Secrets That Most Decking Contractors Don’t Want You To Know
And Why Material Choice Matters More
Than Everything Else Combined
For most decking contractors, the only thing they are worried about is getting paid to build a deck. That’s why most don’t offer anything more substantial than a tail light warranty. That’s the warranty that ends as soon as their tail lights are out of sight.
So long as they haven’t left themselves open to a lawsuit, they consider it a job well done with all the boxes checked no matter how long your deck does or doesn’t last.
We don’t operate that way. Ever.
Building To Code Is NOT The Same As Building A Safe Deck That Lasts
Building codes were created to set a minimum standard for safety on all construction projects. The keyword there is ‘minimum’. Building codes aren’t about how long your deck lasts or its quality, but about meeting minimum levels of safety.
They exist to make sure that nobody gets hurt by a sudden and unexpected failure of a structure.
The steady, slow weakening of your deck, however, is perfectly acceptable under the law. It is, in fact, even expected. Companies that build strictly to code are covering their … backsides… and have no concern over how long their structures actually last.
Safety Does Not Equal Longevity
One of the ways building code fails those who add a deck to their home is the strict focus on minimum safety and only minimum safety. One example is the rule allowing the use of untreated (indoor construction) wood instead of pressure-treated wood for any deck installation that sits more than 30-inches off the ground.
Pressure-treated wood is designed to resist the elements and insect activity while untreated wood is quite vulnerable to each of those issues.
Now, call us crazy, but we think that no matter how high a deck sits, it’s still out in the weather with the bugs.
Untreated wood will still eventually rot, splinter, and warp no matter how far off the ground it might be. Still, most deck companies are happy to follow this guideline because it can save them up to 70% on material costs, which translates into low bids that the unwitting homeowner will jump on in a heartbeat.
And why not? If you don’t know any better, saving up to 50% on your deck sounds great!
Besides, by the time the builder’s poor choices in building materials results in a rotting deck, they may well be out of business or operating under a new name. They will still be sitting pretty while you are stuck with a deck you can’t use.
There’s Pressure Treated And Then There’s Kiln-Dried Pressure Treated
Even if your contractor uses pressure-treated wood, there is still an opportunity to take a cheap route. Simple pressure-treated wood is up to 70% cheaper than kiln-dried pressure-treated pine. That’s 70% cheaper and 40% weaker.
When pressure-treated wood is kiln-dried, all the movement that comes from the drying process happens in the kiln. Standard pressure treated wood is still wet deep inside its fibers when it reaches the job site and will spend up to a year drying out. This causes a lot of movement after the wood has been used to build your deck, which can weaken the structure in just its first year.
Again, they are following the letter of the law but not the spirit of superior construction techniques. They are driven by profit over pride. Income over outcome. Self over, well, you. It may be a great way to make money, but it’s no way to operate a business that cares about its customers.
What Our Competitors Fear To Offer Is Our Lowest Bar
First and foremost, our goal is to be able to walk into your backyard 10 – 20 years after we finish your deck and say, “Now THAT’S a deck!” Not for profit, not to protect ourselves from lawsuits, but for personal pride in our work. Our 10-year labor warranty, (unheard of in this business) isn’t a gimmick but rather the lowest bar we expect from ourselves.
We consider every moment we spend on warranty work as a failure, even if it rarely happens.
Our Customer-Centric Process Puts You In Charge
When you decide to partner with us to create the perfect custom deck for your home, you have entered a process where you are in total control. Your vision shapes the design, your plans determine the structure, and your needs control the process.
Our designer’s job is to give you the information you need to make those choices and to ask the right questions to make sure that your new deck will support your planned use. We have developed a process drawn from our decades of experience that will guide you towards creating the deck of your dreams and making sure that it will serve your family for a generation.
Getting Things Right For Your Needs, Climate And Tastes
Each deck we build is unique and suited to the desires, taste, lifestyle, and location of each individual homeowner. Ultimately, out of thousands of possible combinations, there will be only a handful that will satisfy every aspect of each customer’s needs.
From there it comes down to budget. No matter the level of budget available, we make sure that every board, every fixture, and every nail is appropriate for the local weather and will help to make the finished project last for decades.
Material choices start at climate and end at style. We use certain materials for areas where the added weight of heavy snowfall is likely and others where it will have to contend with the arid heat of the high desert, and still others where the moisture content will be high.
Natural Wood vs Composite Decking
We build our decks to last regardless of the surface material chosen by our clients, so the question isn’t so much natural wood vs composites so much as it’s a choice between high maintenance or low. Between constant attention or spending a couple of days a year wielding a garden hose and a soft-bristled brush.
There is no denying the unequaled beauty of natural wood, especially if you use hardwood with a beautiful high-contrast grain, like tigerwood, for your deck boards. Just know that keeping that look will require investing a lot of your time and money toward maintenance every single year.
Composite decks, however, needs almost no maintenance and the Transcend line from Trex Decking is almost impossible to mark, dent or scratch. The look and color options of composite decking have also grown significantly over the years and now do a good job of approaching the beauty of natural wood.
After The Design Is Complete
Once we have agreed on your design and every detail has been nailed down, your estimate becomes a fact. Any changes, including changes in the cost of material or even features we included in the design but failed to price out, are our problem, not yours. Unless you personally request a change in the design, the estimate we gave you is what you will pay. Period.
We will then give you an installation date and time. When that day arrives, our crews will arrive, on the dot, on time. While there, each member of the builder crew will treat your home as if it were their mother’s and will never leave the site a mess at the end of the day. They will be respectful at all times, and you will never hear loud music or course language coming from the worksite.
Also, they will never tell you that they are done with the project but will, instead, ask you if you think the job is complete. They know that their job isn’t finished until you are completely satisfied with their work.
After Your New Custom Deck Is Complete
Once our crew and every trace they were ever there (except for the gorgeous new deck) is gone, we are still at your disposal. You will have a 10-year craftsmanship warranty to give you peace of mind and if you used Trex decking, a whopping 25-year material warranty.
But even beyond the protection of our warranties, if you ever have any questions about your outdoor living space, all you need to do is call.
We’ll be happy to help you even if years have gone by since we last had contact. Once you become our customer, you’re part of the Custom Decks community for life and we will always do our best to make your outdoor experience a positive one from beginning to end.
With Custom Decks, you are never alone. If all this sounds good to you, stop by or give us a call. We’d love to add you to our growing family.