Posts tagged ‘construction’

Fence bracket install tips

When attaching rails to a fence post  it is important to use a fastener that will survive the corrosion present when using pressure treated ACQ wood. My previous post on ACQ goes into detail about this corrosion.  When attaching an angled rail that will not fit the Simpson FB24Z  bracket I like to use a stainless screw like the one pictured here. The increased pull out resistance afforded by the screw is useful in keeping the rail fast during wind or other stressors.  A typical steel screw will become brittle and frequently snap or shear off in this application, even ACQ rated screws. I also use the stainless screws on the upper fence bracket for this same reason.fence bracket install2

I prefer to use a strap nailer like the one pictured below to attach the lower brackets where the pull-out force is not as great. This gun shoots a 16d 2″ hard galvanized nail. The heavy thickness of this nail and it’s hard galvanized coating ensures it will resist the corrosion present from ACQ treatment. Nail steel is also much more elastic than screw steel and far less likely to become brittle and shear the way a screw might. Careful choice of fasteners is another small detail in constructing a long lasting fence project. There are a wide array of materials available, choosing the correct one for your specific application will ensure a successful install.


Vinyl Fence with the look of real wood!

Vinyl fencing has been a reliable alternative to wood for years. Crisp white finishes always look brand new if kept clean. Some homes and situations are not a good match for that bright white appearance. I just performed an install in just such a situation. The job was further complicated by the desire to have a fence nearly 8 feet tall. A real wood solution was what was originally requested but I suggested the owner look at vinyl, at first they hesitated because white would reflect so much light onto their living space as the backyard was quite small. I showed them some samples of a tan colored vinyl and tongue and groove infill of a product called “Peak”. Peak fencing has a real wood look but all the desirable attributes of vinyl.

One complication with 8 foot fencing is that you must have a permit and engineering, we were able to obtain loading calculations direct from the vendor rather than hire an engineer for the task. This saved us hundreds of dollars in the permitting process. We were able to use a metal insert inside the vinyl posts to obtain the required loading limits for this area.

The customer is very happy with the installation and product, they have the height, privacy and ease of maintenance they were hoping for.

Mixed Review on Elite Deck

I recently installed a deck using a treated lumber product, Elite Deck. I have avoided treated decking in the past because of the tendency of the the fir lumber it is made from to split, cup, and check as it dries. This product comes in three colors and grey was chosen for this project. I was very concerned about this material because of my past experiences with similar products.

My general impression of the material is mixed, I liked the color, it is pleasing and goes good with the color of the home and was uniform. The overall quality of the lumber was below average in my opinion, I can pick a little better grade out of framing lumber at the yard, knot content and straightness was slightly below average for fir lumber. I would expect a decking material to be above average. The efficiency during install was a little low, the material had a tendency to split on the butt joints even when pre-drilled so you will want to budget a little extra lumber if  you choose this product. This sounds overly negative I think but, considering the cost and the lack of needed maintenance down the road it may be worth it. The proof will be if it resists the splitting and cupping that this type of product has been prone to. This particular installation will get a deck cover and that played into the decision for the customer, the sun and UV radiation is the primary problem for this family of decking product.

I took several steps to safeguard this installation. First I tried whenever possible to use the factory butt joint as it has been treated with the chemical solution already. When it was necessary to use a site cut edge I treated it with a end-cut solution as in the installation instructions and followed that with an application of Anchor-Seal. Anchor-Seal is a product that is often used during the installation of hardwoods. It is a liquid paraffin that absorbs into the end grain of lumber. The rapid gain and loss of of moisture through the end grain of lumber is what is responsible for cracking and checking at the end of boards, stopping this by sealing it is an effective way to prevent this type of damage. Lastly, immediately after install I applied a coat of Wolman clear deck sealer to trap the moisture inside the boards to slow the drying. Rapid drying can also lead to surface checking and cracking. This is the opposite technique than that of un-treated decking which you would want to dry completely before you applied a sealer.

If you do not want any maintenance on your deck and are on a budget, treated decking may be a good choice for you, you just should not expect a perfectly defect free surface. Treated decking is excellent in longevity just not high in appearance.

Welcome to the MBA Deck and Fence Blog

Hello and welcome! this blog is designed to provide consumers useful information from a seasoned professional about decking and fencing products. My name is Matthew Aimonetti. I am  a licensed contractor in the state of Oregon ccb#102368 with 20 years experience installing a range of traditional and modern products. I will be blogging about everything from installation techniques, materials, plans and designs, to code and legal issues as they relate to installations. If you have a topic you are interested in you can always request it or email me at phone 503 871 0785 or my web site at The month of June has projects slated using the brand new Trex Tropical colors which are the most life-like palette of composite decking I have yet seen. I will also be installing Trex Accents in a two-ton bordered deck, both decks will feature Trex Hideaway hidden fastners systems. Stay tuned for photos and a walk through of the Hideaway installation process.