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Local Articles in Boston
Neglecting your deck before a renovation could cost you.
Without the proper construction techniques, your deck could put you at a safety risk.
Wooden decks can deteriorate quickly without proper care and regular maintenance. Follow these 10 guidelines to make your wood deck last as long as possible.
I agree with Jim Casper - after about 50 years of dealing with weathered wood finishing both in my homes and in the construction business, it comes down to about 90% preparation, 10% the finishing. If you do not prep the wood right, any moisture, mold, etc in the wood will destroy whatever you put over it.
High-build finishes like paint and epoxies and, from reading the Rustoleum flyer on this new product that too, work by trying to make an impenetrable surface and depend on a very good bond with the surface, AND no water getting under them. Because they are thick and are designed to provide a waterproof surface, unfortunately where water gets under them they are just as good or better at keeping it from evaporating, so you get fungal growth, blistering, and peeling.
Unfortunately, on deck and most outdoor applications except siding the surface will get nicked, scratched and otherwise develop leaks in short order. Water will therefore get into the underlying wood, and because it entered through small cracks and scratches, does not have any airflow to make it evaporate, so it sits there and breaks the finish bond to the wood (causing peeling and blisters), and promotes decay. That is why new deck boards and siding and trim that have been heavily or multi-coat painted on all 4 sides, thinking that will give the best protection, only last a few years versus the usual 10-20 years or so for boards that are painted top and sides only.
The full sun and hot conditions will, of course, cause more thann normal heating of dark colored painted decking. I had one instance where I was doing an independent appraisal of a very large commercial deck at a government facility, and in 85-90 degree daytime temps, in the sushine the chocolate brown deck surface temp was 150 degrees, and the paint was softening so much it stuck to the bottom of your shoes a couple of months after application.
As Jim said, the studies pretty clearly show that a breathable penetrating stain gives the best life, after plain ACA/CCA (copper chromium variations - the green stuff) treated wood. Penetrating stains, properly applied, do NOT seal in the moisture, they inhibit its entry and (when dark colored) help protect against sun damage to the wood and finish, but still breathe enough to let moisture escape on dry days. For my money, I will only use petroleum distillate (paint thinner cleanup) products, as they penetrate into the wood much better. Water based ones immediately start swelling the wood pores, so it blocks further penetration of the stain, which while cleanup is a bit easier, totally defeats the purpose of a PENETRATING stain or sealer.
I would recommend against any sort of waterproofing sealer, as they trap the water just like paint, and I have never seen one that is effective for 2 years.
My personal preference, though it limits the architectural coloration possibilities, is ground-contact rated copper compound treated wood (NOT the Wolmanized brown product), which comes green initially but can be retreated with either green or brown solution or can be liquid colorized darker (though not easily to a specific tone) using either of those as a base. My practice is to redo the treatment before installation to ensure thorough treatment, as from the mill it commonly has skips where boards contacted each other or where stacking seperators laid on it, and the ends are commonly very poorly done. This is done after cutting to length, as cut ends have to be retreated anyway. A simple short deck cleaner soak followed by a light pressure washing and brush or roller re-treating of ONLY the TOP surface every 10 years or so has, for me, reduced visible weathering of the boards and beams to negligible.
That being said, a legitimate contractor still has operating cost which vary by area and how they run their business. I break even at $150/day not including labor and materials so I've got to charge more than that to make money. To keep the math simple, if I'm paying $250 for a pne day job in labor plus another $300 in materials and $150 operating costs I've got to charge $700 to the customer to break even. That's if I'm only doing one job a day which is why most of us manage several at a time. The point I'm trying to make is that someone with the necessary knowledge and experience to build you a safe deck is not going to be cheap. Knowledge accompanies success which costs money.
I've repaired or restructured several decks built by handymen who should find another profession. Ask yourself this question when hiring someone for this project: Would I trust this person to build my house? If the answer is no you need to find someone else. The deck is just as important. It's where your family, friends, kids are going to gather and interact. If it isn't structurally sound it can collapse causing injury or even death. One last word on decks: Always screw a deck together, don't nail it.
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX
Assuming you buy the right size door to fit the rough opening, and that your old door is not a size that is no longer made, and that you get the correct depth and transition adapters and sills and flashing and trim and seals and such, and that you transport it home without distorting and damaging it, then removal and disposal of old one and install new one probably about $250-400 depending on how well it fits, number of transition and similar pieces that have to be assembled (from 1 or 2 for some doors to as many as 30 on others).
The laundry list of things at the start WAS intended to intimidate you - I would say not 1 in 25 homeowners who buy a new patio door have bought it the right size for the rough opening and have everything needed to install it - the contractor almost invariably has to go get materials or parts to complete the installation - sometimes waiting weeks for factory adapters that are needed or missing parts AFTER the original door has already been taken out.
I would question why you are going to probably spend as much installing a door that may not do the job for you as the cost of the door. I would hazard at least half of people who go buy a $250-400 cheap door at a box store are sorely disappointed within months - due to poorly fitted parts, bad or non-existent seals causing drafts or water leaks, fogging or breaking glass, etc.
I would recommend you assess your needs, in conjunction with your installer find a decent and reputable brand unit to fit that need and that fits the loction right, and probably pay 50% more installed but have something that you might actually be happy with. Oh - BTW - your best installers generally will not install the cheapest box store units because they do not want the callbacks, so many times the quality of the installer who will actually do the job for you at a price you are willing to pay gives you a job that is - you guessed it, worth what you paid for it.
The product has evolved considerably since the lawsuit.
I would still do your own research and give you contractor your feedback. At the end of the day, the cost for whatever board you want will be similar.
Deck Building reviews in Boston
I went to the project site several times to inspect progress. The rough carpentry and plastering were done nicely. On my third trip, to see the freshly installed crown molding, I could see that it had not been mitered at the correct in several corners, such that the edges lined up unevenly. This left a "lip" in some cases where one extended past another, and a "gap" in other cases where some or all of the didn't meet the of the neighboring piece. In still other cases where the crown molding was just supposed to stop rather than wrap around a corner, there was a gap between the "return" piece and the wall. Finally, along the length of the crown molding, there was a clearly visible gap where the crown molding meets the wall, in some places as much as 1/8"-1/4" wide, which was very visible from most vantage points.
I called as soon as I saw these issues and he assured me that this was just the roughing-in step, and that they had a whole second day reserved to fix up everything with caulk (tubes of DAP). I expressed concern that some of the gaps seemed rather large to fix with caulk, and that I didn't understand how mismatched edges (particularly protruding corners) were going to be fixed with caulk and leave a smooth, paintable surface. He assured me it would produce a good result. That evening after work I researched crown molding installation issues and learned that caulk is indeed a standard solution to very small cracks, but that professional-grade work doesn't require a lot of caulk, especially not in corners, where the two mitered edges are supposed to line up without a big gap or a lip. I wrote an email explaining my concerns, and in the morning we talked on the phone and agreed to meet at the project site.
This is the point in our project where started to exhibit seriously unprofessional behavior. When I got there, he was removing masking tape from the floor and first just ignored me while I crouched next to him saying hello. (Update 11/24 - the tape appears to have permanently marred the floor in that one location, which I didn't notice until two days later.) I started walking around the rooms inspecting the crown molding and joined me after a few minutes. We agreed to walk the whole apartment together. Many of the small gaps between the lower of the crown molding and the wall had been effectively sealed with caulk, but there were still small gaps along some of the seams, one whole room hadn't been addressed at all, and the largest gap (a 1/4" gap about 2 feet long) was still just as wide. I mentioned that my online research said that for gaps this large, one needs to use plaster to re-grade the wall to meet the molding. didn't respond. As we walked through the apartment, he trailed sullenly behind me by several feet, sometimes looking at his feet or out the window as I pointed at various spots, calmly pointing out mismatched edges. I said some were so mismatched that they might need to be recut if it's not possible to make the mismatch disappear with caulking and patching. said nothing. We got done walking the whole apartment and then we were interrupted by a phone call I'd been waiting on. When I tried to resume the conversation, said they all needed to get to work, and didn't I have to get to work, too? I told him yes, but that I wanted to know what his thoughts were on the various issues I'd pointed out. He said curtly that they would spend some time that day fixing those spots as I wanted, in addition to re-placing the doorbell ringer back where it goes (which had left an exposed hole in the wall), and cleaning up the project site. Then he opened the door for me to leave. Seriously unprofessional. Later in the day he called and said they were done, that the only thing left for them to do was to install some folding closet doors that hadn't arrived yet.
The next morning I went to the project site again, and noticed a few improvements, several remaining deficiencies, and a few ADDITIONAL issues. Along the length of the crown molding, most of the thin gaps had been effectively filled with smooth caulk, with no leakage onto the adjacent wall. The 1/4" gap was filled with caulk, too, and it didn't look good. A couple of the corners looked better, but many did not. He said they had used plaster and sanding to re-work the mis-matched corners, but I saw no evidence of this, just caulking and clear glue. Indeed, several corners looked WORSE than the day before because there were now big globs of plasticky caulking on the surface of the crown molding, and even smeared on the walls below in several spots. The doorbell ringer had not been moved back into place, so there was a clearly visible hole in the wall above my front door.
I also noticed two things that had escaped my attention previously: some newly installed baseboards produced very poorly matched edges, such that both have a very visible "lip" of wood protruding past the adjacent piece; and a bit of trim that was supposed to be installed around the top of a support column was missing. So I called again, and told him that some things definitely looked better, but also explained the issues I was still seeing. I started talking about the crown molding, and he flatly stated that they are "DONE dealing with the crown molding." I said it's not done, though. He said they're "DONE with it!" and that I'll "have to hire someone else" if I want it fixed any further. I told him I can't pay him his last installment if the work isn't done, and he said fine, and that he would return the spare keys he still had. I sent him a follow-up email with photos showing examples of the problems I was still seeing with the crown molding, and also detailed the other few items that still needed to be done (the folding closet doors, the doorbell, the column trim, and removal of a small pile of construction debris from my back porch) and said that, independent ofthe crown molding issue, these items needed to be done or I would consider him in breach of contract. I also wrote and posted the first version of this review, ending with "I hope to update this later with a more positive outcome."
The next day I'd arranged to start painting with two friends - I planned to start with the ceilings in the hope that the crown molding issue might yet be resolved. emailed and called to say that would be back to deal with the four items I'd emailed him about. I said fine. showed up and started working on those items and our little painting crew stayed out of his way. An hour or so later, showed up and was suddenly civil, even cordial, asking if we might talk privately somewhere. He asked if he might hear my concerns again. This time he listened. He asked clarifying questions. He got up on a step ladder to look closely at what I was talking about. Ultimately he decided to send on to the next job while he, , stayed behind to give it a last shot with the crown molding, using caulk and Patch-n-Paint. It was like talking to a completely different person.
Admittedly, at that point I was so concerned that I'd be left with crappy crown molding that I ratcheted down my expectations. I didn't bring up the two-foot-long, 1/4" gap between one wall and the crown molding above it, which had stuffed with a thick bead of caulking and which is still clearly visible as a cheap fix. I gave up the idea that anyone was going to recut the two bits of baseboard that meet very poorly at two corners. And I was willing to accept any amount of improvement in the worst of the mismatched crown corners. To 's credit, he did a good job fixing almost every problematic corner, spending several hours sanding, patching, caulking, smoothing, and removing most of the glops that had been messily smeared on neighboring surfaces. (The next day I did a few more touch-ups to the crown, and still need to revisit the baseboards to see if additional patching and sanding will bring them in line, but it's WAY less work left for me to deal with than before.)
So then I had to wonder why this was all so contentious and difficult in the first place. I never raised my voice or was nasty in any way that might warrant such unprofessional behavior. It was confusing when he suddenly switched 180 back to the civil, agreeable person I'd met on day one, offering me a handshake and asking "Are we OK?" It reminded me of the time I lived with a manic depressive roommate for a year - you just never knew which person was going to be there when you got home.
I would definitely recommend calling Waldecir for a quote. He's very professional and just generally a nice guy.
Had about 10 contractors come out, most not interested in the job. Ended up with 3 usable bids and chose Abacus. Little is very friendly and will explain everything in detail, if you ask.
Built the roof-deck such that its not sitting on the roof, but floating off the roof and resting on metal railings that attach at 4 distinct points. Pointed out roof work that needed to be done due to sloppy installation of siding on house. Negotiated a price directly with his roofer and paid him separately.
Now that deck is done, inspected and 's been paid, he is continuing to help me with minor items relating to the deck.
We would ...MoreRead more of this review recommend and to anyone. They were the best contractors we have worked with. Will use again.
His crew was very hardworking--arrived early in the morning and stayed late, and came to the house on Saturdays. They went beyond expectations in this regard.
Superior craftsmanship and professionalism aside, was excellent at communicating status (which I find rare among contractors), explaining delays (there were many delays in my project due to rain), and any unanticipated challenges that came up during the project. He was in constant contact on email and text message, which I found very reassuring.
We started this project simply wanting to replace an old, rotted porch and ended up with a fabulous new front entry, which has really improved our appeal.
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