Monday, May 11, 2009

Building A Deck!!!!! Part 1

Whether you choose to build a deck here in Florida, or in New York, or in California, there are certain basic considerations you will want to explore. Let us begin with the type of lumber to use. Today there are many choices: pressure treated lumber is one, then there are redwood, cedar, composite lumber, Douglas fir, and more. Depending on your specific location, your choice is important for various reasons, such as availability of the product itself, how it will hold up to the environmental conditions of your area, and how big your budget is to execute your project. Once you examine all these variables and are satisfied with your research, you may begin the planning process.

Now, let's take a project that will be done in New York. Consider the extreme changes in weather from summer to winter. From really hot days to freezing cold days. How will this effect the components I'm choosing for my deck? Years back, before pressure treated lumber, I built many decks in the New York area, some of which are still functioning to this day. This goes back some 25 years or so. How they were maintained over the years is a direct determination of their present condition.

In that geographical area it is necessary to dig down below the frost line, which could be as deep as 42 inches. (Most times it is 36 inches.) The reason for this is to prevent heaving, which simply stated is what happens when ice or frost gets below a footing. As it expands from below the footing, it raises it upward with great force and determination. One would find it hard to believe the damage heaving could cause if it has not been experienced personally. So, this is a critical factor in deck building in that region. No matter how good the quality of lumber chosen, or even the workmanship, if careful consideration is not given to this fundamental aspect of your project, the only hope you could have is that you have a fireplace, because that is where you will be burning the remains of your deck, providing you did not use pressure treated lumber, which should NEVER be burned.

Well, this is a start... We will see other important factors to be considered, as well as learning more about how to prevent the devastation caused by heaving. Tune in again for the continuation of this subject of deck building.

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