On this episode of Chat with the Experts, we talk with Ralph Ford of Deckmasters about choosing a new deck for your home and what options are available.
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Local Articles in Carrollton
If you’re a handy homeowner with construction skills, building a deck might be a project you consider tackling yourself. Without having to pay labor costs, a DIY deck may prove to be an affordable alternative.
A wood deck can be a wonderful place to spend time outdoors, but over time, weather can cause the structure to deteriorate. Learning how to repair common deck problems can help keep your structure in top shape for years to come.
Examine the difference between decks and porches and decide which one might be right for you and your family. Consider cost, lifestyle requirements, the layout of your property and other factors for the right extension of your living space.
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
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.
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.
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