Deck Builders’ Secrets: Tips for a Long-Lasting Deck

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Adding a deck to your home? Before you start, consider the long-term maintenance and durability of your deck. Building a deck is a popular home improvement project, but it’s often done poorly, leading to sagging, rotting, and unattractive decks within just a few years. Many decks, even those built by professionals, last only about 20 years.

Why settle for a deck that won’t stand the test of time? The deck builders at Royal Decks in Atlanta believe in constructing decks that last for decades. Here are their top secrets to help you build a long-lasting deck that remains beautiful, safe, and sturdy for years to come.

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Start with the Right Materials for a Durable Deck

Choosing the right materials is essential for building a deck that lasts. Here are some of the best options:

  • Pressure-Treated Lumber: This is the most common deck material. It’s treated to resist rot, insects, and decay, making it affordable and easy to work with. However, it may warp, twist, or crack over time, and recent price increases should be noted.
  • Composite Decking: Made from wood fibers and recycled plastic, composite decking is durable and low maintenance. It resists rot, insects, and decay, and while more expensive than pressure-treated lumber, it requires minimal upkeep.
  • PVC Decking: This 100% synthetic material is another durable, low-maintenance option. It resists rot, insects, and decay and is eco-friendly. Though pricier than pressure-treated lumber, PVC decking is ideal for homeowners seeking minimal maintenance.
  • Exotic Hardwoods: Woods like Ipe, Cumaru, and Tigerwood are incredibly durable and naturally resistant to rot, insects, and decay. These hardwoods can be more expensive and challenging to work with, but they offer unmatched beauty and longevity. They require regular maintenance to maintain their appearance but can last for decades with proper care.

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Build on a Strong Deck Foundation

Building a sturdy new deck starts with a solid foundation. Here’s how to ensure your deck stands the test of time:

  • Avoid shortcuts: Don’t settle for laying down paving stones and building directly on top.
  • Use Sonotubes: Pour concrete piers using 12-inch Sonotubes. These tubes help ensure uniform, solid foundations.
  • Dig below the frost line: Ensure each pier is plumb and reinforced with concrete fiber.
  • Strengthen with a concrete vibrator: Use this tool during the pour to increase the density of the piers.
  • Elevate the deck: Ensure piers stick up above the soil, leaving at least eight inches of space between the ground and the underside of your deck to prevent moisture damage.

Build a Strong Deck Frame

You want to build a deck frame that will stand the test of time, providing a solid foundation for your deck to sit on. Here’s how to ensure your deck frame is up to the task:

  • Follow Engineering Standards: Deck frames need to be strong and properly engineered. Use online span calculators to determine the appropriate thickness for beams and joists based on the species of wood, lumber dimensions, and deck size. This ensures your deck won’t sag over time.
  • Use Proper Materials: For a 16-by-19-foot deck, for example, you might need 6- by 12-inch beams and 2- by 10-inch joists. Adjust these dimensions based on your specific deck size and wood type.
  • Foundation Piers: Your calculations may show the need for additional foundation piers to reduce the span and increase the frame’s strength. Ensure each pier is plumb and reinforced for maximum stability.
  • Joist Hangers: Instead of toenailing, use proper joist hangers to attach joists to beams. This method is more secure and precise, preventing potential structural weaknesses.
  • Consult Resources: Utilize span calculators and construction guides to verify your deck frame’s strength, ensuring a long-lasting, safe structure.

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Ensure Proper Drainage with Minimal Wood Contact

To prevent moisture damage, even when using rot-resistant wood, you have to allow the wood to dry out after rainfall. At Royal Deck, we recommend minimizing wood-on-wood contact during construction to enhance your deck’s durability. To do this:

  • Create Gaps: Leave small gaps between the ends of joists and beams. This design allows rainwater to escape, preventing it from being trapped and causing rot.
  • Strength Maintenance: These gaps won’t compromise the deck’s structural integrity since the beams will be securely bolted to the foundation piers and connected by the joists.
  • Use Stainless Steel or Galvanized Fasteners: Opt for fasteners that resist rust. Use stainless steel nails for joist hangers and polymer-plated screws for decking to ensure longevity and prevent corrosion.

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Regular Deck Inspections for Longevity

To keep your wood deck in top shape, perform regular inspections to catch any signs of rot or structural issues. Here’s how:

  • Check Key Areas: Inspect where the ledger board meets your house and where the stairs touch the ground for any signs of deterioration.
  • Test Railings: Wiggle or put weight against railings to ensure they are secure.
  • Replace Nails with Screws: If you find raised or exposed nails, replace them with wood screws for better hold.
  • Fill Holes: Use exterior wood filler to repair any gaps or holes in the boards.
  • Replace Rusty Hardware: Swap out any rusted hardware to maintain the deck’s integrity.
  • Keep it Clean: Regularly sweep your deck, especially in the autumn when leaves fall.

6 Reasons to Hire Professionals for a Long-Lasting, Durable Deck

Building a durable deck requires skill, knowledge, and experience. While DIY projects can be rewarding, enlisting professional help can ensure that your deck stands the test of time. Here’s why hiring a professional deck builder can be beneficial:

  1. Expert Design and Planning: Professionals can help you design a durable deck that meets your needs and complements your home’s architecture. They consider factors like sun exposure, wind direction, and landscape to create a functional and beautiful outdoor space.
  2. Quality Materials and Construction: Experienced builders know which materials are best for your specific environment and usage. They have access to high-quality materials that may not be available to the average consumer. Additionally, professionals follow industry standards and best practices to ensure the deck is built to last.
  3. Permits and Regulations: Navigating building permits and local regulations can be complex. Professionals are familiar with the necessary permits and will ensure your deck complies with all building codes, preventing potential legal issues down the line.
  4. Time and Cost Efficiency: Hiring a professional can save you time and money in the long run. They have the tools and expertise to complete the project efficiently, reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes. Plus, a well-built deck requires less maintenance and repairs over time.
  5. Safety Considerations: Safety is paramount in deck construction. Professionals understand the importance of proper structural support, secure railings, and safe stair design. Their knowledge ensures that your deck is durable and safe for your family and guests.
  6. Warranty and Support: Many professional builders offer warranties for their work. This means that if any issues arise, you have the assurance that they will be addressed promptly. Ongoing support from a professional can be invaluable in maintaining your deck over the years.

By choosing professional help, you can ensure your deck is built to the highest standards, providing a safe, attractive, and long-lasting addition to your home. For expert advice and durable deck construction, consider reaching out to Royal Decks in Atlanta.

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Get a Long-Lasting Deck with Royal Deck in Atlanta

Building a long-lasting, durable deck involves choosing the right materials, constructing a solid foundation, and regularly inspecting for maintenance needs. By following these expert tips, you can ensure your deck remains safe and beautiful for years to come.

Contact Royal Decks in Atlanta today for professional advice and top-quality construction. Transform your outdoor space with a deck that will last.

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