Deck Specialist - May/June 2023

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PRIVACY SCREENS • CONTRACTOR BONDS • NADRA WINNERS May/June 2023 DECK SPECIALIST Making a Case for Steel Ideas & Strategies for Outdoor Living Professionals Digital Edition Sponsored by

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DECK SPECIALIST Making a Case for Steel Ideas
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4 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 DECK SPECIALIST Ideas & Strategies for Outdoor Living Professionals WHAT’S HOT 12 A Case for Steel Scott Kelly explains how builders can justify using steel in their projects 16 Redefining Privacy Wall Contractors take privacy walls to new creative heights FEATURE STORIES 26 Contractor Bonds How to safeguard your company 40 Fixing Past Mistakes Outback Deck stepped in to fix a poorlyconstructed outdoor living project AWARD WINNERS 30 National Deck Contest North American Deck & Railing Association crowns its champions
ON THE COVER: Builders are turning to steel framing because it sidelines some the challenges of using traditional wood systems. (Photo courtesy Fortress Building Products)
ALSO INSIDE 8 Editor’s Note 10 Industry News 42 Parks & Deck Creation with Bobby Parks 46 Set the Standard with Brendan Casey 50 Tool Reviews with Andy Henley & Mike Mitchell 54 Market Yourself with April Edwards 58 New Products 64 Date Planner 65 Ad Index 66 Idea Book 16 12
GEOMETRIC privacy screens provide architectural interest for this outdoor dining area. (Photo by Hideaway Screens)
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DECK SPECIALIST is published quarterly at 151 Kalmus Dr., Ste. E200, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, (714) 486-2735, , by 526 Media Group, Inc. (a California Corporation). It is an independently owned publication for U.S.-based builders and contractors that specialize in decking and other outdoor living projects. Copyright®2023 by 526 Media Group, Inc. Cover and entire contents are fully protected and must not be reproduced in any manner without written permission. All Rights Reserved. Deck Specialist reserves the right to accept or reject any editorial or advertising matter, and assumes no liability for materials furnished to it. May/June 2023

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When it rains, it pours

ASA NATIVE Californian, I’ve personally witnessed wooden piers fall into the ocean after being pummeled by rain, wind and 20-ft. waves. I’ve also lived through hot, dry seasons with Santa Ana wind-whipped wildfires visible at night in the distant mountains.

Yet, this year has been one for the record books. Summer is just around the corner and we’ve already doubled our yearly rain totals and have nearly reversed a 10-year drought.

This is the exact opposite of what we were told to expect in 2023. Erroneous long-term forecasts advised us to hunker down, conserve water and expect another long year of drought. At the same time, economists advised us to restrict spending, pay down debt, and expect a sluggish year.

So far neither has shown to be correct. In fact, if you ask some deck specialists, it has not only been raining work, it’s been pouring.

Builder and Deck Specialist columnist Brendan Casey said the work flood gates broke for him earlier this year. He wrote in the Facebook’s Elite Deck Building Professional group, “It will be a decent year for those of us who have reputations for high-quality work and competitive pricing... It’s an ever-evolving industry—gotta be ready, willing, and able to adapt and adjust to the economic environment.”

Mike Stinson, co-owner of Timber Pro, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, commented in the same thread: “Upping the customer service game, and giving a bit more of your personal time to be attentive and communicative to the serious customers will keep the business going.”

If new to the industry or an established builder with a solid track record, you shouldn’t be overly worried about negative predictions—the industry takes care of its own. There is always someone you can reach out to help you grow your business.

You’ve got the North American Deck and Railing

Association (NADRA), which provides essential education, and enables the top deck specialists to showcase their best work, as evidenced on page 30 and 32. You also have a tight-knit, online community that is willing to encourage, support and share knowledge with one another.

Dan Pettit, owner of Northern Outdoor Living, Hastings, MN., said recently that he is new to the industry’s social media community, but has met some amazing builders at industry trade shows. In addition, he said he is particularly excited to have entered his projects featuring his custom fiber (privacy) walls into NADRA’s 2022 National+ Deck Competition for the first time. See one of his sample projects on page 32.

“We are very excited about taking our creativity to the next step in its evolution for 2023!” Pettit exclaimed.

So regardless if the forecasts spell gloom and doom, and the skies are gray, builders can be assured that their solid work ethic, comradery and overall sunny attitude will shelter them in any storm.

8 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 EDITOR’S NOTE
Sara Graves is the managing editor of Deck Specialist. Reach her at

Fortress Expands Partnership with R/W Specialties in Midwest

Fortress Building Products is expanding its distribution partnership with R/W Specialties ahead of peak building season. Fortress will increase its offerings with R/W Specialties to deliver the Total Solution (decking, railing, fencing, framing, lighting, fasteners, cladding and pergolas) to the Midwest market.

“A longtime Fortress distributor, R/W Specialties is everything that we could ask for in a partner,” said Jeff Schulz, senior VP, sales and marketing at Fortress Building Products. “Their commitment to providing incredible dealer service has not wavered over the last 20 years, and it’s why we’re confident that expanding our distribution agreement with R/W Specialties is the right move. Their strong reputation and solid dealer network in the Midwest will be invaluable to Fortress during this next phase of growth.”

R/W Specialties has been a Fortress partner for over two decades and has dealer locations in Festus, Jefferson City and Clinton, MO.

“Fortress’ reputation for delivering category-leading products and their people-first approach to business makes them an ideal partner,” said Marty Borquez, executive VP of R/W Specialties. “We are excited to take this step—it will bring tremendous value to our Midwest dealers.

MoistureShield Expands Presence in Utah, Colorado and Idaho

MoistureShield is partnering with J.M. Thomas Forest Products to expand distribution of the manufacturer’s full composite decking portfolio at all branch locations in Ogden, UT.; Denver, CO.; and Boise, ID.

“We’re excited to partner with J.M. Thomas Forest Products as we continue to expand product distribution across North America,” said Matthew Bruce, VP of Sales at MoistureShield.

MoistureShield’s Meridian line features a TruTexture Surface, a low-profile wood grain pattern with reduced pattern repetition that evokes the look and feel of real wood. Rounding out the capped product offering is the entry-level Elevate line; while Vantage uncapped composite decking provides workability beyond wood, with composite performance.

MoistureShield is backed by a 50-year transferrable structural warranty and has stood up to the elements for more than 30 years with no structural field failures.

Oldcastle Integrates Products into Yardzen’s Outdoor Design Platform

Oldcastle APG has acquired Yardzen, a technology-enabled landscape design and build platform. The integration of Oldcastle APG’s signature products into Yardzen’s custom design platform will provide contractors access to a full suite of high-quality and durable materials for creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces.

Signature Oldcastle products that will be integrated into the Yardzen platform include Belgard hardscapes, wall systems and fire pits; Barrette Outdoor Living’s fencing and pergolas, and PebbleTec pool finishes.

“Given our shared passion for creating amazing outdoor living spaces, our partnership with Yardzen presents new and exciting opportunities to best serve our customers,” said Tim Ortman, president, Oldcastle APG. “Our portfolio of outdoor living solutions will supply a broad range of options for creating personalized designs that deliver form, style and function. We look forward to working with Yardzen on this new, innovative approach to bringing people’s visions for their outdoor spaces to life.”

Yardzen is an innovative online landscape design and build platform that uses technology including satellite imagery, 3D rendering software, and the technology on modern mobile devices. Without visiting a property, the company’s platform creates a custom design that factors in the homeowner’s aesthetic preferences and style; the unique characteristics of their property and the plants and building materials that will thrive.

Yardzen connects homeowners with vetted landscape designers. Yardzen’s team then connects homeowners to local, vetted contractors, ensuring a timely and highly communicative bidding and installation process that homeowners trust. For more information, visit and

10 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS
MOISTURESHIELD Meridian in Citadel. (Photo provided by MoistureShield)


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Making a Case for Steel


THE INDUSTRY there seem to be enough topics of debate and divisiveness; tape vs. no tape, this brand vs. that brand, open corners vs. mitered corners, and the list goes on. Steel versus wood framing is another of those debates.

Yet, whether you’ve just built your first deck (unlikely if you’re reading this) or hundreds of decks, you’ve already taken the first steps toward building a steel frame.

Coast to coast and whether you build in America, Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia, you are at least a partial steel frame builder. Do you use post bases? What about joist hangers? How about lag screws, nails or structural screws? Of course, you have, they are essential components to building any deck and they are all made from steel. Sure, in marine environments the word stainless might come before steel, but it’s still steel, just a different grade.

When you get right down to it, nearly every deck and every deck builder is staking their reputation and their clients safety on steel. Even the popular aluminum railings are fastened together with stainless steel screws and the bases are anchored to the

deck with steel screws.

From fasteners to I-beams, bridges to the boats that sail underneath, the world is built with and relies on steel. It is the most recycled material on the planet, which is a selling point to the ever-growing consumer base concerned with sustainability.

Steel has decades worth of field data that shows that it works. In my years of building and in talks with countless other builders, I’ve never heard of someone asking to get their joist hangers repaired because their wood frame was still in great shape. Every builder and even most clients know about the “c’s” of wood; it has crowns, cupping, checking and cracks, all things that are eliminated with steel. Then there is combustibility, an obvious advantage of steel, and with the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) codes already in place in parts of California, Colorado, Texas and other states, the movement toward Class A fire-rated framing is well underway.

The awareness of steel as a framing material is on the rise as well. When I first went exclusively with steel six years ago, every sales call involved educating the client and selling them on the value of steel.

12 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
Photos by New Castle Steel and Fortress Building Products

Now, nearly every potential lead finds me because of steel. Others are seeing similar results. Leif Wirtanen, owner of Cascade Fence and Deck, Vancouver, WA., told me, “We are getting people who reach out to us because we offer steel and I have no doubt that if we spent more time marketing and educating the consumer on steel, we could sell a lot more of it.”

I reached out to Blair Budlong,, Minneapolis, MN., who shared that in 2022, steel framing sales increased 126% vs. 2021. Budlong also mentioned that most of those sales were direct to consumer or one-off sales to contractors just trying steel—a good indicator of increased consumer awareness. also saw a 22% increase in sales for steel fasteners. “I would estimate that the national category moved closer to the 22% number,” Budlong said.

Steel is a differentiator; offering and presenting it to potential clients can set you apart from competition and position you as a real expert in your field. It also opens doors to educate the consumer providing you a chance to build rapport and value with clients.

“Chuck in a Truck” isn’t going to present that option. Steel can also put you in a position to educate and build rapport with inspectors who are unfamiliar with it—that rapport can pay huge dividends.

I know of other builders who argue the merits of steel, and I know plenty of builders who want to switch or at least try steel, but feel the cost difference is too great.

Let’s be honest, a steel joist is going to cost more than a treated joist, and, for some reason, a selftapping screw in a hidden fastener costs more than a wood screw in the same fastener. You unfortunately can’t just fire nails into steel joists and beams. So, it’s an obvious win for wood right? Perhaps, but here’s a few things I’d invite you to consider.

Every good builder I know grades their lumber ahead of framing, they also incur the time expense and inconvenience of separating and returning culled lumber. Then after the framing is done, they plane down the high spots, or “make an educated guess” as to how much the lumber will shrink. The labor cost and guesswork are both eliminated with steel. And if you are in the joist-taping camp, this also can be eliminated, saving you labor and material costs. Finally, while not required, I inquired with every lumber treater I could and they all recommended sealing end cuts. Others and I do this with steel as well, and, personally, a quick shot of touch-up paint on a steel cut beats the mess and smell of treating wood end cuts.

With all that factored in, a 12x12 minimum code deck is still going to get built for less with treated than with steel, but I think it’s safe to assume that many Deck Specialist readers are building more than 12x12 minimum code decks. That’s where the “c” of capability comes into play. For larger decks with larger spans, current steel joists on the market will span the equivalent or greater of a 2x12 treated joist, bringing the cost difference much closer.

The 2021 IRC span tables only go up to 70 psf, a

“But the cost.”

number which can easily exceeded by things like firepits, outdoor kitchens and hot tubs. Steel manufacturers have engineering and code compliance reports for up to 200 psf, saving the cost of engineering a treated joist to support the same loads.

There are savings to be had in foundation costs as well, as 2021 Evolution Deck Specialist of the Year winner Philip Purdy, StoneCroft Construction, Colorado Springs, CO., points out, “A quick look at span charts shows that you have reduced piers on beam spans. That alone is an understated value, especially if you have a view.”

Another overlooked “c” I invite you to consider is cosmetics, with the powder-coated aesthetic available with steel, posts and beams can, and often are, left exposed. The look is not only clean and modern, it serves to cut a considerable amount of cost by eliminating the material and labor costs of things such as rim board fascia and column wraps.

“So how do I sell it?”

I get asked this question frequently. Ironically, the best advice I can give is to not sell it based on the merits I just mentioned. When I first switched exclusively to steel, I would go over all the benefits of steel that mattered to me as a builder. I would watch as the potential clients’ eyes glazed over with disinterest. I had to learn to speak to what potential clients could understand. I’ve found a few universal things to communicate.

The turning point was when one potential client expressed concern about their composite decking getting “wavy.” That was when I finally connected the dots. Clients understand pretty; they understand “wavy” deck boards. When I could explain to them that their deck boards were “wavy” because they followed the contours, i.e., the crowns of the framing below, and that steel starts flat and stays flat— meaning their nice new deck boards would stay flat—

I started speaking their language and closes came much easier.

Clients also know about and often place value in a warranty. A steel frame can carry a warranty that in most cases matches the decking warranty, truly giving them a lifetime deck.

Clients understand return on investment. As Garth Hystad of Colorado-based Masterpiece Outdoor Living said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s been 10 days or 10 years, a steel frame deck will look good and hold its value for many years to come, making it one of the best outdoor investments for your return and enjoyment.”

Clients also understand what is easily recognizable. Every season, I come across jobs where the wood has completely rotted away while the joist hangers and other hardware still look almost new. I will invariably turn to the client, point to the hardware, and say, “Doesn’t it make more sense to just build the whole thing out of that?” I don’t close every job, but nobody has ever argued with me either. DS

14 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
Scott Kelly, “The Godfather of Steel,” and the owner of Precision Construction, Golden, CO., is entering his 18th year in business, and his 7th framing exclusively in steel. (



PRIVACY screens and walls have become more than a functional addition to outdoor living spaces to hide unattractive views—they have evolved into eye-catching, one-of-a-kind additions that builders are customizing to fit a space’s overall aesthetic.

Dan Pettit, owner of Northern Outdoor Living, Hastings, MN., says the industry is redefining what the customer thinks of privacy walls. “The privacy wall is a great pallet to get creative on, mixing with stone, metal and lighting and making live walls, where you can have different materials and different consistencies.”

“Don’t let the ideas stop before they come out of your mouth because you don’t think they can happen,” adds Pettit, who hired Tom Davis, an experienced metal worker, in 2021 to help produce his company’s one-ofa-kind, powder-coated, steel and aluminum privacy panels. “We will get into deep brainstorming. It’s a way to think outside of the box—taking our strengths and putting them towards the new fresh idea. There is no idea too kooky.”

Photos by Hideaway

ABOVE: Hideaway screens with a larger-hole pattern are a good option if privacy isn’t a priority.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Some customers prefer very thin slats for their privacy walls to obscure the view from the other side of the wall.

16 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

Pettit has used privacy screens on top of pony walls, more like wall art. For instance, on one project, he explains, “We created a wall with lattice you could see right through it, but it was more like a quasi-room feel. The panels went from the top of a pony wall to the top of a pergola, creating a kind of faux wall, dining room, living room and Jacuzzi. It felt like you were in something, but still outside.”

He adds that their customers have very specific holes or spaces to fill, and no two walls are the same because “the custom client likes to have something that no one else has.”

“Some people are very interested in very wispy or transparent walls, even if it’s an implied wall—not really being a hard physical structure, a plant wall— going from something (like that) to a total solid wall, with no transparency at all, or anywhere in between,” says Pettit.

“It’s more expensive to do it custom,” he adds. “It is more important to fully understand both aspects— the aesthetics and the functionality. If the panels are premade, you get what you get. You might like the design, but maybe it doesn’t give you the privacy that you desire. But when offering that customization, we try to hit both (aesthetics and functionality) because they are paying for it. We create a one-of-a-kind design they can call their own.”

To build their company’s unique designs, Pettit relies on hundreds of templates that can be modified

May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 17
ABOVE: Alternating the slats in this white privacy wall provides an attractive pattern and a good background for flowers and other plants.

CUSTOMERS are looking for patterned screens to complement the design of their outdoor living spaces.

in the CAD program that Davis uses. One client, for example, wanted privacy screens for their underdeck skirting, but didn’t want to obscure the windows that were below. “We created a thoughtful pattern that was not too tight, so light could get through, but not too open to make it obvious that there might be items stored down there,” Pettit says.

On another project, they cut out aluminum decorative skirting for a 1-ft.-high deck that needed ventilation for a hot tub. “It was a nice alternative to closing off the under deck with a solid-deck-board-claddingapproach because the deck was so low to the ground. We didn’t want to create a trap for moisture from the ground or from spillage from the hot tub. We were able to combine functionality and aesthetics.”

Conversely, many builders, including Deck Specialist columnist Mike Mitchell, turn to laser cut, powder-coated aluminum Hideaway screens for their privacy walls. “They have many stock options that are creative and look awesome,” Mitchell adds. “You can also do customized panels to fit your project or adjust the amount of ‘privacy.’ You can take it a step further and make your own design or add your logo to the panels.”

Moreover, according to Richard Van Wieren, president/CEO of Canada-based Hideaway, their screens offer a variety of customization options to builders, ensuring that they can seamlessly integrate into any project. “This level of customization is a game changer because it provides builders with a versatile solution that can be tailored to the unique needs and preferences of each client.”

These options include different patterns, colors, and sizes, as well as custom-made designs and patterns to match specific themes or aesthetics. The flexibility in design allows builders to control the level

of privacy by adjusting the size of the cutouts, the spacing between the panels, or by layering screens. In addition, builders can add Hideaway pergolas, rails, custom gates, and planters to their projects.

“Our builders are using Hideaway screens in various ways to enhance outdoor living spaces,” says Van Wieren, adding that the most common applications include creating privacy walls around decks, patios, and pools; dividing outdoor spaces into separate functional areas; providing shade and wind protection; and adding visual interest to landscapes.

Van Wieren says that for areas prone to high-wind, flooding, or heavy snow, there are fabrication and installation considerations to keep in mind when using their screens. “We recommend using thickergauge aluminum for added durability, and securing the screens with heavy-duty fasteners and brackets. In flood-prone areas, it’s essential to install screens above the base flood elevation level and ensure proper drainage. In regions with heavy snow, it’s crucial to consider the potential snow load on the screens and design accordingly.”

For Pettit, creating his unique, outdoor screen designs with eclectic, custom lighting means more than just trying to create one-of-a-kind designs—he wants to impact the outdoor living industry for the better. “My whole thought was I wanted to create a company where if we disappeared one day, the market would notice.”

Thankfully, if you ask Deck Specialist columnist Bobby Parks, privacy screens aren’t going away anytime soon. And although the use of more modern, upper-end privacy screen options is still limited, partly because of price and because builders are unfamiliar with ordering and using them, Parks feels “the market will grow for this kind of accessory.” DS

18 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

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Building Connections

Design-a-Deck is intentional about building rapport and staying in contact with customers and other builders.

Design-A-Deck, Inc.

Service Area: Chicagoland

Specialties: Composite decking, pergolas, roof structures

Owner: Brandon Baranak

General Manager: Jake Bednarczyk

Year Founded: 2008


Instagram: @designadeckinc


TASKS and assigning them to the the team members who see those through to the satisfaction of its customers has enabled Design-ADeck, Inc., Mokena, IL., to build and solidify its fivestar reputation in the industry.

Q. How did your company get started?

A. In the beginning of 2008, having spent the past five years building custom homes from the ground up, I found myself unemployed in what had

been my lifetime’s worst recession as a professional carpenter.

I applied for a job working as a carpenter in the trade show industry and fortunately in February of 2008 I got the job. I thought I had found a solid alternative until June of that same year when I realized the trade show industry in Chicago virtually grinds to a halt for the summer season.

Twenty-one years old, newly married with my first child and a mortgage payment on the way, I had to find a way to keep things afloat during this summer break.

I had done some remodeling in the past and dreaded the thought of working inside someone’s home again. The thought of building decks seemed to be a great fit. Relatively quick jobs, outside of the residence, free from the frustrations and challenges of running a project inside someone’s living space. I wasn’t quite sure where to start so I called my local village and asked if I needed to get a permit to put a sign in my yard to advertise a business I was planning on starting. I hung up the phone, filed for a DBA and printed a $75 vinyl banner that I stapled to a sheet of plywood propped up with a 2x4 to a small snow mobile trailer. I recall looking at it and feeling as if it were the tackiest attempt at advertising.

Much to my surprise it worked, I got my first phone call and a few days later I pulled up to my scheduled meeting not quite sure how to sell something I wasn’t 100% sure I knew how to build. I did not get that job, but what I did get was far more valuable. I had laid some of the first bricks to the foundation that now carries 15 years of experience, 500 plus projects installed, 10+ fulltime employees and a solid company well worth all the hard work.

Q. Are there any specific stategies that you apply to your business that have made it successful?

A. Constant communication through the clients and team. We want 100% customer satisfaction on

20 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
ORGANIZATION: Multiple crews work seamlessly to complete projects quickly. (Photo by Jake Bednarczyk)

every project as everyone being on the same page. We take great pride in this. Upholding and maintaining a perfect reputation is imperative to running a successful deck company.

Q. Tell me about your team.

A. Here at Design-A-Deck Inc. we employ a team of 12 people, including Jeremy, one of our foremen,

the very first employee Design-A-Deck Inc. ever hired. Running two installation crews of four or five carpenters can get projects moving quite quickly so having Paul, the superintendent, to service and supervise both installation crews is essential.

I have found that by keeping larger teams on the installation crews we are able to complete our projects in a very timely manner and get in and get out before we overstay our welcome.

Running our office are the general manager, Jake, and myself. When I first started out, I had no idea how much back-end work it took to properly plan and manage a deck project. As we grew, I very quickly stopped being able to get out of the truck and had to transition from building the projects to managing the projects. Being from a construction background, not much in my life had prepared me for the endless paperwork and communication it takes to run a successful deck company. Finding and hiring Jake had an extremely positive influence on the direction and strength of the company. At the end of the day, I am only one man; Design-A-Deck Inc. is not me, but the total of the entire team. And for that, I am grateful.

Q. What was your favorite project, and why?

A. My favorite project hands down is the deck I built for myself. Being a deck contractor is extremely rewarding, being able to turn a pile of lumber and an idea into a space people will enjoy for years to come is truly gratifying. But building something I knew was going to be part of my own life brought my passion for building decks into overdrive. Trying to tie in all my years of deck building experience took quite a bit of planning and countless hours staring out the window. After landing on the final design, and approval from the boss, I was able to put together—now I may be biased—one of the nicest decks I’ve ever seen. The best part of this project, I’m not just

22 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
COMMUNICATION is paramount to meeting customers’ expectations. (Photo by Jake Bednarczyk) THE TEAM relies on its local lumberyard for much of its composite decking materials. (Photo by Jake Bednarczyk)

taking a picture and walking away.

Understanding my own needs, wants and desires out of a deck helped me better relate to what my clients experience and how important every detail can be. Even though I have confidently helped countless people through the whole experience, I found myself standing there with the same lost look on my face as I began the process. Understanding and experiencing this myself has helped me relate to what my clients are feeling and has ultimately helped me sell decks to them.

Q. What builds instant confidene in your ability to execute your clients’ wishes?

A. Reviews, reviews, reviews. Yes, I know there are some customers that can be quite challenging to please, but leaving even one customer only 90% satisfied can spell the end of your success. In the beginning, Design-A-Deck Inc. had to spend around $10,000-$15,000 per year on advertisement to get the phone to ring.

After some days of paying for advertising and building up some solid five-star reviews, I noticed the phone was ringing even when our ads weren’t running. Fast forward to today and we have not spent a dollar on advertising in years, and even had to

implement a consultation fee to sort out the serious callers from the tire kickers. By building a solid reputation, you can save $10,000-$15,000 a year on advertising. This quickly offsets giving a little more to the customer that’s hard to please. Earning another five-star review only helps solidify your reputation. Not everyone can afford the best, but they will have interest in seeing if they can.

Q. How do industry connections positively influene your company?

A. I have been reading Deck Specialist magazine for years and love to read the articles. I have honestly taken a lot of valuable advice from others willing to share their knowledge and experiences. One such article I read mentioned that you should befriend your competition. I read the article further and found that there is quite a lot to be gained from this. I took it to heart and started trying to connect with other deck builders that I frequently run into at the local lumberyard. After some defeated attempts, I started to make some connections and even built friendships. I can tell you it is quite refreshing to be able to pick up the phone and call someone going through the exact same experiences as you to bounce ideas off and even seek advice. Attending the Deck Expo, joining NADRA, and keeping tabs on your

May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 23

fellow deck builders in the industry helps us push each other to be more creative, more innovative, and all-around better deck builders.

Q. What is your strategy when it comes to product partnerships and choosing your suppliers?

A. Normally a diversified portfolio is better than placing all your eggs in one basket, right? As far as product offerings and suppliers go, I tend to disagree. The world of composite decking can be extremely overwhelming and by going to a client with every brand and option under the sun you can quickly intimidate and even discourage your clients, plus the leg work on quoting multiple options can get very time consuming.

Using one supplier for most of your projects can have its advantages as well. We purchase almost all our materials through our local lumberyard, which has made us their largest purchaser of composite materials. Other contractors quote out each load from a list of vendors and constantly jump around for a deal. By building one rock-solid relationship it becomes so valuable that neither party would be willing to risk the relationship and will protect it at all costs.

Q. What are your individual strengths and weaknesses as a company?

A. Our most important strength is having a well-organized team of talented individuals working together to complete our projects. Having several people involved in the completion of a project helps ensure that we deliver 100% satisfaction. Taking a

project from initial sale, through final details and contracting, permitting, and finally execution can be a daunting task when starting out—and takes extreme flexibility.

As we grew, separating those tasks and creating positions to manage them helped us complete a lot more projects while still giving the customer that small company feel.

Our biggest weakness as a company—as I’m sure most decking contractors would agree—is the weather and the human factor. Most clients are so thrilled to be getting their new deck that they absolutely couldn’t imagine another moment without it. This is exciting, a large investment, and they’ve hired us because in their eyes we passed all their tests. Expectations are very high. Getting ahead of this is so important as many people not only rate your company on the project’s results, but the actual experience throughout.

Overcoming communicating this to clients can be a quite a challenge when its early spring and the weather is changing the schedule daily. Spring brings a lot of challenging weather and let’s face it everything tends to take longer than you think. Building extra days into your projected schedule for all those weather delays, last-minute add-ons, and all the other curve balls that tend to keep coming will help you stay ahead of schedule. If delays happen, letting people know before they ask is always the best approach. I like to mention that we don’t rush through our current project to get back on schedule, but we also won’t rush their project either as quality work cannot be sped up. DS

24 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
DESIGN-A-DECK prides itself on having a stellar reputation. (Photo by Brandon Baranak)


Every day should feel like an adventure. MoistureShield® is the only high-performance composite decking engineered to deliver 360-degree protection, 365 days a year. So you can be one with nature, no matter what the day brings.

Contractor Bonds

How to Safeguard Your Company

ASA BUILDING contractor, you will likely encounter surety bonds during your career. In most states, you won’t be able to get a license to legally work as a contractor unless you first post a contractor bond in the amount required by your state or local government. Understanding what contractor bonds are and how they work is critical. While obtaining a contractor license bond might seem like one more expense involved with building your business, it’s important to understand what they involve.

Contractor License Bonds vs. Insurance

Many states and local governments require contractors to get licensed before they will be legally authorized to work in their jurisdictions. While many people think that surety bonds are another type of insurance, that is not true. Unlike insurance, having a contractor bond does not mean you will be protected against liability if a claim is filed against your bond. Instead, your bond is designed to protect others from any potential harm you might cause by violating the law or engaging in unethical business practices. A contractor bond is an enforceable agreement between the following involved parties:

• Principal - Contractor required to post a bond

• Obligee - Government agency that has a bond requirement for licensing purposes

• Surety - Bond company that approves the bond application and issues the bond to guarantee the contractor will follow the law and operate ethically

How to Get Bonded

To get a contractor bond, you can apply to a surety company. You should make sure to gather information about yourself, your experience, and your business. Many surety companies allow contractors to submit online applications, but they might require applicants to submit additional documents about their businesses and themselves. To prepare, gather the following documents:

• Business and personal tax returns

• Business and personal bank account statements

• Business profit and loss statements

• Reference letters from your bank and parties with which you’ve done business

Once you submit the bond application, the surety company will evaluate your application and additional documentation and notify you if you have been approved or denied. If approved, the company will

26 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

give you a quote for the bond premium, which is the percentage you must pay to purchase your bond.

Underwriting Process

Unlike insurance, a contractor bond is an extension of credit by the surety company to the contractor. Because of this, surety companies send bond applications through an evaluation process through which they will determine whether or not to underwrite the bond.

During the underwriting process, the underwriters assess the following types of factors to evaluate the risk the company would face by approving the bond:

• Contractor’s personal and business credit history

• Contractor’s business and industry experience

• Whether the contractor has had any convictions or claims filed against them in the past

• The stability of the contractor’s business

• Assets held by the contractor and the business

• Available working capital of the business

Surety companies evaluate these and other factors to decide whether they should approve or deny a bond application. If you have good credit, experience in the industry, and a strong business reputation, the company might assess your risk as relatively low. On the other hand, if you have spotty credit, a bad reputation, and little experience, the company might assess your risk as high. The company’s risk assessment during underwriting determines whether your application will be approved and how much you might have to pay to purchase your bond.

Bond Cost

The bond amount you are required to post in your state is not the same as the amount you have to pay

to purchase it. Your bond cost will be determined by the surety company based on its assessment of your degree of risk. If your risk level is low, you might have to pay as little as 1% of the total bond amount. For example, if you are required to post a $20,000 bond and have great credit and an excellent history, you might only have to pay $200 to get bonded. If your credit is poor, and the company assesses your risk as fairly high, you might have to pay a bond premium of 10% or more to get bonded. Under this example, a $20,000 bad credit bond might cost as much as $2,000 or more.

One important thing to note is that a contractor license bond is not permanent and will expire. If you have problematic credit but work to improve it, your required bond premium can decrease at the time you have to renew your bond.

Avoiding Bond Claims

Once you are bonded, the surety company will provide a bond form to the state showing that you have met your bonding obligations. You can then submit your license application and fee once you have met the other licensing requirements in your state.

To avoid claims against your bond, you must always comply with the local and state regulations and building codes, pay your business taxes on time, and renew your bond and your license before they expire. If a valid claim is filed against your bond, you will be responsible for repaying the surety company for what it pays to satisfy the claim.

Conducting your business in an above-board manner can help you avoid bond claims. If you make sure to complete your contracts according to their terms and steer clear of unethical business practices, you should be able to avoid bond claims. Having a spotless record of avoiding bond claims can also help to reduce the costs of renewing your bond when the time comes.

If you instead have a history of bond claims, you might have trouble renewing your bond. In states that require bonds for contractor licensing, not being able to renew your bond or get a new one could result in the loss of your license and the forced closure of your business. Always make sure to fulfill your legal and contractual obligations to avoid this problem. Doing so can also help you develop a strong business reputation and facilitate the success of your business enterprise as a building contractor. DS

Lisa Trymbiski is the manager at Bryant Surety Bonds, in charge of a team that assists clients in the surety bond industry. Education, service, and compliance are her top priorities when completing a business transaction.


28 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 724.857.1111 | Discover The smarter way forward. VERSATEX manufactures state-of-the-art cellular PVC building products that install like real wood and are completely impervious to moisture or any environmental impact. When you Discover VERSATEX, you find there is a way to blend architectural beauty with long-lasting, low-maintenance performance. Learn how VERSATEX was discovered by this builder at Van Duyne Builders, Longport, NJ The smarter way forward.

NADRA crowns champs

THENORTH AMERICAN Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) honored more than 80 award winners at the 2022 National+ Deck Competition at NADRA’s annual meeting on March 30 in Clearwater Beach, FL.

“I met so many amazing people from all different working parts of this industry and was blessed by the opportunity to do so,” said Dan Pettit, Northern Outdoor Living, Hastings, MN., who entered the competition for the first time, earning fifth place

overall, and was awarded five other awards.

“It was a gathering of a few hundred of the top deck builders from around the world, but strangely enough, it felt more like a family reunion than a competition,” said Brendan Casey, Casey Fence and Deck, Frederick, MD., who brought home four awards. “The projects on display were some of the best I’ve ever seen and those in attendance were truly happy for all the deserving winners.”

“This two-and-a-half day, annual event really has become ‘the place’ to be. And it’s not just for those that submit entries for the contest,” said Deck Specialist columnist Bobby Parks. “All involved in this industry at any level would gain from attending. Just interacting with your peers provides motivation, inspiration, and new ideas as well as an opportunity to make new friends.”

Casey said he liked the new addition of having participants come up and announce winners in different categories, making it a very “inclusive” event.

But what really was “the real icing on the cake” for Casey was when Parks presented an appreciation award to NADRA’s Margie and Michael “Pops” Beaudry for their tireless and selfless efforts as the rudder of the NADRA ship. “There was nary a dry eye in the house as Margie, who avoids attention at all costs, was called up on stage,” he said.

“The fact that the gathering provides an oppor-

30 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
DECK SPECIALIST COLUMNISTS: Brendan Casey, Bobby Parks, Andy Henley, April Edwards, Mike Mitchell gathered with other builders at NADRA’s annual meeting in Clearwater Beach, FL. (Photo by Billy Shirey of Hen-House Decks) STUNNING award-winning wall by Windeck Ltd. was created with powdered ceramic frit fused on glass in a kiln. (Photo by Windeck)

tunity for professionals to interact for an extended period allows relationships to be made and strengthened,” Parks added. “This is the one event where brand barriers are pushed aside and all involved are able to enjoy the cordial atmosphere that NADRA creates at this warm and sunny location.”

The association honored builders in a large range of categories. First place overall went to Neighbourhood Fence and Deck Inc., Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada, which also took top honors for Pool Deck and Alternative Deck $151-250K, and second place for Hardscape and Limitless Over $250K. Windeck Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, took second place overall, and took first place in Alternative Deck Over $250K, second place in Unique Feature, second-place tie in Illumination and Alternative Deck $71-150K. Majestic Outdoors, Raleigh, N.C., took third place overall, first in Hardscape, Alternative $35-70K, and Limitless $35-70k, and third in Limitless $71-150K. Northern Outdoor Living took fifth overall, first place and second-place tie in Illumination, first place and second-place tie in Limitless $71-150K, and second place in Alternative Deck $35-70K.

Other first place winners included: Casey Fence & Deck, for Wood Deck $35-70K; Deck Remodelers, Sparta, N.J, for Wood Deck $71-150K and Limitless $151-250K; Erdmann Exterior Designs, Winnetka, IL., for Wood Deck Over $150K; French’s Custom Outdoor Concepts, Live Oak, TX., for Alternative Deck Under $35K; Colorado Custom Covers and Decks, Morrison, CO., for Alternative Deck $71-150K; Decks and More, Smyrna, GA., for Limitless Over $250K; California Deck Pros, Valley Center, CA., Commercial; LS Underground, Brighton, CO., Best Product Display and Inlay; Erdmann Exterior Designs, Arlington Heights, IL., Railing; Dock & Deck, Knoxville, TN., Dock; Decksouth, Marietta, GA., Open Porch; Holloway Co., Dulles, VA., Closed Porch; Ridgeline Decks, Spokane, WA., Unique Feature; Ravin Builders, Wood River Junction, R.I., Entry Level Deck; and Decks Unlimited, Lincoln, NE., Refurbished Deck. DS

32 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
ATTENDEES at NADRA’s annual event enjoy the warm, Florida weather. From left to right: Zach Gunning, Brendan Casey, Andy Henley, Mike Mitchell and Fortress Building Products’ Scot Sheffield. (Photo by Billy Shirey of Hen-House Decks) NADRA’S Michael Beaudry (left) is shown with FastenMaster’s Mark Guthrie (middle) and Andy Henley, Hen-House Decks. (Photo by Billy Shirey) FIRST-TIME ENTRANT Northern Outdoor Living earned fifth place overall for their custom, fiber optic wall projects. (Photo by Northern Outdoor Living)

Long Live the Ledger

Preventing Deck Failure and Extending the Life of a Deck


WORKMANSHIP and wayward water are two of the biggest threats to a deck’s longevity. Unfortunately, those dangers often intersect at the ledger board, which anchors the deck to the building. It happens because builders either neglect to install ledger flashing or settle for substandard methods, such as caulking. Without adequate protection against water infiltration, the ledger traps moisture and rots. The rim joist is also in jeopardy of rot. As a result, the risk of catastrophic deck failure increases. It’s a more common occurrence than many people know—and very avoidable.

Building code requirements

The requirements for deck flashing are outlined in section R703.4 of the International Residential Code (IRC). It calls for flashing “where exterior porches, decks, or stairs attach to a wall or floor assembly of wood-frame construction.” The flashing must be “approved corrosion-resistant flashing” that is “applied shingle-fashion in a manner to prevent entry of water into the wall cavity.” The flashing must also “extend to the surface of the exterior wall finish.” Using this general guidance, it’s up to the builder to select the appropriate deck flashing materials and methods.

Flashing options – pros and cons

Code-compliant flashing materials include aluminum, galvanized steel, stainless steel, copper, vinyl, and self-adhered membranes that comply with AAMA 711. While copper pairs well with pressure-treated lumber, it can react with (corrode) galvanized steel fasteners and hardware. Stainless steel is an inert (nonreactive) flashing material, but costs more than other options. Aluminum and galvanized steel are the least expensive metal flashing options and the most widely available.

Common metal flashing is typically shaped like an “L” or “Z,” with the wall-side leg tall enough to slip under the building’s water-resistive barrier (WRB)—

34 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

usually house wrap or felt—and the siding. The horizontal lower leg caps the ledger and, in the case of Z flashing, extends down the ledger face about half an inch. The American Wood Council recommends using “L” flashing that extends beyond the joist hangers. See Figure 14 in “Design for Code Acceptance No. 6 (DCA6), Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide.”

One common complaint about metal flashing is that it requires bending, which can be time consuming and potentially dangerous due to the sharp edges. Metal also requires nails or screws for installation, which creates opportunities for moisture penetration. While it may divert water away, it doesn’t seal water out. Moisture can still find its way to the wood and migrate to the building walls through nail holes. With that moisture comes rot and decay. Plus, aluminum and galvanized steel flashing corrode faster when they’re in contact with pressure-treated wood.

While the IRC is silent on accelerated corrosion, some building authorities restrict the use of these metal flashings because they are so prone to leaks. The common work-around is to install a membrane barrier between the metal flashing and the pressure-treated wood. But the better solution is to omit the metal flashing and apply a flexible self-adhered membrane instead. It’s an approach that more builders are adopting since new and better flashing membranes have reached the market.

Advantages of flashing tape

Of all the flashing options available, only flashing tapes have the ability to create a waterproof seal around the ledger board. Self-adhered flashing membranes also eliminate the need for mechanical fasteners that create holes, and they don’t corrode. Membrane flashing might cost a bit more than aluminum or galvanized steel, but it protects the ledger better and is much less expensive than copper and stainless steel.

The primary types of self-adhered membranes used as deck flashing are asphalt-based, acrylic, and butyl-based.

• Asphalt-based membranes. Originally used as an ice and water shield on roofs, this peel-and-stick underlayment is now also sold as deck flashing. It’s fairly inexpensive, but tends to ooze excessively in hot weather. It’s also difficult to handle without making a mess and doesn’t adhere well in cold weather. Brand names include WiseWrap and Vycor Deck Protector.

• Acrylic membranes. This type of membrane is thin, stays flexible in cold weather, tears by hand, and unsticks easily if you make a mistake. It’s also the most expensive of the self-adhered membranes and isn’t readily available in sizes or formats conducive to ledger flashing. Plus, it needs 24 to 72 hours to fully set. Nichigo G-Tape is one example.

• Butyl-based membranes. This type of membrane is very tacky, but doesn’t ooze like bitumen at elevated temperatures. It also adheres better than asphalt membranes and sets faster than acrylic tapes. When applied in cold weather, tack-stapling might be required to hold it in place, but the membrane will self-seal around such penetrations. Trex Seal aluminum-lined flashing tape is the newest generation of butyl-based membranes. Specifically designed for protecting ledgers and compatible with all decking materials, this 11”-wide butyl-based tape combines the best performance features of metal and tape flashing to create a waterproof barrier that provides complete coverage of the ledger board. It also seals any gaps between the ledger and the substructure for optimal protection. Featuring a convenient 5-1/2” double-release liner, Trex Seal is easy to apply for accurate installation and is Code AAMA711 compliant.

Additionally, the aluminum lining reduces or eliminates the need for stapling because it holds its shape better than unlined tapes, and tapes that use a PET lining. Not only does the aluminum lining minimize flex back and slumping, but it allows builders to pre-bend the tape to fit the inside corner formed by the ledger and building wall. In short, Trex Seal remains tacky and flexible, but the aluminum liner makes it more “obedient” than other flashing tapes.

Flashing tapes are proven to preserve a deck’s integrity and longevity. And, with the selection of easy-to-apply options now available, there’s no reason for any deck to be left vulnerable to the elements and premature failure. DS

Dave Kile is the founder and North American sales mgr. for Trex RainEscape, manufactured and sold by IBP, LLC under a Trademark License Agreement with Trex Company, Inc. RainEscape is a federally registered trademark of IBP, LLC (

36 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
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Fixing Past Mistakes Before

WHENA PREVIOUS contractor neglected to build a usable, year-round outdoor space and refused to fix the issues, and after the homeowner unsuccessfully asked another half a dozen contractors how she could fix her space, Outback Deck knew it would be a challenge to correct the mistakes and restore the homeowner’s confidence.

“We understood the challenges we faced as a second builder on the project,” said Bryan Miller, co-owner of Outback Deck, Inc., Woodstock, GA., which builds $8 million worth of decks each year. “She hired the wrong contractor. He didn’t give her options and choices or any kind of guidance. He didn’t give her any help; he just came in and installed all that stuff and he installed it incorrectly, so we were trying to solve this problem for her.”

Outdeck co-owner John Gwaltney added, “She had multiple guys come out to tell her what they could do, but nobody came up with a solution that would work. She had at least three people that she had out who never responded after they left.”

Miller explained that they sat down with the Canton, GA., homeowner for 45 minutes to diagnose what the problems were and the solutions that had been tried. They discussed the options and products they felt would address her needs, and realized very quickly it was going to be an expensive project. Ultimately, they determined they would need to tear out 80% of what had originally been built except the pool to the final project cost of just under $330,000.

But the customer surprised them when she told them, “It’s not about the money. I’ve got all the money I need...I want solutions that are going to solve my issues that I don’t have to manage in the future.”

Miller added they were able to identify code violations that needed to be addressed including finalizing

40 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
“We understood the challenges we faced as a second builder on the project.”
— Bryan Miller, co-owner, Outback Deck

the permit for the pool. In addition, the electrical and plumbing had previously been installed incorrectly.

He explained they dug up the electrical and plumbing and identified the patio was below grade. Outback Deck discussed with the homeowner the option of installing a Fortress steel deck frame to reduce the probability that the deck would need to be replaced at a later date. But due to the complexity of the patio’s curves and angles, building a steel deck frame to fit the outdoor space was challenging for the Outback Deck crew, a team of six Fortress experts, and the Cherokee County chief inspector and inspection crew who came to the job site to advise and observe.

“We field engineered the specifications on a lot of those beams and spans to actually make it work. So, from a solution perspective, not only were we trying to solve issues for the customer, but we were trying to create and solve problems even for manufacturers so that we could use their product and use it correctly, (and) keep the warranty,” Miller said.

The steel frame provided the necessary support for the 1,470 sq. ft. of MoistureShield’s composite decking with CoolDeck Technology that the homeowner opted for so she, her grandchildren and her dog wouldn’t burn their feet when using the pool on a hot day. The outside deck boards were heat blanketed and bent to fit the space.

In addition to the decking, they finished a 144-sq. ft., four-season sunroom porch with cedar beams and a tongue-and-groove ceiling, matching the windows and the roofing to the house; built a 408-sq. ft. kneewall, and installed an outdoor kitchen featuring a tile backsplash, custom-made butcher block counter, floating shelves, a stove, oven, and refrigerator. The total footprint was 2,142 sq. ft. including artificial turf. Additional drainage work was done to allow the rainwater to flow and avoid flooding. Matching Hideaway screens were installed around the pool equipment and trash can area.

The customer requested barn-style gates for her stairs with a custom cutout for a cat, and to have her retaining walls updated in her front yard. A new walkway that attaches the front driveway to the backyard was poured, and new gutters were installed in front of the kitchen area.

The project was completed in seven months, within budget, and to the homeowner’s satisfaction.

In fact, the homeowner’s daughter told Miller, “We’ve spent years trying to find people who can help us do things and no one does what you do. No one could bring all those solutions to the table.”

“It’s because of our commitment to customer service as well as our process that allows homeowners to trust and know we are building the project the right way,” concluded Gwaltney. DS

AfterMay/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 41

Confessions of a Georgia Builder


BACK at my days as a builder, I’d like to say that everything always went smoothly, that I never had problems on the job, and I was always wise and mature in my actions. I’d like to say this, but I have to confess that’s not always been the case. The truth is I had many unique learning experiences.

Olympic Debacle

I learned that low toner in a copier can cause more problems than you think. In 1996, The Olympic Games were underway in Atlanta, GA. At the time, we were operating our own lumberyard that provided our projects material. One morning, the yard guys were caught up so I offered to let them make extra money aside from their salaries by demolishing a small deck inside the Atlanta city limits. I instructed them to put the stake-sides on one of the trucks, go by the office to get a copy of the job cover with the address, and bring the demo back to the yard.

Around 2:30 p.m., I radioed them to check on progress thinking they should be done. My guy started telling me that they had just finished unbolting and removing the railing and were just about to start on the deck. I had existing job photos and knew there were no bolts on the railing so I questioned him about being at the right place. He acknowledged that he did have trouble determining if the street number was 600 or 606 because the toner was low

on the copier, but he was sure he was at the right place because the homeowner had come outside and talked to him. Then he mentioned the homeowner had a foreign accent. I had spoken to the homeowner earlier that morning and he had a Southern accent, which might seem foreign to some people. But this customer was not foreign.

During the Olympics, many homeowners in Atlanta made arrangements to rent out their houses to visitors and athletes. As it turned out, the foreign speaking guy was an Olympic athlete who, along with other foreign athletes, was housed at this residence. He just assumed we were supposed to be there so he didn’t question it. In fact, the house they were staying at belonged to a previous customer who had provided the referral for the new customer whose house was three driveways down and the one we should have been at. How my guy didn’t recognize our previous build from a few years earlier I have no idea. The “victim” customer was on vacation when I made that dreaded phone call to tell them what happened. Fortunately, I had a good relationship with the customer and they handled it pretty well. I learned to attach existing deck photos to the job packages after this.

There were a few other lumberyard-related drama events. I learned that when a lumber truck drops a driveshaft at 55 mph and a new BMW is right behind it, the result is not going to be good. I learned that

42 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 PARKS AND DECK CREATION BOBBY PARKS

loading a large lumber package on a flatbed that had iced up over night could result in a rocket launch at dump time that takes out shrubbery and multiple fence panels in one shot. I also learned that taking curves with stacked pallets of concrete that aren’t securely strapped can become problematic.

Permit or Lack Thereof

I learned that working without a permit in Atlanta or anywhere is not a good idea. It may surprise you, but in my earlier days it wasn’t totally uncommon to sneak in a job here and there without one. In one instance, I was halfway through a job and was walking around the house to the driveway to grab some material when I realized some type of work was going on in the street out front. As I rounded the house and more of the street came into view, I noticed a lane was shut down and a flagman was managing traffic. As the flagman flipped his sign from “slow” to “stop,” a city inspector rolled to a stop right at the end of the driveway. I lip-synced a barrage of expletives as he turned his head and saw the lumber stack and then me, standing there like a deer caught in the headlights. It was a special day in that I received my first “Stop Work” order. I collected a few more over the years.

Dog Drama

I learned that without certain precautions in place, “dog drama” can occur. One day, I pulled up to the job where the existing deck began as a walkway at the driveway and lead around to the main deck behind the house. The crew was on the back portion doing the demolition and had removed the rail and most of the decking working their way towards the walkway. I walked off the driveway out onto the deck’s edge and was talking to the guys when the neighbor’s labrador retriever came in at warp speed from the driveway. He blew by me eager for a visit with the guys standing out on joist. I’m not sure if it was pure trajectory from speed and momentum or if he was good at placing his feet on joist or some combination of the two, but he made it an impressive distance before starting to bounce across the joist, disappearing, then landing

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Protection for your deck starts UNDERNEATH IT .

10 ft. below. He seemed okay, but I took him back to his mom and explained what happened.

In another instance, we had built a landing that had stairs protruding off of two sides for a duel entry. Apparently dogs love carpenters because as soon as the customer let his French terrier out the front door he too came running around the house to socialize with the crew. He ran up a set of steps that we had just decked and onto the landing which we had not. His departure was similar to the lab’s, but with an impressive flip rotation during the free-fall. He went end over end for 6 ft., landed in a dirt pile and rolled over into the water-filled footing hole. He was muddy, wet, and shaking, but otherwise okay. I took him to his dad and went through the same routine I did with the lab’s mom.

On another deck that had a 10-ft. elevation, we had tacked a board across the house door to keep anyone from walking out and asked the homeowner to make sure the “doggy door” was not usable. Apparently he forgot because three days into the build with most of the framing up, his English bulldog skydived out of it. Although we didn’t see him come out, we heard what sounded like a sandbag hitting the ground followed by some wheezing. When I turned around, his eyes were bulging and I got the impression this was a new experience for him. But, Georgia bulldogs are tough. It took a minute, but he shook it off. I had another one of those dog-parent conferences, which I was now getting pretty good at. He was fine, but I heard that he wasn’t using his doggy door weeks after we were done. We implemented a plywood safety block program from that point on.

911 Call

I learned that cell phones should be carried in a two-sided protective case. One day, one of my lead guys was putting down roof sheathing on a porch roof. I guess as a way to entertain himself, he would curse the plywood as he would swing it around, slam it down, and shoot it in place with the pneumatic nailer. He would say things like “get down you mother *#$@” as he slammed it down and “take that you son of a *#$@” as he fired off multiple rounds with the nail gun. What he didn’t realize was that he accidentally bumped his phone in his tool belt which some-

how dialed his programmed emergency 911 call. He stopped because he kept hearing someone talking. Then he heard someone saying, “Sir, are you okay?… Sir, do you need emergency assistance?…Sir, can you speak?” The 911 operator thought they were overhearing an act of violence in progress. It took him a while to convince the operator everything was okay.

Portajohn Drama & Dirt Clod Wars

You often hear how you should lead by example. This might not be the best example of that, but I did learn how to break someone from throwing dirt clods at a portajohn when others were using it.

I was on a commercial job site and had a guy named Jim on the crew that liked to do this. I had warned him, but couldn’t seem to break him from it. One day, I was on a roof when he went inside the relief unit which appeared to be within range of my position. While Jim was getting settled in, I had one of my guys haul a giant dirt clod up the ladder to me. Seriously, this was a mother-clod created during the site excavation weighing 10-15 lbs. In fact, it was so heavy I thought it would hit the ground and break into cluster-clods and bounce over to the john.

I crow-hopped across the roof and shot-put it as hard as I could. I underestimated my abilities as the clod launch exceeded expectations, hitting high on the portajohn crushing and exploding through the vent. It buckled the side with much of the payload entering the interior through the newly enlarged vent system. It literally rocked the john—and Jim. Looking back, I should have put more thought into the physics and trajectory involved because it was more like a bunker-buster bomb delivery and much louder and violent than I anticipated. I can only imagine what it must have sounded like from inside.

You could hear Jim bouncing off the walls and screaming like a girl just before he fell out the door on to the ground with his pants down around his knees. He was covered in dirt—even inside his pants. The good news is: aside from a few abrasions and possibly some slight hearing loss, Jim survived. And I didn’t have to file a workers’ comp claim and he didn’t sue me. It did, however, break Jim of the dirt clod throwing and put an end to the dirt clod wars. Jim quit soon after that. I suspect he remembers the experience every time he goes into a portajohn—if he even uses them. I know I think about it every time I see one.

As you can see, I’ve had many unique learning experiences. I’m guessing you have too.

Bobby Parks is a nationally known contractor who has delivered over $40 million of outdoor living projects. He is founder and former owner of Peachtree Decks & Porches LLC.

44 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
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What it means to win


in my column, I’ve discussed a lot of topics: “Brotherhood of great deck building,” “Who do you work for?,” “What do you work for?,” and “Why did you become a Deck Specialist?”

Now that you have dedicated yourself to becoming a Deck Specialist (because you have been following along and making all the right moves), let’s discuss the next rung on the ladder to success—becoming a member of NADRA (North American Deck and Railing Association).

Since the majority of the top deck builders in the world are all fast becoming members, it gives you a direct pipeline of access to the fantastic and mostly selfless individuals and companies. Most of these people willingly pass along the road maps to their accomplishments. I personally have been on the receiving and in turn, the giving end of this beautiful phenomenon seldom found in other industries. Membership also allows you to enter your spectacular projects into the National+ Deck Competition, an annual event that can open a whole new set of doors for you and your family, your company, as well as your team members and their families. It literally opens the door to a whole new world.

This year’s NADRA Summit and National+ Deck Competition was by far and away one of the best ever. The bar has been raised through the roof once again. Trends are changing for the better in some of

the most spectacular ways. Companies were showing a tremendous knack for challenging all of your visual senses with the “eye candy” being sweeter than ever.

Dan Pettit of Northern Outdoor Living, Hastings, MN., just blew the entire room away with his “Twin Peaks” and “Tree of Life” projects that incorporated CNC-cut, 3D-looking panels with fiber optic lighting that has forever changed how we look at privacy panels and deck lights. Daniel, a first-time entrant and the subject of previous articles, is now a fivetime NADRA winner.

Other first timers like Lou Lattanzio of Deck Nerds LLC, Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., who does a lot of work along South Carolina’s Grand Strand, and Travis Stuefer of Heartland Red (Lincoln’s Quality Deck Builder), Lincoln, NE., both brought their A-games for their inaugural national awards.

I had both the honor and privilege to receive the award for Lou since he wasn’t in attendance. Lou’s raw emotion just blew me away when I messaged him to let him know—though he was watching live. Lou said, “I am in tears, literally crying, you have no idea what this means to me.” Lou added, “Winning this deck award is an honor to say the least! I joined NADRA earlier this year after you kept encouraging me to do so.”

“The network of deck builders in NADRA are

46 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 SET THE STANDARD BRENDAN CASEY
FIRST-TIME NADRA winner Deck Nerds spent 60 hours bending boards and 50 hours installing and cutting them. (Photo by Lou Lattanzio, Deck Nerds LLC)

extremely knowledgeable and helpful,” he added. “I appreciate every one of them. Decking has been a passion of mine for a long time and I have followed the work of many talented builders for years.”

“Again, it was an honor to be recognized with some of the best craftsman in the world,” Lou said. My grandfather was an important role model in my life from a very young age and taught me attention to detail, and the importance of quality workmanship and being creative. I hope to use this recognition as a way to showcase my creativity to future clients and attract top talent.”

Lou, I’m pretty sure we all know what this means to you, and I can assure you that I too was in tears with you.

Here’s what Travis Stuefer had to say about his award: “NADRA is a wonderful resource for deck professionals! We joined in 2022 to be a part of a community of like-minded builders. The resources and inspiration that NADRA members provide are invaluable.

“We’ve watched the NADRA awards the last couple of years and were in awe of some of the creations. We decided to take our plunge and enter one of our builds. Although we couldn’t attend, we held a watch party and cheered loudly from Nebraska.

Travis added, “We are already discussing attending next year. We already have a spot in our showroom for this year’s plaque so we can proudly put it on display. Although we are currently patting ourselves on the back, we know we couldn’t have done this without our manufacturers, sponsors and partners. We get to work with some of the best decking products and people in the industry—those relationships make our builds look beautiful.”

In my opinion, everyone who enters is a winner for daring to put their efforts on display in such a large platform. They are winners for attending all of the events at the summit and banquet. They are winners for being in the same room, dining, chatting in the lounge or poolside, oceanfront or down on the beach with the most-heralded group of deck builders in the world.

Winning a NADRA award is an indescribable feeling; it confirms our quality and makes us proud, but also injects humbleness. It’s an amazing feeling to know your business has won a national award.

I have one more story I wish to share because this is very close to home. This letter was written and shared with Margie Beaudry at NADRA in 2019. She has graciously allowed me to share with all of you. It’s a little tongue in cheek, but really sums up what I

May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 47

believe to be the effects of properly leveraging your awards:

“I hope this finds you well. I need to file a complaint and unfortunately it is about NADRA. Not kidding.

It has recently come to my attention that NADRA causes anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and migraines along with an array of other unfortunate issues.

Ever since we won those awards last year at the annual banquet, we have been forced to raise our credit limit with both our bank and our main supplier. This has created an additional workload for my office.

As of this week (midsummer) we are only four jobs behind the total number of projects we installed all of last year. My dog doesn’t recognize me anymore since I’m never home. He thinks a stranger is trying to take him for a walk. My lumberyard is having a hard time keeping product on hand. My permit office has a daily limit, therefore my trips there have increased. I’ve actually considered asking them to put in a coffee bar so I can get a couple extra cups while I do my paperwork there.

Our local paper ran an article on us prior to the annual Home Show in March and we had a 30-minute-long line of people waiting to talk to us. My feet and back still hurt from standing all day. My chiropractor told me he can’t help. People drove from over an hour away to discuss their projects and ask us for design ideas.

Other local contractors were stopping by for advice, which I freely provided.

We have gone from a respected local company to “The Local Company.”

Even though we aren’t our supplier’s largest volume customer—we are one that they now consult with on new products.

I’m getting up every morning between 4:30 and 5

a.m. I’m on appointments at 7a.m. several days per week. I’m up doing paperwork ‘til 11 p.m. Running on fumes—and it’s all your fault.

NADRA has forced me to become far more efficient with my time, pre-qualifying leads, planning projects and deliveries as well as forcing me to get a new prescription for my eyeglasses. It’s all your fault.

I have to admit, never in all my life did I think I had a shot at winning a national award—nonetheless two of them. Nor did I ever dream what a ripple effect this would have on our business. I can’t tell you how much I really appreciate everything you, the girls, Mike, and all the other members of NADRA have done for me and my family. I overworked myself like a mad man for 38 years, holding the line on sticking with quality and not lowering our standards during the lean economic years. Fought like a guard dog to protect our reputation, and my friends would joke that I was like a starving artist and would never achieve acclaim or recognition. NADRA provided that recognition.

In short, one evening you guys help validate those 12- and 14-hour days, slogging in the rain, snow or 100° temps. Missing family events to meet deadlines. Then when my body wore out, those long nights of paperwork and sales calls.

You guys ROCK! The value created by these awards has been off the charts, I really want to thank you for everything. I can’t say enough.

But do you have anything for my migraine?”

I believe that sums up what a national award can do for a company. This year’s event was NATIONAL+ as people were in attendance from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

The overall winner, Kevin Boyd at Neighbourhood Fence and Deck Inc., Ontario, Canada, brought a project that would make most luxury resorts jealous.

Charles Chadd of Decks Unlimited, Lafayette, IN., dropped a MoistureShield board pattern that has Persian rug weavers scrambling for his design.

Everyone knows winning NADRA awards is the Holy Grail of deck-building recognition. Winning is contagious. Clients want to hire winners. They want to be associated with winners and they want their friends to know they worked with a winner. It validates the value of their projects. So, let’s get our best projects together and start planning to be winners next year, the entire brotherhood is rooting for you.

Go be great today!

With 35+ years experience in construction, Brendan Casey, with his wife Dianna, launched Casey Fence & Deck, Frederick, MD., fulfilling a growing need in the outdoor living market for an innovative, creative, custom builder.

48 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
NADRA GOLD: Andy Henley and Brendan Casey brought home multiple awards. (Photo provided by Brendan Casey)

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Moasure ONE: $449

Moasure STICK: $75

App store: Moasure PRO

Moasure ONE measuring tool

THEDECKING INDUSTRY is on fire with all the new technologies that are making deck builders’ lives easier. Gone are the days of hammering away for hours on end and feeling like you’ve aged a decade. The decking industry is all about progress, and progress is all about making life easier for us deck builders. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the new technologies that are making deck building less of a workout and more of a walk in the park. So let’s dive in!

In this TNT review, we have made Moasure ONE technology our featured product. It is a measuring tool with advance-patented technology that can take measurements through motion, creating a drawing at the same time. It can measure and calculate distances, angles, areas, elevation, and volumes. In the box you will find the measuring device, a protective case, and USB cable.

Founded in 2014 in Warwick, U.K., Moasure successfully launched a smartphone app, allowing users to leverage the motion sensors in their smartphone to take measurements by simply moving their phone.

In order to use this though, it requires a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet along with

Moasure’s app to receive the measurements. The app is currently free without any monthly fees. From the app you can export your drawings and measurements to PDF, DXF, PNG, SVG or CSV format that can be easily shared with others. This can be beneficial in many ways:

1. Improved accuracy: By exporting your measurements into a drawing or floor plan, you can see the layout of your space and double check your measurements to ensure they are accurate.

2. Enhanced communication: Exporting your measurements into a drawing can help you communicate your vision to contractors, architects, or other stakeholders involved in your project.

3. Time savings: By having a digital record of your measurements, you can save time by avoiding the need to remeasure or reposition items in your space.

4. Increased productivity: With a drawing or floor plan in hand, you can plan and visualize your project more efficiently, leading to increased productivity and better outcomes.

Mike: I first saw the Moasure ONE in use on a landscaper’s social media post and instantly knew it was

50 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

a must-have item in my toolbox. It was like a love-atfirst-sight moment. I was so excited I actually ordered it before I did any research. Part of me was skeptical, thinking it might be too good to be true, but after using it on a few projects, I became a believer. I can literally just walk around an area, setting the device down every so often and at key turning points, and it draws the space out for me. When measuring a closed shape, it also has the total perimeter distance and square foot area already calculated.

Andy: As an elite, custom deck designer, most of my project locations are not ideal for quick measuring. I’ve been that guy who measures the proposed area so I can start the design process, only to have to go back or excuse myself from the table to double check some numbers/heights. I discovered Moasure at a trade show last fall. As I watched the sales demonstration, I instantly knew that this product would benefit me. I quickly ordered one and was anxious to get it up and running. I found it to be very accurate and convenient to use on the more complex areas that I would normally struggle with and reduced the margin of errors. Ultimately, it allowed me to provide my customers with the best design I can offer.

Mike: One of the biggest advantages of Moasure is its ability to measure in 3D. As I walk the area and

take measurements, it is also tracking any associated elevation change. After measuring, you simply open up the drawing in the app and rotate the 2D shape into 3D. In this view, the change in elevation along the path just measured can be seen. This helps in designing the space and, more importantly, accurately estimating the materials needed.

There is an optional Moasure STICK (sold separately) to hold the device and your smartphone, and I think it’s an important part of using this outside. It allowed measurements to be taken without moving anything out of the way. I was able to easily measure distances around grills, behind planters, and through existing railings. Also, the STICK is long enough to measure about 10’ above

May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 51

Contractor’s Corner

Technology has introduced new methods and tools for bending composite deck boards, including heat-and steam-bending technology. These technologies make composite pliable enough to bend without breaking, resulting in smooth and uniform curves, expanding the possibilities for creating complex designs.

Our friend from across the pond, Simon Thomas, Swansea, Wales, U.K., has mastered this technology.

“My Trex custom curve oven completely changed my business. I bought it in 2018 and since that time, I have built a lot of curved decks; not just curved perimeters, but curved inlays and unique designs. I use a forming table to shape the boards and calculate my radius. Composite decking has some really striking colors and bending boards has given me a unique option in the U.K.,” said Thomas.

For more information on Custom Curving technology and techniques, reach out to Simon Thomas on FB and Instagram @simonthomasdeckanddesign or @DeckingTNT (Tools & Technology).

but it will be a top tool in my toolbox for any of those irregular shapes. It is also must-have for designing a new space from a blank slate, above ground pool decks, or any measurements with elevation change.

Andy: I agree with Mike, I have found that this tool best suits my design process when designing an above ground pool deck. With the elevation changes and sometimes difficult layouts, Moasure has helped make this process easier.

Here is where we think it could use some improvements:

Mike: It is very sensitive and at first I got several alerts that I moved too fast, or too slow, or was too rough with it (oops). Even after many uses, it still yells at me! At least the alerts I am getting now don’t affect the accuracy as much. I will just say there is a bit of a learning curve.

It doesn’t have any buttons on it which was a little hard to get used to. To turn it on you have to tap on it (but not too hard). Then it must be connected to Bluetooth before it shuts itself off. This might be good for battery life for those who forget to power the device off when done, but we found it timing out before we got it connected a few times. Speaking of the battery life, unfortunately there is no way to see it on the device. You must first connect it to the app and find it in there.

Andy: Since I wasn’t paying attention to it on the app, I did end up with an unexpected dead battery more than once.

Also it would be nice if the collapsible STICK was included, or wasn’t so expensive because it seemed to complete the tool.

where I am standing (I’m pretty short). This is helpful to gather existing wall or eve heights when measuring up for covered porches or pergolas.

Andy: Moasure is also incredibly user-friendly (once you get the hang of it). Using their app, most of us deck builders can easily take measurements, save the data, and share it with our team members. This helps streamline the building process and reduces the time and effort required to complete a project. However, for me it did take a minute to see how I could utilize this tool to my benefit. One of the best features that Moasure offers is easy-to-follow, how-to videos, and a responsive customer service, which is important these days. When I found myself struggling with using the tool, they quickly put me in the right direction.

Mike: There’s not a lot of payoff using this for measuring a 16x20 rectangle deck on a flat property,

Overall, this small but mighty tool will help save time and money for most deck builds. It will also set you apart from your competition. When the other guy is still out in the yard for over 20 minutes with his laser level (or guessing with his super accurate “laser eyes”), you’re walking and talking with the customer while measuring—instantly showing their personally created designed space. This will also show your commitment to accuracy, attention to detail, and your investment in your craft.

Pros: Versatility, convenience, accuracy and a great app on a smart device.

Cons: Learning curve, battery life, stick sold separately.

Overall TNT rating: 9.6/10

Andy Henley is the owner of Hen-House Decks, Uniontown, OH. Mike Mitchell is the owner of Mitchell Construction in the Chicagoland market. Andy and Mike can be reached online @DeckingTNT.

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Taking your business to the next level

ASA DECK BUILDER, you know that success doesn’t come easy. It takes dedication, hard work, and strategic planning to make your business thrive. However, you can’t just rely on hard work and dedication alone. That’s why marketing is a gamechanger for your business. It’s a powerful tool that can help you maximize your time, resources, and mental well-being to accelerate growth and boost your bottom line. And, it can be the difference between simply creating a job for yourself and truly becoming a successful business owner.

But first, let’s be honest. Marketing is more than just posting on social media. It involves connecting with potential customers and building relationships with them. Before investing in tactics like a professional website or social media ads, it’s important to understand how marketing can pay off in the long run for your business. This is because when done right it takes time, energy, and investment to make a significant impact (all of which are very valuable resources).

Let’s dive in and check out the top five reasons why marketing can pay off big time for your business!

1. Boost your visibility and leads

It’s important to have a reputable and recognizable brand. Potential customers tend to research and make purchase decisions based on what they see online, so showcasing your work and the team behind it can build trust and increase the likelihood of being chosen over competitors. This can lead to a consistent

flow of prospects and keep your phone ringing continuously throughout the year.

2. Gain a competitive advantage and reduce the need to compete on price

Gaining the prospective customer’s trust is one of the keys to establishing the comfort level needed to close the sale. By focusing on providing value to your customers, you can differentiate yourself from the competition. By establishing yourself as a top player in your field, you’ll gain a competitive advantage over others. And, you won’t have to worry as much about price wars because customers will be willing to pay a premium for your high-quality work.

3. Prime your prospects to save you time and help you close more deals

By providing valuable information to your prospective customers before they contact you, you can establish trust and increase their comfort level with your business. This can save you time in the sales process and help you close more deals, as they are more likely to choose you as their deck builder without needing as much convincing.

4. Steady income to reinvest into the business and yourself

A consistent revenue stream can reduce stress and uncertainty. By having a steady flow of projects and income, you can focus on growing your business, hiring more employees, and paying yourself.

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5. Build stronger relationships to boost referrals

Increase your communication touch points by sending friendly and useful information everywhere online, on your website and confirmation pages, through automated text messages and emails. Start before they even become a lead and continue after their project is complete. This can increase referrals.

So what steps should you take now?

How do you know if you are moving in the right direction with your marketing? Follow these steps:

1. Ask your customers for feedback: Find out if they understand your brand and what sets you apart from competitors.

2. Evaluate your website and online reviews: Check how you compare to competitors. Make sure your online reviews have good ratings, and your website provides the information a potential customer needs.

3. Check your social media: Check that your posts are unique to your brand. Highlight your signature deck project and promote your company culture.

4. Review your marketing materials: Confirm that your marketing, and your online presence are cohesive and reinforce your brand.

5. Get a second opinion: Ask a trusted friend, family member, or colleague for their honest opinion.

6. Create an action plan: Take your analysis and devise an action plan. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Map things out into small chunks based on effort and investment.

Remember that delegation is vital—you are a deck builder, not a web designer!

Marketing is only one piece of the puzzle, but it can be the difference between a struggling business and a thriving one.

Until next time… keep moving forward.

April Edwards is a digital marketing strategist and the founder of Deck Builder Marketers, Carlsbad, CA. You can message her on Instagram @deckbuildermarketers or learn more by visiting

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Tropical Forest Products Expands Hardwoods Distribution in S.C.

Tropical Forest Products, has partnered with Four Corners Building Supply as an official distributor of Tropical’s Black Label brand of tigerwood, premium ipé, cumaru, garapa and other tropical hardwoods graded to the highest standards. Headquartered in North Charleston, S.C., Four Corners serves the Low Country region as a leading distributor of premium building materials.

“I have been buying tropical hardwood decking for over 30 years in the Charleston area,” said Larry Broadway, Four Corners purchasing manager. “The quality, consistency and breadth of product offerings are by far the best I have seen in the market. When paired with Tropical Forest Products’ Legal Lumber Due Care environmental compliance program, we know that our customers are assured, not only the best possible hardwood decking outcome, but also the most ethically sourced hardwood decking, accessories and cladding products on the market at competitive prices.”

decking, and its Fairway aluminum, composite, steel, and vinyl/PVC railings through two additional locations in Los Angeles and San Diego.

The added distribution comes as Envision Outdoor Living Products establishes a stronger foothold for composite decking in Southern California and introduces its Fairway Railing Collection lineup in these markets.

NADRA’s First 2023 Deck for a Soldier Project Helps Navy Veteran

North American Deck and Railing Association’s (NADRA) first Deck for a Soldier project of 2023 brought together deck builders, manufacturers and suppliers to help one disabled Navy veteran access his home easier.

This year’s project was organized for Frederick Redline, 92, of Monroe Township, N.J., a Navy veteran of the Korean War. With the support of companies, such as CAMO brand of deck tools and fasteners, Redline received a ramp and front porch, making it possible for him to enter through his front entryway and enjoy some fresh air outdoors.

“The Deck for a Soldier program is our way to give back to the men and women who defend our nation,” said Katey Dommenick, National Nail brand marketing director. “Thanks to the best deck builders New Jersey has to offer, we’ve given Fred the freedom to enter and exit his home, just in time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.”

Black Label exceeds the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Unifloresta for the brand’s Tigerwood, Ipe, Cumaru, Jatoba, Garapa, BulletWood and, all 100% legally sourced from South America. They also offer thermally modified Kebony and Thermowood with Novawood technology.

Black Label has been awarded for excellence with an Architizer A+ Award.

Envision Adds Two Distribution Locations in Southern California

Envision Outdoor Living Products has expanded its distribution relationship with Master Halco, a premier manufacturer and wholesale distributor of security and fencing products. Master Halco is offering all of Envision Outdoor Living Products’ lines, including its Distinction, Expression, and Ridge Premium capped composite decking, EverGrain uncapped composite

Previously serving on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, Redline, the father of 11 children, has dementia and is now confined to a wheelchair, which his current home could not accommodate. Thanks to NADRA and its members’ generosity, Fred can be moved in and out of his home without being carried up and down the concrete steps.

“When we started looking into having an ADA ramp built for our dad, the Veteran’s Administration suggested we apply to the Deck for a Soldier program,” explained Patty Reid, Redline’s daughter. “We were only expecting one or two contractors, but then almost 20 showed up and finished the ramp and deck in only two and a half days! It was so heartwarming to see everyone come together to help our father.”

Using low-maintenance composite decking and CAMO innovative tools and fasteners, the construction process was fast and seamless, due to the exceptional skill of NADRA’s volunteers. They provided Redline with a beautiful, expanded porch and durable ramp that will require little upkeep.

“My dad is so thankful for the porch and ramp from Deck for a Soldier, and his ability to be outside in the sunshine,” said Reid.

56 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

Fortress Building Products’ new customizable Deck Kits include steel deck framing, decking, railing and hardware in a complete package for a simplified deck category ordering experience and installation process.

The kits include everything needed to build a standard 12’x12’ deck: Evolution steel deck framing, Apex capped bamboo-PVC composite decking, AI13 Plus aluminum railing, Hulk fasteners, color-matched screws, and related hardware.

Customers can choose from a free-standing configuration or an attached-deck option, and can opt to include Fortress’ compatible steel stair system.


Simpson Strong-Tie has added two new color options to its line of Deck-Drive DCU Stainless Steel Composite Screws designed for fastening PVC and composite decking or trim to wood framing and wooden roof sleeper assemblies, as well as for fastening PVC and composite cladding to wood framing.

The new Light Tan and Light Gray options have been formulated to pair with lighter colors that provide cooler deck surface temperatures in warm climates. They are among a wide range of colors, matched to blend with decking from most major manufacturers.

For superior corrosion resistance in marine or high-exposure environments, the new colors come in Type 305 or Type 316 stainless steel.


National Nail’s CAMO brand has now introduced an added layer of protection for the deck substructure, with CAMO Joist + Ledger Deck Tape.

Made in the USA, the self-adhesive butyl tape creates a waterproof membrane to protect wood deck framing against moisture, which can lead to rot. It self-seals around fasteners, blocking the pathway of water into wood. Apply CAMO deck tape to the top of joists and ledger board, between joist hangers and ledger board, between rim joists and fascia, and between framing and joist hangers.

Securely bonding to wood framing, one 65 ft. roll covers approximately 75 sq. ft. of deck framing. The tape is available in three sizes: 1-5⁄8” width for single joists to fully cover tops of 2x wood joists; 3-1⁄8” width for use with double joists; and 6“ width ideal for ledger and rim joists.


FastenMaster has launched the MVP Multipurpose Wood Screw designed for framing, interior remodeling, cabinetry and more.

MVP features FastenMaster’s exclusive double-lead SureStart point for a fast start, and the TORX ttap drive system provides a stable, wobble-free installation. The fastener also features a durable ProjectLife Coating that delivers corrosion protection for the life of the project and a SureSink Head that countersinks into the wood without compromising clamping force.

MVP fasteners are available in six sizes from 1-1/2” through 4” in half-inch increments, and come packaged in small packs of 100, project packs of 250 to 500 depending on the length, and in bulk quantities of 1,250 to 2,000 fasteners depending on the length. A free TORX bit is provided in every box.


58 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 NEW PRODUCTS

DeWalt has released a new 20V Max Brushless 1/2” Drill/Driver (DCD793) engineered for speed, control and precision.

Featuring an efficient brushless motor and 2” shorter in length compared to the DCD771 at 6.38”, the 20V Max Brushless 1/2” Drill/ Driver delivers up to 16% more power compared to the DCD771.

It is available as a bare tool or in a kit, that includes a DCB203 battery and charger. The battery and charger are sold separately for the bare tool option.


Grip-Rite’s new Ninja Hidden Deck Fastener brings strength, stability and speed to grooved deck board installations.

The patent-pending design features Compression Fit levers that hold the clip in place to quicken board installation, after which serrated teeth hold boards in place.

Their universal fit means the same clip may be used to create multiple deck patterns straight, diagonal or herringbone with a seamless surface finish.


May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 59

Armadillo Evolution composite decking series has been improved even more. With six popular colors including Bourbon, Firewood, Linen, Mesa, Steel Wool and Twilight, it features a deeper embossing and multiple color streaking.

In addition, the line is covered by the Armadillo Golden Promise warranty, including grooved and solid decking boards and respective riser, fascia and 2x4’s.

The industry-first complete warranty provides non-prorated coverage for 50 years and offers five years labor coverage. It also includes automatic onetime transferability for homeowners when they sell their home.


Digger Specialties, Inc. has introduced Westbury Riviera aluminum railing that combines the best elements of a deck or porch railing system.

The railing’s three-rail, upscale design is unique and the railing is produced with DSI’s proprietary 10step powder coating process for a lasting finish.

Westbury Riviera railing combines the attributes of beauty, strength, low maintenance, and security, and is backed by a lifetime limited warranty.


New improved thread design drills easier with LESS MUSHROOMING in composite lumber.

T-20 Star Drive eliminates driver bit camout (driver bit included)

Trim Undercut Head traps loose material while countersinking

Top Threads push composite material back into the deck (no mushrooming)

Deep Tri-Thread Design for superior holding value

60 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
Deck Building Solutions • 866-767-1850 • • SEE THE VIEW... NOT THE HARDWARE
Two different hidden deck systems to better meet your needs and give you a clean finished look.
Colors Available •Gray •Tan •Redwood •Brown
Flat Top Head provides increased bearing surface and maximum hole coverage
an over-sized hole to allow for expansion and contraction
•Tan •Redwood •Brown •IPE •White
for quick start
Type-17 Point for quick
Type-17 Point
Composite Fascia Board Fastener

Diablo Tools has introduced a line of diamond segmented turbo masonry cutoff blades that provide extreme durability, longer life and faster cuts in concrete and brick. Designed to fit standard arbor sizes and X-Lock interface, these diamond blades deliver up to 30% faster cuts and up to four times longer cutting life versus standard diamond cut-off blades.

Diablo’s diamond segmented turbo blades are designed with minimal gullet space

between their proprietary segments to provide the perfect balance between speed and cleanliness of cut. The unique castellations on the blade help remove debris and keep the blade cool when cutting. The blades feature 60% taller segments containing quality diamonds.


RailFX Express Mount Brackets eliminate the need to drill holes through each deck post when installing cable railing.

Users simply install the bracket to the outside of an end, corner or intermediate post, feed the cable through the bracket, and tighten the cable to secure it.

The brackets are only viewable from the outside of the deck, creating the illusion of “floating” cables from the deck view and improving sightlines.

They work with both Classic and LowProfile cable kits.


May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 61

Tropical Forest Products introduces Black Label professional-grade accessories designed for decking, cladding, and rain screen applications.

Black Label’s Clad Clip and Pro Deck Clip systems are made with the highest grades of stainless steel and military-grade polymers. Black Label’s Accessory Fastening Program offers products in both squarefoot coverage kits and in bulk.

The Black Label New Accessory Line also includes a tool kit.

Black Label’s new line of Ipe + Marine Oil Finishes, Wood Cleaner, Brightener and End Sealer enhance and protect the wood.


Screw Products, Inc. offers their new GEN II Line of 316 and 300 series stainless steel fasteners that meet most deck building project requirements. Packaged in 1-lb. and 5-lb. jars, and bulk pails, the fasteners come with a Star Drive bit. The fasteners include:

• GEN II AXIS Star Drive Structural Wood Screw: 316 & 300 Series Stainless Steel; #8 x 1” to #10 x 4”

• GEN II EPIC Star Drive Trim Screw: 316 & 300 Series Stainless Steel; #9 x 1-5/8” to #9 x 4”

• GEN II PICO Star Drive Finish Screw: 316 & 300 Series Stainless Steel; #8 x 1-5/8” to #8 x 3”

• GEN II AURA Star Drive Cabinetry & More Screw: 300 Series Stainless Steel; #10 x 1” to #10 x 2-1/2”


BORA Tool’s new NGX Rip Guide makes it quick and easy to accurately rip or cross-cut sheet goods and dimensional lumber. Whether users need to make one, or a series of repeated cuts, the durable aluminum twin rail design prevents racking and misalignment, while the oversized ergonomic handle provides ultimate control.

The rip guide’s revolutionary tool-free clamping mechanism allows for easy snap-in saw mounting— fitting both left and right-handed circular saws. Its portable size offers an easy setup, eliminating the need for a large table saw.


62 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023

Fortress Building Products has added new Evolution steel framing and pergola components to its lineup of outdoor living solutions.

Fortress now offers 5.5” x 5.5” posts that are 20 ft. in length (with new corresponding brackets) to accommodate longer spans. The new posts, brackets, bolts, blocking and straps will make it possible to construct a strong and dependable two-story deck structure. The new railing attachment bolts are designed to support a quicker, easier deck building process.

The sleek steel components are dual layer protected against fire, corrosion, twisting, insects and rot. A powder-coated finish provides enhanced corrosion resistance and UV protection.

Both assemblies and their expanded offerings are backed by 25-year limited manufacturer warranties.


Above Umbrella has released an outdoor Above Height Series Smart Umbrella designed to close automatically when high winds (20-22 mph) are detected, and features an LED light and remotecontrolled opening feature.

Available in three colors, Spectrum Cherry, Spectrum Indigo and Spectrum Dove (a greige color), the Height Series Smart Umbrella is available in two sizes: 9 ft. (covers a circular seating area of 4-6 people) or 11 ft. (up to 8 people).


BelowGrade Post Foundations

U-C Coatings’ Seal-Once premium waterproofing deck/dock sealer and stain is now rated non-hazardous to aquatic life.

Available in clear and three semi-transparent colors, Seal Once Marine deeply penetrates the surface to protect and stabilize wood in high-moisture areas. It is an eco-friendly wood finish, with ultra-low VOCs, and is safe to use around open water.


May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 63
ICC Building
ESR-2147 Learn more or request a sample at or call us at 800-522-2426 • Proven Performance: over 1,000,000 in use • Can be used with most post types, including wood, Perma-Column, and poured columns • Available in 5 sizes from 10” to 24” FootingPad® structural post foundations are engineered to meet or exceed the load capacity of concrete, while reducing hassle, time, and labor costs.
Code Compliant
Perfect for decks, post frame buildings, and other postsupported structures.
concrete footings while being lightweight and easy to handle.


PCBC Summer Showcase

When: May 24-25

Where: Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA.

What: The summer event includes educational programs, a Hall of Fame Awards Dinner that pays tribute to men and women for their accomplishments in the California homebuilding industry, and the Gold Nugget Awards that recognize those who improve their communities.

More info:

Houston Build Expo

When: June 28-29

Where: NRG Park Center (Hall E1/E3), Houston, TX.

What: A meeting place for outdoor living contractors, designers, commercial builders, and remodelers.

More info:

Northern Colorado Home Show

When: June 30-July 2

Where: The Ranch Events Complex, Loveland, CO.

What: The Home Show is in association with The People’s Tiny House Festival and offers more than 240 acres to explore the latest in outdoor living, home improvement, and more. Free attendance.

More info:

Northeast Georgia Home and Garden ShowYoung Harris, GA

When: July 22-23

Where: Towns County Recreation & Conference Center, Young Harris, GA.

What: Dock to deck, home improvement, landscaping, pool products and services will be on display.

More info:

Oklahoma City Renovation & Landscaping Show

When: Aug. 4-6

Where: OKC Fairgrounds - The Pavilion, Oklahoma City, OK.

What: This show brings together experienced remodeling, building and landscaping experts to share their knowledge with homeowners.

More info:

Greater Cincinnati House & Outdoor Living Show

When: Aug. 25-27

Where: Sharonville Convention Center, Sharonville, OH.

What: Knowledgeable remodeling and builders gather to showcase the latest in exterior products, remodeling, outdoor living and much more.

More info:

Jacksonville Home & Garden Show

When: Sept. 1-4

Where: Jacksonville Fairgrounds - Expo Center, Jacksonville, FL.

What: An event for homeowners to meet with outdoor builders and remodelers regarding their potential projects.

More info:

Bismarck Home Expo

When: Sept. 8-10

Where: Bismarck Event Center, Bismarck, N.D.

What: Homeowners interested in building or remodeling their homes will be able to share their ideas with experts.

More info:

Longmont Fall Home Show

When: Sept. 8-10

Where: Boulder County Fairgrounds, Longmont, CO.

What: The show features the latest in design, exterior products, maintenance, and more.

More info:

Colorado Springs Home Show

When: Sept. 15-17

Where: CS Event Center, Colorado Springs, CO.

What: Contractors can connect with homeowners interested in renovating or repairing their homes.

More info:

Murfreesboro Home Expo

When: Sept. 15-17

Where: Mid-Tennessee Expo Center, Murfreesboro, TN.

What: Local and national vendors in home, outdoor living, and more will share their latest products and services with homeowners.

More info:

Deck Expo - International Pool & Spa Expo

When: Nov. 13-15

Where: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV.

What: The International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo will be co-located with DeckExpo where all segments of the industry will gather to stay well-informed of trends, market directions, and technology.

More info:

Welcome Aboard! We are excited to introduce first-time advertisers MBrico and Palram. When you’re in need of outdoor tile decking or a polycarbonate deck canopy, please give them a look.

64 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023
May/June 2023 | Deck Specialist | 65 AD INDEX 9 Kebony 11 Mbrico 35 Mitsubishi 43 MFM Building Products Corp. 25 MoistureShield 55 MOSO North America 35 Nichigo G-Tape 15 Overseas Hardwoods Co. 3 Pacifi Woodtech Corp. 19 Palram Americas 45 RDI Railing 38-39 Regal ideas 49 Simpson Strong-Tie 60 Sure Drive USA Cover II Tiger Deck Cover III Titan Building Products 31 U2 Fasteners 29 Versatex Building Products 37 YellaWood Page 57 526 Events 53 Absolute Distribution Inc. 7 Accoya 62 American Ground Screw Mfg. & Supply 23 Avon Plastics 45 Barrette Outdoor Living 21 Biewer Lumber 61 Bigfoot Systems Cover II Black Talon 61 Deck2Wall 5 Deckorators (UFP) 51 DeckWise Cover IV Digger Specialties 33 FastenMaster 63 Footing Pad 27 Glass Flooring Systems 37 Great Southern Wood 47 Humboldt Sawmill 59 Invis-A-Rail DESIGNED FOR BEAUTY, MADE FOR LIFE. ARMADILLODECK.COM Deck Building Solutions • 866-767-1850 •

Southern Californian Sun

Exotic car wholesaler Bulent Bayram rolled up his sleeves and joined in on building an expansive 3,500-sq. ft. deck in the backyard of his Southern California ocean-view home.

Bayram, who has a background as a designer that goes back to his father’s marble business in Istanbul, Turkey, grew up around construction sites and buildings. For this project, he worked with two skilled builders: Rafael and Luis Guzman, whom he had worked with previously to install a composite deck in his backyard.

The deck, designed by Bayram, is entirely Kebony decking and surrounds a luxurious swimming pool. The modified wood decking replaces the existing composite deck that absorbed too much heat in the Southern California sun.

“In the summer it got so hot our dogs couldn’t walk on it,” Bayram said. He added that they opted for Kebony because the wood treatment process was developed in Norway, and his wife is Norwegian.

They installed 5/4x6 Clear Kebony

Deck Inner and Clear Kebony Deck Outer Boards for all decking, around the pool and on the walls around the yard. In addition, the builder constructed a 15'x25' pool house that was covered in 1x6 Kebony Character 90° shiplap cladding.

The decking, which only requires basic cleaning to maintain it, was sealed to prevent it from developing its distinctive gray patina over time.

Penofin Architectural Grade Transparent Sealer was used to seal the deck, and Penofin’s Marine Oil Finish was used around the pool and the walls because of water exposure.

Everything but the yet-to-be-installed swim spa took eight months to finish. DS

66 | Deck Specialist | May/June 2023 IDEA BOOK Submit photos of your latest and greatest project to sgraves@
Photos by Kristian Alveo UPPER: Kebony decking surrounds a luxurious swimming pool. MIDDLE: The cooler modified wood decking replaced the existing composite decking that absorbed too much heat in the sun. LOWER: The 15'x25' pool house is covered in 1x6 Kebony Character 90° shiplap cladding.
DECK SPECIALIST Change Service Requested 151 Kalmus Dr. Ste. E200 Costa Mesa, CA 92626-5959

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Articles inside

Southern Californian Sun

pages 68-69

Taking your business to the next level

pages 56-67

Contractor’s Corner

pages 54-55

Moasure ONE measuring tool

pages 52-53

Easy to install. Built to last.

pages 51-52

What it means to win

pages 48-50

Confessions of a Georgia Builder

pages 44-47

Fixing Past Mistakes Before

pages 42-43

Long Live the Ledger Preventing Deck Failure and Extending the Life of a Deck

pages 36-42

NADRA crowns champs

pages 32-35

Contractor Bonds How to Safeguard Your Company

pages 28-31

Building Connections

pages 22-26


pages 18-21

Making a Case for Steel

pages 14-17


page 13

When it rains, it pours

pages 10-12


pages 8-9

Southern Californian Sun

pages 68-69

Taking your business to the next level

pages 56-67

Contractor’s Corner

pages 54-55

Moasure ONE measuring tool

pages 52-53

Easy to install. Built to last.

pages 51-52

What it means to win

pages 48-50

Confessions of a Georgia Builder

pages 44-47

Fixing Past Mistakes Before

pages 42-43

Long Live the Ledger Preventing Deck Failure and Extending the Life of a Deck

pages 36-42

NADRA crowns champs

pages 32-35

Contractor Bonds How to Safeguard Your Company

pages 28-31

Building Connections

pages 22-26


pages 18-21

Making a Case for Steel

pages 14-17


page 13

When it rains, it pours

pages 10-12


pages 8-9

Southern Californian Sun

pages 68-69

Taking your business to the next level

pages 56-67

Contractor’s Corner

pages 54-55

Moasure ONE measuring tool

pages 52-53

Easy to install. Built to last.

pages 51-52

What it means to win

pages 48-50

Confessions of a Georgia Builder

pages 44-47

Fixing Past Mistakes Before

pages 42-43

Long Live the Ledger Preventing Deck Failure and Extending the Life of a Deck

pages 36-42

NADRA crowns champs

pages 32-35

Contractor Bonds How to Safeguard Your Company

pages 28-31

Building Connections

pages 22-26


pages 18-21

Making a Case for Steel

pages 14-17


page 13

When it rains, it pours

pages 10-12


pages 8-9
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