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POWER TOOL BUYING TIPS • OUTDOOR CEILINGS • ARE YOU FAILING AT RAILING?

DECK

Summer 2018

SPECIALIST Ideas & Strategies for Outdoor Living Professionals

Backyard Synergy

Integrating Decks, Hardscapes & Landscaping


RAILING ON A WHOLE NEWLearn LEVEL more at DECKORATORS.COM GET THIS LOOK Vault Dusk decking with SLX InvisRailâ„¢ railing and ALX Contemporary stair railing with rectangle profile in Brushed Titanium and ALX Contemporary solar post caps in Brushed Titanium

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DECK

SPECIALIST

Ideas & Strategies for Outdoor Living Professionals FEATURE STORY

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Backyard Synergy

Integrating decks, hardscapes and landscaping WHAT’S HOT

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Cover Ups

Wood-look PVC in outdoor ceilings

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Power Tool Buying Tips A tool is only as good as its battery

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Hardware Show Recap

BUSINESS OPERATIONS

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Failing at Railing?

A 3-pronged strategy for stress-free railing discussions with your clients PROJECT SPOTLIGHTS

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Sweet Home Alabama

Southern hospitality meets South American hardwoods

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12 COVER STORY To create the perfect project, design decks to work in harmony with hardscapes and landscaping. (Photos by Belgard)

ALSO INSIDE 8 Editor’s Note 10 Industry News 38 Tool Review with Marv Johnson 42 On the House with the Carey Bros. 44 The Bottom Line with David Elenbaum 46 The Rail Post with Matt Breyer 50 Set the Standard with Brendan Casey 54 New Products 60 Ad Index 60 Date Planner 62 Idea Book Deck Specialist

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DECK SPECIALIST

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President/Publisher Patrick Adams padams@building-products.com Vice President Shelly Smith Adams sadams@building-products.com Managing Editor David Koenig david@building-products.com Editor Stephanie Ornelas sornelas@building-products.com Columnists Matt Breyer, James & Morris Carey, Brendan Casey, David Elenbaum, Marv Johnson, Pat Noonan

G • DECK EXPO RECAP

• CHOOSE THE RIGHT RAILIN

DECK

BEST DECKS OF THE YEAR

WINTER 2017

SPECIALIST

Guest Contributors Brent Gwatney, Rick Kapres, Theron Sherrod, Ted Holloway Tidmore

Ideas & Strategies

for Outdoor Living

Professionals

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chiers@building-products.com (714) 486-2735 DECK SPECIALIST is published quarterly at 151 Kalmus Dr., Ste. D200, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, (714) 486-2735, Fax 714-486-2745, www.building-products.com, by 526 Media Group, Inc. (a California Corporation). It is an independently owned publication for U.S.-based builders and contrators that specialize in decking and other outdoor living projects. Copyright®2018 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. Summer 2018 • Volume 2 • Number 2

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Summer 2018


EDITOR’S NOTE

Deck Shaming In selecting a contractor for my new deck, currently under construction, I eliminated two talented builders right off the bat. Both had gorgeous portfolios and glowing references, but one of the things I was most looking for was someone who would build the deck I wanted, not the one he wanted. In going over what I was looking for, both contractors basically dismissed several features I wanted because they personally thought they were impractical or unpopular or they just didn’t like building that type of deck. I ended up choosing a deck specialist who’s doing a good job—he’s conscientious and capable, if not dazzling, but he’s also responsive and agreeable. It reminded me of back, during college and a few years beyond, when I worked nights as a waiter. The job was a wonderful opportunity to meet people, work as part of a team, get out from behind a desk, and make nice money for short hours (even though, because most of it was in cash, a sizeable chunk didn’t always make it home with me each night). Because I relied primarily on tips, every customer was giving me an instant job performance review. If I did a bad job or made a mistake, I learned about it immediately and paid the price— literally. So I picked up cues quickly and responded immediately. The most important lesson I learned was that my tastes were not necessarily the

tastes of the customer. It was a fast, painful education. Two little old ladies came in for dinner one night, one a frequent visitor, her friend a firsttimer. The newbie wanted seafood. As specials, we offered either freshly caught swordfish, halibut, king salmon, and/or orange roughy. Our menu listed only filet of sole, a thin, previously frozen cut I personally didn’t care for. She asked what I recommended. “Any of the fresh fish,” I answered definitively. “The filet of sole tastes like cardboard and people only order it to save a couple dollars.” She nodded appreciatively and asked her friend what she was having. “The filet of sole,” the regular replied tersely. Ever since, I realized I had to separate the objective from the subjective. Customers really aren’t interested in what you like. They want clues as to what you think they will like. They ask because they value your knowledge as a construction and design expert. If something’s wrong—they want to build something against code, perhaps—let them know. And it’s okay to say that certain things are popular or more in style, but don’t denigrate their preferences; they’ll think you’re either disagreeable or illsuited to realizing their vision. The next time you’re interviewing for a project, impart your wisdom, temper your opinions.

David Koenig is managing editor of Deck Specialist. Reach him at david@building-products.com

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BRAVE THE ELEMENTS.

What Separates Us From the Rest? MoistureShield® is the only decking that can be installed on the ground, in the ground, or even underwater, without voiding the lifetime warranty. Don’t worry about the elements … MoistureShield is protected to the core.

moistureshield.com | 1.866.729.2378 © 2018 MoistureShield® is part of the Architectural Products Group of Oldcastle *CoolDeck® is available on select Vision and Infuse boards.

BUILD BOLDLY. *


INDUSTRY NEWS AZEK Purchasing Versatex

The AZEK Co., Scranton, PA., has agreed to buy Versatex Holdings, Aliquippa, PA., producer of cellular PVC trim and mouldings. Versatex’s management team will remain with the business and continue operations from its production facility in Aliquippa. John Pace, CEO of Versatex, said AZEK “is an ideal partner for us. Our companies have complementary strengths and a shared commitment to premium quality, customer service, and product innovation.” Since 2014, Versatex has been owned by Highlander Partners LP, a Dallas-based private investment firm.

Pioneer Landscape Centers Buys Colorado Hardscape Material Dealer

On the heels of acquiring Grand Materials & Supply in Arizona, Pioneer Landscape Centers purchased 30-year-old Midwest Materials, Longmont, CO. Midwest Materials will become a Pioneer

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division upon finalizing the acquisition and will maintain current leadership and employees as it transitions into the Pioneer Landscape Centers organization. Established in 1968 and celebrating its 50th anniversary in business, Pioneer Landscape Centers operates 37 retail distribution centers, and 23 quarries and production facilities across Arizona and Colorado. The landscape and hardscape materials supplier intends to expand into Texas, Nevada and California this year.

Outdoor Living Manufacturer Four Seasons Buys Western Distributor

Outdoor living products manufacturer Four Seasons Building Products, Holbrook, N.Y., has acquired Las Vegas-based distributor AlumaLine of Nevada. AlumaLine distributes patio enclosures, pergolas, windows, screens, doors and awnings from facilities in Las Vegas; Salt Lake City, UT.; and Denver, CO. Founded in 1953 by Ralph Tate, AlumaLine


will continue distributing under key leadership as AlumaLine Distribution, A Four Seasons Building Products Company, serving as its new Mountain States Region. Troy Gartell, owner of AlumaLine, will stay on as a business leader, as will the founder’s son, Monty Tate. Four Seasons is a division of Latium USA.

Free online tool lets deck builders create virtual vinyl deck designs.

Duradek Launches Online Visualizer

Duradek has introduced Dek-Vision, the first online design tool to help building/remodeling professionals and homeowners create deck makeover plans with Duradek vinyl waterproof membranes. Accessed at www.duradek.com/Dek-vision the visualizer is free to use and comes pre-loaded with eight deck image options that cover a variety of the most common deck types. It allows users to experiment with the deck surface, railing color, and even the siding to find the right look. Users can also upload a photo of their own deck to discover which vinyl deck pattern and color best matches their exterior design. With 27 color options in 10 different patterns, Duradek reportedly offers the best selection in the vinyl decking industry. With so many great options to chose from, selecting the right vinyl for a deck is a challenge that was just made easier! Dek-Vision also incorporates all nine standard colors of Durarail railings. The railing and siding features are limited to the pre-loaded deck images, which show how those exterior colors will blend together in thousands of combinations.

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ABOVE: Concrete block fireplaces add fun and function to outdoor living areas. (Photo by Belgard)

OPPOSITE RIGHT: Landscaping, decks and hardscapes combine well to create natural settings that homeowners love. (Photo by MoistureShield)

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Backyard synergy

Integrating decks, hardscapes and landscaping By Brent Gwatney, MoistureShield

Why is outdoor living exploding in popularity? Cooking out with friends and family, snoozing in the hammock, or enjoying a cool beverage on a hot day are all part of the allure. Even so, the appeal of getting out of the house goes much deeper. Science shows people derive many health benefits from being outside—from improved mood to enhanced concentration. “Just looking at a garden or trees or going for a walk, even if it’s in your own neighborhood, reduces stress,” said Judith Heerwagon, a Seattle-based environmental psychologist, in a Huffington Post article. The fact that nature resonates so strongly with people on a deep emotional level provides deck builders with a powerful opportunity

to create raving fans among their customers. Combining decks with hardscapes and landscaping is a potent way to mimic nature and help ensure happy clients who refer you to others.

The opportunity

While homes in rural areas and the suburbs have plenty of space to create an outdoor living environment Mother Nature would be proud of, with a little creativity a nature retreat is possible even in a small urban yard. Trees, shrubs and flowers all can be used to evoke a natural setting, whether they’re placed around the deck, in planters on the deck, or incorporated directly into the deck’s design with cut-outs for large fauna. Going a step Summer 2018

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LEFT: In addition to performance advantages, steel deck framing also offers sleek, modern aesthetics.

LEFT: Celebrity designer Jamie Durie used moisture-resistant composite decking to create a ground-level boardwalk that leads to a relaxing backyard retreat space. (Photo by MoistureShield)

farther, choosing high-performance composite decking with the look of real wood or earth tones evokes a natural aesthetic that pairs well with landscaping, while helping reduce maintenance for your homeowner clients. To complete the effect, pavers and concrete blocks add the look of stone to your projects, for a trifecta of plants, wood and rock reminiscent of the rugged outdoors.

Landscaping

Landscaping for visually engaging outdoor living runs the gamut from a few well-placed planters on the deck or railings to full visual screens comprised of trees and shrubs abutting the deck. Celebrity designer Jamie Durie of the FYI network’s Outback Nation TV show, used both approaches in a series of yard upgrades he completed in Florida using plants, decking and hardscapes to create outdoor living havens. He focused on adding native plants, which he placed in artistic planters and as surrounds to soften deck edges. Where possible, he also preserved existing large trees

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and shrubs on the properties for an instantly finished look.

Composite decking

In addition to his landscaping artistry, Durie used composite decking from MoistureShield to create amazing outdoor spaces, including ground-level boardwalks, an outdoor living room, and a Bohemian chic wedding pavilion. Durie was so impressed with the material’s beauty and durability he showed viewers of the popular NBC Today show how to use composite decking to craft easy-to-build, segmented walkways to boost a home’s curb appeal. With its wide range of color options, today’s composite decking pairs well with landscaping and hardscapes to evoke the natural environments that boost people’s wellbeing. For example, composites now come in a range of authentic wood tones, as well as colors reminiscent of other natural materials like sandstone, slate and leather. Notably, with recent technology advances, composite manufacturers have established


ABOVE LEFT: Planters help soften and enliven a block wall in a relaxing outdoor living space that combines landscaping, decking and hardscapes. (Photo by MoistureShield)

ABOVE RIGHT: A low brick wall is an easy, attractive way to add hardscapes to complete a yard’s natural look. (Photo by Belgard)

ways to vary the color tones of deck boards to resemble traditional wood. Purposefully designed with patterns that are more variable, today’s composite boards achieve the natural characteristics (i.e., coloring and grain) of wood deck boards.

to achieve virtually any design aesthetic. For example, if you want a more rustic look, hardscape product manufacturers offer stonetextured pavers and blocks that look like quarried stone, while contemporary colors and finishes match modern home styles. American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” What better inspiration can a deck builder have than to craft outdoor living spaces that cause a “wild delight” in their customers? The trio of landscaping, composite decking and hardscapes provides you a full palette for creating exceptional outdoor living areas Mother Nature would be happy to call her own.

Pavers and concrete blocks

While landscaping and composite decking add the organic appeal of plants and wood to outdoor living areas, pavers and blocks bring a note of natural ruggedness to your projects. These materials can be used in numerous ways to complement your decks. Ideas include paved walkways meandering from the deck to a secluded spot in the yard, block planters abutting the deck or short retaining walls made of brick. The look of stone can even be brought directly onto the deck in the form of a beautiful and functional outdoor fireplace, brick oven or stone-faced grill. Modern hardscape materials, such as those from Belgard, come in a plethora of captivating color blends and styles, which allows you

Brent Gwatney is senior VP for sales at MoistureShield, a proud member of the North American Deck & Railing Association. He can be reached at brentgwatney@moistureshield.com. Summer 2018

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Cover ups

For this New Jersey project, the builder was looking for a durable solution to add character to a homeowner’s porch ceiling while complementing an existing set of mahogany doors.

Wood-look PVC trending in outdoor ceilings Suspended somewhere between

handcrafted charm and the gloomy prospect of chronic maintenance are the wood-toned exterior ceilings now trending for high-end, oceanfront home designs. Homeowners love the warmth and contrast they lend to covered decks, porches and verandas. Builders, on the other hand, have grown wary. Ceilings assembled from conventional millwork can be a chore to finish and install, and they easily fall victim to severe coastal conditions like humidity and salt spray. A few years after move-in, when fading, peeling, cracking or checking occur, the contractor is likely to hear from an unhappy customer—especially on a “move-up” residence. Fortunately, a wave of innovative materials and techniques now reaching the market promises to

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By Rick Kapres, Versatex Photos by Versatex


deliver all the good looks with none of the aggravation. To understand how this development can help contractors add value, as well as upsell homeowners and boost customer satisfaction, it’s important to note why exterior-ceiling finish issues have been coming out of the woodwork in the first place. Matt Gongola, project manager for Squash Meadow Construction on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, has watched it happen. “You have to remember,” he said, “that ‘outdoor living’ became a movement more than a decade ago, but the passion for it just keeps growing. We see it here in the North, especially with the climate changing and the weather get-

ting warmer. For years homeowners have been asking for screened-in porches—transitional spaces that can be both inside and outside. The trend now is toward three-season porches with interchangeable screening or glass panels. They can be livable all year ‘round, if the homeowner adds a heating source. “Our clients today are more serious than ever about the outdoor lifestyle, and they care deeply about the details. Standing on their decks and looking up, they see a surface the size of a ceiling as another chance to make a statement. “Not surprisingly, many of them (or their architects or builders) are rediscovering the

This wraparound porch in eastern Pennsylvania features the Versatex Canvas Series walnut finish. The carpenter incorporated Canvas WP4 boards and 4” crown moulding, precisely cutting custom elements to complement a T-moulding to match the home’s existing fascia and soffit.

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old tradition of contrast in ceiling treatments. They like the look of stained or varnished pine, cedar or hardwood. Or maybe they want something like the robin’s-egg blue paint they’ve seen in pictures of old houses along the Cape Cod area,” he added. “It might seem the obvious choice to line the overhead with natural wood, stained and varnished, or painted. But—here’s where the dream and the reality start to collide—homeowners have always hated maintenance. And, more than ever, a home on the beach is supposed to be a place for chilling out, not messing around with a scraper and a paintbrush, or hiring someone else to deal with it.

Canvas Series combines the beauty of black cherry, walnut or tropical macore—or a sunny amber tone—with the weather-resistance of premium PVC exterior trim. Here the homeowner chose the walnut finish for its pleasing contrast against the stone exterior in a breezeway between the main house and garage.

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“So you have people doing more of their relaxing out-of-doors. They’re paying much more attention to the aesthetics,” Gongola continued, “and they’re rejecting the very idea of maintenance. So far, the builders I know have had a solution for all that: high-quality PVC millwork. The catch is that the same material that resists the elements so well has, historically, been tricky to paint or stain. That’s where the woodgrain trend has hit a bump—until now.” New Englanders aren’t unique in their taste for low-maintenance woodgrain exterior ceilings. As builder David Guzman of Hardie Boys, Pompano Beach, FL., reports, “Wind and weather, as well as biological challenges


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Hardie Boys, Inc., used 35 custom-painted beams to highlight HB Element Stain Series PVC T&G and simulate a timber-framed roof.

like mold and mildew, pretty much rule out prefinished or stained natural wood down here, even for relatively sheltered surfaces like the ceiling over a veranda. But so many of our clients love the effect of old-school cypress or mahogany—or even the traditional light-blue painted boards—that we’ve had to develop alternatives to plain white PVC T&G or shiplap. “Luckily, the coating technologies available today make it possible for us to replicate just about any natural shade or grain pattern on high-quality PVC, right here in our fabrication shop. So not only can we avoid the challenges of maintaining natural wood, we also eliminate the labor that used to go into staining and finishing wooden boards, and even the not-always colorfast, hand-applied, simulated wood grains for PVC that builders have experimented with over the years.” But what about cost? “Admittedly, the initial investment in a PVC product like the Canvas Series is a little higher,” said Gongola. “But, as a contractor, I’ve found ways to present the alternatives that make it easier for budget-conscious homeowners to make decisions they’ll be happier with a few years down the road. “Here’s an analogy: It’s like working with a landscaper. He’ll help you decide what you want your grounds to look like by explaining that a grassy lawn is the lowest-cost surface to

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install… initially. But it will need constant attention; the long-term maintenance cost is the highest. The other end of the spectrum might be a wet-set bluestone patio. That would cost more up front, but you’d never have to give it any attention again. “In the same way, you could do your deck’s ceiling in pine, the least expensive product to purchase, but you’d still face all the effort of installing it. And then it’s going to require the most upkeep. Whether you stain it or paint it, the continuing maintenance is going to be labor-intensive. An exterior-grade laminate PVC surface carries a higher initial price tag, but, once it’s in place, you never have to touch it again.” As high-end builders are discovering, you can deliver the cozy, traditional contrast of natural wood tones on exterior ceilings, while assuring clients of minimal maintenance even in severe environments. That’s why realistic, enduring, woodgrained PVC, manufactured under controlled conditions, is fast becoming a preferred solution in luxury home construction. Rick Kapres is vice president of sales for Versatex Trimboards, Aliquippa, PA. (www.versatex.com).


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Are you failing at railing?

A 3-pronged strategy for stress-free railing discussions with your clients By Ted Holloway Tidmore, Holloway Company Photos By Trex Company

When people look at a deck, what is the first thing they see? It’s certainly not the footings, or even the deck boards for that matter. Odds are it’s the railing that catches their eye before anything else. So, why is it that railings are so often an afterthought? Last year, Trex hosted a series of focus groups that confirmed most homeowners don’t think about railing selection until very late in the deck building process. By this point, clients are likely to be mentally spent from decision making, and their budgets similarly depleted, leaving little energy or financial resources to put toward this critically important and highly visual aspect of their outdoor living space. As contractors, we are partially to blame for this oversight and at risk of losing out on a viable—and valuable—selling opportunity. Railings provide the decorative frame to a client’s backyard masterpiece, making them 22

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an aspect where clients may be more likely to splurge—but only if selections are made before they’ve allocated their budget elsewhere. Additionally, as the first thing neighbors and visitors are likely to notice about an outdoor space, railings have the power to translate into lucrative referrals. For the best overall results—both for your clients and your business—railing selections should be addressed early in the design process. Ideally, decking and railing decisions should be made simultaneously, as a purposeful pairing. Research has shown that when homeowners see railings next to deck boards, it opens their eyes to combinations they may not have otherwise considered. This can, of course, be complicated considering the number of railing options available to today’s homeowners. Between aluminum, cable, glass, wrought


iron, composite and wood, the offerings are vast and, quite honestly, overwhelming. As a TrexPro, my clients have access to more than 1,200 different decking and railing pairings. While it’s great to be able to offer choices, that’s simply too many for most homeowners to consider, or even to comprehend. As contractors, it’s our job to streamline the decision-making process for our clients. The design team at Trex recently shared with us a helpful formula for simplifying the railing selection process based on three strategic approaches. Coined the “three C’s,” these pairing techniques focus on coordinating, contrasting or customizing railing selections according to a client’s preferences, level of design confidence and the setting of their outdoor space.

Coordinate

You can never go wrong by selecting railing in the same shade as your decking (e.g., dark brown railing for a dark brown deck, or light

gray railing to complement light gray boards, etc.). This creates a cozy, well-coordinated look and is a great approach for risk-averse homeowners.

Contrast

If you have trouble finding a perfect match for the decking—or if you’re working with a homeowner that is open to trying something different—consider proposing a contrasting railing color, such as black or white. Both are classic options that complement virtually any outdoor setting. Classic white looks crisp against deep brown deck boards and is ideal for highlighting a deck’s design and features. Alternately, if you are working with lighter colored decking, you can achieve a contrasted look with darker railing. Dark colors give a deck a modern look and feel. They’re also a good choice for clients looking to showcase their home’s natural surroundings, since dark railings tend to visually blend into the background.

Customize (Change It Up)

For design-savvy homeowners looking for something distinctive, let the creative juices flow and go for a completely customized look that reflects their personal tastes. Don’t be afraid to mix colors and materials. For example, suggest combining dark aluminum railing and balusters with white composite posts to create a dramatic look that delivers a sophisticated mixture of texture and color. As professional deck builders, it’s impossible to educate our clients about every single railing option available to them—but we can make the selection process easier by giving our clients some direction and parameters within which to work. Start with your local dealer and ask what color combinations they have in stock, then offer those pre-coordinated looks to your clients. A little guidance can go a long way and pay off not only in greater client satisfaction but in higher-margin projects. I’d call that a perfect pairing. Ted Holloway Tidmore is a TrexPro Platinum contractor and the owner of Holloway Company, a complete outdoor living design-build company in Loudoun County, VA.

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The easy way to a picture perfect deck.

Introducing EB-TY Premium Hidden Deck-Fastening System ®

Including the EB-GUIDE

The new EB-TY Premium system comes with the ingenious EB-GUIDE predrilling tool to ensure precise and efficient fastening. The system’s redesigned biscuit features a stainless-steel reinforcing plate to ensure a strong, concealed connection – showcasing the natural beauty of the deck. Whether you’re installing composite decking or exotic hardwood on your project, EB-TY Premium delivers a picture-perfect deck every time. To learn more, visit go.strongtie.com/ebtypremium or call (800) 999-5099.

© 2018 Simpson

Strong-Tie Company Inc. EBTY17C

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Sweet Home Alabama

Southern hospitality welcomes South American hardwoods By David Koenig Photos courtesy of Feeney, Inc.

The Deep South has its own long, proud history of native woods, from the distinctive cypress to the classic oaks and rustic pines. But when one longtime Southern lumberman wanted to build an 26

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OPPOSITE LEFT: Exotic hardwood importer furnished his own lumber and decking to build his new 11,000-sq. ft. home in Muscle Shoals, AL. BELOW: The decks were built out in three levels, extending past a concrete pool to the water’s edge.

expansive 11,000-sq. ft. home with multiple decks off the Tennessee River in Muscle Shoals, AL., he wanted all the wood sourced from Guyana. Homeowner Joe McKinney is managing director of the McVantage Group, Tuscumbia, AL., which is currently developing a $1-million acre tract in the South American nation’s Iwokrama Forest. In Guyana, McKinney sees the richness of resources and opportunity his elders saw in the northwest Alabama forests of two and three generations ago. His mission has become introducing modern, sustainable logging and milling practices to Guyana. His own home, therefore, would be the ideal place to show off the little-known exotic species the country has to offer. McKinney engaged Rusty Alexander, a National Home Builders Association board member and Shoals Home Builders Association’s 2017 Builder of the Year, who had previously built a home for his brother. Rusty and his team at Alexander Modern Homes and RiverWorks Design Studio were charged with creating an ultra-modern four bedroom, six-and-a-half bath home

ABOVE: Paul LaFrance was enlisted to redo a backyard with a nice view—and nothing else. He turned it into an epic outdoor space, complete with pergolas, stainless steel privacy screens, and dining and cooking areas that are connected by three bridges to an octagonal island lounging deck.

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ABOVE AND LEFT: Materials were lifted from a barge by crane to the lakefront site. BELOW: Client wanted the decks surfaced with porcelain tile as an extension from the indoors. OPPOSITE LOWER RIGHT: To separate the tile grout from the wood deck base, Schluter DITRA isolation/ waterproofing membrane was installed between them.

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that incorporated the wood into all facets of construction, inside and out. First, they bulldozed the existing lake house on the property and prepared the lot for new construction. The new spaces were to give off an “indoor/outdoor” feel—so the interior felt open, natural and warm, and the exterior conveyed the warmth and modernity of the inside. Every room in the house was given a striking view of Wilson Lake, maximized by the inclusion of Phantom retractable screens. Greenheart, shibidan and kabukalli were used generously throughout the house. Outside, purpleheart was used to craft sturdy legs for an outdoor table. The decks, handrails, rainscreen and perimeter fencing were built from tatabu, a chocolate brown wood that dries to a lighter hue. The species features a coarse, wavy grain, yet is highly resistant to the elements. To showcase the wood, the homeowner wanted zero visible fasteners. The builder used over 5,000 DeckWise hidden fasteners to hold the

tatabu board on the decks, skybridge, pier, stairs and exterior of the house. For the home nestled over the Tennessee River, RiverWorks wanted to create a “warm, modern lake feel” that would bring the space to life. To maximize the view from the outside, the design team was looking for a railing system that would provide an unobstructed sightline to the river and nearby wildlife. They did not want to settle on wooden vertical banisters, which would have impacted the view, and instead selected Feeney’s DesignRail aluminum railings system with 1/8” CableRail infill. The team felt the sleek, modern horizontal lines would complement—and complete—the modern home, but one that also disappeared from the home and from guests arriving by boat so that people can really enjoy the view of the home from the waterside. The railing was also extended to the pier. For the top rail, they chose the low-profile Feeney 400 Series, which accepted a wood rail made of imported tatabu. All three levels of decks were surfaced with

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porcelain tile. “As part of the indoor/outdoor living, the clients requested we carry the tile from each room out to the deck,” Rusty Alexander shared. “To accomplish this request, we used a wood decking as the base, Schluter DITRA as the isolation/waterproofing membrane in the middle, and a porcelain tile as the finished surface. We used the DITRA membrane to separate the wood deck and tile (grout) to prevent cracking due to the difference in expansion/contracting properties.” Perhaps the most dramatic feature is a gorgeous sky bridge linking the pier with the second-story, main level of the house. “The client wanted to connect to the existing concrete pier. His request: ‘I want to know that if I die on the pier, the coroner could wheel my body straight to the hearse without any issues,’” Alexander explained. The old pier, however, “was BLAND. We had someone tear down the whole thing, reset pilings, add all the stone columns, and install tatabu woodwork.” The entire project, completed last fall, took 22 months and cost over $2 million. But what can’t be priced is its value as an enticement for exotic hardwoods in the middle of the South. 30

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ABOVE: The key feature of the build was a dramatic skybridge leading from the main level of the home to a raised deck over the water. OPPOSITE TOP RIGHT: The entire project (including indoors) consumed 450 ft. of Feeney cable railing—making it the builder’s largest cable railing install to date and the manufacturer’s largest in the region. OPPOSITE LOWER: Beneath the lake-top deck are the pier and boathouse, crafted of tatabu and stone to coordinate with the home.


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A tool is only as good as its battery

What to know before buying By Theron Sherrod, Bosch

When a contractor heads to the local

home improvement or jobsite supply center to pick up a new 18-volt impact driver, he or she usually looks for several specific attributes pertinent to the job or personal preference: ergonomics, power, size, price, etc. When they select their purchase, they think they’re buying a new power tool—but that’s not entirely correct. They’re also buying a battery platform. Not all batteries are created equal, and trade pros require a fundamental understanding of the inherent building blocks of a quality battery system. When in the market for a new power tool, here’s what to consider:

Power

A tool’s voltage is related to the size of its motor; the higher the voltage, the bigger the motor, and, thus, the greater the tool’s power. Since the introduction of lithium-ion bat-

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teries, 18-volt tools have become the standard for construction and trade applications, as the 18-volt size and weight is both powerful and ergonomic. For trades that have to work in tight spaces, 12-volt tools give up some power, but come with a smaller footprint. It’s important to understand that manufacturers report the voltages of their batteries in different ways. Using a 20-volt battery as an example, the moment a battery is removed from the charger, the voltage of the battery will measure 20V. But once the battery is attached to the tool, the voltage drops to the nominal voltage of about 18.6 volts. Most manufacturers report the operating voltage, but some report the “No Load” voltage—which is why users find both 20V and 18V tools and batteries available, as well as both 12V and 10V.


Runtime

While voltage is indicative of motor size, amp-hour (Ah) rating indicates the size of the gas tank—so the higher the rating, the bigger the gas tank, and the longer the run time. A 4.0 Ah battery can provide consistent 18-volt power for twice as long as a 2.0 Ah option when doing similar tasks with the same tool. For small tasks, a low-amp-hour battery can do the job. But for big tasks, a higher amp-hour-rated battery is the best choice. The tradeoff is that a higher-Ah battery will be larger, heavier and more cumbersome, to accommodate greater energy capacity.

Cooling Design

Another consideration is how the battery stays cool. Heat means a shorter product lifespan, so the longer the life of the battery, the lower the expense. The battery housing should manage heat in the most efficient way, which could include separating each cell into its own compartment. This allows heat from the cell to dissipate. An advanced heavy-duty battery may have internal circuitry that monitors the cells in the battery, but the circuits can do more than just monitor. These internal circuits manage temperature, taking action to protect the battery and the tool if cells approach 158◦ F (70◦ C)— thermal shutdown. If any cell surpasses the 158◦ F threshold, the circuits can disable the entire battery until all cells are below the heat threshold. With all of this engineering, what does that do to charge time—a key productivity factor on any jobsite? Surprise: It decreases. With all lithium-ion batteries, the temperature of each cell of the battery has to be below the thermal shutdown temperature of 70ºC in order to begin charging. Since heavy-duty batteries with inadequate heat management could reach thermal shutdown, the battery cannot be completely discharged due to thermal shutdown prior to complete discharge. Under normal conditions, charging can begin as soon as the battery is placed on the charger, so charge time is decreased because advanced lithium-ion batteries that manage heat well don’t require cooling prior to charging. Other best-in-class battery attributes include protection to prevent over-discharging and overloading the tool.

Extra Features

A few key features important to trade pros, but not found in every battery system: •A fuel gauge seems nonessential, until you’re on the roof of a high-rise building and the tool battery dies. A simple indicator helps the user assess and plan power needs. •Tools and batteries need to be able to talk to each other. The smartest power tools include electronics in both the tool and battery that communicate with each other to manage power discharge and overall performance. Smart systems not only improve on-the-job performance, but also protect the tool and batteries while extending product life. There’s more to selecting a power tool than shape, power and price. It’s important to consider the entire battery platform, because the battery drives the tool, not the other way around. Theron Sherrod is a product manager responsible for cordless tool marketing and development for Robert Bosch Tool Corp.

Tuscany

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westburyrailing.com 800-446-7659 Summer 2018

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SHOW RECAP

Lawn & Garden firmly planted at Hardware Show Tools and fasteners have always been the bread and butter of the yearly National Hardware Show. But this year an expanded of Lawn & Garden provided an even stronger argument for outdoor living specialists to make the trek to Las Vegas. An all-new feature, the Ultimate Backyard, located outdoors in a Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ area, provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and test new outdoor living products in the environment they’re meant

for—a fresh, fun backyard setting. Attendees felt right at home, surrounded by grills, hammocks and even a bit of grass to help them get into the backyard mindset. “After a day, or days, in the convention halls, we wanted to showcase products in a new way and encourage attendees to get some fresh air by experiencing great, new outdoor living products up close, in a backyard setting—just like they’re meant to be used,” said Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show.

Outdoor Essentials showcased a range of trellises, from ladder-style pine to hog wire.

Wood Defender formulates lush and protective deck and fence stains.

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Screw Products Inc. showed off its full range of fasteners, such as composite deck screws and Bronze Star SKTIIcoated screws, both lines with deck builders in mind.

Other specialty areas included New Product World, International Sourcing, and the Smart Home Virtual Reality Experience. The Inventors Spotlight featured more than 200 new inventions and solutions for consumers, with many inventors on hand hoping to meet with buyers and potential investors. “This year’s show is all about new: from our logo and branding to 500+ new exhibitors,” Russo added. A slew of speakers gathered at the National Retail Hardware Association Village Stage to talk about competing online, finding new products, business transitions, and more. Next year, the National Hardware Show returns to the Las Vegas Convention May 7-9, 2019.

Telesteps manufactures telescopic ladders for around the home, as well as professional grade for the trades.

CrossCut introduced a versatile counter-rotating twin blade saw. AT LEFT: Simpson Strong-Tie’s Outdoor Accents is a new line of decorative wood connectors and fasteners.

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TOOL REVIEWS

Milwaukee Tool recently opened its doors to preview its about-to-be released lines during its annual New Product Symposium.

Preview of Milwaukee’s new tools “Most changes aren’t permanent, but change is....” Truer words were never spoken. I wonder what event or experience prompted Neil Peart to pen them for the song “Tom Sawyer,” by Rush. I reflected on those lyrics recently, specifically about how much has changed in the building industry over the course of my career. Tools have most definitely changed. In many instances new technologies have revolutionized the industry, bringing dramatic improvements to tried and true stalwart tools and in some other cases, created entirely new classes of tools, often designed for a specific market within the larger industry itself. This was really made apparent as I was given introduction to the exciting brand new, recently updated, and completely redesigned tools and technology that the engineers at Milwaukee Tool have been hard at work on. The Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium (or NPS for short) is the industry event where many of these previously secret engineering projects emerge as finished products, are 38

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introduced, and announce their arrival. This year marked the 18th annual and the company did not disappoint. NPS18 was comprised of a diverse mix of products and included hand tools and power tools. Within power tools, the cordless segment was predominant, with amazing tools and technology for every segment of the building industry. According to company engineers, what has been driving the new tool development are performance breakthroughs made possible by the new M18 RedLithium High Output HD 12.0 battery. From this pack, the engineers at Milwaukee now have a cordless technology that can reliably generate the equivalent of 15a corded power. What this equates to is a cordless power supply producing 50% more power, while running 50% cooler and doing it for 33% longer than the next largest amp hour battery—the HD 9.0 a powerhouse in its own right. As a side note, for those of you who live and work where it gets really, really cold (you have my sympathies), these are the cells you want.


According to those same engineers, this is simply the best cold weather pack ever. So after poring over all the new offerings and redesigns, I have assembled a list of the tools that were both initially impressive and relevant to our segment of the building industry. I have made arrangements to review and test each of the following tools as they become available. Power Tools: • M18 Fuel 1/2” Drill/Driver & Hammer Drill. Generates 60% more power, over 1200 in.-lbs. of torque, drills two times faster than the competition, 1/2” shorter for tight space access. • M18 Fuel Impact Driver. 1/4” hex drive, 0-3600 RPM make it 30% faster than the competition, 25% increase in torque at 2000 in.-lbs., almost an inch shorter to provide unparalleled access in the tight spots. • M18 Fuel 8-1/4” Table Saw. World’s first 18-volt table saw, 24-1/2” rip capacity, brushless PowerState motor will rip up to 600 lineal ft. of material per battery charge. • M18 Fuel 7-1/4” Circular Saw. Power of a 15a corded saw but actually cuts faster, and can cut up to 750 2x4s per charge. • M18 Fuel Super Sawzall Recip Saw. Power of the 15a corded model, while cutting much faster.

• M18 Fuel Chainsaw. 16” bar, power to cut hardwoods, cuts faster than petrol while delivering 150 cuts per charge thanks to the PowerState brushless motor and HD12.0 battery. • M18 Fuel 3-in-1 Backpack Vacuum. PowerState brushless motor and cyclonic technology deliver twice the suction of the competition, and at only 74 dba is three times quieter than the traditional jobsite vac. • M18 Fuel D Handle & Barrel Grip Jig Saws. PowerState brushless motors, LED lights, switchable on/off blower, and capacity to cut 110 ft. of 3/4” material per charge. • M18 Random Orbit Sander. 12,000 orbits per minute delivers true corded power and performance, variable speed control, dust containment, and filter housing. • M18 Compact Brushless Drill/Driver & Impact Driver. Compact size, with all metal chuck and gear case. The 1/4” hex drive impact driver is the most compact in its class, only 5.1” in length, and 1600 in.-lbs. of torque. • M18 Radius Compact Site Light with Flood Mode. Task and area modes, 2200 lumens in area mode and 1000 lumens in flood mode, AC inlet for extended run time. • M12 Rocket Dual Power Tower Light. Provides 1400 lumens in high mode, 700 in low mode, extends up to over 5 ft. and set up in five

M18 Fuel cordless tools combine professional grade, light weight, extreme performance, and superior ergonomics.

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seconds. Runs eight hours on a charge and has AC option for longer run times. • M18 Rocket Dual Power Tower Light. Provides 2500 lumens in high mode and 1250 in low mode, 12 hour runtime and AC option for longer run times. • M12 Heated Toughshell Jackets & Hoodies. Carbon fiber heating elements heat three times faster with new quick heat function, jackets have increased insulation throughout, eight hours runtime and are machine washable. • M12 Heated Axis Jackets & Vests. Carbon fiber heating elements distribute heat to chest, back and shoulders, made from the new Axis ripstop polyester material, which is light and compressible as well as wind and water resistant. • RedLithium USB Heated Gloves. Made from ripstop polyester and 100% leather palms and fingers, offer six hours runtime. Hand Tools: • XC Chalk Reels. 150’ and 100’ extra bold, planetary gear drive system retracts at 4:1, 24 oz. and 12 oz. capacity for more snaps per fill. • Stud Tape Measures. Most durable tape blade equipped with EXO360 blade technology, fully reinforced frame, rubber overmold for durability. • RedStick Digital Levels with Pin Point. Superior accuracy and dynamic read out with a full-color 360 degree digital display, accurate to .03 degrees and frame strength of over 450 lbs. • RedStick Expandable Levels. Sharpsite vial technology for best readability, backed by lifetime accuracy guarantee. Available in two sizes: magnetic 48”-78” for doors and windows and 78”-144” for a dedicated plate to plate solution for 12-ft.-high walls. I can remember using my father’s Sears powered screwdriver. Six screws later it was time to recharge, an 18 to 24 hour proposition. Some time later I remember purchasing my first Pro grade tool. It was a 9.6-volt cordless drill. It came in a heavy gauge, metal storage case, designed specifically to house and protect that tool. They were only sold through the

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Compact M18 RedLithium batteries are said to offer more runtime, power and speed than standard lithium-ion batteries.

contractor supply house. This was the place that builders would purchase bulk nails, framing connectors, collated fasteners, blades, bits and sundries. During the spring and summer they often held a builders BBQ lunch with one of the major “Pro” tool manufacturers. The lunch would often include an appearance by their current swimsuit model (Miss Makita/ Dewalt/Porter Cable/Milwaukee, etc.) who would sign and personalize a message on a marketing poster that almost always included her in a seductive pose with that year’s flagship tool. I still have my poster, salaciously personalized for me, signed, “Love Ya” by Miss Makita 1989. In it she is posing with the 9.6 volt NiCad powered cordless drill/driver that set the bar for cordless drills of the day. I, of course, left there after lunch that day, with a shiny new Makita cordless drill/ driver in one hand and that poster in the other. I still have them both. Maybe the other Neil Peart lyric that comes to mind, from “Circumstances,” is actually more profound: “The more that things change, the more they stay the same.” Chalk one up for nostalgia. Marv Johnson is the principal of Deck Envy LLC, Gig Harbor, WA. Send comments and suggestions for tool reviews to emjaybuilding@mac.com


Trex Transcend® Decking Shown in Island Mist. © 2017 Trex Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Every deck is made for standing on. Only one has a reputation for standing out. When it comes to building your reputation, it helps to rely on materials you can trust. That’s why the world’s best builders choose the enduring beauty and durability of the world’s #1 decking brand. After all, only Trex® composite decking and railings are engineered to eliminate time-consuming maintenance while providing superior scratch, fade and stain resistance. Before your next project, visit trex.com and discover why nothing compares to Trex.

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ON THE HOUSE

Know when to say no In our over four decades as professional builders, we have experienced the best of times and the worst of times. Fortunately, we have managed to survive both. You might wonder why we might say that we have “survived the best of times.” Well, it isn’t really as complex as it might seem.

When times are good, demand for our service is high. That means that there are more projects to design and estimate and, based on our closing rate, the opportunity to contract more projects. Surviving the “good times” means making the hard decision—and it IS a hard decision—to contract for only as much work as you can reasonably handle without creating chaos for yourself, your business, your office and field employees, and, most importantly, your client. Remember, you’re not the only one who is busy during a prosperous economy. Other contractors, specialty subcontractors, and material suppliers are busy too. That means that prices will usually skyrocket and product

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availability will become scarce. When it comes to getting the materials that you need, we suggest that you get used to the word “backorder.” And you may find that your stable of reliable subcontractors isn’t as reliable as they once were. They are likely busier than ever and they may have fallen prey to the “too much work syndrome,” which means that they won’t be as available or that the quality of their work is not up to snuff. There’s more. If you’re used to getting a building permit “over the counter,” don’t be surprised if the next time you visit your local planning/building department they tell you that your permit might be ready in three, six or twelve weeks. No joke. And you may be equally astonished at the increase in planning and permit costs. A brisk construction environment creates a demand for more planners, building officials and staff support. Thus, fees increase to feed the beast. Step back, take a breath, and access how prepared you are to grow beyond your normal work load and have a plan in place that will act as a road map for growth. Growing too fast can mean a lot more work, less profit (if you able to make a profit), chaos among the troops, and very unhappy customers. It’s okay to work hard so long as you work smart and know when to say no.

The Carey Bros.—James and Morris—are nationally known home renovation experts and hosts of On the House weekly radio program and syndicated column (onthehouse.com).


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BOTTOM LINE

The sweet spot and how to sell it Since last year I have written several

articles in this publication that were intended to help you think differently about your deck business. Starting with why you wanted to do it, the structure, and the four “P’s.” People, Product, Process, Profit. We discussed quoting methods, managing labor, and product selection. If you have implemented some of what I have suggested, and of course your secret sauce, hopefully you are on your way to a profitable deck business. Now I want to talk a little about what I call the sweet spot, and then how to sell your company once you get ready to do it. So what is the sweet spot? It’s the point where the company is generating the most potential profit possible with the least amount of overhead. It’s a sales cap that you do not necessarily want to cross because that causes you to add staff and overhead. For a deck business, I feel that cap is $1.5 million in gross revenue. At this level, you can run the business yourself. You do not need an office manager, receptionist, CFO, production manager, service manager, fleet manager, etc. Just you and a couple people who are smarter than you on retainer; you always need a good lawyer, accountant, and bartender. At $1.5 million you can sell every job yourself, so no sales commission. At the margins I have been trying to point you to, you can make well into the $200,000 range for yourself, with-

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out a whole bunch of stress. At this level, if you want an office, you can afford a small one, but really don’t need it. At this level, you have zero employees, because if you listen to me everyone is a subcontractor, so if there are a few “sales lean” months, you’re good! At this level, if you pay all your bills and incur no debt, your EBITDA numbers will look very nice, and that is usually what is used to sell your business, or you may sell on gross revenue with proof of income. Either way, the idea here is to keep it lean, and keep it clean. Double-edged sword... you can’t sell your body! If you want to sell your business, and you are your business, you will have a very difficult time selling it. Businesses are normally purchased because they are a functioning machine that run themselves. They may need some tweaking to make them better or they may be a cash generating machine, but most buyers of companies are not buying themselves a job. They are buying a diverse income for their portfolio. So, the question is “Do you want to sell your business?” If you do, you may not structure it the way I stated above. You may have to get some staff and by all means, not make yourself the face of the company. If your name is Mike Smith, do not call your company Mike Smith Decks, because the first question out of your buyers’ prospects mouths will be “Where is Mike Smith?” If you do want


to follow the structure above, it is still possible to sell the company, but you will have to find a buyer who is willing to buy a job. Let’s do a scenario knowing what we know now. If I were to re-enter the deck contracting world right now as a start-up, which would be my third, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to open a sole member LLC and call it Deck something or other. I’m going to write a threeyear business plan that includes selling the company at the end of three years. I’m going to set up my marketing so I am “not the owner.” My business card is going to say “Design and Construction Consultant.” I am going to sell $750,000 worth of decks in my first year, $1 million worth of decks in my second year, and $1.5 million worth of decks in my third. My first year, I am a one-man show and I am going to tweak my purchasing and expenses every step of the way to get more margin out of my sales volume rather than trying to get my sales volume to support my overhead. In my second year I am going to hire a right-hand man and teach him or her everything about the business. Totally open book. I am going to give him or her an opportunity to buy me out in year three and they are going to know about it from day one. At two years and six months, I am going to look at my EBITDA and determine what my business is worth. I am going to give my right-hand man a contract to purchase with a first right of refusal allowing them to

match an incoming offer for the business or take 5% of the sell price if they remain with the new owner for one year at the same rate of pay. What I have done is created a business to sell and I get to leave, not stay. A couple of last words on selling a contracting business: • If you are not making it, your buyer won’t, so don’t sell something that will die, especially if you still have an obligation to it. Consider a partnership if the business needs new blood. • Find a buyer who can buy it. I have watched friends spin for a year trying to sell their business to someone who could not get the financing done. • Consider owner financing. Do you want to carry the paper? Not a bad thing if done right. I’ve got lots of ideas for future articles, but I’d like to hear from you! Please send me a topic or questions to discuss and perhaps I will be able to write back to you here. Don’t agree with me? Send me your thoughts. I’ve been wrong plenty of times. Email me at davidelenbaum@ gmail.com. Until next time, all the best! David Elenbaum has been in in the deck industry since 2000, serving in distribution, retail, manufacturing and, of course, contracting.

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THE RAIL POST

Learn from the other side As professionals in the deck industry,

most of us, at least in the privacy of our own minds, feel pretty confident in our abilities and our knowledge of the subject matter. After all, this is what we make our living at and what our reputation hinges on! But what if we aren’t as infallible as we think? What if there are a few gaps and cracks in our armor? I mean, we are, after all, human, right? Let’s unpack this just a bit, and see if there are some underutilized opportunities. Generally I’ve found people in the backyard living profession have either grown up in the trades or have had a more academic journey, perhaps working in several different industries with various companies, before transitioning to their current company, which happens to be a material supplier, service provider, or supporting member of this outdoor arena. For those who grew up “swinging a hammer,” they might still be doing so as a craftsman at the pinnacle of their career, or perhaps they’ve transitioned on to a more managerial role, with less hands-on efforts. Either way, the bulk of what they know to be true is based on their personal experiences, bolstered by construction community and educational support sources. But it’s the proven, experienced lessons that drive what they do, what they know, and really, to some extent, their professional identity. They are a professional in this industry, because they built that reputation with their own hands. On the other side are the educated professionals. Sure, they might have helped mow yards, wheelbarrow mulch, or move pavers with an uncle one summer between college years—but those aren’t the experiences that define them. Rather, that was just a color commentary that helped qualify them… while

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it’s the disciplined, focused efforts via higher education with knowledge and understanding that has been vetted by the various companies, coworkers, and accolades received. These are the consummate professionals—and they “know how business works’” and understand that those lessons are absolute truth—and fully applicable for this nuanced exterior industry. The challenge comes in that the craftsman who is validated in what he knows by his personal experience is limited by that sphere of personal experience. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. For the educated professional, his struggle is based often on the inherent difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge, and not all theory directly translates into physical results. For the craftsmen, the materials they work with, and the options, upgrades and accessories they recommend will be generally what they have worked with in the past and what has proven to perform well, with satisfied clients to back up those claims. They will also sorely remember anything that didn’t perform as promised, or when a little extra effort was needed to get a polished end result. The professional in our example knows the specifications—and indeed might be able to reference a substantially wider body of research to back up his claims, selections or


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recommendations. It will often be very clear, almost black and white, just like it was written in the installation manual. I’ve seen this dichotomy play out, often between professional engineers arguing for a detailed, specific, dare I say prescriptive installation, while the craftsman doesn’t have the sheer values of that specific fastener memorized,

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but just “knows” that this specific connection point needs blocking here, or additional fasteners there. The professional relies primarily on memorized policies and principles with defined products and processes to answer problems, the craftsman on experiential testing and efforts based on prior successes or failures.

Summer 2018

This difference of opinion can often be seen on larger commercial projects, with a craftsman muttering “whatever, but it’s not needed” under his breath while installing that hurricane clip on a ground-level wood deck, and the professional muttering “but it’s required to be installed with EXACTLY 11 fasteners!” Now for the fun part; we MUST get both sides not only respecting and appreciating what the other brings to the table, but learning from them, and in the same way the “other team” learns. A craftsman can not easily learn span charts by practice; that’s best internalized by memorization of lab-test-supported documentation. Trial and error is too sloppy and too slow to ingest the data. Likewise, that professional needs to get his hands dirty more often—to try, test and better understand how those pieces fit together, if it’s possible to get an accurate post cut, or what limitations arise when it’s raining during construction. Simply reading about these challenges will feel like a storybook—it must be lived for it to be fully understood! Additionally, we need more, not less communication between all corners of the industry—and this communication must be given with utmost respect and humility. This isn’t about finding new audiences to brag about your accomplishments; no, it’s about swallowing your pride, asking a lot of questions, and being willing to ask them again if you don’t understand. It means stepping far outside of your comfort zone—putting


on that collared shirt and sitting in a classroom for a few days (or shedding the collar and lacing up the boots!). I’m here to say this isn’t just theory, but it actually works. I’m more closely aligned personally with the craftsman side of the equation, having fallen in love with building at the age of 5 and swinging a hammer every chance I got since then. I struggle in boring classes, and can barely memorize my kid’s birthdays. I’m a terrible student! But I put this concept into practice, and for the second year I attended classes at Virginia Tech taught by Dr. Frank Woeste, Buddy Showalter, Joe Loferski, and Scott Coffman—all highly educated, highly intelligent individuals, with impeccable educational accreditations. And as a “lowly deck builder’” I was in a room of over 50 engineers, design professionals, inspectors and others with many more of those same credentials and designations. It was intimidating for me to walk into! What I found—and why I returned for a second year—was they were overwhelmingly polite, helpful, gracious and not just respectful

to me as a person, but they treated this craftsman as a professional. My field experience and real world application knowledge were asked for and appreciated. In this positive environment we were able as a group to blend a more well-rounded understanding of best practices and smarter application in building without showmanship or offense. So I leave you with this thought: look for opportunities to step out—far out—from your normal comfort zone. Look for training, resources and opportunities that might not be directly applicable for the tasks of tomorrow, but rather may open your eyes to something you’ve never thought of. Oh, and make sure to be really, really humble, because inevitably someone out there just might know more than you! Matt Breyer is president of several companies, including a family-owned residential remodeling business that specializes in designing & building outdoor living spaces, and president of NADRA.

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SET THE STANDARD

Tips for beautiful railings Every time I open a copy of Deck Specialist I find myself in awe of the amazing designs, concepts, projects and ideas being discussed and represented by top professionals from around the country. The creativity with which these outdoor artists display curves, arches and new products Sets the Standard of Excellence at mind boggling levels. Now, more than ever before designers and builders are mixing textures and grain patterns, blending different brands and colors while also taking into consideration the surrounding architecture, landscape and hardscapes. We all remember the time when the highest objective for a deck was a basic wooden platform large enough upon which to set our grill and patio table. We evolved from there by creating bigger, better, higher quality wood decks that utilized different species and patterns like cedar, redwood, mahogany, ipe. In today’s world, with the deck becoming more of an extension of the home, decking is being designed to emulate the flooring inside the house. In reality the deck is an outdoor addition and is expected to make a statement. There are many different ways to make a bold lifestyle statement without breaking the bank. Compound this with the fact that a great deal of new planned communities have many design and color restrictions. Balancing beauty and HOA conformation can be a tough act. One thing to remember is that from outside the deck the most visible aspect of the project is the railing, which is the basis of this edition’s article. Now we could fill volumes on railings, 50

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but for this article I’ll stick to just a handful of simple concepts that allow us to create the elegant beauty most of our discerning clients are seeking while keeping life simple for our work crews. After all, time is money and if we start creating designs that take forever to build we limit our clientele and price ourselves out of the projects. The rail systems we are discussing require minimal effort while setting your work apart from the the production style builder or “Bob in his beater” with overly discounted, barely passing code, generic, disappointing work. Our goal as professional deck specialists is to offer our clients as beautiful and unique a project as possible while remaining budget friendly. Railings can make or break any custom deck project. Manufacturers today have made our lives simple with products that can be quick to learn and easy to install. Knowing many of the contractors in our area it is common knowledge that a typical white vinyl rail can be installed in 10 minutes or less. Think about that. Back in the day it took longer just to cut our old wooden 2x2 pickets. On the market today, there are an abundance of vinyl rail options. Rails come in white, tan, almond, khaki, brown, black and more. Baluster options include matching vinyl in any shade or slightly upscale round, square, flat or curved aluminun. There is also the option of glass panels and vertical or horizontal cable. We have created our own unique style of rail system blending many of the best features provided by our local manufacturers and suppli-


ers. We then took our designs to all of our local building code officials and had them approved for construction (you may need an engineer stamp but all of our designs and techniques are a blend of ICC Code approved practices). Because low voltage LED lighting has become a highly desired accent to many deck projects, it’s a great idea to prep your railing system for the installation. The following list outlines a few steps to build a highly efficient and rather beautiful rail system that is actually stronger and better looking than the basic, out-of-the-box rail kit. These ideas will make your projects stand out among the others and give a bold statement that blends form and function without creating any additional work time. Blocking: If you read the post rail/decking guidelines of most major decking manufacturers for installing a wood 4x4 rail post through composite decking, you are required to block all four sides of every post. However, many municipal codes only require blocking on two sides. Recently, we had the rep from a major decking brand tell us that if you are only building to

1. Team leader Rob Blanton plumbs/ installs the steel surface mount rail post. They are attached to the deck using four hardened bolts. This particular deck has a curved front so the post was situated square to the rim joist.

basic code minimums, many contractors are violating manufacturer warranty. Posts: Instead of using a wood post that requires the installer to cut out the decking, compromising its structural integrity, consider a hollow steel surface mount rail post. Once bolted in correctly it will greatly exceed the strength of the wood post, and since they are hollow you can pre drill and install post lighting wires. This process might take two to three minutes, it’s a no brainer. Steel surface mount posts can be ordered with mounting blocks for either 4x4 or 6x6 rail post sleeves. Some guys will use the 4x4 blocks and pad them out with wood for the larger sleeves, this allows for a little more flexibility of post placement and field adjustments. Post sleeve: Most of the time we prefer to use white vinyl 6x6 post sleeves. The larger post sleeve is only a few dollars more than the 4x4, and its larger size completely transforms the distictive look of the railing system. While only a few decking and railing material suppliers stock the larger post sleeves with matching caps and base trim a short conversation with a

2. Once the rail posts are properly attached to the deck frame, special sitebuilt wood boxes are installed and fastened to the mounting blocks.

3. The 6x6 vinyl post sleeves are slid effortlessly over the rail post. The entire process takes less than five minutes. In our experience, steel posts are quicker, stronger, more durable, and less susceptible to bowing/twisting than wood.

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4. Aluminum reinforcement channels with foam weatherstripping are installed in both the top and bottom rails for additional strength and support. Then squash blocks are attached to the center of the bottom rail. By setting the bottom bracket on the the post base trim, Rob demonstrates how quickly a beautiful vinyl rail system can be set up and installed.

5. In less than 10 minutes the bottom rail, black round balusters, and top rail will be correctly installed. With only a few more minutes, a matching, full-width deck board rail cap (cocktail rail) will be attached to the top rail, creating an exceptional-looking system that will set your deck apart from other projects.

reliable sales rep will surely rectify that situation. By switching to the larger 6x6 post sleeve you also open the door for other great design opportunities like the deck board rail cap. Rail system: As we all know there are most likely close to a hundred different vinyl rail manufacturer brands around this great country. In our area alone there are more than a dozen readily available. My advice is to pick one brand and make it your go to product. That way your crews will develop familiarity with the product and installation methods. Repetition builds speed. This also allows you to build up an inventory of miscellaneous parts and supplies. We have all been out on a job, an hour from finishing and find we have a broken, damaged or missing part. Because my local manufacturer/supplier purchases 10,000 black round balusters at a time, they are only slightly more expensive than the traditional matching square ones. Being able to offer this option for only a few dollars more enables you to craft a more attractive rail system that many of your competitors may be afraid to offer. As a side note, we like to recommend using the optional aluminum reinforce-

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ment channel with foam rubber weatherstripping in both the top and bottom rails for additional strength and support. This makes for a noise free, safe and strong finish product that gives your clients a little extra peace of mind. Rail cap: Most rail manufacturers have an option of a rounded or flat top rail in their vinyl rail systems. Both are great but our preference here is the flat top rail. This allows for the installation of a full width deck board rail cap. Some folks call it a “cocktail rail” or “plate rail;” nonetheless, having a top rail almost 5.5 inches wide is a great idea. Most clients that have had a wood deck in the past have become accustomed to having that top rail, given the option, they jump on it. On smaller decks where space is a a premium and there is little room for a descent sized table this rail or “bar” top really comes in handy. Many of today’s detail-conscious builders are incorporating picture frame borders on their decks, most of the time it’s an alternative color from the deck. Matching the deck board rail cap to the picture frame border color is an awesome way to enhance the design of the project. Don’t be afraid to step away from the ordinary.


Another simple step that takes minimal time and expands your repertoire of options is using an eye catching larger piece of fascia for the rail cap, providing our clientele with a functional bar top on their deck rail. In addition, this is another great place to add some accent lighting. Lights: You can’t forget your lights. You’ve gone this far showing what separates you from the rest, add those post sleeve or post cap lights. When you have been the only one adding lights in a new development you can believe that your decks will become the focal point of the neighborhood. Everyone will be asking your clients for the name of their builder and that’s what it’s all about. Most of you can relate to this because everyday we go out there and give our hearts and souls to the careers about which we are so passionate. Deck building is hard work. But when you transform that blank space and a pile of materials into a new outdoor living masterpiece, we all step back and feel a certain level of pride. When the neighbors are impressed with the uniquely designed rails and lighting they will be lining up to see what you did on the surface of the deck. We call that “rail bait”

because you have to get their attention. Having that rail system that jumps out and catches their eye can be just the difference maker for when it comes to getting your phone to ring. If you try this process, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t go smooth the first time. Every crew wants to buck the system when it comes to deviating from years of the same install procedures, but once they get it down they will never want to go back to the old, slow antiquated ways. As deck specialists we are continuing to find ways to Set The Standard in Excellence with our pride in craftsmanship and one thing that I have found is there are some truly amazing builders in every community across this great nation. Please feel free to share with us some of your unique and interesting twists and variations on the ideas discussed above. 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 and creative custom builder. Reach him at brendan@caseyfenceanddeck.com.

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NEW PRODUCTS

AZEK Building Products’ three new deck colors offer a realistic, woodlike appearance, including diverse color palettes, realistic grain textures and superior durability. The new Vintage Collection colors- Coastline, English Walnut and Weathered Teak are perfect for anyone looking to add a unique style to their outdoor living experience. The lightweight boards make the product an ideal choice for both commercial and residential roof decks. [www.azek.com]

The Duralife Cortex Plug System helps create a seamless perimeter and stair treads. The system conceals exposed screw heads and since the plugs are made of actual DuraLife boards, the color and wood grain match is exact, providing a continuous, uniform aesthetic [www.duralifedecking.com]

Captains Adirondack Chair by Ecco Outdoor features an angular design and is made of durable poly lumber. Providing ultimate comfort, its high back and spacious armrests are prefect for the homeowner who enjoys spending hours outside on their deck. The chair features an integrated footrest, cup holder, and folds easily. [www.eccooutdoor.com]

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DeckWise introduces Zero-VOC WiseCoat Premium Hardwood Deck, Siding & Fence Sealer, an eco-friendly, non-toxic wood finish for those seeking more green alternatives. The waterproofing sealant employs a proprietary formula that preserves, protects and enhances South American, African, Asian domestic species, plus thermally modified wood. WiseCoat is a water-based formulation that coats the wood fibers deeply at the cellular level, offering protection from the inside out to fight cracking and splitting.

Milwaukee Tool is expanding its hand tool line with its new Bolt Cutters, available in 14” and 24”. The cutters are designed with forged steel blades and bolts that won’t loosen-translating to more cuts and longer life. A great tool for wire cable railing, the lineup includes two adaptive bolt cutters with Power moveable Extendable arms, allowing the user to extend the arms for more power and versatility.

[www.deckwise.com]

[www.milwaukeetool.com]

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Simpson Strong-Tie’s Deck-Drive SCU screw plug solution is a complete hidden deck-fastening system comprising the company’s premium DCU Composite screw, the DCU screw plug, and an Auto-set driver bit. Ideal for decking and trim applications using composite or PVC lumber, the screw plug solution offers deck professionals a simple way to cover exposed fastener heads that’s as easy as drive it, plug it, and tap it flush. With the system, screw heads are invisible, creating a smooth, professional finish.

Deck builders and homeowners can enjoy music on patios, decks, at poolside or in the yard with the Planter Speaker from ION Audio. Whether you’re building a project or enjoying it, The Planter Speaker flowerpot music system contains two speakers and a Bluetooth receiver, allowing users to enjoy music outdoors by streaming it directly from any Bluetooth device.

[www.strongtie.com]

[www.ionaudio.com]

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ACCESSORIES & TOOLS

Stains & Finishes

Cutek

cutekextreme.com (844) 442-8835 Cutek Extreme – 10 colors Cutek ProClean Stain Remover ___________________________

DeckMAX

deckmax.com DeckMAX E2 PVC Deck Revitilizer DeckMAX Professional Grade PVC Cleaner Concentrate Composite & Wood Deck Cleaner DeckMAX PVC Revitalizing Wipes ___________________________

DeckWise Post Doctor post repair kit

deckwise.comthe need for a high-cost eliminates (866) wooden 427-2547 fence after wooden new Ipe Oil Finishfrom lack of posts Hardwood have rotted Ipe Seal End Grain maintenance orSealer have fallen victim Cleaner & Brightener of destructive lawn equipment. Deck Restoration The systemKituses the original ___________________________ post and restores it back to its former façade, without the hassle Duckback Products of removing or digging up existing superdeck.com posts. (800) 825-5382 Superdeck Exterior Wood Cleaner [www.thepostdoctor.com] Superdeck Exterior Wood Brightener

Superdeck Exterior Wood Stripper Superdeck Transparent Stain – 10 colors Pressure Treated Stain – 6 colors Semi-Transparent Stain – 64 colors Exotic Hardwood Stain – natural, cherry, walnut Semi-Transparent Waterborne Stain – 100 colors Waterborne Stain – 7 colors Deck & Dock Elastomeric Coating – 55 colors Solid Color Stain – 80 colors Duckback Composite Cleaner Duckback P-3 Peeling Paint Primer ___________________________

Dumond Chemicals

dumondchemicals.com (800) 245-1191 Peel Away Deck Cleaner Peel Away Deck Restorer Peel Away Deck Brightener Peel Away Deck Remover ___________________________

EaCo Chem

eacochem.com (724) 656-0753 LCS Water-Based Stripper ___________________________

Eco Chemical ecochemical.com

(800) 677-7930 Trex Spiral Stairs added Eco Chemical Stain handrail a newFence Multi-Line ___________________________ system to its collection,

designed to complement the Flood Company

view-enhancing spacing and

flood.com sleek styling of cable and rod (800) 321-3444 railing. CWF-UV Clear Wood Finish – cedar, honey gold, The new option provides natural, redwood a functional, space-saving Pro Series CWF-UV5 – 7 colors alternative to standard stairs CWF Oil Pentrating Oil Wood Finish – cedar, and offers a classy and natural sophisticated look. Pro Series CWF Multi-Surface Waterproofing The ultra-thin, metallic Clear Sealant railing balusters create the Pro Series CWF Hardwoods – 8 colors illusion of cascading cable Pro Series Spa-N-Deck – 6 colors railing winding its way down Pro Series Semi-Transparent Alkyd/Oil Stain – the staircase, while offering 40 colors the strength and durability of Pro Series Semi-Transparent Acrylic/Oil Stain – stainless steel. 40 colors Pro Series Solid [www.trex.com] Color Stain – tintable to over 120 colors Pro Series Resurfacer Acrylic Stain – tintable to over 120 colors Pro Series All-Purpose Deck Wash Pro Series Wood Cleaner Pro Series Wood Stripper Spa-N-Deck Finish Coat ___________________________

Do You Buy Hidden Deck Fasteners or Construction Lags? We Guarantee the Best Quality and The Best Price! Call or email us for details!

Spring | Specialist Deck Specialist| | Summer 2018 | 2017 Deck

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Wolf Distinction Railing is a new line of deck railing by Wolf Home Products that’s perfect for a deck builder who is aiming for the perennial look of real painted wood with durable, lowmaintenance materials. The line features Wolf’s unique Optibracket Technology, which utilizes a single bracket that can be used in four configurations- 22.5 and 45 degrees, flat and stair-making installation simple and seamless. [www.wolfhomeproducts.com]

Homeowners who want to enjoy a campfire setting on their deck would find the BioLite Fire Pit useful, since it has a capacity for up to four standard fire-wood logs and creates hyperefficient flames with patented airflow technology. Users can lift the fuel rack and toss in charcoal to transform the pit into a hibachi-style grill, complete with an included grill grate. [www.bioliteenergy.com]

MOSO® bamboo x-treme®

Class 1

Class 4

(CEN/TS 15083-2)

EN350

EN335

Class 1

certified

100% proven

save up to 30% in installation costs high stability: end-match system

moso-bamboo.com/x-treme 58

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proven Since 2008 over 25,000,000 sqft installed, in more than 50 countries.

moso-bamboo.com


Cali Bamboo is adding to its outdoor product repertoire with all-new composite rail and post systems and fresh new decking colors. Rails and posts are color-matched and made of the same ultra-durable composite material as TruOrganics-Cali’s low maintenance planks, which are especially popular for their authentic wood grain beauty. This ensures deck builders that finished projects are more cohesive in their overall look, performance, and ease of installation. New colors include Glacier frosted gray, Caribou ebony-brown, and Mojave sand. [www.calibamboo.com]

OZCO Building Products is expanding its line of decorative wood connectors by adding Post Bands for wood structures like decks, pergolas and pavilions. The bands can be installed to cinch up a cracked post or when the posts are green, to help prevent the them from cracking in the first place. Offered in 4x4, 6x6, and 8x8 sizes, the bands are adjustable to accommodate both smooth and rough cut wood and can be installed in minutes. [www.ozcobp.com] Summer 2018

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DATE

ADVERTISERS INDEX

PLANNER PCBC When: June 27-28 Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA. What: PCBC is the largest homebuilding show for the West Coast, attracting over 10,000 industry professionals for industry-leading education, products and networking. More info: pcbc.com

Atlantis Rail Systems [www.altlantisrail.com]

56

Building-Products.com [www.building-products.com]

61

CAMO Fasteners [www.camofasteners.com]

Cover II

Deckorators [www. deckorators.com]

3

DeckWise [www.deckwise.com]

59

Digger Specialties [www.diggerspecialties.com]

33

When: July 10 Where: Lanier Islands Legacy Lodge, Buford, GA. What: North American Deck & Railing Association is hosting a tabletop networking event, offering connections, conversations, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and two speakers: Southeastern Home Inspector Conference chairman Shannon Cory and NADRA’s Heather A. Marchand. More info: nadra.org

Duradek [www.duradek.com]

49

Feeney [www.feeneyinc.com]

5

526 Media Group, Inc. [www.building-products.com]

61

SOLEX 2018 (Summer Outdoor Living Exhibition)

Lumberock Premium Decking [www.lumberock.com]

10

When: July 10-12 Where: National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, U.K. What: Sponsored by the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association, the annual Summer Outdoor Living Exhibition brings together buyers and manufacturers of a wide range of outdoor living and garden products, including lighting, gazebos, BBQs, furniture and play equipment. More info: lofa.co.uk

MoistureShield [www.moistureshield.com]

9

MOSO [www.moso-bamboo.eu]

58

San Diego Fall Home Show

NADRA Networking Event

When: Aug. 24-26 Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA. What: Annual event will feature an expansive Outdoor Living Showcase show-within-a-show. More info: homeshowsandiego.com

Myrtle Beach Home Improvement & Outdoor Living Show When: Sept. 21-23 Where: Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Myrtle Beach, S.C. What: Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association’s 7th annual fall event for builders, contractors, designers, landscapers and homeowners, featuring exhibits, seminars and workshops. More info: fallshow.myrtlebeachhomebuilders.org

Deck Expo & Remodeling Show When: Oct. 9-11 Where: Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD. What: Deck Expo and the Remodeling Show bring together residential building professionals to network, learn and experience the hottest products. More info: remodelingdeck.com

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Great Southern Wood Preserving [www.yellawood.com] 23, 43 Lonza [www.lonza.com]

Cover III

National Nail [www.nationalnail.com]

Cover II

North American Deck & Railing Assn. [www.nadra.org]

47

OZCO Building Products [www.ozcobp.com]

37

Prowood [www.prowoodlumber.com]

19

Screw Products Inc. [www.screw-products.com]

45

Simpson Strong-Tie [www.strongtie.com]

25

Superior Plastic Products [superiorplasticproducts.com]

35

Sure Drive [www.panamericanscrew.com]

57

Taiga Building Products [www.taigabp.com]

53

Titan Metal Werks [www.splitstop.com]

48

Trex [www.trex.com]

41

Viance [www.treatedwood.com]

Cover IV

Vista Railings [www.vistarailings.com]

21

Weyerhaeuser [www.weyerhaeuser.com]

7

Wild Hog Railing [www.wildhograiling.com]

11

Woodway Products [www.woodwayproducts.com]

55


It’s here.

Completely redesigned. Continuously updated. Conveniently mobile.

www.Building-Products.com Another investment in serving the LBM industry since 1922


IDEA BOOK

space camp Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center unveiled its new $2-million outdoor environmental educational deck, a showplace for the study of the universe— crafted from thermally modified wood. The new 3,200-sq. ft. deck—along with benches and railing accents—are built of Kebony, a durable, sustainable option well suited to outdoor environments where foot traffic is particularly heavy. “Throughout the process of designing and fabricating 15 new exhibit experiences, the design team knew we needed a deck material that supported visitor experience, complemented the aesthetic, and held up to thousands of visitors a year,” said project lead Allyson Feeney. Modified wood was chosen, she said, “because it fulfilled every one of our extensive requirements without compromise. With pre-radiused planks it cut down on installation time, its lowmaintenance upkeep and smooth aging process ensured that the deck would look good from the day it opened through many years to come, and the domestic, non-toxic wood source guaranteed that the deck would be safe for visitors and our environment.”

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UPPER LEFT: The project was designed by The Exploratorium’s Studio of Public Space in San Francisco. It augments the center’s other offerings, including a planetarium, a trio of giant telescopes, and educational programs. ABOVE: In addition to tools that include a polished sky mirror, camera obscuras, and a heliostat to track the movement of the sun, a lab bench (bottom photo) is equipped with stations for field drawings and rubbings, and a magnifier allows for up close viewing of plants, rocks and other natural materials. The deck also features an immersive sound observatory where visitors can listen to such aural phenomena as past earthquakes throughout the world and geysers erupting at Yellowstone National Park. (Photos by Kebony) Submit photos of your latest and greatest project to ideabook@ building-products.com


Wolmanized速 Outdoor速 Wood makes more than decks, it makes memories Decks built with Wolmanized速 Outdoor速 Wood are beautiful, strong and protected against termites, rot and decay. Create lasting memories today!

WolmanizedWood.com


DECK

SPECIALIST 151 Kalmus Dr. Ste. D200 Costa Mesa, CA 92626-5959

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Deck Specialist Summer 2018  

Summer edition of Deck Specialist, quarterly magazine for outdoor living professionals.

Deck Specialist Summer 2018  

Summer edition of Deck Specialist, quarterly magazine for outdoor living professionals.

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