deck you want to build and your property line)
  • Caissons (these are holes you dig in the ground with the intent of filling back up with concrete to support the deck using posts)
  • Ledger (this is the attachment point at the house (if applicable). It could look something like a 2×12 laying flat against the house and attached using ledger locks)

3.    Choose Your Timber

The wood to use should be robust enough to serve its purpose for years to come. For the framing lumber, we recommend you go for natural pressure-treated wood with excellent load-bearing strength. You won’t have to make many decisions about the framing as we will be recommending you what’s needed based on your individual decks’ specs.

As for the decking material, it’s up to your budget and your personal choice as to whether you put down something like a natural redwood decking or something easier to maintain like a composite decking material.

4.    Site Plan And Preparations

For the installation process to proceed smoothly, you need a site plan. We shall handle this as well as ensure that you have all the required permits and that everything is done up to code. We have an engineer on staff which greatly speeds up this process and ensures quality control. With the site plans, we will have the blueprints that will keep us on track about the materials needed, measurements for cuts, and any project-specific guidelines. 

We will measure off the house, staking and tying a string along the way, marking out where to place the caissons. We will clear the area and if space provides we will use an auger to dig the holes for the footings that will serve as the piers for the deck. The depth of the holes for the footings will depend on the deck design you pick and the county or region’s building codes. After the holes are dug, an inspector will most likely have to come out and sign off at this point in the project.

Ask us about our pre-visualization services if you really want to plan out your project in great detail.

5.    Setting The Posts

After the inspector signs off on the holes, we will fill them back up with concrete. We will give the concrete time to cure before putting weight on them. During this time we can still move forward by using temporary lumber nailed to the frame to hold it up until the concrete cures. We set the post-to-caisson bracket. Then we will fix pressure-treated 4×4 wooden posts into the brackets, securing them in place with nails to create the deck piers.

6.    Installing The Ledger Board

The ledger board is an essential component when constructing a deck, and it attaches the deck to your house. The connection should be robust, and depending on your house, you may need to first install flashing to prevent water damage. Then attach the ledger board directly to the house’s rim joist or concrete sub-wall.

7.    Framing The Deck

With the ledger installed, you can now attach a joist on either end and a rim joist on the outside of those two and now you’ve got a giant rectangle. You can then proceed to fill the interior with framing at a certain measurement you will get from your permit. A common joist layout example is sixteen inches on center. Make sure all lumber gets installed crown up.

The joists are the support boards that form the deck’s foundation. We will use 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, or 2×12 joists depending on what your deck plans call for. Depending on the building codes in your area, you may need to add extra support in between each joist across the middle of the rectangle.

8.    Framing Around The Tree

Ideally, you placed the tree between two joists and now you just need to put two small two by’s in between the joists hugging the tree. If necessary you may need to add framing at a 45-degree angle in the corners of your newly created square to round the corners and finish creating the frame. 

If the tree isn’t small enough to fit in between two joists then you may need to add double joists in certain areas. This will depend on your particular codes, but an example is to double joists on either side of the tree. Then add double joists spanning those first two doubles creating a rectangle of double material around the tree area. This area would almost certainly need to have posts designed into the plan holding up this heavy area. You will then end up with areas that need small joists and negative spaces around the tree that need to be filled with 45-degree mini joists.

No matter the exact process, we are just trying to create a frame that encompasses the tree and is close enough so that no one accidentally steps in a vulnerable spot.

9.    Laying The Decking

Installing the decking boards can be started from the outermost edge working towards the house or from the house working out depending on your preference. We like to start at the house and move out to get that nice clean line at the house. Based on the decking material you choose we would use a tool to make sure the boards have a tight consistent gap as we secure them down using deck screws.

If you chose to go with hidden fasteners then we let the hardware and the guns set their own gap as we hold the boards tight and snap down the fasteners. We will accurately measure the boards that terminate at the tree frame for snug fit then fasten them down to the tree frame and joists with deck screws or fasteners. We jig around the tree as described earlier to get an even organic gap. When the entire deck floor is laid, we will snap a chalk line along the edges to cut any excess overhang to achieve straight lines before attaching the outer fascia.

10.    Finishing touches

To finish up the deck we would want to add stairs if needed to get down into the yard (if the deck height is above a specific height [see permit]). Also, make sure to add handrail if your deck height is above a certain level as well. To do that you add 4×4’s or similar post material to the perimeter and span those with 2×4’s full of balusters. The full details of a handrail is a mix of what is required (spacing) and what is desired (material type and color).  

pic of a wood deck built in Loveland featuring built in seating and lighting

Wrapping up

To ensure that your new deck lasts a long time, we recommend you coat a wooden deck with a wood preservative or stain to ensure the decking is adequately sealed. Sealing the boards is essential for added protection against mold, moisture, and the sun’s rays.

If you went for a low-maintenance composite deck board option then you can just wash it off with the hose and maybe just a very small amount of dish soap if it gets dirty. 


To learn more about our deck construction services here at TNT please click here. Get in touch with us today if you want to know more about other outdoor hardscaping plans or know more about our services and how we can help transform your home. You can call us at 970-663-2868 or email us at sales@tnthomeimprovements.com

Wood Decks Versus Composite Decks

The outdoors has become an important part of every home. Everyone is interested in having the best space. When buying homes, prospective buyers will prefer a home that has a beautiful space like a deck. Decks come in different shapes and sizes. The good thing about a deck is that you can personalize it and make it feel like yours. It becomes an extension of your indoor space. Your family will appreciate being in a beautiful outdoor space.

When planning to build a deck, one of the key choices you will have to make is on the type of decking to use. There is a wide range of options, but the most common are wood and composite. Whether you are planning to do it on your own or you are going to hire a contractor, you will need to choose the option that works best for you.

Treated lumber is used in most decks for framing. The framing is the part of the deck that you cannot see unless you are below it. Your choice involves the materials making up the railings and the decking surface.

Wood decking

There are different wood species you can use for your deck and railing. Some of the most common options are redwood, cedar, and pressure-treated pine lumber. If you are looking for exotic wood species for your deck, then you can look at options such as ipe, tigerwood, and mahogany.

Composite wood decking

Composite decking was invented in the ’90s and has continued to become popular. Composite wood decking is made of wood fibers that are encased in plastic. More and more people are choosing composite decking because of their high-performance. They have also noticed that wood decking has its challenges.

Many people will go with wood decking over composite decking because it is affordable, readily available, and it is something they are familiar with. They have to deal with wood decking problems like rot, splinters, and high maintenance. For those who choose composite, their main worry is that it doesn’t look as good as wood decking. However, advancements in manufacturing have made possible composites that have the natural look of wood. This means you get the chance of having decking that looks exactly like wood without having to worry about the hassle that comes with having a wood deck.


There are some key issues you have to look at when it comes to choosing between the two options.

Looks

During the early days of composite, it used to look artificial, but today it has changed. Today, they come in a wide range of looks and colors. This means you will be able to find one that works for you. They have a variegated appearance and randomized grain pattern which ensures that two boards aren’t the same. This means the composite can replicate the look of the wood and appear just as natural.

Moisture

One problem that homeowners notice with wood decking is that they absorb water easily. If stains, sealers or paint are not applied regularly, the wood decking becomes susceptible to cracking, splintering, warping, and rotting. Composite decks don’t absorb water because they are moisture-resistant. Composites can be installed in areas with high moisture conditions without having to worry about decay.

Maintenance

Wood needs to be painted, stained, or sealed regularly to defend against moisture, which then extends the life of the wood deck. With composite, all you have to do is sweep it or wash it to keep it looking good.

Insect damage

Insects tend to damage wood decking because they like wood and/or the moisture they find inside of it. They cannot damage composite decking because it is not made of wood.

Splinters

A common thing many homeowners notice at one point is a splinter, which is a natural thing to happen with wood. Composite is made from small wood fibers that have been encased in plastic, and this is why they won’t splinter. This is good for those walking barefoot on the deck, or children and pets with sensitive feet.

Maintenance or durability

Composite decks are durable and long-lasting and can hold up well for up to 50 years. They can withstand harsh weather and natural wear and tear. Wood will last between 10-30 years depending on the type of wood.

Composite boards have built-in UV resistance that prevents them from fading. Natural wood will fade and lighten faster than composite. If you notice your wood deck is starting to fade, paint or stain it and it will look new.

Price

Pricing is one of the benefits you can expect to get from wood decking. Wood is cheaper to buy compared to composite. While you will pay less for wood, composite is going to pay itself back over the years not having to invest in the maintenance.

The species of wood you choose is going to determine the price difference. If you choose an exotic type of wood, then expect to pay more. You need to look at the different options then choose the type of wood you want based on your personal preferences and what would complement your house.

Workability

Both composites and wood can be easily cut. One advantage composite has over wood is that they can be bent easily by applying heat. This will make it easy to form curved deck sections.

Surface Temperature

Wood has an advantage over composites when it comes to the warmer weather because composites tend to become hot when exposed to direct sun, which can be uncomfortable for many people. Feet can start to blister in temperatures of about 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Composite technology has improved and has managed to reduce heat absorption by about a third, but wood still has the clear advantage when it comes to staying cooler on those hot days.


There is a wide range of options to choose from, which is why it is important to invest time and effort in the process. Start by knowing what type of wood decking you consider your favorite. This will help you narrow down your options. You can then compare the wood and a composite that looks like that wood.

The main factor when choosing decking material comes down to preference. If you love the rich and natural look of wood and you don’t mind its maintenance, then natural wood becomes the best option for you. If you are looking for a deck that is low maintenance and lasts longer, then composite might be your best option.

If you have a limited budget, then you need to put that into consideration when making your choice. Cheaper options don’t mean that they are not of quality. With this in mind, you can expect to have an easier time choosing the best option for you.

If you are not sure about your options, then consider talking to one of our experts who has worked with the different materials. Visit your local lumber store and have a look at the options. Touch them and see whether it is something you might want for your deck.

We have experience dealing with both wood and composite decking. If you have any questions about decking or about the deck building process don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also visit our deck building service page to learn more about what we have to offer.

With our skills and experience, you will end up with a beautiful deck and you will find yourself spending more and more time in your new outdoor space. Give TNT a call today at 970-663-2868.

Deck Construction in Fort Collins, Colorado

pic of a deck and pergola built in Fort Collins, CO

Are you interested in adding a deck to your property? If so, we are a local outfit offering the best deck construction services in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Decking can be used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property, increase the available living space and ultimately raise the property’s overall value. With all these advantages in mind, it is easy to see why these structures are so popular.

Our Services

To help our clients reap the above-mentioned benefits of having a deck, we offer the following decking services:

• Deck Installation

As an established deck construction company in Fort Collins, CO, we can help you put up the most stylish and long-lasting deck. We have the expertise and knowledge required to help guide you through the process of choosing the right type of deck and decking materials given your own personal requirements, the available space, your property’s landscape and the available budget among others.

Over the years we have worked on a variety of projects, installing wide variety types of decks along the way. Every project is unique and depending on the available space and location, we can install the following types of decks:

Attached Decks

Resembling a patio, an attached deck is made using composite or wooden decking materials. It is also slightly raised from the ground. Attached decks are commonly located at the rear end of U- or L- shaped houses.

Island/Detached Decks

Like an island, these decks are designed to stand alone. Steps or a clear path can be used to access the deck. Since they can be built over uneven or poorly drained terrain, these decks are considered to be highly versatile; unlike concrete patios, for instance.

Pool Decks

There are many reasons for you to put up a pool deck. For starters, unlike concrete or stone, the materials used do not present a slipping hazard. Furthermore, wood is less likely to scorch your feet even on the hottest of days.

In addition to increasing the space available for swimmers to soak up the sun, a pool deck can also make above ground swimming pools more accessible.

It is, however, worth mentioning the fact that wooden pool decks should be regularly maintained to keep the wood from splitting and prevent the occurrence of splinters.

Wrap Around Decks

If you are looking to follow the sun or shade or expand your living space, a wraparound deck is exactly what you need. Resembling a traditional wraparound porch, this type of deck is raised and roomier.

Multi-Level Decks

Does your property’s sloped or rocky terrain make it difficult for you to put up a concrete patio? Well if so, consider putting up multi-level decks. Linked by paths or steps, multi-level decks are simply a series of decks built on different levels, as dictated by the existing landscape.

This can also refer to a stacking multiple decks on top of each other. So if you have a tall two or even three-story house you could build multiple outdoor living spaces on top of each other.

Entryway Decks

Usually a series of linked platforms that lead to the entrance of your house, entryway decks can be used to enhance your property’s curb appeal. To do so, the decking must be designed and installed in a way that perfectly matches your home’s architecture.

Rooftop Decks

For elevated views of your home’s surroundings or even some added privacy outdoors, rooftop or garage top decks are the answer. These decks are suited to flat-roofed homes. Before construction, the structural integrity of the underlying structure must be tested, and enhanced where necessary, for safety purposes.


Decking Materials

As an experienced deck construction services provider, we understand how important it is for you to choose the right decking materials straight from the start. Climate, maintenance requirements, and cost are some of the main considerations you need to keep in mind when choosing the right material for your new deck.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the main decking material options we have found to be popular among Fort Collins homeowners over the years.

Wood

Wooden decks are quite common in the Fort Collins area. Wood, a natural material, is not only visually appealing but also strong and long-lasting. However, to keep it in its best condition, annual maintenance may be necessary depending on the specific type of wood used. This material has been known to stand up well to the high altitude and hot dry climate associated with this part of the country. When it comes to wood, you have a wide variety of options to choose from, including:


Redwood And Cedar

Resistant to both rot and insect damage, both of these options can be used to construct decks that will stand up to the extreme local climate and maintain their appeal and strength over the years, provided that the right sealant is used.

Unlike pressure-treated wood, which is known to warp and crack due to direct exposure to the elements over an extended period, redwood and cedar will maintain their original shape and form for decades.

For a seamless, refined look you can opt for wood decking systems that do not require the use of screws as fasteners.


Tropical Hardwoods

If you are looking to add an exotic feel to your new deck, consider going with tropical hardwoods such as Ipe, Philippine mahogany or tigerwood among others. In addition to being rich grained, these hardwoods are also very strong and highly durable. Like the above-described options, tropical hardwoods are also naturally resistant to rot and insect damage.

It is worth mentioning that tropical hardwood decking usually requires the use of a specialized fastening system. This is mainly due to the fact that they are so dense; making it quite difficult to drive nails or screws through the timber. These hardwoods are also harder to cut and heavier in terms of weight.


Pressure Treated (PT) Wood

As the most economical decking material, pressure-treated wood is the most affordable decking material discussed here. As the most popular decking material, pressure-treated wood is not only easier to cut but also supports the use of simple fastening systems including nails and screws.

Mostly milled from southern yellow pine, PT is treated with chemicals to make it rot and insect resistant. In recent years, the use of non-toxic chemicals has been adopted on most PT decking products for health reasons.

While PT decks are less costly to install, regular maintenance is required to prevent splitting, cracking and warping of the wood. To keep the deck looking as new as possible for as long as possible it should be power washed on an annual basis; while a wood preservative should be applied every 2 to 3 years.


Composite Materials

For those looking for the most durable, stain, insect, and weather-resistant decking material that will not warp, split or even crack, look no further than composite materials. While they may look and feel like real wood, composite materials are made using recycled plastics and wood fibers; some products are solely made of plastic.

Even though composite materials are more expensive than wood, they are fast becoming a popular decking option due to their many advantages.


• Deck Repair Services

In addition to constructing new decks from scratch, we also offer deck repair services in Fort Collins, Colorado. Proper deck maintenance and repair not only ensures that you keep your deck in the best condition even as the years go by, but also protects your investment by extending its durability.

Conclusion

Whether you are hosting guests, taking in the view or simply enjoying a cool breeze, your deck is an integral and personal part of your home. However, to create such a space you need to work with a local partner that understands the local climate and architecture among others. For the best deck construction services in Fort Collins, Colorado, contact us today at 970-663-2868.

Click for more information about our Deck Construction Services