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.

088Is 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. Take a look here:

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.

Austin_Deck_Oddo_Odom Jimmy_Before 2This 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.

Austin_Deck_Oddo_Odom Jimmy_After 3The 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!

Austin_Deck_Oddo_Odom Jimmy_After 1Pressure-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 office.

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:

photo

And this is what we have now:

Archadeck-building

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.

TimberTech-benchThe 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. Continue reading

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! Continue reading

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.

deck construction

Make sure you pick a contractor that will complete the backyard of your dreams, without hassle

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.

This rendering shows the rounded deck design that Archadeck of Central Georgia was envisioning. The 3D image allowed the homeowners to see what the project would look like before the built it.

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.

Make sure your deck is safe for your friends and family

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.