So, you’ve found some great pictures of decks and deck designs that you think will fit perfectly into your backyard. You’re ready to call a deck building contractor, or so you think. You have an idea of what you want your deck to “look” like, but what about its construction? Do you really know what you’re buying?
There are substructure issues that need to be considered when preparing for a deck renovation. Your deck’s substructure plays a critical role in its overall structural safety and durability. For example, have you considered under deck preparation or which type of building material to use for your joists, beams and posts?
Under Deck Preparation
- Rainfall and melting snow can accumulate below your deck. It is important that any drainage issues be considered before the deck is built.
- Depending on the space under your deck, you may need to protect the area from critters that might consider moving in and calling it home.
- If you’re using wooden joists, you want to make sure that there will be enough airflow in order to prevent mildew and rot on your joists and posts.
- Depending on the character of your deck, steps may need to be taken to prevent anything from growing under your deck. One way this can be done is with landscaper’s fabric covered by gravel.
This list is not all-inclusive. These are just some of the things that can be done to ensure that your deck provides you with the longest lifespan possible.
You’re still thinking, “When do I get to the good part where I get to choose colours, outdoor lighting and features, etc.?” Not so fast. We still need to discuss the building material for the deck’s joists, beams and deck support posts.
Deck Building Material
In the past you had a choice between wood and wood. Wood is a tried and true building material but it does have its inherent drawbacks. In particular, it is susceptible to splitting, warping, shifting, rot and mildew, and pests like termites. Although, with proper construction practices and maintenance, these risks can be minimized, wood still cannot offer some of the benefits of the new triple-coated steel alternatives like that offered by Trex.
Steel is not affected by the above problems and its greater strength allows for longer spans and, therefore, more creative deck design alternatives. It is also chemical free and noncombustible. Steel joists, beams, and posts create a solid substructure for your deck and set you up for years of hassle-free enjoyment.
Rosario Ungaro, founder of Benchmark Building Services Inc., combines his commitment to traditional craftsmanship with the latest in building materials and techniques to bring your interior and exterior home renovation visions to life.