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Planning Your Twin Cities Wood or Composite Deck Building Project

12 December 2020

Our team answers homeowner questions every weekend on WCCO 830 AM from 9:00 am-10:00 am.  Have your most pressing home improvement questions answered by calling 651-989-9226.  Here’s must-know information from our in-house deck specialist, Luke Panek, shared on 12.12.20. 

The winter months provide the optimum time to commence planning for a spring deck installation.  More often than not, after weighing the pros and cons of popular decking materials, homeowners are opting for maintenance-free selections over wood.  It’s worth noting that even if a homeowner prefers the beauty of wood, they still have the ability to select maintenance-free railing systems.  Popular deck railing materials include metal, glass, aluminum, and steel.

Fortress Steel Railing Staircase
Steel deck railing

It’s no secret that wood decks require a substantial amount of upkeep in order to keep them looking their best.  New treated wooden deck boards often start with moisture rates as high as 65%-70%.  Before they can be stained, the deck moisture levels in the deck boards should be less than 15%.  A moisture meter should be used to confirm moisture rates.  Kiln dried treated pine has significantly lower moisture levels and can often be stained soon after installation.  In the realm of wood, kiln dried treated lumber is preferred by contractors and homeowners alike because it has a lower probability of shrinking, cracking, and warping.

When replacing a wooden deck with a composite material, it can be tempting to reuse the same substructure.  However, this isn’t always the wisest decision.  However, most of the time, because it’s had cedar decking on top of it, there is a bit of decay on top of the boards on top of the joists, creating a soft consistency.  Putting new composite boards on top of the preexisting joists, the imperfections at the top of the joists will be visible.  Although, structurally they will be durable enough to last another decade, this approach is not recommended.  The optimum amount of spacing for wood and synthetic deck boards often varies, a secondary reason a new substructure should be installed.

zuri

When it comes to deck footings, helical screw piles are overwhelmingly popular in the Midwest.  They are 12 inches in diameter and are comprised of galvanized steel.  The equipment used to install the footings into the ground is about seven feet and looks like an auger used in ice fishing.  The machine is so powerful that it can even dig footings in areas with a substantial number of rocks.  Helical piers are also heavily resistant to movement in frosty conditions.  To tell if deck posts need replacement, contractors pull gravel or soil from the base of the post to examine the post for decay.  Cedar posts have a shorter lifespan than a green treated post.

Go Behind the Scenes On a Deck Installation by Lindus Construction: 

Homeowners opting to expand their outdoor living space frequently weigh the pros and cons of whether a deck or a porch makes more sense.  One of the biggest differences between a deck and a porch is the size and weight the footings must hold.  Decks just need to support railings, while a porch will need to able to sustain siding, windows, and a roof.  Oftentimes a new deck can be built with larger footings that allow for the option to expand into a porch later.

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Our Composite Deck Installation Projects:

trex deck, steel siding

Lee & Deb’s Maple Grove, MN Siding, Window, Decking, Gutter Project

TimberTech AZEK Deck & fortress railing

Tom & Marian’s TimberTech AZEK® Deck Installation in Somerset, WI

zuri deck

Deborah’s St. Paul Composite Deck Building Project

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