House upgrade 2008 Part III- the deck cometh

It took a bit longer than planned due to some delays with the arrival of the composite decking material, but now our deck surface is complete!

Here is what the framing looked like:

That’s looking south: here is the same perspective with the deck materials installed:

And here is a view looking East:

It is starting to feel like a deck! Stairs will be added on the west side (the side you see facing you in the photo above), but won’t be done until the roof is complete.

As you can see, we once again have a fence on the east side: it isn’t completely finished (the posts aren’t going to stick up that high 🙂 ), and the south fence hasn’t even been started yet. Supposedly the fencing will be completed this upcoming week. We decided to leave the fencing “natural” colour- it will be treated with a clear stain to protect it, but we’ll be sticking with the original cedar colour.

The roof for the deck probably will start the week after- that is, the week of August 15th. Then the final gas, electrical and lighting will be installed (you can see some rough wiring in the photo above, and if you look really closely you might notice the second gas fitting pipe), and we’ll be done. Well, other than final payments for everything (shudder).

Note that we already have 240 volt electrical running to the spa, and the spa itself has been full and operational for several weeks now. We used it the first couple of times when the deck material hadn’t even been installed yet- it was an obstacle course stepping through all the in-progress framing, but it really made me appreciate the deck itself when it was complete 🙂

Observations regarding the Timbertech planking. It is solid core material, and heavy as heck: each 16 foot plank easily weighs 25 pounds, probably at least twice as much as a comparable piece of wood. It also has a lot more “flex” than wood. Our deck has 16″ spacing between the framing planks (which are 2″ x 12″ pressure treated wood- only the horizontal surfaces are composite), with a triple-board cross member every 14 feet, and you can feel a little “bounce” in places. I actually kind of like the feel, but our contractor figures that, if he were doing it again, he probably would have put in a cross member every 10 feet. Unlike wood, the composite doesn’t make the structure more rigid: so the “bounce” is (according to the contractor) coming from flex in the framing planks.

Also note that the composites expand and contract more than wood- if you were to fit things together extremely tightly, on a hot day the planks would probably “buckle” slightly from the strain. We used the “concealed clip” attachment system Timbertech has, which allows the boards to flex/expand more and also means no visible screw holes. Between plank spacing with this system is maybe 3/8 of an inch, possibly a bit less.

If you look closely at the deck you’ll see that our contractor put a “frame” around the entire outside of the deck: this is a nice finishing touch that I like versus just trimming the boards off, and makes the whole thing look more elegant in my opinion. The specific decking product we used was Timbertech Earthwood, Tropical Walnut colour, grooved plank to work with the CONCEALoc concealed clip system. A note about that clip system: our contractor hadn’t used it before, and one of the workers commented that it was “slower” than using screws- I suspect this is more an observation about familiarity with the system than a true measure of effort- but something to be aware of.

2 thoughts on “House upgrade 2008 Part III- the deck cometh”

  1. Yeah, we have the hidden fastening system as well, and the edge trim. ( The material we used is hollow core, so the trim is a given.) Our Fascia planks are just screwed to the sub frame however, so we’ll have to see what happens with those in winter.
    I also specified 12″ centers on our decks, which put up the price but the things are rock solid – no flex at all. We have 2×10’s and no more than 8′ unsupported. Of course, our decks are simple rectangles, which makes the framing simple. The only thing is how it holds up under fairly close contact with the earth … the problem with of having a low deck.

    I’ve notices on ours that the plastic actually absorbs water, and until it bakes out under prolonged sun exposure can still be slippery for some hours depending on the type of shoes. My slippers definitely slip when on the deck if it rained in the last 6 hours!.

  2. I hadn’t noticed any absorption, but it’s not really that big of a concern for me as we’ll be roofing over the whole thing. The hollow core stuff needs closer centers, supposedly, but 12″ should be really solid. I largely left the details of spacing and such up to the contractor- we talked about it, and I agreed with his decisions, but I didn’t fuss around with it much. Like I say, though, the flex isn’t significant, but I noticed it. I guess I could fantasize that this is a form of earthquake proofing 🙂 The edging planks on ours are screwed down as well- since the clips require contact at both edges to work, there really isn’t much choice I guess?

    Regardless, the deck and spa are a huge improvement over what we had. I’m happy with the composite decking so far, although the real measure of how happy I am will be a decade from now. If it is still in good shape, then it will have achieved what I wanted from it in this climate. The spa is sunk quite nicely into the deck: you can climb in pretty easily from any side.

    I’m not perfectly happy with the way the lifter bar for the cover is situated, but the top mount type that would have worked well with our deck doesn’t work with the unusual shape of the cover we have. End result: there has to be a gap in the deck on that side to allow space for the lifter bar. One nice feature is the way we covered the service hatch for the spa: the contractor built a lift out step there, which given the mass of the composite board is rock solid. If we need access to the spa motors, the step lifts and can be shifted out of the way: nice and slick.

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