Thank you for visiting www.GreatMortgageAdvice.com By Cecilia Ramos
For more living space without paying for the cost of an addition or just to add some outdoor living, consider a deck.
Before contacting a contractor, do some homework.
Make sure that you know what you want regarding colour, material, style and size. Once the job is completed it (may) be too late to make changes, and if changes can be made they will be costly.
Along with cedar and pressure-treated lumber, there are a number of synthetic and composite materials that can look like wood but offer pluses that the natural stuff cannot. These non-wood products do not splinter, warp or rot. They are commonly used and can be seen on some boardwalks at the shore and on park benches. There even are steel products in the mix to choose from.
“If (homeowners) plan on meeting with more than one contractor, it is extremely important that they ask for identical scopes of work, this makes comparison more accurate. Otherwise there is no standard for comparing the estimates they receive.
Make sure the contractor is professional in every regard, returns calls promptly and is a deck specialist with thorough knowledge of products, techniques, codes and best practices. Also, ask for recent references from deck customer and be wary of a contractor whose last three projects are not related to deck building.
Always keep in mind the three R’s of hiring: references, reputation and reliability. Also, make sure to get proof of insurance.
Anyone who wants to build a deck themselves will need a permit—along with strong carpentry and masonry skills.
This is not one for the weekend warrior who happened to see a show on TV and thinks that it will be easy.
Having a helper is important, as two people are needed at key times to place and fasten boards. Among the tools needed are: a circular saw, a 4-foot level, work table, drill, shovel to dig for footings, mixing tub for cement and mason’s tools. A 12-inch radial-arm saw instead of the circular saw makes things a lot easier.
Homeowners who demolish an existing deck before a contractor builds a new one can save $750 to $1,000.
REPAIR OR REPLACE?
Some existing decks may get by with a repair instead of replacement.
Look at the frame and supports to see if they are in good condition, if the frame and/or supports are rotting, then it is time to replace the deck. It the problem is a question of a few bad boards, broken rails or steps, then a deck could be repaired.
Within reach of less skilled homeowners are repairs.
Time and weather can damage wood, and it often shows most on the floor planks, top rails and where steps meet the ground.
The easiest fix is if the wood is screwed in—not nailed—and the boards are straight runs (no angles). Use a drill with appropriate bit to take out screws and remove boards.
To remove nails, use a hammer to drive the blunt end of a pry tool (claw bar) under nail heads. This will expose the heads, allowing for a claw hammer to pull them out. For top rails that are nailed, strike from below with a hammer to loosen.
For boards with no angle cuts, measure length needed, cut new wood and install with 2-inch deck screws.
For angle cuts—almost always at 45 degrees—cut one end of new wood at a 45, put into open space on deck and mark the other end to fit. Cut another 45 at the marking, then install board.
The same steps apply for top rails.
For stringboard—the angled, vertical pieces that hold up the steps (treads)—carefully remove the damaged wood. New stringboard can be bought pre-cut; buy a piece that can accommodate the same number of steps fastening stringer to the side board in the same fashion the previous one was, place patio block or similar underneath it so that the wood does not come into contact with the ground. Lay a level from one stringboard to the other to check for levelness. Cut new treads to length and fasten with screws.
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Argentum Mortgage and Finance 11892