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.