Blog Deck Maintenence

Creaking Deck? Call for a Deck Safety Inspection

I recently visited some family friends that have a beautiful backyard space and view. We decided that before dinner we’d have a drink on their deck since it was a lovely night. Their deck is high off the ground and is pretty large. While it felt sturdy enough, it did creak a bit as all 7 of us walked around it. Lucky for them, they already have plans to have it replaced later this month.

As you enter fall, it’s a good time to think about the safety of your deck. It’s (hopefully) withheld the busy spring and summer months, but it’s now going into fall and winter when the elements can be tough. Especially in northern areas, decks have to stand up to the weight of large snowfalls and ice. Before winter really sets in, check your deck for signs that it needs to be repaired or replaced. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How old is your deck? The typical deck last 7-10 years. Five years after construction is a good time to start taking notice of the condition of your deck to make sure that it lasts. You may be able to get more mileage out of it if you address any concerns when they first start.

Is your deck starting to sway or shake? A shaky deck is not a safe deck. It is one sign of an attachment or footing that is weak. Deck collapses can very serious when an attachment or footing fails. If your deck sways, make sure you call a professional deck builder to come perform a deck safety inspection.

Are you deck boards splintering a lot? Cracks and splinters in wood is normal over time, but if they are splintering a lot, it’s a sign of the boards starting to dry out. Replacing a few deck boards can be an easy fix and doesn’t require the entire deck to be replaced.

Do you rails feel steady and secure? Deck railings are a very important safety aspect of your outdoor living structure. Make sure that your railings are not unstable or shaky.

If you think you are in need of a professional deck safety inspection, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Collapse Puts a Damper on any Outdoor Event

Every year there are stories of deck failures. Either there are too many people on the structure, it’s not built to code or it is just too old. The newest viral video spreading online is from a dock collapse in Minnesota that sent an entire bridal party into the lake below as they posed for pictures.

They may have needed some time to dry off before the big wedding celebration, but the bride and groom are lucky that no one was hurt when this dock gave way.

Deck (and dock) safety is a serious concern. People are injured each year as a result of deck footings giving way or the deck detaching from a home. In the case of the video above, it may have been a case of too many people on a small dock. Over the past few years, videos of deck failures at special events, like weddings or proms, have been released online. If you are hosting a graduation party, wedding or other special event at your home, make sure you evaluate the safety of your outdoor structures.

Your deck may feel safe normally, but can it withhold the weight of a large number of people? If your deck has ever shook or felt at all uneasy before, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional deck builder. A professional will be able to look at the structure and tell you the overall shape it is in, what, if anything, should be addressed now or if it should be replaced entirely.

There are certain parts of a deck that are key components of the overall safety of the space, while others can be easily replaced or enhanced in the short term.

The structure, footings, connections and attachment are all very important to the deck’s safety. If one of these fail, it could cause the deck to collapse. Conversely, decking boards, stairs and rails can be updated or replaced until the entire structure is enhanced.

If you have concerns over the safety of your deck, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Unique Deck Design Allows Client to Enjoy More of their Property

There are so many components that have to work together to create the perfect deck design: tastes, budget, shape, flow and property. The physical property often plays one of the biggest roles in how a space will work.

This project from our deck builder in Austin is a great example of a deck design where the property is the star. The owners of this large Texan property wanted to take advantage of their gorgeous land. Not only does it have beautiful trees, but it also sits on a body of water. Unfortunately, before this project, much of it was covered with patchy vegetation and too many of the water views from the outside of the home were blocked by the trees.

The homeowners didn’t want to lose any of the trees, but wanted an outdoor living space that jetted out further into their property, closer to the water. Jimmy Odom, of Archadeck of Austin, designed this deck to work around the property and create amazing views for the owners.

The multi-tiered deck winds around the trees providing several spots to place some chairs or even an outdoor dining table. The owners can go past all the trees and have unobstructed views of the water, or they can stay in the trees’ shade and still enjoy their surroundings. Even their cows are interested in enjoying the space!

Pressure-treated pine was used to build the deck in Austin. Pressure-treated pine is a great decking option for many parts of the country. It’s a natural and less expensive than some other decking materials. The boards were installed in different patterns to add some visual interest to the space. With the numerous angles of the deck, it didn’t make sense to keep everything parallel throughout because it would have looked slightly “off” in different areas.

This project is a great example of how the property can impact design. The property does have a slight slope going down towards the water. If the owners wanted the same shape and size, the lower level would have had to be raised significantly. Not only could this impact cost, but it also would have impacted the view from the higher spots on the project. By designing a multi-level space, Jimmy was able to keep the view as the focal point while providing the space the owners wanted.

If you have questions on designing decks, porches, patios or other outdoor living space, please give your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office a call.

Check your deck before having company

Despite the cooler weather, fall provides its own set of outdoor entertaining opportunities. From homecoming get-togethers and tailgating, there is always a reason to be outdoors in the fall. Before having friends and family outside on your deck this season, make sure to have it checked for any safety issues.

Last Saturday afternoon, eight people were injured when a deck collapsed in Winona, Minnesota. A group of students were celebrating homecoming at an apartment with a raised deck when the deck broke away from the home and fell. The number of people on the deck at the time is unclear, but eight people were treated for injuries.

One student that was in the lower apartment heard a crack went to see what was happening; “I was in shock watching it because you don’t expect a deck with people, I mean everyone’s having fun, it’s homecoming, everyone’s out here having a good time seeing each other and then you look outside and people are falling to the ground.” Source.

Deck failures are, unfortunately, a common cause of injury in the United States. The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced, but it could be unsafe before then. At Archadeck, we suggest that decks should have regular deck inspections after 7 years or if any issues are noticed. A homeowner may, for instance, notice some creaking while walking on the structure or warping of deck boards.

Trained deck safety inspectors will look at all parts of the outdoor structure before providing the homeowner with recommendations on next steps. In many instances, there are simple replacements or improvements that can be made to make the deck last a little longer. In other instances, the inspector may recommend taking down the existing structure and replacing it with a new one that is up to code and deemed safe.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we use the acronym BE SAFER to explain the deck components we inspect when we look at existing structures: boards, exits, structure, attachment, footings and foundation, every connection and railings.

Fall is the best time of year for a deck safety inspection. Heavy snow, ice and yard debris in the winter months can weaken the deck’s structural integrity even more if not inspected before the harsh weather hits. If you need to have a professional deck builder and inspector look at your outdoor space, please contact your local Archadeck.

Deck and Patio Design Coming Together in Richmond, VA

Posted by: janegwalker

It’s been a long time since we updated you on the outdoor living structure that we designed and are building for our corporate office and we are happy to say that it is 99% finished. The remaining items on the list are primarily clean up. So what’s been going on since we last updated you? In short, a lot.

To recap, this is the boring side yard that we had at our office:

And this is what we have now:

It is quite the difference, right? In our last post about the project, we had just finished framing the deck and started laying the deck boards. As you can see, that and more has been completed.

The majority of the deck is a dark brown TimberTech composite material. It was installed at an angle for added visual interest with highlight boards that are a brick red color (I apologize for the shadows in the pictures). The composite material will minimize our need for regular maintenance. Pressure-treated wood, as opposed to composite, needs to be pressure washed and stained to ensure that water, dirt and other debris don’t settle in the wood cracks and cause splitting.

As you can see in the picture, the built-in benches have been added to the space. One of our goals in creating this outdoor living space at the office was to have a space that everyone in building would really use (not just look at). Seating is extremely important for regular use and with a commercial space that does get some traffic, the seating couldn’t be movable. While the retaining walls offer some seating, benches were added throughout the space to invite people to relax and take a seat.

With such a large amount of dark decking, our deck designers decided to complement the structure with white highlights in the form of railings and the pergola. Timbertech vinyl railing was installed around the open edges of the deck for safety purposes. Any deck that isn’t low to grade, meaning that it rises at least 36 inches off the ground, must have a railing by code. Once the railing was up, everyone here started to see the whole the project come together. The crisp white makes it really pop.

When the Archadeck Outdoor Living team discussed what they wanted in the space, a shade structure was a key component. The pergola was added to the design and covers nearly half of the 900 square foot deck. In a space that gets a lot of sunlight, the pergola offers a reprieve.

While the building part of the space is pretty much finished, there are a few finishing details that are still to come. Outdoor lighting is going to be installed for safety and security (as well as beauty). Besides that, we just need to get rid of any construction debris and we are ready to host our first barbecue at the office.

If you have questions on how you can enhance your backyard with a custom outdoor living space, please reach out to your local Archadeck office. Our trained designers will work with you to create something that works for you, your family, your needs and your budget.

Deck and Patio Installation Begins at Archadeck Headquarters

Several weeks ago, we announced that we at Archadeck Outdoor Living’s corporate office are getting a new outdoor living area. We are thrilled to let you know that after some weather delays, we officially broke ground today!

To recap, up until now, our corporate office has been of void of any outdoor living structures (we know, it’s sad considering what we do). This year, we decided to change that and designed this custom deck and patio combination project. A large pergola will cover part of deck for shade and built in benches and retaining walls will provide places to sit throughout the space.

Last week all of the patio material was delivered and trust me, it is a lot of pavers. Included in the material is the outdoor fireplace that will be installed on the project.

In preparation for the first phase of building, we had to file for building permits. After the county reviewed our plans and specifications, we were able to grid out the deck and patio on the property. Victor, our Director of Construction and Drafting who is spearheading the build for us, went outside with members of his team and sprayed a pink paint to illustrate where the building will take place. This allows the sub-contractors to envision the space and know exactly where to build. With the paint and permits in place, we were ready to build! Of course, Mother Nature had other plans for us. After a few days of rain, the ground needed to dry out a bit before we started digging. And finally today we were ready!

The first phase of the build is the patio and footings for the deck. This morning, bright and early, bulldozers started digging into our lawn to grade the area. Grading is the process of leveling out the ground. For us, the land that we are building the patio is uneven, sloping down to the road. The bulldozer cuts out the grass and dirt to level the area so that when the patio is built is it sturdy and level. It has been pretty interesting to see the difference in just a day, these guys are fast! Grading is also key for the drainage of the patio. Uneven surfaces hold water and puddle instead of properly draining and may cause future problems.

The footings for the structure will also be dug this week. Footings are the load bearing parts of an outdoor living structure. Before we start building the deck portion of the project, a county inspector will come out and test the ground and evaluate our footings. When they are all given the green light, we will be ready for to start the deck!

Everyone here is more than excited for an outdoor space at the office. On a beautiful day like today, it would be wonderful to have a nice spot to sit and hold a quick meeting while enjoying the sunshine. Our goal in designing the space was to create a combination project that not only features some our most commonly built structures, but also to create a space that is usable. By including the outdoor fireplace and outdoor kitchen, we are ensuring that it is used. The other offices that are part of the building are just as excited to have a space to enjoy the outdoors as well!

Have Your Deck Checked During May’s Deck Safety Month

The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month back in 2006. May is the month that many homeowners start to spend extended time outside on their decks as the weather turns nicer. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t have their deck’s safety evaluated properly. Just because it is standing, doesn’t mean that it is safe!

According to NADRA, there are over 40 million decks in the United States that are over 20 years old. This is a scary idea for deck builders like us at Archadeck. Building and code requirements have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Those decks that were built 20 years ago most likely would not be considered safe or up to code by today’s standards.

At Archadeck, we suggest having any deck over 7 years old checked for safety. A professional deck builder can come out to home and check all the components of your existing structure. From there, you should get a list of any issues and how they can be addressed. When we do our deck safety inspections, for example, we often find problems with the deck that can be fixed quickly to extend the life of the structure. There are times, however, that we find that it is best to just replace the deck entirely to ensure that those enjoying it are safe and secure.

So what are deck inspectors looking for when they evaluate your deck? At Archadeck, we use the BE SAFER acronym to explain what we are looking at:

Boards – While most wood decking will show cracks over time, the overall condition of the boards need to be considered.

Every Connection – Hardware is key when considering deck safety. Every connection and fastener should be looked at to ensure safety and stability.

Structure – What is the condition of the posts, beams and joists that make up the skeleton of the deck? Is there any visible sagging?

Attachment – It’s imperative to check how the deck was attached to the house as that is where most deck failures occur.

Foundation and Footings – This part of the deck supports the weight of the structure and those who enjoy it. Foundations and footings need to be checked for sinking, sagging and separation from beams.

Exits – Are all of the exits from the deck, like stairs and ramps, in good condition?

Rails – Check that all parts of the railing system, posts, pickets and balusters, are sturdy, properly built and the correct height.

Before you host a barbecue with twenty friends, make sure that you have a deck safety inspection, especially if your deck is more than 7 years old. It will give you the peace of mind that you need to truly enjoy the spring and summer months. Call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office to set up an inspection at your home.

Picking a Contractor that Won’t Leave You High and Dry

Over the past month I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and looking at the Archadeck Dream Backyard Makeover submissions and themes have started to emerge. One that seems to be recurring is homeowners being left high and dry by their deck contractors.

Several entries have shown (including one of our February finalists) decks that are half or barely finished. The descriptions reference a contractor that they found out wasn’t licensed and the building they did do wasn’t to code. It’s no wonder why so many homeowners are hesitant to invite contractors to do projects on their home.

Deck construction is a serious topic that can lead to personal injury or damage to the home when done incorrectly. To ensure that the person you hire is going to treat your property as if it were they own, make sure that you ask all of your candidates these questions:

What’s your contractor license number? Many homeowners ask prospective contractors if they are licensed, but reading the contest entries has made me realize that sometimes people lie. You should be able to get the contractor license number from the people you are thinking of working with. That way, if something happens, you have it on file.

How are you insured? A good contractor has the appropriate insurance to protect you against damage that is done to or on your property. If something happens, it shouldn’t have to go through your homeowner’s insurance.

Will you pull the local building permits and have them on file? Any structures built on your property need to be built to the local code. Permits must be pulled and inspections must be made (sometimes a few times during the building phase). A contractor who is good at patio and deck construction will do this for you, but you should have access to permit numbers if needed.

What warranties do you have? No one wants to invest is a large home improvement project just to have it break or fail. It’s even worse when there is nothing you can do about it. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we pride ourselves one having 2 guarantees to protect our clients. Additionally, if you have an issue with the material, we will work with you to get in touch with the manufacturers to look at their warranties.

Could I have some references? It’s understandable that homeowners are careful about who they invite into their home. Every deck contractor should have a list of clients that you can reach out to and ask questions.

Asking these questions will help you to choose a deck construction provider that you know you can trust. If you have questions regarding our process, please contact your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Curved Deck Adds Charm to Georgia Home

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our motto is “better building by design.” We take great pride in the fact that each and every one of our outdoor living projects is different and custom designed to fit the homeowner’s needs, tastes and budget. We have a needs assessment that guides our designers as they create the perfect space for their clients. Our deck builder in Hawkinsville, GA recently created an outdoor living space using an old feature of the property as his inspiration.

Stephen Denton, the owner of Archadeck of Central Georgia, was asked by his clients to create a deck design around an old well that the home had. The house was built in the 1800s and had some beautiful charm as a result of its age. The old well had been filled in and works as a flowerbed, but the homeowners did not want to get rid of it due to the history behind it. Instead, they wanted a unique outdoor living space that mirrored its shape, thus the curved deck was born.

The curved edges of the deck enhance the curve of the well that sits in the center of the deck. Rounded decks, however, don’t work on certain properties due to the landscape. In general, decks must having railings for code and safety issues (no one wants an injury), but curved railings are expensive. They have to be specially made because you can’t bend wood or rail caps to follow the unique curve. Luckily this project didn’t need to have railings. The evenness of the yard allowed Stephen to build a low-to-grade deck which means the structure is low to the ground. If the deck is less than 30 inches off the ground, code says that the structure doesn’t need railings, so the sides of this project were left open. The homeowners are thrilled that the view from their deck isn’t blocked by railings and is completely open to the backyard (not to mention it saved them money). Railings were added to the straight edges of the deck and stairs so visitors have something to hold on to while traveling around some parts of the space. The railings on the side also give the deck added definition.

When considering what the deck in Hawkinsville should be made of, the homeowners were clear: they wanted low maintenance. Stephen used TimberTech composite decking in a deep walnut color so his clients can easily keep the space looking like new and don’t have to worry about rot, mildew or bugs as the boards age. Archadeck of Central Georgia was able to build the deck without breaks in the boards too. No two boards are right next to each other on the ends, creating a clean finished look.

The last part of the deck design was the trellis. Not only can the homeowners use it as a place to hang or grow vegetation, but they also added an outdoor curtain that they can open and close for added privacy.

I love projects like these where a request to keep and highlight a special feature, like this well, drove the deck design. It’s a unique project that the homeowners love. It’s functional, yet charming.

To learn more about designing an outdoor living space that you and your family can enjoy, download the Archadeck Design Guide, or contact your local Archadeck office.

Checking Your Outdoor Living Spaces after Sandy

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, our passion is improving outdoor living spaces for families to enjoy and unfortunately strong storms and hurricanes like Sandy can bring havoc on such areas of the property.

As the weeks and months of recovery beginning, we wanted to offer guidance to those that were impacted regarding their outdoor living areas. High winds and rains can cause damage to decks, porches, patios, etc. and it’s important to look for that damage and have it repaired by a deck professional.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Exposed or washed out footings/foundations. Especially in areas where flooding occurred, it’s important to check and see if you can see the foundations of your deck or if the structure seems to have sunk. This is one of the most important safety components of your deck, so if you are worried about the structure, call your local deck builder to come and take a look.
  • Erosion under your deck or on your patio. The ground underneath a deck helps support the foundation of it. When the ground is washed away either by high winds or rain like many areas experienced due to Sandy, it weakens the structure. For patios, the pavers are locked in by compacted dirt and sand. Under harsh conditions some of the sand may be swept away, leaving the pavers loose and unsafe to walk on.
  • High winds may weaken decks, especially older decks. If any deck boards, railings or steps are loose and shaky, it’s important to have a professional come and look at the structural integrity of the project.
  • For structures that are attached to the house, check for any water infiltration at the place of attachment. For many homeowners that will be in the crawl space or basement of their home. If there is water dripping, it can cause damage to the structure of not only your outdoor living space, but your home.

Mother Nature can cause safety issues when it comes to outdoor living spaces. After big storms like Sandy, you should have an outdoor living contractor come and inspect your spaces. At Archadeck, we offer a deck safety inspection where we check all parts of your structure and provide recommendations as what you may need to do now and what you can plan for in the future.

Deck Collapse Sends Four to the Hospital

I love the Fourth of July. The barbecues with family and friends, fireworks and the red, white and blue always makes me smile. But unfortunately, for one family, an annual holiday party turned scary when their deck collapsed on Tuesday night before the Fourth.

Earlier this week, a family was having party on their deck in Littleton, CO when the structure broke away from the home at about 9:30pm. Those people who were on the deck at the time of the failure where dropped more than 10 feet to ground level. Luckily for everyone, no one was too seriously injured, but four people were sent to the hospital with bruises and broken bones (they were later released).

This probably wasn’t the holiday party the homeowners had hoped for. Upon looking at the structure, it became apparent that the deck was not up to current building code, resulting in the deck failure. As we discussed during Deck Safety month in May, when a deck is attached to the side of the home, it is strategically bolted to the structure of the home using what is called a ledger board. Instead of bolts, this deck in Littleton was attached using nails.

Nails are inadequate when it comes to providing the safety a deck connection needs. According to Structure Tech Home Inspections, nailed connections are probably the most common cause of deck collapses because they can easily pull out of ledger boards when significant pressure is placed on it.

The ledger board of a deck can usually be seen when accessing the deck from below. If you take a look at your deck from below and only see nails on the board (as opposed to bolts), make sure to call your local deck builder or contractor. Depending on the size of the structure and access to the ledger board, this can be easily fixed.

If you have a deck that you think needs to be replaced or have questions about overall deck safety, please call your local Archadeck Outdoor Living office.

Deck Safety Starts at the House

A few years ago there was a big story here in Richmond about a deck that had collapsed during a weekend barbecue. A group of friends had gotten together to cook out when the deck detached from the side of the house and collapsed. Several people were injured and unfortunately, this is a common occurrence.

In celebration of May’s National Deck Safety month, we want to discuss one of the key components to making a deck safe: the connection to the house. When designing and building a deck for a client, the deck builder has to decide whether to build a free-standing deck or a deck that’s attached to the house via a ledger board. Some homes, such a brick, stone and stucco veneer homes, cannot have attached decks due to code or other site conditions.

For those decks that are attached to the house, a ledger board (band that supports one end of the deck joists) is secured to the house band (horizontal band that’s a part of the house structure). This connection is key to the safety of deck. If it fails, the deck has the possibility of collapsing. As building codes and requirements have changed in the last few years regarding connection, it’s important to have a trained professional come out and inspect your ledger connection. Here are a few things they should be looking for or at:

Flashing – Also known as drip edge, flashing is a material that stops moisture from entering the home. Deck flashing is placed between the house band and the ledger board. An inspector would check to make sure that the flashing is still in place and intact to prevent rot and decay.

Fastener Type and Spacing – Simple nails cannot hold the weight of deck and shouldn’t be used to fasten the ledger board to the house band. ½ inch lag screws or through bolts with washers need to be place 2” from the bottom or top of the ledger and with 1’ of the end. Additionally, they need to be staggered strategically along the horizontal ledger.

Corrosion – With metal fasteners being the keep component to holding your deck together, it’s important to check that all of the pieces are in good working condition. Corrosion can occur over time weakening the system making it more susceptible to breakage or failure.

Rot – Rot is most common at the house band (especially if it isn’t properly flashed), but can also occur along the ledger board. Rot and decay, if not properly inspected and fix can lead to structural decay within your home and ledger failure, causing your deck to collapse.

If you have a deck that is over 7 years old or in questionable condition, we at Archadeck suggest having a trained deck professional come out and inspect the safety of your deck. They will be able to tell you what you need to repair now and what you will need to repair in the coming years. For more information, please visit us at Archadeck.com or contact your local Archadeck office.

Spring Has Sprung. Are your Outdoor Spaces ready?

The time for barbecues, outdoor games and deck sitting is almost here. The grass is turning greener and the flowers are starting to bloom. Just like your house, it’s important to prepare your outdoor living spaces with some spring cleaning and upkeep so you can enjoy it all season long without worry or work. Here are a few tips:

  • Sweep and hose off (or power wash if necessary) your outdoor living structures. Leaves, dirt and other grime can build up on your structures during the cooler months. Wash all of it away and start fresh each spring.
  • Check for safety. If you have an older deck (5+ years), have a professional come out and conduct a deck safety inspection as the winter elements can weaken outdoor living structures. The inspector should check all aspects of the deck including the boards, railings, stairs, etc and give you recommendations on if or when you may need to take action. It will give you piece of mind knowing that your deck is safe when you have guests at your next barbeque.
  • Scrub your outdoor furniture and rugs. No matter where you store your patio furniture, cushions or rugs, they will need some cleaning, but be careful to clean with the proper solution. Wood furniture will require a different cleaner than aluminum or plastic furniture. Read the directions on the bottle to make sure you aren’t going to harm your furniture or outdoor fabrics.

  • Take notice of your landscaping. Are there bushes or trees that have grown into your outdoor living spaces and need to be trimmed? Are there flowerbeds lining your structures that need to be tidied up or freshly mulched? If you do need to do some work, watch out for flowers that may bloom in the spring. For instance, we have azaleas alongside our deck that need to be trimmed, but I’m holding off until the blooms are gone and before they get their buds for next year. Here’s a great guide on when to prune different types of plants.
  • Check your outdoor lighting. Whether you have coach, deck, landscape or overhead lighting, make sure that everything is working properly. Do you need to have any bulbs replaced? Is anything obstructing the light spread?
  • Get the grill ready. Grills often need a good cleaning or tune up after a long season without use. Make sure everything is working properly before you are ready to throw on the burgers and hot dogs.
  • Get rid of any standing water. Unfortunately the warm weather has brought out the mosquitoes earlier this season than usual and they breed in standing water. Tossing over object like dog dishes, kids’ toys and loose tarps will cut down on the breeding sites in your yard (if you have a bad mosquito problem, check out our sister company Mosquito Squad).
  • Enjoy. By spending some time checking and cleaning your outdoor living space you are ready to sit back and enjoy your space throughout the spring and summer months.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.


The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Power Washing Your Deck – the good, the bad and the ugly

With all the warm weather we’ve been having on the East Coast, more and more people are opening their doors and stepping outside. Spring is less than a week away and it’s now time to prepare your outdoor living spaces for the coming months, including, you guessed it, cleaning.

For those who have wood decks, renting a power washer to clean your deck can make a huge difference, but when done incorrectly, it can also result in unwanted damage. We’ve seen some homeowners who had to replace decking boards after trying to power wash their space because they weren’t 100% sure on how to use the machine.

The key word is “power.” It’s called power washing for a reason. That thing is strong! Power washers (or similar machines) are used to clean grimy streets and etch bricks so it’s not surprising that it can do a number on your deck if done incorrectly. Before using the machine on your deck, take it to an area where you can test it and become familiar with the pressure. A driveway, sidewalk or street will work.

The pressure. On most residential projects, you will rarely need a machine that is more than 1500 pounds per square inch. Even that setting may be too much and cause some damage to both wood and composite decking. The only way to tell if the setting is too high is to watch as you clean. If you see more than dirt coming off your deck, turn the setting down.

The nozzle. The nozzle of the pressure washer can be adjusted to different angles so it can be used for multiple purposes. For the standard deck, a 40 to 60 degree fan nozzle setting is best as it spreads out the power over a greater area as opposed to a zero degree setting that would blast your deck too strongly and will damage boards.

Also, it is important to be careful and not stand too closely to the area you are cleaning. You should be able to stand comfortably while spraying the area 3-4 feet in front of you. If you are too close to the surface being power washed, you can cause unnecessary damage to both your deck and yourself. The water can bounce back at you if you are too close.

Here is a great guide from the Family Handyman on how to use a pressure washer efficiently, effectively and safely.

If you have any questions on care or replacement of decks, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Plan Your Outdoor Living Space Now and Enjoy it More this Year

It has been unseasonably warm throughout many parts of the country which makes me look forward to the warm days of Spring and Summer. I’m currently in the process of planning a lot of house projects, trips and events for the upcoming months. Why? Well, for one I’m a type A planner who likes to have things organized, and two, some of these things take time and I want to make sure I can enjoy them to the fullest, like updating my deck. You see, I know my deck needs some TLC and I want to make sure I can spend as much time as possible on it this Spring, so that means I need to get the ball rolling.


If you’re like me and enjoy your outdoor living spaces but are thinking of making some changes or may need to address certain aspects of the space, start now. Depending on what types of updates you would like to make to your outdoor living space, it may take some time.

Do you want new outdoor furniture? Look to see how long it will take to get it ordered and shipped so you have it at the beginning of the season. Some companies may have a quick turnaround while custom orders may take up to 12 weeks.

A custom outdoor living space can take up to three months from the first contact with a contractor through design and permits to the completion of the build. The longer you wait to start the project, the less time you get to enjoy it on the sunny and warm days of Spring and Summer.

Even if you aren’t in the market for a new deck, porch, pergola or gazebo, you may want to have your existing structure inspected for safety. Winter conditions will wear on an outdoor living structure so it is important to have it inspected by a professional if it is older than 5 years. You may not need a full replacement, but you may need some extra screws or a few new boards. A quick inspection now will ensure you can safely use your structure the rest of the year.

Outdoor Living is important to all of us here at Archadeck and we want to make sure you get the most out of your spaces outside. If you have any questions, please visit Archadeck.com.

We're not talking turkey, composites have it all

Have you ever wondered just why things that claim they are “better” than the original often emulate characteristics of the very thing they are touting they are better than?


I use yesterdays breakfast as an example. I was cooking turkey bacon along with eggs and toast for me and my family. Now, turkey bacon does not claim that it is better tasting than the regular pork bacon that we are all familiar with, it does however emulate the “look” of turkey bacon with its perfectly scalloped edging and striping which is added to make the turkey bacon look more like “the real thing”. The turkey bacon is indeed better for us, it is lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol. In the big scheme of things the turkey bacon is better from a health standpoint. I then wondered since it is obviously the better choice then why did the company who made the turkey bacon find it necessary to add the little aesthetic touches to emulate real bacon? After some thought I then realized that every product, material and item we are accustomed to using or consuming comes with an emotional attachment. I believe we are hardwired to perceive things a certain way by the memories we retain from using ,or in the case of the bacon, consuming in the past.


Millions of products on the market have proven to be better than the original. Much the same can be said about composite decking versus wood decking.

Composite decking materials such as AZEK, TimberTech, Trex, Fiberon and many others have successfully emulated the look of real wood. Composites have been tried and true with the advances in technology to be stronger than real wood decking, insect and fungus resistant, mold and mildew resistant and they won’t warp or fade from the elements over time. Many of today’s composites are backed by industry warranties that cover staining and fading in some cases for over 25 years. A deck constructed of quality composite materials becomes a deck that no longer needs laborious maintenance, staining or upkeep. With all these intensely positive attributes of composites, why have they been cultured to emulate real wood? I will tell you why…


Locked deep inside our memory banks is a fond memory that involves wood. It may be your mother telling you not to run around the deck of your backyard pool without your sandals because “you’ll get splinters”. It may be the warmth and aroma created from roasting marshmallows over a bonfire on burning hardwoods while at summer camp. It may be the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you think of visiting grandma’s house on Sundays for fried chicken in her dining room with beautiful wide plank hardwood floors. Wood is part of our heritage. Wood promotes warmth, security and pleasantries within us. The beauty of wood is rustic, earthy and natural.


It is only natural that composites emulate the look of real wood. After all you are getting the best of both worlds with composites, strength, durability and the aesthetics and graining characteristics of real wood, a winning combination indeed.

To find out more about composite decking contact Archadeck today. We can help you decide on the composite deck that is right for your individual tastes and needs. Call us at 888-687-3325 or email us at [email protected] and find out more about the Archadeck difference.

Composites come full circle


Do you want to enjoy your deck and not have to think about splitting, cracking, staining, warping, discoloration, mold, or having to scrub it year after year?

Guess what- you don’t have to. That’s right, with solid PVC decking and composite decking, to a degree, all these worries and chores are a thing of the past.

Composite decking such as TimberTech, AZEK, and Fiberon are worry free, strong, durable and beautiful as well. Archadeck is proud to build with these high quality composite brands to you along with our highly skilled installers and award-winning designs.


Today’s composites provide you with the flexibility and freedom to create designs within the deck itself that just aren’t possible with woods such as pressure treated pine. The design possibilities are endless and are reminiscent of meticulous wood inlays. Composite decking now has the natural look of real woods such as Ipe,cedar and redwood to name a few-and you will never have to stain it.


Today’s composites are also sustainable, being constructed to varying degrees, with recycled materials by using polymer technology. So you not only get a solid, and carefree material, you also get the pride of knowing your deck is eco-friendly as well.

TimberTech’s Earthwood Evolutions has a 25 year stain and fade warranty along with its superior scratch resistance. TimberTech’s XLM composite is designed to withstand heavy traffic and is super slip resistant and a solid choice among composite pool, spa decks and general decks.


AZEK composite decking also boasts superior stain and scratch resistance as well as mold and mildew resistance. It is also long-lasting and durable and comes in many hues to suit even the most discriminating tastes.

Fiberon decking has a 25 year stain and fade warranty as well as offering superior scratch, stain and mold resistance. It also comes in a myriad of true-to-life wood tones that you will have to see to believe.

Seeing is believing when it comes to the composites of today. To see more visit Archadeck or call us today to set up a free design consultation featuring your new composite deck. 888-687-3325

The Hard and Beautiful Truth About Exotic Hardwoods


Brazilian hardwoods- they are beautiful, strong, naturally resistant against insects and durable just to name a few qualities. Brazilian or exotic hardwoods are quite popular in uses such as flooring, decking, furniture making, docks, pool houses, and even to finish out ceiling in structures like" covered porches":https://www.archadeck.com/design-ideas/porches/open-porches-patio-covers/, sunrooms and some homes. Their exotic and intoxicating beauty is unique in its variation and veining as well as their coloring.


Brazilian hardwoods include Brazilian Walnut (Ipe), Brazilian teak ( Cumaru), Brazilian cherry (Jatoba), Brazilian redwood (Masaranduba) and the unmistakable Tigerwood. The natural colors of each of these woods is so desirable and unique it doesn’t require any staining or color additive.

Ipe is possibly one of the hardest woods available on the market today. Ipe is rated to last an astounding 100 years! Ipe has a class A fire rating which is same rating given to concrete as well as steel. Exposure to weather, including moisture has very little effect on the structural quality of the wood, this is why it is a popular choice among dock owners. Archadeck of Maryland recently focused on the use of beautiful Ipe in this blog story about an Ipe deck in Potomac MD.


Tigerwood is another great option when considering exotic hardwoods. Tigerwood will not rot or decay over time. It is also quite disease- and fungus-resistant which make Tigerwood another viable option for use around a pool area, or area that is exposed to moisture. Another great article on Tigerwood was done by Archadeck of Austin, to read more just click the link below…


Even though some hardwoods are better known to consumers such as Ipe and Tigerwood, there are many more of these exotic woods on today’s market. Exotics require different installation than a typical wood application. Pre-drilled holes are required to ensure the decking will not split due to the hardness and resiliency of the wood. All Brazilian hardwoods carry at the very least a 25 year guarantee. We do recommend treating the deck on a regular basis to maintain those rich warm tones. Eventually all exotics will weather to a beautiful silver patina over time.

If you are interested in re-decking or new decking with Brazilian hardwoods. Archadeck has the expertise and experience of working with these exotics. We can design, plan and build your next outdoor structure. Contact us today to see the Archadeck difference. 888-687-3325 or email us at [email protected]

Deck Safety

Each year the North American Deck and Railing Association sponsors a “deck safety month”. The goal is to make people aware of the dangers of not maintaining their current deck, or replacing an older one. Here are some scary facts and figures that I found:

“According to the National Deck and Railing Association, between 2000 and 2006, there have been:

At least 30 deck collapse-related deaths reported.
More than 75 percent of people on a deck are injured or killed when it collapses.
There are 40 million decks in the U.S. that are over 20 years old. At a conservative 1 percent, that means 40,000 decks are currently in need of repair or replacement. Taking that estimate to 10 percent brings the total number of unsafe decks to 4 million.”
Decks and patios are a natural spot were many people congregate to either share a meal, enjoy a party, or countless other reasons. A deck collapsing in the middle of a dinner party would be quite a mood killer! So if your deck is in need of a repair or maybe you are looking into purchasing a new one, check out Archadeck.

How to Maintain Your Deck

So you finally have a deck. It’s just how you always imagined: big, perfectly structured, and well-designed. But how can you maintain your deck so it always looks that great?

Martha Stewart has some basic care tips to help you out:

1. Use a broom made for outdoor surfaces, and sweep as often as needed to eliminate dust and debris.
2. Hose occasionally to remove substances that stain.
3. Start with the gentlest cleaning methods. If these don’t work, try products with stronger chemicals.
4. Before you work with cleaning products or apply stains or sealants, read all directions carefully.
5. Use only natural-bristle or plastic scrub brushes. Metal brushes can scratch surfaces easily and cause staining.
6. Saturate surfaces with water before using cleaning solutions to avoid staining. Never let cleaning solutions dry on surfaces. Cool, overcast days are best for this task.
7. Be certain to rinse all cleaning solutions thoroughly from surfaces with plain water.
8. Avoid power washing, except on concrete. It can save time, but it can also etch some types of brick and soft stone, damage mortar joints, and splinter wood.

To see care tips for specific types of decks, such as brick, concrete, or wood, click here.

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