Friday, December 30, 2011

Round Decks add Space and Character

Building a round deck has a variety of advantages. A square deck looks simple and boring. Adding a curved feature is not very difficult and will separate your deck from the rest of the boxy decks in your neighborhood. Some people clip corners or add angles to their decks to create an added appeal. Doing this cuts down on usable space and makes it difficult to furnish the deck. A radius front adds additional space for a table or a grill. To learn more about round decks check out our YouTube channel and see how round decks are built.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Deck Design Clarksburg, Maryland

This design is for a customer in Clarksburg, Maryland.  The deck is 24' wide by 16' out from the house at the center of the radius.  A radius or curved front is a good way to maximize space while adding character to your deck.  Two beams with three columns each hold up the 388 sqft deck without taking up too much space below.  A brick paver patio is featured beneath as a future plan.  Space is maximized beneath the deck for future patio level entertaining.  A dry space system can be installed beneath the deck joists to act as roof for the patio area.  The deck features Fiberon Rosewood decking and Shoreline white vinyl handrail system.  A stair system with 4x4 landing make accessing the backyard easy.  The deck has plenty of space for a large table and BBQ area.  Visit our website for more information on deck bulding.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Permitting in Montgomery County


Permitting in Montgomery county just got more difficult and time consuming. When you go to the Montgomery County permitting office in Rockville, Maryland to pull a permit for a screen room or an addition that has a roof larger than 400sqft. a water run off and drainage plan in now needs to be included with your drawings. The process now goes as follows: 1. Check in at help desk 2. Go to zoning for approval 3. Go to water run off planning for approval 4. Go back to zoning with approved water run off plan 5. Go to plan review 6. Check out. The permit process just became an even bigger pain in the neck. Do not attempt yourself, hire a professional. It's well worth it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Screen Porch, Deck, and Patio Design Rockville, Maryland

This Rockville home owner had an existing patio that they did not use very much due to layout and a mosquito problem.  The requirements for the project were 1. a screened in area 2. a deck space for grilling 3. a patio to sun 3. a location for a hot tub.  Design Builders, Inc. created this back yard living space to fulfill the requirements of the client.  A low maintenance screen room featuring Azek Arbor Collection Decking and Ivory PVC trim provides a bug and sun free environment.  A Belgard Brick Patio Paver allows for the customers to take in the sun outdoors.  In a more secluded area of the yard, the client can enjoy their hot tub with added privacy fence and arbor vitae.  All facets of the project feature low maintenance material.  Sight lines are maximized and the property is enhanced by the organic shape of the design.  Both the Patio and Deck are a wonderful investment that will add value to the home for both the current owner and future buyers.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Covered Deck and Patio in Rockville, Maryland

This project features a covered deck pavilion, flagstone patio, and cedar pergola.  A hot tub is installed in the deck with access from the patio in front.  The patio and pavilion are located on the 18th hole of Manor Country club allowing for wonderful views of the 17th green and the 18th hole's tee box.  Low voltage lighting and low maintenance shrubs are installed around the space to soften the lines.  A cedar ceiling with two ceiling fans protect the home owners from the sun on a hot summers day.  The flagstone patio has plenty of room for outdoor dining and recreation.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Screen Porch and Patio Design Annapolis, Maryland

For this Annapolis outdoor living space we have designed a 28' wide by 16' deep low maintenance screen room.  The featured decking is Azek Redland Rose.  The deck is within 30'' of the ground so a handrail is not required by code.  In these circumstances we recommend a divider rail in place of a traditional handrail system.   A divider rail is less obstructive and allows for better views making the deck feel more spacious.   White vinyl is installed on the deck and screen porch structure to protect it from the elements.  A Belgard Paver patio is installed outside the screen room for open air entertaining.  The grill is located next to a block sitting wall providing plenty of horizontal surface to prepare meals.  Plantings and low voltage lighting are installed around the patio making the space a comfortable place to spend time with family and friends.  

Building a Deck or Screen Porch on an Existing Structure

The Importance of Reinforcing Your Outdoor Space

It’s one thing to have an idea for enhancing your exterior living space – it’s another to make sure the project is designed so that it’s properly supported and, therefore, safely constructed. 

Custom Deck

Foundation is everything – while the framing for a deck or screen porch is the least expensive part of a project in comparison to the decking, railing, and trim material, the framing actually accounts for 15 percent of the total project. That percentage, as we will explain, is a small fee to pay to ensure the longevity, optimal design, and proper installation of your outdoor living space.

 We highly recommend removing your existing structure before constructing a new one. Whatever intricacies your design may involve, you’re investing money and time in this outdoor structure – your vision shouldn’t be limited by the constraints of an existing deck or other framework. 

Removing the current standing structure also ensures that your new building project will be crafted safely. New posts and footers will be installed according to the current codes – the existing ones may not pass inspection, and could possibly be decaying beneath ground level due to moisture or other environmental factors. Existing joists that have settled will be difficult to manipulate and could crack or split upon the removal of old decking fasteners. 

It can also be difficult to trust that the existing construction is “in square,” or level, which means that custom cuts and additional trim work will likely be required to ensure that the deck looks right – and that incurs extra costs that you were ultimately trying to avoid by keeping your existing structure as the foundation. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Screen Porch Design in Silver Spring, Maryland


For the project our customer in Silver Spring, MD  had a very old Screen Room that they were not happy with.  The client wanted a bug free environment due to the intense mosquito population in the neighborhood but also an open air space for grilling.  The area beneath the deck(lattice storage space) was to stay in order to house gardening equipment. Design Builders designed a pressure treated screen room and deck with hand rails featuring black Deckorators classic balusters.  The black aluminum balusters make the space feel more spacious than traditional wooden pickets.  There is plenty of room on the interior for entertaining and enough space on the sun deck for grilling.  A landing and stairs allows the home owner to access the backyard.

Custom Screen Enclosure in North Bethesda, Maryland

Custom 16'x16' screen room located in North Bethesda, Maryland.  This project features Redland Rose Azek decking installed with Cortex Plug hidden fasteners.  Oversized 6'' columns are detailed with crown moulding, base moulding and ogee moudling.  Sconces are placed on the columns to provide additional lighting to the overhead ceiling fan that hangs from a cedar beam.  Cedar rafters painted white accent the cedar tongue and groove ceiling. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Screen Porch Design Clarksburg, Maryland

 We were hired to create a simple low maintenance design for a home in Clarksburg, Maryland.  This is the design we came up with for our customer.  The screen room is 20' wide by 12' deep.  The decking is Fiberon Horizon IPE low maintenance decking to be installed with hidden fasteners.  The columns, posts, and railings are all made up of Shoreline White Vinyl handrail system.  The shingles, soffits, and gutters are all installed to match the house.  A Patio beneath allows the home owner to have two exterior spaces to entertain and spend time with family.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Building an Environmentally Friendly Deck

Recommendations for Building a Green Deck

Building Decks in Potomac, Maryland and Northern Virginia can be difficult with all of the different available decking products.  As if thinking about the deck design wasn't enough to worry about there are hundreds of brands and color to choose from.  You need to decide if you want a natural wood deck or a low maintenance options.  If you have decided to go with a low maintenance option you then need to narrow down your choices between a view top products.

Sundeck and Screened Room in Potomac, MD

If your goal is to minimize your carbon footprint but maximize your outdoor living space, there are environmentally friendly decking materials that will allow you to enjoy your deck while also protecting the earth.

For clients who want a true green construction, we recommend Trex Transcend, a high-performance decking made with a unique combination of materials that are 95 percent recycled or reclaimed from wood and plastic and contain no toxic chemicals or preservatives. In fact, Trex Company created the composite decking category, revolutionizing the decking industry.

As for Transcend, it could be said that this composite blends with nature because it isn’t negatively affected by sunlight, harsh weather, or insect damage – some of a deck-owner’s biggest concerns. The two components of the composite itself – plastic and wood – work in conjunction to shield each other from the elements, UV rays, and pests, therefore preventing rotting, warping, cracking, fading, staining, and scratching.

If your outdoor space includes a pool, spa, or hot tub, Trex decking resists moisture and mold, making it an ideal counterpart to your H2O pursuits. And you can feel safe relaxing in your bare feet as the smooth, slip-resistant composition of this decking eliminates worries about splinters or falls.

Often, using green products limits your ability to be creative with your design. But Trex offers natural-looking, rich earth tones in a wide range of colors and finishes – from tan to dark brown, you can create a realistic hardwood appearance or go for subtle elegance with shades of gray. The distinctive wood grain patterns can be mixed and matched to create a truly unique design and matching rail and trim options are available. Another advantage: The decking, though very strong, can be bent to create patterns and curves that are not possible with wood.

Ultimately, everyone wants a quality deck that is going to have longevity – though wood products have a lower upfront cost, Trex wood-alternative products pay for themselves in less than six years because there is minimal maintenance required. Using this weather-resistant decking, you will be free from having to sand, stain, or paint your deck. Only periodic cleanings are recommended to keep this material looking fresh.

So your biggest job? Get outside, soak up the sun, and enjoy your beautiful, environmentally responsible deck.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Round Deck, Paver Patio, and Low Maintenance Screen Room in Potomac, MD

Screen Room, Deck and Patio in Potomac, MD

Custom Round Deck, Paver Patio, and Low Maintenance Screen Room located in Potomac, Maryland. This project was built in Two Phases. First we created the screen room. One year later we came back to build the round Azek deck and the Belgard brick patio. The patio provides ample space to entertain and the sitting wall allows multiple guests to sit while enjoying a meal outside. The screen room, which is is 20x16, has enough space for a large table, chairs, and additional sofa seating. The deck, brick, and trim color match well with the existing house.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Screen Porches Help you Avoid the Bugs in Potomac, Maryland

Screen Porches Help You Avoid the Bugs in Potomac, Maryland

One of the biggest complaints people have about trying to enjoy the outdoors while sitting on their deck? Bugs. Stink bugs, flies, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, mosquitoes – these stinging and flying insects native to Maryland force you to arm yourself with bug spray, flyswatters, and citronella candles when you’re outside.

What if you didn’t need all those supplies? What if you could enjoy the fresh air without having to worry about what’s buzzing around your head?

A screen porch is the answer.

If you’re irritated by outside pests, you probably don’t use your deck as often as you’d like. Making the decision to add screens and roofing to your deck expands your living space tremendously and increases your range of outdoor activities. Work, read, or play with your kids without worrying about bug bites. Plan a cookout with family and friends and actually eat outside without having to swat away bothersome bugs. Socialize during the day or night shielded from pests. Not to mention, with lighting and ceiling fans in your screen porch you can be even more comfortable outdoors than you ever thought possible.

To insure that your screen porch will truly be a bug-free zone, we install screens below your existing decking – there won’t be any errant pests buzzing up through the boards – as well as in the roof soffits and all open bays. The Andersen 3000 series storm doors we install will also keep the bugs away.

Adding livable square footage to your home is one of the best investments you can make, and in this area where the climate is temperate throughout the fall, you can comfortably use your screened-in deck for at least nine months of the year.

Check out the best of our screen porches in Potomac, Maryland – view this video of one of our latest and most innovative screen porch designs.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Video Walkthrough of Custom Screen Room in Potomac, MD

screen_porch_testimonial.m4v Watch on Posterous
This is a video walk through of a custom screen room project completed in Potomac, MD.  

Maryland and Virginia Rainfall Calls for a Covered Deck

Maryland and Virginia Rainfall Calls for a Covered Deck

In Maryland and Virginia we get tons of rain every year during every season. Building a deck is a great addition to your home but it doesn't protect you from the weather.

There are two additions to your home that bring with them solutions to weather problems: a covered deck and a screened-in porch. Both of these options allow you to use your outdoor space during rainy days as well as snowy days, if you’re happy to bundle up in the bitter cold.

Nearly every part of Maryland and Virginia receives approximately four inches of rain per month, while the annual rainfall in our state ranges from 35 to 45 inches. The average winter snowfall for our area exceeds 20 inches. If you’re a resident of this region, this isn’t news to you.

All of this precipitation can lead to potential damage on your home. Not to mention it can be downright depressing to be cooped up in your house day after day while rain and snow take their toll and hamper your ability to breathe in some fresh air.

There are many advantages to the roof addition to your deck – you won’t have to cancel a gathering or move it indoors because of rain. You can read, relax, work, or play with your kids on your screened-in porch, rain or no rain. A deck roof also protects you from the sun.

As for wintertime, you know those snow piles that look so soft and fluffy white at first can turn into a slushy, melting mess. A deck roof keeps snow that could have built up on your deck away from doors, minimizing any chances of interior water damage.

Want to know more about how to protect your home from water damage? Watch our video about how to waterproof your Maryland deck.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Screen Porch in Potomac, MD

This is a view of the interior of a custom screen room built in Potomac, Maryland.  Cathedral ceilings are accented with two open gables, trimmed beams, and a decorative ceiling fan.  Pine bead board is installed and stained.  We do not recommend staining pine as it is difficult to take, but that was the mandate of our client.  Oversized columns and decorative circles are installed for an extra detail.  Brazilian IPE flooring in installed inside and out.

Screen Porch in Potomac, MD

This is an exterior view of a custom screen room build in Potomac, Maryland.  It has a hip roof with two gables built in to provide additional light.  Brazilian Ipe floorings and wrought iron handrails make the room attractive.  A bronze standing seam roof keeps the rain out!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Low-Maintenance Decking in Maryland and Virginia

If you’re planning on investing in a deck, then a low-maintenance, high-enjoyment lifestyle is certainly your goal. Maryland and Virginia pressure treated wood decks need to be cleaned, stained, and cared for on an annual basis to ensure that they last. In the Washington DC metropolitan area we experience four seasons. This makes it difficult for decks to age with tremendous maintenance. No doubt you’ve wondered if there are other options that will minimize upkeep responsibilities and increase your free time.

For our customers interested building decks in Maryland and Virginia, we recommend Fiberon Horizon Decking as an alternative to pressure treated wood decking. You want a deck that will last? Fiberon Horizon Decking is covered by a 25-year performance and stain-and-fade warranty. Fiberon decking is also imbued with PermaTech Innovation, a cutting-edge technology that offers unrivaled resistance to stains, scratches, splinters, fading, decay, termites, and mold.

Fiberon began as a manufacturer of wood-plastic composite decking, their goal was to conquer the market of alternative decking materials. After a few key acquisitions, Fiberon began to compete with Trex decking and Azek decking while continuing to innovate, notably with their Horizon decking and its traditional composite decking core for strength and unprecedented surface material that resists wear and tear.

To satisfy the green-friendly component, Horizon is produced in an energy-efficient, virtually waste-free manufacturing process and composed of over 50 percent recycled materials. Fiberon Decking has a wide variety of colors available. Staining your Horizon deck is unnecessary as this product is available in six rich, fade-resistant shades – IPE, Rosewood, Tudor brown, Castle Gray, Bronze, and Slate.

Fiberon decking is easy to install. And if you make an error in installation, simply flip the board and start again – Horizon boards have been engineered to be reversible; their design offers identical grains on both sides, therefore creating less waste. Another bonus: Horizon railing is available to complement all decking colors, and also features a smooth, low-maintenance exterior to protect against the elements, from sunlight to snow.

Outdoor living is growing is a way of life in the Mid Atlantic – an outdoor living space is both a wonderful addition to your home and a proven investment . Now you can have the recreation area you want, without any added drudgery.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Build a Screen Porch To Get Away From Rain and Snow

Decks in Maryland Are Useless in the Rain and Snow.  Build a Screen Porch!

There are two upgrades to your outdoor living space that bring with them solutions to weather problems: a covered deck and a screened-in porch. Both of these options allow you to utilize your outdoor space during rainy days.  Home owners in Maryland and Virginia have found safe haven under covered decks and screen porches during the nastiest of storms, allowing them to use their outdoor living space regardless of the weather conditions.

Almost all of Maryland receives approximately four inches of rain per month, as the annual rainfall in our state ranges from 35 to 45 inches. The average winter snowfall for our area exceeds 20 inches. If you’re a Maryland resident, this isn’t news to you – our state is one of the wettest.

As for wintertime, you know those snow piles that look so soft and fluffy white at first can turn into a slushy, melting mess. A deck roof keeps snow that could have built up on your deck away from doors, minimizing any chances of interior water damage.

The upside of being kept dry by your covered deck prevents you from being a slave to the Maryland weather – you won’t have to cancel a party or move it indoors because of rain. You can read, relax, work, or play with your kids in your screened-in porch, rain or shine. A deck roof also protects you from the sun, which many of our customers want so they can still appreciate being outside without worrying about harmful rays.

Want to know more about how to protect your home from water damage? Watch our video about how to waterproof your Maryland deck.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Deck Building in Maryland and Virginia During the Winter

Deck Building in Maryland and Virginia During the Winter

Building a Deck in Maryland and Virginia during the winter is actually one of the best times to invest in a new deck.

Perhaps you’ve put off any upgrades to your backyard because you have concerns about your yard. With grass and plants dormant during the winter in the Mid-Atlantic, you won’t have to worry about workmen trampling your flowers or lawn. But when that warm weather does come streaming through, having the beauty of a deck to factor into your springtime planting will give you new opportunities to indulge your creative green thumb.

Deck construction can be expensive. While you can always find affordable options, during the coldest months of the year you will be able to take advantage of discounted pricing. Deck builders need to work year-round! But when the winter hits and the frigid winds kick in, the last thing you may be thinking about is sitting outside in the elements. However, that’s when deck builders have their slowest schedules so your opportunities for discounts are more available than they would be at any other time of year. Click here to learn more about Design Builders’ cold-weather discounts.

And once your deck is complete, you’ll need deck and patio furniture. Retail stores offer deck furniture and amenities at lower prices during the winter season. You can get tables, chairs, chaises, umbrellas, and other deck furniture for a fraction of their original price during the off-season.

Clearly, the advantages of building a deck in winter are many. And nothing will be as sweet as having a stunning outdoor living space to enjoy once that first warm spring day arrives.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deck Design In Potomac, MD

You want a new deck, screened-in porch, upgraded outdoor space, or interior renovation. You can visualize your final project. But it's difficult to make those dreams a reality. That’s where Design Builders come in.

Once you’ve contacted Design Builders  to get a free consultation for your project, how do you convey your wishes? And how long does it take to receive a visual representation of your proposed project?

Our initial project consultation can be done in one of two ways: in your home, or online via the web conferencing software GoToMeeting. During this meeting, we work on-the-spot to design your project, getting your direct and immediate feedback. If time doesn’t allow us to develop the design in the initial meeting, we will have it to you within 48 hours.

Through our 3D color renderings, our clients get the first true look at what their project will become and how it will enhance their home. All of our customers have the option to purchase a set of permit-ready building plans for 5 percent of the final project estimate. If you choose to build with Design Builders, that 5 percent is credited to your deposit.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Choosing the Right Materials for Your Deck

In many of our deck constructions, we install AZEK Decking, a low-maintenance decking alternative to wood and composite. It’s a superior, stain-resistant material made of PVC that is also resistant to scratches, splits, mold, mildew, moisture, and insects. As a durable, long-lasting material, AZEK decking is an especially smart choice for customers who plan to be in their home long-term and are looking for a way to save on the maintenance costs for their deck.

AZEK’s appeal also lies in their wide variety of decking colors – from white to gray, red to brown, over 10 different shades are available to blend with the look of your home. And because AZEK enables you to avoid wood construction, you’ll also avoid the need for regular staining – your chosen deck color will have the same kind of impressive longevity as the deck itself.

Choosing the right deck materials is just one of the crucial ingredients for your outdoor construction. There’s more: Learn the five most important tips for planning your next deck. 

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Decks Building is an Investment

A deck addition is an easy way to add additional living space to your home. In Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia homeowners can expect to use their deck for 9 to 10 months out of the year. By using low maintenance decking home owners can expect 20-25 years out of the deck project.

Not only is a deck a wonderful place entertain friends it's also an investment in your home. Installing a deck may be the most cost-efficient way to add square footage to your house, and of all the outdoor home improvements, it may be the most reliable value.

"It's safe to say that a deck is one of the more cost-effective things you can do," says Robert Markovich, home and yard editor for Consumer Reports. "Decks are really a high-return item."

Most homeowners think a master bathroom or kitchen upgrade is the best investment when it comes to remodeling. However, Remodeling Magazine's "Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2009-2010" found that more than 80% of the cost of building a wooden deck could be recouped during resale — compared with 71% for a bathroom remodel and 72% for a family room addition.

Before deciding which home improvement item to tackle, make sure you take into consideration both your long term plans and short term needs. Building a deck might be the most enjoyable short term options and the most best long term investment. To learn more on how to plan your next deck project watch our videos on deck planning.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Build a Deck and Earn Money

2012 Design Builders Referral Program

Refer Design Builders, Inc. to a friend or family member and earn $500! Here at Design Builders, Inc. we try to find ways to add value to our projects and provide our customers with ways to save on projects. We offer our 5% winter discount for projects sold during the year and built during the winter months(December-February). Customers can save further dollars by following Design Builders, Inc. on Twitter and 'liking' Design Builders on FaceeBook. Now we are introducing our 2012 Referral program starting in December of 2011. If you refer a friend or family member to Design Builders, Inc., and they sign a remodeling contract with a value greater than ten thousand dollars, then you will earn your choice of a $500 Visa Gift Certificate or a $500 credit towards future work performed by Design Builders, Inc. Get the word out to friends and family via Facebook and starting collecting on Gift Certificates for the Holiday Season!

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Building Decks in Maryland and Virginia

Deck Building Process

When building a deck, there is a specific process that must be followed. There are four  main components  to deck building. These four components include the footings, framing, decking, and railing. Each part of the process is equally important.

The footings are required to be below the frost line set by local code. This will vary based on location. In most parts of Maryland and Virginia, for example, the frost line is between 24”-30” below grade. The building crew must dig footings below this level and ensure that the width of the footings are according to the permitted set of plans. A footing inspection is required prior to pouring the concrete.

Screened Porch in Potomac, MD

When framing the deck it is extremely important to properly flash the ledger board.  The flashing keeps water from entering the house.   The flashing should be one layer of vinyl or copper installed between the ledger board and house.  Flashing is always installed behind the siding.   Most carpenters start by installing the ledger board at the house. The next step is the temporarily install the outside joists.  The beams are then temporarily installed beneath the joists at the precise level.  Once the deck has been squared and the beams and joists are level, the carpenters will install the supportive columns that carry the beams, and install the remaining joists. 

Decking installation is usually one of the fastest aspect of a decking project depending on the pattern. It is important to install any product according to the manufacturers specifications. Failure to do so may result in a voided warranty. Decking should be installed with screws regardless of what type of decking you are putting down. This will ensure the longevity of your deck.

Railing is the final phase of deck construction. Rail post should be bolted properly and any required blocking should be added to the framing below to ensure stability. The standard height for residential railings are 36”common code requires that no space in the railing be greater than 4”.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

News About Potomac Maryland

Potomac elementary scores well on tests despite a building in need of upgrades

Ranked most in need of improvement, Cold Spring’s students don’t slip up
by Andrew Ujifusa (Montgomery Gazette)
Cold Spring Elementary Principal Martin Barnett stands across from one of the walls that doesn\'t reach the ceiling at his school, which recently was rated as the lowest-ranked school in terms of educational and physical infrastructure by Montgomery County Public Schools. Barnett agreed that the Potomac school\'s design is unusual, but said does not affect the ability of students to learn.

Cold Spring Elementary Principal Martin Barnett stands across from one of the walls that doesn't reach the ceiling at his school, which recently was rated as the lowest-ranked school in terms of educational and physical infrastructure by Montgomery County Public Schools. Barnett agreed that the Potomac school\'s design is unusual, but said does not affect the ability of students to learn.

At Potomac’s Cold Spring Elementary School, some classrooms are separated by walls that don’t reach the ceiling. Teachers are instructed to direct their voices away from the partitions so they don’t intrude on adjacent rooms.

In many ways, the 380-student school, built in 1972, represents buildings from a different generation — those put up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when an echo baby boom took place and forced several schools to be built quickly, noted its principal of 18 years, Martin Barnett.

Cold Spring’s unorthodox design (it’s shaped like an “H”) contributed to its recent dubious distinction — it was recently rated by the school system as having the worst infrastructure out of the 34 county elementary schools that have not been modernized since 1985.

Four Local Girl Scouts Earn Top Award

Four local girls from Potomac-based Girl Scout Troop 3288 have been recognized by the national organization for their leadership, community service and advocacy.

Waterproof screen room built beneath a low maintenance deck in Potomac Md

Sundeck and Screened Room in Potomac, MD

Custom decks come in many shapes and sizes.  Screen rooms do not always need to be above the deck.  Screen rooms can be added beneath the deck with waterproofing systems.  If there is space for a patio beneath your deck then you can add a waterproofing system a turn your deck into a roof.  This project features a brick patio paver base with the screen room built beneath an Azek deck.  Shoreline handrails are installed above to keep the deck safe and blend with the beauty and luxury of this Avenel neighborhood. 

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Deck Lighting

Deck Lighting

A very popular feature on custom decks is accent lighting. This can give your deck a very elegant appearance and provide safety. Accent lighting on decks is generally a low voltage lighting system. This makes installation easier as it does not require an electrical permit. The two most common places you will see low voltage accent lighting is on rail posts and stair risers. Due to recent code changes, staircases on decks are now required to be properly illuminated to avoid safety hazards. This has made decorative riser lights a popular choice.

Screen Porch in Clarksburg, MD

Malibu Lighting is a very popular manufacturer of these products. They offer a wide variety of styles and colors. Malibu has a strong reputation and warranty and their products are easy to install. The light fixtures attach to low voltage wire with a connector mechanism. The wire forms a loop and ends at the transformer. The transformer has a timer built in so the lights can be set to your own customized schedule. Most people set the timer to come on at dusk and off by 11pm-12pm. You are also able to operate the lights by a manual switch in the transformer box. Be sure that the transformer selected is the correct wattage. Each light purchased will have a total number of watts needed to operate on the package purchased. For example: If you have 10 light fixtures and each fixture requires 7 watts each, then you will need a transformer of a minimum 70 watts. It is always a smart idea to exceed the minimum. Take a look at the links below to see low voltage deck lighting options:

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Custom Decks in Maryland: Waterproofing you under deck area

Under Deck Waterproofing Systems  

Many deck owners want to create usable space below their deck. Whether this space is used for entertaining or storage, under deck waterproofing systems are being installed on many projects. There are several systems that are currently on the market. Dry Snap, Rain Escape, and Dry Space are a few after market options.

Dry Snap is ideal for existing decks that need to be waterproofed. This product is installed below the existing deck framing. The biggest disadvantage of Dry Snap is that the waterproofing system acts as both the water protector and the finished ceiling as well.  This makes it difficult to add lights or ceiling fans to the area below.  Dry Snap states on their website that installing fans and lights is possible, but after attempting on various projects, we've found this to be nearly impossible.

Both Rain Escape and Dry space system are a better option if you are adding the water proofing system at the same time as deck construction.  These product have to be installed during the construction of deck prior to installing the decking boards. Both systems include plastic joist bays directing water flow away from the house to a gutter located at the perimeter of the deck.  The disadvantage is that you have to later cover the system with a separate ceiling cover adding addition cost.

Our preferred method is to custom build water trophs using EPDM rubber membrane.  EPDM is a rubberized roofing system used in flat roof applications and can also be used for waterproofing decks as well. A sheet of rubber drapes over the joist bays directing water to the gutter similar to the Rain Escape system.  The advantage to the EPDM system is the cost is less and the rubber sheets are easier to work with making custom decks(non-square) much easier to waterproof.   

To learn more see our video on how to water proof a deck:

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Custom Deck Options: Hidden Fasteners

Decking Hidden Fasteners

Using hidden fasteners to install deck boards is becoming  very popular and is standard operating procedure on Design Builders deck projects. Consumers prefer hidden fasteners to avoid the appearance of unsightly nails or screws on the surface of the deck and to create a more finished looking product.   There are several different method, products, and systems. The most popular ways to install decks with a hidden fastener system include  Tiger Claw, Biscuit Joining, Cortex Plugs, and Camo Hidden Fastening System.

Azek Deck Maryland

The Tiger Claw system is used for wood and some maintenance free product. It fastens the side of the board to the joist. This system is ideal for deck products that do not come pre-grooved.  We find that this method is more labor intensive.  The Tiger Claws screws are also quite expensive, so we do recommend using this method.

Biscuit joining fastens from the side of the deck board to the joist as well as well. The small oval shaped "biscuits" are ideal for boards that come pre grooved. If using this method on boards that do not have a groove already, you have to create a groove using a biscuit joiner.  Using this system is best on hardwoods that do not readily take screws.  Most IPE and Mahogany come pre-grooved, so this is our preferred method for those products.

Cortex Plugs are a hidden fastening system that is used for Azek and Trex  decking products. This system recesses the screws approximately 3/8" below the surface of the deck board. You then install the color matching plugs in the holes that is created. The final appearance eliminates the visibility of screw heads.  This is great to use on stairs and end boards where the angled screws and other hidden fasteners cannot be used.  However, using this to install an entire deck is pricey because the Cortex Plugs, screws, and bits are very expensive.

The Camo hidden fastening tool fastens the deck boards in a similar way to hardwood flooring. It angles screws from the side of the deck boards. The tool acts as a guide for the screw to ensure that they are at the correct angle.  This, in our opinion, is the best hidden fastener system. Each deck board gets two screws per joist insuring that the deck is properly fastened, the installation is just as fast as screwing the deck down, and the screws themselves do not need to be stainless steel which makes this option the most economical.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Deck Styling in Potomac, MD

Deck Styling: Options to think about when customizing your deck design

The overall design of a deck is critical to the finished appearance. There are many different things to take into consideration when creating your customized deck design. Instead of square corners, many people agree that a 45 degree cut corner is a much nicer approach. This is an easy and inexpensive way to make your deck stand out.  A simple deck elevation change is another great way to add appeal on larger deck projects.

Decking patterns are a great way to enhance the appearance of your deck as well. Most decks have the decking parallel to the rear house wall. Diagonal decking is a great way to give your deck appeal and make it look larger. This can be done in one direction or multiple directions depending on the size of your project. The picture frame border around the perimeter of the deck is another great option not only for appearance, but structurally as well.  Running boards on an angle actually gives your deck more strength.  You also have the choice of using a different color for the border, which can be a very nice touch at no extra cost.

Screen Room, Deck and Patio in Potomac, MD

There are several different ways that staircases can be designed as well. A standard staircase with closed risers is always a nice option and now code in Montgomery County, MD. Some other ideas for staircase design are pyramid style and flared stairs. The pyramid style involves the steps wrapping around a corner creating the look of an actual pyramid. The flared style starts at approximately 4' wide at the top of the stairs and gets wider on the way down.

Design Builders, Inc.

8315 North Brook Ln. #205 Bethesda, MD 20814

(301)875-2781 Decks in Maryland by Design Builders Inc.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Deck falls in Potomac Maryland

The Importance of flashing for Decks in Maryland
flash1.pngI cannot stress the importance of properly installed flashing for any deck or screen porch project.  The severe weather of the Washington Metropolitan area will destroy any unprotected wood.  If your deck is not flashed properly you are putting yourself and your family in harm’s way.  Last year I did over 200 deck estimates.  The majority of these estimates included either the demolition and removal of an existing deck or an addition to an existing deck.  More than 50% of the decks I visited were not flashed and open to rain and snow damage.  It’s a crime that  a contractor would not take thirty minutes and install flashing properly.  The material does not cost very much and the installation is quite simple.

However, left undone you leave the deck vulnerable to many problems such as mold invasion and deck collapse.  There are  two materials we recommend using to properly flash a deck, copper and vinyl.  We tend to use vinyl because of the cost factors.  The flashing material is going to come in contact with pressure treated wood, so the flashing needs to be resistant to the corrosion that ACQ materials may cause.  If you stick to vinyl and copper, you will be OK.

There are three steps to installing flashing correctly.  First, the siding must be cut away in the area where the ledger board is to be installed.  DeckFall-124x150.jpgSecond, the flashing must go behind the siding.  You want the flashing to be approx. 6” above(behind the siding & ledger) your ledger board.  Once the first piece of flashing is installed you can attached the pressure treated ledger board sandwiching the flashing to the house.  The final step is to install a piece of ‘L’ flashing that sits on the ledger board and goes behind the siding.  This piece keeps water from entering the house and flowing in front of the ledger.  The first piece is for added protection.
Design Builders Recommendation: Look at your deck.  If your ledger board is ‘sandwiched’ to the siding and the siding has not been cut away, you are set up for disaster.  Water IS going inside your house.  You may have mold growing that you  do not know about and the structural members of your outside wall are facing water damage.  Call Design Builders Inc. for a free consultation.

From August 25, 2011