Gravity…awesome to experience on a roller coaster or slide…not so great on you deck!

Roller coasterKnowing that gravity is an unfailing force is comforting, usually. It makes anything not firmly planted beneath the earth’s surface or properly attached to a stable structure eventually tumble to the ground. This thought doesn’t pop into your head until the moment you step onto something that wobbles or moves, even one that does it ever so slightly…such as walking across a swinging bridge in the mountains or while boarding a plane or ship…all of which you know to expect some movement. You should absolutely never experience this is when stepping out onto your deck; the most beloved spot for entertaining and relaxing. A well maintained, routinely inspected deck is one that gives you peace of mind each and every time you step on to it.

Logo - Deck SafetyMay, in the building industry is recognized as National Deck Safety Month and even though Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County helps to increase deck safety awareness during May, we feel deck maintenance should actually be conducted year-round to ensure safety. With a large portion of the approximately 40 million decks over 20 years old in the US, not being properly maintained or routinely inspected, it isn’t surprising that in a six-year period there were an estimated 179 deck failures resulting in 1,122 injuries and 33 deaths. What is startling, however, is the fact that according to NADRA, The North American Deck and Railing Association, deck failures that result in injury are increasing at an alarming rate and are mostly due to non-maintained, aged decks or just shoddy workmanship of a cut-rate builder.

Maryland_Bethesda_Baltimore_Best_Deck_Builder_Contractor_Outdoor_Living_SpecialistIf a deck is built by a reputable experienced builder, it will be built correctly meeting or exceeding building codes, and give you peace of mind in knowing your deck is safe and structurally sound from the ground up. A well-built deck that is both structurally sound and safe also includes the following components: ledger boards that are either bolted or screwed securely to side of the house; support posts that are mounted to concrete footers; diagonal and/or lateral post braces, proper railing and stairs as well as connectors and fasteners (such as galvanized or stainless steel bolts, screws, nails and joist and post connectors) specially designed for deck construction.

Just as it is with yours or your loved ones’ health (keeping an eye out for potential symptoms or health issues), when it comes to your deck’s safety, YOU are its first line of defense as well. And, since each of your family member’s health is directly affected by the safety of the things you use, you are killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. It’s as simple as doing a visual inspection of the deck each time you use it or are outside near it. If you see any rotten, cracked or damaged wood, or any loose, missing or corroded metal bracing or parts, it is recommended to have a structural engineer or an established, well-respected contractor evaluate your deck before its next use.

hassle-free no textDeck safety is a top priority and we want to ensure you or a member of your family doesn’t become a casualty as a result of an unsafe deck. Archadeck of Central Maryland and Montgomery County offers a thorough, certified deck safety inspection for a modest fee. You’ll receive a detailed checklist that highlights any necessary or suggested repairs or maybe your deck is good for a couple more years; we’ll let you know that too. Here are just a few of the critical areas our deck safety inspection covers: foundation and footings, the attachment to your home, decking boards, connections and fasteners, the posts, beams and joists (if visible) of the structure, any sagging between supports, as well as stairs and rails.

While we’re there to perform the inspection and upon your request we can also provide a free consultation on what would be involved with replacing your deck with an updated design that meets or exceeds all building code requirements and is best suited for your outdoor living needs.

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John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandIf you feel it’s time for your deck to be inspected for safety or are considering a new deck, or re-deck in the future, Archadeck of Central Maryland is the right choice for you. Our professional and talented staff members are experts at producing beautiful, quality outdoor living structures which are well designed and structurally sound. Contact us to learn more or to schedule your deck inspection or new project consultation today at (301) 926 – 3001 or email at centralmaryland@archadeck.net or montgomeryco@archadeck.net.

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Fill ‘er up with a new deck this year. What does the price of gas have to do with your new deck?

Archadeck of Central Maryland AZEK deck

This deck by Archadeck of Central Maryland is constructed from AZEK, a composite decking material that looks lovely against the backdrop of autumn leaves.

You can probably feel the sting in your wallet every time you visit the pump to fill up. With the ever-increasing price of gas, many aspects within our economy can be affected. Gasoline is derived from crude oil, which is a commodity, and like many other commodities when demand is on the rise, the price goes up. Everything from hand lotion, to dish washing detergents and even frozen foods are made using derivatives of crude oil in one form or another, and when the demand from crude oil rises, so do the prices we pay for these everyday items.

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This composite deck with pergola by Archadeck of Maryland, is just one example of the many outdoor structures we can have ready for you by spring.

One aspect that is affected by the rising price of crude oil, is composite decking materials. One major component that goes into creating composite decking is plastic and plastic is a bi-product of refining crude oil . The plastic is costing the composite manufacturers more so the composite prices will increase. Throughout the year the trend in rising crude oil prices fluctuates and intermittent pricing of materials that are derived from crude oil will be affected, however through past price hikes we have seen a trend in crude oil prices experiencing a brisk rise during the month of December in recent years. There is always an increase in composite deck materials which occurs twice a year. The increases are generally seen in December and during the mid-summer months.  This means that deciding to go ahead and build that deck or outdoor structure you have had on hold now may save you quite a bit of green in the long run. Aside from the avoidance of rising composite prices, there are many other reasons why building your outdoor structure now, rather than later can benefit you greatly.

An outdoor oasis by Archadeck of Maryland

An outdoor oasis by Archadeck of Maryland

Not only will you avoid the long lines and waiting periods that usually accompany Spring construction, your structure will actually be ready for you and your family to use and enjoy in the Spring. You can enjoy the first blooms of spring from your deck or outdoor structure instead of saying, ” I wish we already had our outdoor structure up and running”. There are also  fewer winter weather delays now than in the months of January and February. The cooler weather conditions also means the crews can work longer hours because of the absence of the summer heat which can sometimes create a longer than expected building deadline to occur if weather conditions are too hot and require more hydration breaks for the workers.

GuardDeck Guardian Elite decking Maryland

GuardDeck Guardian Elite composite decking by Archadeck of Maryland

Another key aspect of choosing to build now is there is less damage caused to your turf and landscaping when materials and construction crews are upon it. Most plants and turf are dormant during the late fall and winter months which helps protect them from damage that may occur from construction, as well as cooler temperatures creating a firmer ground to work on with less risk of turf damage.  Archadeck of Montgomery County  also encourages homeowners to consider building now because of the savings that can be accrued by just the concrete aspect of your outdoor structure.  During the cooler months concrete is being poured below the frost line which means you can use cold water concrete and this can be poured down into the lower single digit temperatures, and financially this comes out to a great deal for the homeowner.

Composite deck by Archadeck

This deck by Archadeck shows the beauty that can be yours with a composite deck.

If you are yearning and dreaming of a new deck, patio or other outdoor structure choosing to build now can mean a big difference in the savings, and in having your structure sooner than you could’ve imagined by avoiding the spring backlogs. Even choosing to wait until April or May to begin construction could put you into mid-summer having your structure completed. Right now Archadeck of Montgomery County is offering up to $2,500 off your project if you sign up before the end of 2011. Our offer gives you 10% off with a cap of $2,500, contact us for details.

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandDon’t wait any longer, wouldn’t the perfect outdoor structure be the perfect holiday gift for yourself and your family? Contact us today to get in on the savings, from the gas pump to your backyard. (301) 926 – 3001
centralmaryland@archadeck.net or montgomeryco@archadeck.net

For more beautiful composite and PVC deck designs, visit our composite and PVC deck photo gallery on our website.

This Gaithersburg screen porch and deck combination takes memorable to a new level

Gaithersburg screen porch

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The slideshow above gives a glimpse of what our design meeting will be like. When we propose and illustrate a solution to our clients, we show them a true-to-life rendering and show it from the various important angles so the homeowners know exactly what they will be getting.

Gaithersburg screen porch builder

This Gaithersburg screen porch and deck combination lends plenty of room for rest and relaxation

These Gaithersburg  homeowners came to us with a full walkout basement on their 18-20 year old existing home and asked that we create a screened porch and deck combination that they can enjoy everyday. They wanted the type that would transport them back to a time when the days moved a little slower and the pressures of the everyday were non-existent. They wanted the design to provide functionality and style. We were able to give these homeowners both with a rustic screen porch that is reminiscent of the screened porches we enjoyed when we were all children. The kind of structure that takes you back to a time of fewer worries, more fun and a lot more time to relax.

Gaithersburg screen porch Gaithersburg deck builder

This angle of the custom design rendering shows how Archadeck of Central Maryland and Archadeck of Montgomery County solved the roof height concern.

When we first began construction on this Gaithersburg screened porch, we were concerned because the roof lines were a challenge with the garage roof being one story and the existing home being a two-story roof. Wherein lies the challenge that half the roof was over the garage and half was over the home.  We love the challenge in overcoming even the most difficult challenges to find a design solution. We utilize design software to help us illustrate these challenges once we create a design solution to fit the homeowners’ needs and design challenges.  We were able to present these Gaithersburg homeowners with a professional design rendering that encompassed everything they wanted and more. This is perhaps the most fun part of the job – being able to come up with creative solutions.

Gathersbur screen porch with attached deck

The new location of the stairs adds more accessibility into the backyard.

Our solution was to re-structure the homeowners’ existing deck to support the weight of the screened porch. We then enlarged the deck to provide a barbecue area adjacent to the screened porch.We usually find that when homeowners add a screened porch to their deck area they don’t need as much of an open outdoor area as they would if they did not have the advantages of a screened porch. Homeowners end up utilizing their deck space for a barbecue or grilling area and additional seating and dining. We then relocated the stairs to provide access to the backyard. The enlarged deck was then  re-decked with TimberTech composite decking in beautiful twin plank in redwood. This color choice adds to the rustic charm of the entire structure. To complement the new deck, we used black Deckorators balusters.

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This Gaithersburg screened porch is big on rustic detailing and style

The screened porch is designed with an open screened gable to provide ample light and ventilation. This open and airy design element is further carried out with the use of open, exposed rafters. The combination of the exposed rafters and the open design of this screened porch gives it a country casual, rustic feel that is really popular among screen porch owners right now. Rustic never goes out of style, they are just more detailed versions of the beloved screen porches our parents had growing up.

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandIf you are ready to be transported back in time to a time period when you could breathe easier and time seemed to stand still, the addition of a magical outdoor structure may be the answer. Contact Archadeck of Central Maryland and Archadeck of Montgomery County to plan, design and build an unforgettable outdoor structure to make new memories within. (301) 926 – 3001
montgomeryco@archadeck.net or centralmaryland@archadeck.net

Composite, PVC or Capstock Decking? That is the question.

Composite deck by Archadeck

This deck by Archadeck shows the beauty that can be yours with a composite deck.

Composite, PVC and capstock decking materials are fairly new to most of us although they are trusted and true materials in the world of outdoor structures. You may have heard about all of these different types of expensive, fancy and maybe good decking materials, but the dilemma is how does the homeowner make sense of it all?

How to decide?

When selecting a material for your new deck or re-decking needs, the variance in selection can make this task quite daunting. Archadeck of Maryland wants the task of selecting the right material for your individual needs to be an easy and pleasant experience, this is why we have taken the three basic types of decking materials and broken them down to explain the basic components and functions of each group.

Composites ( also known as synthetics) are by far the oldest decking product on the market. Composites have been around for quite a few years, and being the oldest means all, or most, of the “kinks” have been worked out with this product. Over the years we have watched this product improve greatly in appearance as well as durability. Many composites promise the best of everything, from stain resistance to low maintenance and a myriad of other benefits. Because there are now so many choices and options within the realm of composites, we want to quell the fears of the unknown by giving homeowners a simple and concise picture of what these types of decking are and the pros and cons of each.

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Composite deck with pergola by Archadeck of Maryland

Composite decking material requires a lot less maintenance than its solid wood counterparts – even those treated with preservatives. Composites can be made to emulate the look of real wood, with wood graining that in a quality composite can rival the real thing. A high quality composite can also inhibit the growth of mold and mildew by the addition of mold inhibitors present in the makeup of the composite.

Composites can be cleaned by simple soap and water cleanup. If stains sit for a period of time, they may take a little more effort to clean. There are many good composite cleaners on the market. As with any deck that contains natural derivatives you will still have to contend with fading, scratching and dirt. Composites, even though they do require maintaining, do no compare with the chore of staining and painting on an annual basis that is necessary with a pressure treated or other entirely wooden deck.

One composite brand we use quite a bit of is Fiberon Professional. Fiberon Professional requires no painting, staining or sealing. It comes in rich colors and is resistant to termites, splinters and decay.

Fiberon Professional color options

Fiberon Professional color options

TimberTech is another well-known brand of composite decking. Their line offers scratch, stain and fade resistance that carries a 25 year warranty. TimberTech,  like the majority of the leading composite manufacturers has created stunning similarities with the appearance of the composites with wood graining and details that closely resemble the look of real wood. In the case of these quality composites it is like real wood, but even better.

AZEK deck by Archadeck of Maryland

This AZEK deck is accented with a TimberTech radiance rail.

PVC Decking

Cellular PVC decking is very high performance and similarly is most often the more expensive option. PVC decking materials have fade and stain protection through their warranties. PVC is a solid cellular plastic. This makeup creates a non porous and denser decking material. PVC decking only requires minimal maintenance. It will not fade, warp, crack, splinter or stain. PVC is also moisture friendly and is used heavily around pools, spas and as a docking material.

Guardeck Elite PVC decking Maryland

Guardeck Elite PVC decking Maryland

When you think in terms of the price point when choosing any decking material, Archadeck of Maryland urges the homeowner to take the long-term investment into consideration when choosing the material for your deck. PVC has superior protection because of the 25 year stain and fade warranties that some PVC manufacturers offer, but that type of quality does cost a bit more. We really like Guardian Elite decking and use it quite a bit.

GuardDeck Guardian Elite decking Maryland

GuardDeck Guardian Elite decking Maryland

Guardian Elite decking offers very strong fade, stain and moisture resistance. It does not require any painting, staining or sealing – ever. No splinters. No cracking or rotting. And, it’s resistant to mold, mildew, fungus, moss – and even insects.

Fiberon Horizon is a  product that we have used many times and has proven itself as a superior PVC material. This product uses PermaTech innovation to offer superior stain and fade protection and only requires soap and water cleanup. There are other PVC brands on the market as well such as AZEK and TimberTech XLM just to name a few.

Fiberon deck with vinyl pergola

This Fiberon deck is breathtaking when accented by this vinyl pergola.

What is capstock?

Capstock is the newest material on the market. It is made up of a proprietary PVC polymer shell and contains a composite wood and recycled plastic core. It is considered a composite decking material but boasts a durable PVC shell. It is also known as a composite hybrid, as well as being referred to as capstock decking. These products are being backed with some of the best warranties in the business, therefore we expect good things from Capstock products.

Guardian Prestige Deck

Guardian Prestige Deck in Weathered Wood

As far as capstock goes, we really like Guardian Prestige and Fiberon Horizon. The Guardian Prestige line has advanced fade, stain and scratch resistance. Like other composites and capstocks, it requires no painting, staining or sealing. Guardian Prestige has a very nice realistically embossed woodgrain. On top of that, it’s made right here in the USA.

Guardian Prestige Decking Colors

Guardian Prestige Decking Colors

Guardian Prestige comes in four colors: Pewter, Weathered Wood which you see above, Cedar and Walnut.

Another really strong capstock decking material is called Fiberon Horizon. The Fiberon Horizon line offers the look of tropical hardwoods with some of its darker colors including Ipe, Rosewood and Tudor Brown.

Fiberon Horizon color options

Fiberon Horizon color options

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandIf you are considering a deck of composite, PVC or capstock, contact Archadeck of Maryland to help you decide which material is the best for you and your family. Our knowledgeable and talented team can pair you up with the deck of your dreams. Call (301) 926 – 3001 or email us at centralmaryland@archadeck.net

Fiberon composite deck in Montgomery County MD

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Fiberon composite deck with white railing by Archadeck of Maryland

In the world of decks composites are leading the way in strength, durability and aesthetic appeal. This deck and pergola combination by Archadeck of Maryland in no exception. This deck was built of Fiberon. Fiberon like other composite brands enjoys the benefits of low maintenance, fade and stain resistance, water and mildew resistance and hues that match the natural beauty of real wood.

Fiberon Horizon Ipe color decks Maryland

Fiberon Horizon decking board in Ipe color used by Archadeck of Maryland

Composite decks give you the freedom and flexibility to create a myriad of outdoor structures in all shape and sizes. Upkeep and maintenance on composite decks is limited to washing it twice a year to remove any dirt or pollen. This can usually be achieved with as little effort as sweeping.

Composites such as Fiberon are earth friendly as well, being constructed of recycled materials. You get a deck as strikingly beautiful as it is carefree deck!  Composite decking uses polymer technology and high density polyethylene resin.

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Composite deck with pergola by Archadeck of Maryland

This particular construction is stunning with the contrast of the wood hues against the white railing. We also created separate spaces for grilling and entertaining by utilizing a step down area for these homeowners.  The pergola adds a design element and a defining focal point for the structure. This deck is definitely the place to be all season long.

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandIf you are considering a deck in your near future, composites are a solid choice in decking. Give Archadeck of Maryland a call to design and construct your deck. We have many composite decking choices to choose from right at your fingertips. 301-926-3001

This Screened Porch and Deck in Potomac, MD Spotlights the Exotic Beauty of IPE

You may be thinking about adding a hardwood deck such as mahogany or tigerwood onto your home. There are a number of fabulous and breathtakingly beautiful hardwoods on the scene. Not only do some of this hardwoods take advantage of the natural beauty of the wood, some of them boast durability as well.

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This photo by Archadeck of Maryland shows the clipped corners for a panoramic view

Archadeck of Maryland turns back the clock a little to focus on a project we did a few years back for a customer in Potomac, MD. We changed out an existing house wall and made it into a beautiful stone wall and then added a 3-walled screened porch with clipped corners for a panoramic view. We used Ipe flooring and a beautiful clean cedar ceiling, just a stunning combination. We also added a small deck off the outside edge of the screened porch, on the far wall the deck is just big enough for a BBQ. We used a pair of french doors as the exit doors, this added an air of refinement to the addition. To add character and whimsy we installed a cupola on the roof as well.

The house was roughly a 1960’s home in the french colonial style and it had a mansard style roof. The home had a family room with a picture room with doors on either side, this is where we removed all of that and installed the wide opening to accommodate the screened porch. Along with the mansard style roof the home had cedar shakes, we matched the roof of the new structure with the same cedar shakes. Even though this was expensive and very maintenance prone over time, it was necessary to keep the structural integrity of the home intact.

This had been the 1st job we had ever finished a ceiling out with clean cedar, we used a satin finish, which looks even more elegant than a high gloss finish. The choice to use Ipe for the flooring was in part for the beauty and the other would be the extreme durability. Ipe is nicknamed “ironwood” by the industry. It is so hard and resilient you need to use titanium drill bits to drill through it. It will not float in fresh water because of its dense nature. In places where water and long-lasting are used in the same sentence such as floating docks and even the Annapolis yacht club, we have seen it used with much success. We have even heard that the New Jersey boardwalk is not made of Ipe because of its quality.

Ipe is a clean wood as well, it has a dark chocolate palette with variations from board to board. Much is the look of the Brazilian hardwoods. All you need to do to keep that dark beautiful finish is seal it. It will turn a silver-gray, the sealing is only to maintain the color, because even if you choose not to seal Ipe it will not degrade .

John Barrett Archadeck of MarylandThis is just one of the many happy customers we have built structures for of hardwood decking. We have many more options, as well as Ipe. Give Archadeck of Maryland a call today to find out more at (301) 926 – 3001 or email us at centralmaryland@archadeck.net.

These Avid Golfers Get a New Deck and Pergola to Make “Tee” Time Fabulous

Archadeck of Maryland recently had the opportunity to work with a wonderful couple. The couple are great customers of ours, not only are they doting grandparents they are avid golfers as well. Their duplex home is in a prime location where they can enjoy their love of golf – on a golf course. They wanted us to try to come up with a solution to their problem of errant gold balls continually coming toward their home. Our job was to fix this problem from a backyard design standpoint.

These golfing grandparents had an almost non-existent lot line. We decided on expanding the existing deck quite a bit and adding an octagon. The main deck is elevated one step up.

Fiberon Horizon Ipe color decks Maryland

Fiberon Horizon decking board in Ipe color used by Archadeck of Maryland

We used Fiberon horizon composite decking in the beautiful ipe color. We also added a double contrasting border around both deck sections. The deck was “picture framed” with two boards. The couple used a shoreline railing by Maryland vinyl product with a decking board rail cap product on top.

This new and improved deck was finished off with a vinyl trimmed pergola. We added the pergola to the top and they plan to have a shade tree slide out awning installed on it. We finished out the support beams in pvc vinyl so they have a finished look and are aesthetically appealing. We also did the underdeck system so they could use the patio down below.

Even though they have an elevated deck, they decided not to provide stairs down to the outside. This was a security decision. Their second level is their main living area and they don’t want to allow outside entry access to the deck. A wise decision to add more security to the home.

With the expansion and facelift of this couple’s deck, a pergola and some strategically placed awnings, no more unwelcome golf balls will intrude into their outdoor oasis. This makes their “tea” time fabulous.

If you are ready to expand, or build that special space in your own backyard, give Archadeck of Maryland a call to make it happen. (301) 926 – 3001. centralmaryland@archadeck.net

Owner of Archadeck of Central Maryland- John Barrett

The Eye of Artful Design: Potomac, MD Home home with a Screened Porch and Multiple Decks

We recently completed a job for a customer in Potomac, MD whom wanted to add a new screened-in porch and replace an existing deck. We really went in-depth in the design process before construction to make sure we had accomplished everything the homeowner desired. These are the kinds of projects I really enjoy. I like to sink myself into a design challenge. The challenge may be presented based on how to make the most of a small space, based on how to really tie the new structure into the home or by how to meet zoning codes and still get the design the homeowners want.

Interior of completed screened porch

People almost always ask for a gable roof design when considering the addition of a screened porch or sunroom. The appeal of using a gabled roof makes people think of open, and airy designs. In this case taking into consideration the existing architecture of this home with the multiple shed roof lines, a gable roof just would not have kept the structural integrity of the existing house. I knew I had to create a design that utilized the shed style roof and still accomplish everything a gable promises; like openness and airiness and a grand feeling.

rendering showing the design of the gable roof which we did not choose

This home had very high ceilings on the first floor which allowed us to tie the screened porch in perfectly architecturally with the rest of the house and accomplish that airy feel. We positioned the sunroom off the great room area. This way the two other decks had their own purpose and identity and both decks allowed access to the screened porch. We were also able to match the cedar siding exactly and the gable ends tied in perfectly. We carried the same cedar inside the ceiling of the screened porch.

Design rendering of the shed roof design which was chosen

These Potomac, MD homeowners chose Fiberon Horizon composite flooring, it actually looks a lot like the Ipe color rosewood and is lower maintenance. The railing of the porch matches on the inside and outside. The homeowners chose a vinyl railing system with black powder coated aluminum balusters made by Deckorators. The top of the railing has a rail cap that matches the floor.

Before the re-decking

We also re-decked the 18-year-old decks. One deck is 15×14 and the other is 20×14. The end dimensions of the addition of the screened porch added an additional 20 x 10 x 14 of lovely, enjoyable space for these homeowners. Now these Potomac, MD homeowners have a beautifully constructed, nicely furnished place to relax and enjoy the views of their large back yard.

After re-decking

If you are considering a re-model, a re-deck or a new construction give us a ring at Archadeck of Maryland a call today for a free estimate.

Watch this job come to life in front of your eyes.