Posts tagged ‘fence contractor’

Protecting metal components from ACQ pressure treated wood.

It is important to understand that the corrosive nature of ACQ treated wood comes from electrolysis, not a low PH(acid) quality of the lumber. One of the easiest ways to use a non ACQ rated metal component is simply to insulate it from the copper in the treated wood with an adhesive flashing barrier. This interrupts the conductivity between the steel component and the copper in the wood. This is actually a building code approved method for when a hanger or other engineered component that is unavailable in a resistant form must be used. In the photo you can see how I have bedded the post with a strip of Vycor “deck protector and then scored the outline of the hinge to remove the excess flashing around the hinge. You can learn more about ACQ and electrolysis in my related post below.

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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.

Wood or composite? The most often asked question by prospective deck owners.

The most oft asked question I receive as a decking installer is should I use a composite or real wood? Synthetic decking solutions have been on the market for close to 25 years now and are pretty much a known quantity at this point. In the early days there was some trial and error and for a while everyone wanted to be a decking manufacturer. This led to some not so great products. The market has weeded out the wanna-be’s and I feel a synthetic deck is really the way to go. There are certain home styles and individual tastes that really prefer real wood but, if long term cost and ease of maintenance is your primary criteria composite or PVC decking is the best choice.

The major manufacturer’s have very convincing simulated wood grain products available now with some creative fastening methods. I just installed a small deck with Trex Tropical decking in the color Spiced Rum, and it is truly gorgeous. We used the Hideaway hidden fastener system and the lack of screws in the surface really adds to the appearance.  Azek’s PVC Acacia color is great, as well as several colors in TimberTech’s palette.  Of course you pay a premium for these cutting edge colors but, many of the more basic patterns are barely more than wood.

Why not wood? I know that some individuals will give loving care to their deck and enjoy meticulously sanding and staining it every year giving them unparalleled beauty however, most customers with today’s busy lifestyles and troubled economy report that their main concerns are ease of maintenance and cost. I have found that with the narrowing of the gap in price between composite/PVC decking and wood decking that the price difference is usually bridged in either the first or second application of stain. Staining and especially re-staining a deck is a laborious and expensive task and that cost continues to accrue throughout the lifespan of the structure. Composite and PVC requires only a twice yearly rinsing with a dilute bleach solution to maintain it’s appearance. It takes about twenty minutes and costs about fifty cents per application. Ten years down the road a owner may have restained   wood as many as 5-10 times possibly costing several thousand dollars and it will still look like a 10 year old deck whereas the composite/PVC deck will look essentially the same as when it was installed. This preserves the value of the home and is often listed in the bullet points on a realtors listing of a home.

I hope this answers the question for prospective deck buyers and builders, it’s not so much a definitive answer as a question back at the consumer, what are your expectations? your aesthetic tastes? what kind of a commitment are you willing to make to maintenance? are you looking for short or long term expense? Answering those questions should put you much closer to a decision on your best decking type. My next blog post will explore the difference between standard composites and PVC and co-extruded decking choices. Stay tuned or e-mail me your specific questions.