Issue # 27: Decks & Railings
ISSN 1703-5597
April 7, 2004


Contents: Issue #27 Decks & Railings

  1. The Basics: Terms, Types & Ideas, Designer Decks
  2. Planning: Designing, Building Details, Plans
  3. Components: Joists/Beams, Plank Decking, Railings
  4. Materials: Treated Wood, Cedar, Composites & Other
  5. Construction Details: Heated Space, Joists, Stucco
  6. Care: Finishes, Cleaners & Restorers, Durability Study
  7. Issues: Fire Performance, Moisture, Finding Products
  8. Ken’s Top Pick: If You Have Time To Surf Only One Site

1. The Basics: Terms, Types & Ideas, Designer Decks

Deck Terms & Descriptions
To help you understand the different terms used in describing a deck and its parts, this Home Decks site has a labelled drawing and a short explanation of each component.

Deck Types & Ideas
Looking for deck design ideas? Decks.com offers you easily searchable pictures, provided by deck builders, showing different uses, styles, finishes, products, and components.

Designer Decks
Mr. Deck explains how a designer deck breaks out of the “deck as a platform” concept and adds many architectural elements to make it both functional and beautiful.


2. Planning: Designing, Building Details, Plans

Designing Your Deck
Decks.com lists each step in the design process and includes some tips and items to consider for creating a deck that serves the owners needs.

Deck Building Details
If you are looking for detailed information on the entire deck building process this Best Deck Site has it. The quality of information here just might be worth the $10 US access fee.

Deck Plans
Need a full set of plans? Decks USA sells a variety of options for single level, multi-level, L-shaped, basic and pool, as well as for screened porches and gazebos.


3. Components: Joists/Beams, Plank Decking, Railings

Joist Spans & Beam Selection
The Canadian Wood Council offers tables for calculating spans for exterior deck joists. Also click on the ”Beams” link on the left sidebar to find the tables for built-up beams.

Wood Plank Decking
For wood plank decking (tongue and groove), the Canadian Wood Council provides you with information on common species, sizes, shapes, grades, ordering and installation.

Railing Types & Styles
To help you or your customers select railing types, this Decking Northwest site displays good photos of many different styles, using various products and materials.


4. Materials: Treated Wood, Cedar, Composites & Other

Pressure Treated Wood
When choosing pressure treated wood, you or your customer may have questions or concerns. The Canadian Institute of Treated Wood site likely has answers to all of them.

Cedar
Cedar deck building information on the WRCLA site includes an overview of cedar products, grades, sizes & spans, deck projects, fasteners, finishing and maintenance.

Composites & Other Materials
Various types of composite and other materials are appearing in the marketplace and the eBuild Web site covers many of them in these articles on composite decking.


5. Construction Details: Heated Space, Joists, Stucco

Deck Over Heated Space
CMHC provides these wall assembly details for a balcony or deck over a heated space, along with notes on materials and design and a detailed drawing.

Laying Out & Installing Joists (PDF FILE)
This article, with pictures, from Fine Homebuilding explains how to lay out and install joists. It also includes information on sizing and cantilevering, along with some pro tips.

Stucco Cladding
Here is another construction detail, including drawing, from CMHC. This one shows you the wall assembly details for a balcony or deck with stucco cladding.


6. Care: Finishes, Cleaners & Restorers, Durability Study

Finishes For Wood Decks (PDF FILE)
Finishes to wood decks can minimize problems from cracking, raised grain and mildew growth, as this technical brief from the Advanced Housing Research Center outlines.

Cleaners & Restorers (PDF FILE)
This Paint Dealers magazine article covers types of products for wood deck cleaning and restoring. It also gives you the pros and cons of mechanical cleaning methods.

Durability Study (PDF FILE)
Which details, fasteners and finishes hold up the best on outdoor structures? Study results are presented in this Fine Homebuilding article on the details for a lasting deck.


7. Issues: Fire Performance, Moisture, Finding Products

Fire Performance
If you are building in an urban-wildland interface you might get value from results of fire performance tests on 15 commercial deck materials, performed by the Forest Products Laboratory.

Controlling Moisture (PDF FILE)
This section of the Porches Decks & Outbuildings book tells how many deck problems can be traced to moisture content of wood both during construction and over its lifetime.

Finding Products
To find deck material manufacturers, tools, accessories, supplies, and more it may be worth checking out this resource section of the Deck Industry Association Web site.


8. Ken’s Top Pick: If You Only Have Time To Surf One Site

Best Deck Site
I never thought I would recommend a site that charges a fee. But for good quality, detailed information on deck design and construction, the Best Deck Site is worth the $10 US charge.


Dittie For Today: On Problems
Problems are not punishments -- they are invitations to a higher level of thinking.
      - Alan Cohen




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