How to build a Charlotte deck…the Archadeck way!

Multi-level deck with stone outdoor fireplace by Archadeck of Charlotte

Multi-level deck with stone outdoor fireplace by Archadeck of Charlotte

At the risk of teaching all of you “do-it-yourselfer’s” how to properly construct a deck, it is worth it to us to make sure that whatever is built by whomever, is done so with safety first!

Decks do require building permits in North and South Carolina.

Archadeck has been designing and building decks for over 25 years and literally has over 23,000 decks built here in the Charlotte area. Here are some guidelines formed from our experience:

1. Ground conditions are a very important factor to start with. If there is a lot of fill dirt where you are going to place your footings, you may need a soil engineer to design a proper footing that will disperse the weight load so that your deck does not begin to sink. If there is soft or bull tallow soil, the same remedy applies.

2. It all starts with your footings. In North Carolina, we typically dig 12″ – 24″ or until we find solid soil if possible. Then you can either purchase 16″x16″ cinder blocks and make sure your 6×6 columns are placed squarely on the blocks before filling in the dirt over and around them. You may also need to add concrete depending on the conditions of the soil, the height of the deck, lateral bracing constraints, and so forth

3. Once you have passed your footing inspection, it is time to start framing. We typically will use either 2×8 or 2×10 floor joists that will attach to a 2×12 band or ledger boards we tie into the actual house if the house is on a crawl space. If the house is built on a slab, that we are forced to build what is referred to as a “free-standing” deck meaning we will add footers up next to the house wall. If we are cutting into a vinyl or fiber cement sided house, we need to purchase and install metal flashing to avoid having moisture get in behind the siding and rotting the house wall.

3. We typically will purchase pressure-treated wood deck boards that are 5/4×6 in dimension and screw them down. We space our floor joists 16″ on center unless we are using composite decking and laying the boards on a diagonal, then we will space them 12″ on center.

4. We use a 12″ fascia board to hide the ends of the decking boards to create a clean finish around the perimeter of the deck

5. Rail is required here in North Carolina once the height of the deck is 30″ above grade or greater. The standard rail height minimum is 36″. There a vast amount of choices of rail systems ranging from custom made to kits.

6. If you are installing dried lumber (that is our preference), it is important to have the deck sealed/stained shortly after installation to protect the deck itself. We find Cabot or the proprietary stain from Renew Crew to be quite effective and protecting the wood decking.

If you’re considering adding a deck to your Charlotte area home, we would love if you would give us a call for a free consultation at (704) 944 – 1350.

This si a good example of Renew Crew of Charlotte can clean and protect wood decking

This is a good example of Renew Crew of Charlotte can clean and protect wood decking

Is Cedar a good choice for decking or screen porches in North and South Carolina?

We field thousands of questions each year around which materials are best suited for our climate here in North Carolina and South Carolina. The products we specify are used for screen porches, pergola’s, decks, exterior cladding, etc….

One of the products that generates many questions is Cedar. Cedar is a beautiful product with many great qualities that includes a natural grain and beautiful knots that give it a rustic character. To get the best authentic look at Cedar, you would want to stain it rather than paint it as the paint hides some of these characteristics. You can use cedar as a time accent, a structural member, or a decking.

Here in the Carolina’s, we typically see cedar used more for wide decorative columns on a pergola or holding up an open porch than anything else. There are two major pitfalls with cedar. One is that cedar is not pressure-treated and will rot over time. The second is that cedar is quite costly relative to pine. We are a natural grower of pine and so there is no real freight charge where we live and it keeps that price on the low end.

Archadeck of Charlotte designed and built this cedar pergola in south Charlotte with a fieldstone outdoor kitchen and Green Egg

Archadeck of Charlotte designed and built this cedar pergola in south Charlotte with a fieldstone outdoor kitchen and Green Egg

With our moist climate, we do get a lot of wood rot in the Carolina’s. It is important to keep the cedar stained. To see a great variety of wood species and design ideas, go to

http://www.charlotte.archadeck.com

What are the top 3 ways to repair your deck?

Pressure-treated wood deck that is multi-tiered and designed and built by Archadeck of Charlotte

Pressure-treated wood deck that is multi-tiered and designed and built by Archadeck of Charlotte

If you simply need to bring your deck up to speed, there are 3 simple things that can be done to repair your deck or even enhance the deck.

First, make sure your footings are solid as this is the foundation that keeps your deck upright and level. This can be achieved by using a level and then figuring out which of the footings are out of level. You would then dig around the footing and expose it. Make sure it is properly dug to the correct depth per the code in our area and reinforced with concrete.

Secondly, most deck issues are with the hand rail and deck boards as they are exposed to the sun. If the boards are not rotten, take a palm sander, smooth out the splinters then come back and clean and seal the deck boards.

Finally, you may have simple cupping or deck boards lifting off of the joists. Take a screw gun and make sure you hit the floor joist solidly to get a good grip on it.

If you need assistance or want to see great deck examples, go to charlotte.archadeck.com

How do I know if I have to replace my deck or I can use the existing structure and simply replace the boards?

How do you know when your deck needs to be replaced completely versus simply replacing the deck boards and rail? Experience tells us the life expectancy of the wood structure is somewhere betweeen 20 – 30 years depending on how it was constructed and maintained.

Once your deck hits the 20 year mark, it would be a good time to have a professional come out and assess the wood itself, the method in which it was fastened, and the supports that carry the load. There are certain conditions that can determine the longevity of the deck such as the soil and the grade of the land. Soil and erode over time and the footings can be exposed which makes the integrity of the structure weaken considerably.

Wood decks need to be sealed either with paint or stain to keep it from the harsh weathering of the sun. In addition, building codes change every 2 – 4 years on how decks are to be constructed and fastened. There are times that simple enhancements can be made to your existing deck to bring it up to the current building codes for safety concerns.

To gather more information, go to http://www.charlotte.archadeck.com  or call 704-944-1350 and ask about a free deck safety inspection.

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Deck and patio together? In Charlotte we do it all the time!

Consumers used to request either a deck or a patio. In Charlotte, we began seeing demand for designs utilizing both a deck and a patio in the same backyard about 4 years ago. It is common place to have multiple outdoor living spaces requested for various reasons.

Composite deck with steps down to paver patio

Paver patio with a stone seating wall below composite deck

Pavestone is popular brand of paver that we use at Archadeck of Charlotte along with Belgard brand pavers. The reason for multiple spaces include that you may want furniture on one level and your outdoor kitchen or grill on a different. You have to consider the grade of your lot when you think about a patio. Many times the deck comes off of your back door and then you find a flat spot in the yard that provides a good level area and design a unique set of stairs that lead you to the patio like the one below!

Pavestone paver patio below Cox brand pressure-treated wood deck

Pressure-treated wood deck and pergola leading to paver patio

Charlotte has ideal year around outdoor living conditions and this is a factor that leads people to want multiple outdoor living spaces as they choose to spend more and more of their free time living outdoors on their deck and patio! To see more, click through to http://www.charlotte.archadeck.com

Screen porch and deck designs in Charlotte

Are you in need of help figuring out what not only will be functional in your backyard but will be aesthetically pleasing? Do you have trouble visualizing? Archadeck of Charlotte has created a wonderful CAD software that will take a collaborative design approach and put your exact home in the drawing with a myriad of design options! They can even put the drawing to scale to show a realistic rendering of what your home would look like with a certain screen porch or deck. Whether you want a shed roof, gable roof, hip roof, or even a gazebo style screen porch, Archadeck of Charlotte can design it on a CAD and of course build you a high quality product! Check out the photo gallery at both of the following web sites   http://www.charlotte.archadeck.com

or http://www.archadeckofcharlotte.com

Deck and patio combination is a great solution for Charlotte backyards

Stone patio with wood deck and pergola

Deck and patio comibination in Charlotte

We are designing more decks with patios coming off of them than ever before here in the Charlotte market. If your backyard has areas where there is a slope in the grade, a deck makes perfect sense from an economical standpoint as well as a functional standpoint. In areas of your backyard that are flatter, it is great to install a stone patio where you can incorporate a firepit,fireplace, or a stone outdoor kitchen area.

Archadeck of Charlotte has 100’s of photo”s both on-line (http://www.archadeckofcharlotte.com or http://charlotte.archadeck.com) and in photo albums that they share openly to give beautiful design ideas. By incorporating both a deck and a patio, you can purchase your project in the most cost efffective way and give yourself two separate outdoor living spaces!