We get asked a lot of questions.  Here are some of the most frequent.

How do you remove snow from a composite deck?

There are many ways to remove snow from a composite deck.  You can use a broom or a plastic shovel.  There are heated walking mats you can lay down to melt the snow.  Depending on how much snow is out there you can just leave it be if it's not causing a problem.  You should not use a metal shovel as it will cause scratching and damage to the lower areas of the railing too. 

How do you remove snow from a wood deck?

Wood decks are like composite and can be cleared of snow in the same ways.  Avoid using metal as it can dig into the wood. 

Should you remove snow from a deck?

It is not necessary to remove all the snow from the deck.  If you use the deck as a walkway often it is a good idea to clear a path.  The dogs will also enjoy a clear path. Decks are typically designed to withstand a large snow load.  We recommend you remove snow from the deck if it gets to be more than 2-4 inches tall.  

What is the difference between composite and wood?

Composite is a deck material made up of wood and recycled plastics.  It is a man-made product that is very low maintenance.  There are several types of composites but the ones that perform the best are wrapped in a PVC layer called a cap to protect the composite.  When composites were introduced they did not have the cap.  The cap protects composite from molding, staining, and fading.  Wood is a natural product and will require yearly maintenance to perform at the level of a composite material.  Wood is a great product and often less expensive initially. 

What is the difference between treated and cedar?

Treated lumber in our area typically comes from the southern United States.  Southern Pine is a great material but is very young relative to what our homes and decks used to be built with.  This wood is new and subject to twisting and bowing and other defects when it dries.  This wood is treated with chemicals (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) abbreviated ACQ.  This makes treated lumber corrosive to metal.  It requires special fasteners made with galvanized metal, stainless steel, or ceramic.  Cedar, on the other hand typically comes from the northwest United States and does not require any treatment.  Cedar is naturally resistant to wood rot and is a very beautiful grain pattern.  Often cedar is seen as a step above pine and it is priced higher.  The same maintenance is required for both cedar and pine.  Cedar is typically more stable and doesn’t twist or warp as easily.  We recommend getting Cedar stained or sealed as soon as possible. Once the new lumber has dried out enough to soak up the sealer is a great time to get started on the protective layer. 

How deep are the footings?

Footings in Douglas county and Nebraska have to be 42” below grade and sized appropriately in diameter to carry the load of the deck and the potential people who use it.

What are Techno Metal Posts?

Tehno Metal Posts are an alternative to concrete.  It is a brand of a helical pile that can be driven into the ground through the frost layer.  The post consists of a metal piped sheathed with plastic and a helix on the end that allows it to dig below the surface like a drill bit.  This eliminates the need to pout concrete and remove dirt from a job site.  The costs are comparable to concrete but can be installed within hours and do not require a pre-inspection.  Techno metal posts can speed the process of building a deck and are a great alternative to concrete.

Can I reuse my Footings?

The short answer is no.  If you are replacing a deck you might want to reuse the footings that held up the old deck.  As nice as that sounds, new codes change the requirements in diameter, and loads virtually eliminate the old footings from passing minimum code standards.  The city will also require that you dig down to prove the size of the existing footings.  This causes the old footings to be obsolete and new ones to be poured or installed.  Many of the old deck footings do not meet today’s standards and are not below the frost depth. 

Do I need a permit to build a deck?

The local cites and governing bodies do require a new deck and a replacement deck to be permitted. 

How long does a deck last?

This depends on many factors.  A wood deck typically should last ten years.  With proper maintenance, a wood deck could last 25 years or longer.  Proper maintenance is rarely achieved on a wood deck.  Most often a wood deck will need to be replaced around 15 to 17 years.  Composite decking has warranties of 25-30 years and up.  The verdict is still out but a composite deck should last 30 years.  Maybe longer.  The composite material will still be good but if the deck was not built well and the wood framing protected the 30-year warranty is still subject to failure when the wood rots away.  That’s why not all decks will last. 

Should you put a rug on a deck?

Yes, you can put a rug on a deck.  Yes, there could be some adverse effects.  Composite decks could fade at different rates.  There are fade warranties but after 30years of the sun beating down on something, it is likely to sustain some sort of damage.  A rug blocking the sun could cause the deck to become two tones.  The degree of the difference is noticeable can be negligible.  As for wood, the rug could trap moisture underneath leaving it a breeding ground for mold and insects.  That can shorten the life of the decking.  We recommend having proper sealing done prior to placing a rug down and moving the rug often to see if any damage is occurring. 

When can I stain my new deck?

There are many opinions on when you should stain your deck.  There is the saying that you should wait a year to seal the deck.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there.  The best way to tell if you can stain your deck is when you notice the condensation from a cold beverage seeping into the wood and not beading on top.  This is a test that can let you know the lumber is dry enough to soak up the sealer.  You can stain before this, but the results will not be as long-lasting.  The wood will be dry enough usually in about 2 months.  We recommend calling a stain and seal expert and can recommend a few experts as well. 

How hot is composite decking?

The Ultimate Deck Shop in Regina, Canada (https://www.ultimatedeckshop.com/) ran some tests on this topic.  The results they found are that composite decks can get up to 160-180 degrees to the touch.  They also found that wood decks can get up to 140 degrees.  For more on the specifics of the test you can check out their podcast The Ultimate Deck Podcast episode 19 on April 5th 2019

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