As the weather gets warmer, thoughts of adding, extending or repairing an outdoor deck goes to the top of the to-do list for many homeowners. It’s a natural thought because decks tend to become the main area to entertain, relax, enjoy scenery or spend time with family and friends as the summer arrives. The immediate concern of many deck owners is the way the deck looks, its wow-factor and the potential added resale value. Custom accessories such as colored balusters, mood lighting, storage nooks and built-in seating that are the envy of the neighborhood seem to become the driving force in deck design, but how often is the safety of the deck the top concern?
The process of building, remodeling or repairing a safe and attractive deck that is appropriate to the home and neighborhood takes a great deal of homework. In addition to using the North American Deck and Rail Evaluation Checklist, the following are some important considerations for constructing a new deck.
Proper Prior Planning
When building a new deck, it’s important to evaluate things such as the size, shape, location of the stairs and whether or not the deck will be covered with an awning or adorned with a pergola. A deck that’s too large and covers a big part of a backyard can become a liability at time of resale. A growing family that needs play space for children may not see the benefit of a multi-tiered deck that meets-up with a pool or a patio with a fire pit. Being creative with unique features such as an AZEK In-deck storage kit, built-in seating and designated areas for grills all require enhanced framing and may appeal to a wider audience at resale time.
The dizzying array of decking and railing options sure can make it difficult to decide in what direction to go. There’s ultra-low maintenance, low-maintenance, real wood, composite, PVC and aluminum products to name but a few. Even if you’re on a tight budget, don’t be tempted into using products with a questionable reputation because they’re not a good deal in the end. Like many building projects, the major cost is in the labor, so it’s a good rule of thumb to buy the best product that you can afford. Purchasing established code-compliant products with third party scientific test data to verify claims are a good place to start your search.
Selecting a Contractor
Hiring a contractor for your deck project is not to be taken lightly. There are many questions that need to be answered and verified. It’s important to find out how long they’ve been in business and if deck building is their sole source of income. Ask whether they hold a builders license, can provide verifiable references and proof of all required insurances. Talking to former clients of the contractor is also a good idea because you’ll gain great insight into the work habits of the crew. In addition of top-quality workmanship, seeking a company that works very hard to be as unobtrusive as possible during the entire construction process will certainly make things go smoother.
Before signing a contract which typically requires 1/3 of the agreed-upon cost upfront, ask many, many questions and then do your research to make sure the claims are indeed true.
Obtaining a building permit is a critical first step before deck construction starts and can help to avoid all sorts of dangerous, and possibly costly, mistakes. With adequate planning, the short time it takes to get a permit should not be a hindrance to doing things the right way. You’ll need simple drawings to bring to your local building department that includes the location of the deck, stair and railing information, size of joists and posts, and specifics about the materials that will be used. Building Inspectors will then confirm if your deck plans meet local building and safety codes and if so, they’ll issue the permit. Be prepared for on-site inspections throughout the construction process to insure your deck is being built in accordance to the submitted drawing and local building codes. Last but not least, notify your insurance company about your new deck and request an addendum to your Homeowner’s Policy that reflects the specifics of the new outdoor living space.
By following these guidelines and doing your homework, you can feel confident that you will end up with a deck that not only increases the value of your home, but one that you and your family will enjoy for years to come.
After the wrath of winter’s freeze-thaw cycles, the protective qualities of a residential roof can be compromised, but still look fine from street-level. While it’s a good idea to inspect your roof in detail every fall and spring, most three tab residential roof shingles over 20 years old are more than likely nearing time for a full replacement.
There are many influences that can deteriorate a roof but one of the more damaging causes is ice dams. Ice dams can form when there is as little as an inch or two of snow on a roof, the attic area is poorly insulated, and there is little or no ventilation. In this situation, snowfall followed by several days of sub-freezing temperatures will create problems. A properly ventilated attic is not hard to achieve, and starts with a complete air-exchange system. A soffit system constructed with a combination of AZEK Trim pieces, a continuous vent strip and a properly installed ridge vent will more than likely be adequate to handle most residential roof designs.
To determine the condition of a roof shingle, climbing up a ladder is best but often times a fair assessment can be made from the safety of the ground. Grab a pair of binoculars and look at the roof. Are the shingles curling on the edge, buckling or torn? Are there excessive shingle granules on the ground or visible around openings such as skylights, chimneys or exhaust pipes? If possible, look into the gutters or at the end of a downspout because that’s usually a great place to see if there’s a loose granule accumulation. If one or more of these triggers are present, it’s probably time to bite the bullet and re-roof.
Before you invest $10,000 or more for a “normal” sized residential roof, it’s a good idea to get three or more references prior to choosing a roofing contractor. Always demand written copies of proof of liability and workman’s compensation insurance and have a very detailed written quote prepared. It’s also smart to check and see if a roofing contractor is a member in good standing with an industry affiliation such as the National Roofing Contractors Association.
When qualifying a written quote, there are many key items that should be spelled out very clearly. These items include proper permitting, proper disposal of the old materials and very specific information about the materials to be installed. Insist on a quality ice and water membrane installed 6’ up at all eves and valleys and 3’ along all gable / rake ends followed up with heavy duty drip edge; preferably 8” in width. On remaining roof areas, better contractors have recently moved to synthetic underlayments such as Surround instead of # 30 felt because synthetic products are easy to install and add a reliable layer of protection in the event of a future leak.
Since most of the cost of a new roof is in the labor, it’s wise to purchase the heaviest grade of roof shingle with the longest-term warranty that you can afford. In many cases, this could be the one and only roof that you ever buy, so why not do it the right way?
Further confirming its sustainability position, Perennial Wood™ recently was named a Green Certified Product by Home Innovation Research Labs, formerly the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center. This distinction means that projects incorporating Perennial Wood can earn points towards certification under the National Green Building Standard™.
“Becoming a Green Certified Product is a great way to officially connect Perennial Wood to quality green building,” said Ken Flint, market development manager for Perennial Wood. “This reinforces our sustainability position while supporting our customers’ pursuit of green building certifications.”
To become a Green Certified Product, Perennial Wood was evaluated by the Home Innovation Research Lab for meeting National Green Building certification criteria. The National Green Building Standard uses the Green Scoring Tool to award points for design, preparation, development, efficiency and environmental quality. Specific products that have been approved by the program can be found at http://www.GreenApprovedProducts.org.
Made by Eastman Chemical Company, Perennial Wood is real wood modified to endure nature’s harshest elements. It is modified through TruLast™ Technology to resist changes from moisture and remain dimensionally stable — three times more stable than unmodified wood — making it suitable for nearly any exterior construction application.
Perennial Wood is made from U.S. Southern pine and is processed and finished in the U.S., eliminating the need for shipping wood from offshore sources, lessening the environmental impact. Because it lasts longer than most unmodified wood, Perennial Wood needs to be replaced less often, resulting in less material disposal over the long term. TruLast Technology leaves no toxic substances within the wood, delivering peace of mind to homeowners.
Perennial Wood decking is available at select retail locations and lumberyards in the Northeast while Perennial Wood porch flooring is available at lumberyards in the Northeast and South-Atlantic. To locate a dealer, visit PerennialWood.com.
Perennial Wood is manufactured by Eastman, a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With a portfolio of specialty businesses, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. Its market-driven approaches take advantage of world-class technology platforms and leading positions in attractive end-markets such as transportation, building and construction, and consumables. Eastman focuses on creating consistent, superior value for all stakeholders. As a globally diverse company, Eastman serves customers in approximately 100 countries and had 2012 pro forma combined revenues, giving effect to the Solutia acquisition, of approximately $9.1 billion. The company is headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., and employs approximately 13,500 people around the world. For more information, visit http://www.eastman.com. For more information on Perennial Wood, visit PerennialWood.com or call 800.530.7495.
With the building materials industry in a constant state of change and improvement, consistent and accurate education is critical for the proper promotion and installation of the products that go into today’s building projects. For that reason, AZEK Building Products and Boston Cedar have teamed-up to announce the 2013 AZEK Railing Roadshow. The ultimate goal of the roadshow is to keep all channels involved in the design, selling and maintenance of today’s building projects as well informed as possible. In an effort to achieve that goal, Boston Cedar, by scheduled appointment will bring displays and experts to the independent AZEK Railing stocking dealer to conduct on-site railing training sessions.
New for 2013, AZEK Building Products has introduced an innovative 10’ AZEK Rail option to its stable of great railing products. With fewer post attachments, the 10’ AZEK Rail delivers a clean, crisp look that contractors and homeowners will love! Using a sturdy aluminum retainer in conjunction with standard AZEK Rail components and hardware, you can now achieve a full 10’ span between posts enhancing the viewing area from your deck. This longer length rail section yields a style that matches historical wood rail applications. Best of all, the 10’ AZEK Rail requires fewer posts and accessories to install which means time and money saved on both materials and labor.
In addition to the 10’ rail offering, AZEK has reformatted the entire rail offering to allow for customized installations, Rail Packs have been developed that include only the top rail, retainer, bottom rail and hardware so that individual baluster choices can be utilized. Additionally, balusters will now be available in separate packs to make it easy to mix-and-match colors in rail sections up to 10’ in length or even integrate the new line of AZEK Metal Balusters. And, hardware packs have been expanded to accommodate a variety of installation situations, e.g., two 22.5º shim brackets included in every Hardware Master Pack.
As a valued stocking dealer of AZEK Railing from Boston Cedar, please contact our Mansfield, MA office at 800.222.6255 to schedule an AZEK Railing Roadshow session at your place of business.
Continuing a long tradition of introducing innovative building materials for independent lumber dealers in the Northeast U.S., Boston Cedar is pleased to announce its newest offering; RDI Metal Work’s Excalibur Railing.
The folks at Railing Dynamics Inc. have taken elements you’ve come to love from the Endurance and Titan Pro railing systems and created Excalibur, the new railing line from the Metal Works® family. Endurance-like hidden attachments, Titan-like easy installation, economical, and sleek satin black or hammered bronze finishes, are all combined together to create a great looking fully-metal exterior railing system. Sure, metal has been around for a while, but you’ve never seen it quite like this.
Excalibur’s pre-welded components provide strength, while the triple-coat finishing process ensures great looking durability. The pre-mounted brackets allow for quick installation. The satin, low-gloss finish hides marring, fingerprints, smudges and other dirt that can otherwise make a gorgeous railing installation look like it’s in desperate need of a spit-shine.
Excalibur doesn’t have to stop at being a suit of armor for your deck, porch or set of stairs; you can add a touch of warmth and beauty to the toughness of steel. Create a touch of elegance with a custom wood top-rail profile. Mix it up by combining white, earth, or sand post and accessory options from the
Endurance and Titan systems.
At the recent JLC LIVE New England Show in Providence, RI, contractors flocked to the RDI booth to learn more about Metal Works. During the course of live product demonstrations, contractors were enthusiastically supportive of the ease of installation, the 15-year residential, 10-year commercial limited warranty on materials and the game-changing 2-year labor warranty.
By the time the month of March rolls around in the Northeast U.S., many people have developed a bad case of cabin fever. With Daylight Saving Time just around the corner, why not take advantage of the remaining dark days of winter and make some low-cost interior improvements? In the process, it’s quite possible that your “cabin” will feel completely transformed and your property may increase in value.
Aside from the usual upgrades such as painting a room, rearranging furniture or updating window treatments, it’s possible to add custom features which tend to separate a house from a home. If you live in a two story home like many New Englander’s do, have you considered upgrading tired old hollow core lauan doors on the first floor to a two panel solid core hardboard door with unique hardware? Maybe take it a step further and install upgraded door trim, baseboards or even a classic crown profile to your living room ceiling. Quality Pearl Interior Trim profiles can certainly go a long way towards achieving that new customized look.
Custom elements in a well-designed living room or family room setting seem to go a long way in creating a mood. Depending on the character of the home and available wall space, built-in wood bookcases add a touch of class. Thinking outside the box, how about using a reclaimed board or plank purchased from a salvage yard that is resurfaced and then used as a wall-mounted shelf?
Nothing beats the warmth of natural wood. Have you considered installing Cowichan Gold Western Red Cedar or classic Douglas Fir in a tongue and grooved beaded pattern as a wall or ceiling accent? In addition to the added charm and beauty, a wood ceiling can reflect sound back into the room while reducing the “hollow” feeling.
Rooms that come to mind as the most expensive to upgrade are kitchens and bathrooms. Don’t despair! There are low cost enhancements that can be made to transform ordinary to extraordinary. The use of AZEK Beadboard as a kitchen backsplash can create a fresh bright look at just a fraction of the cost of ceramic tile. In a bathroom, the same beadboard material can be used in conjunction with AZEK Mouldings to create a great looking wainscoting system. Don’t stop there. How sharp would the contrast of clear-coated 1” x 4” Tongue and Grooved Douglas Fir flooring look against the crisp white surface of AZEK?
In the process of updating your home on a low-budget, you may find out that it can be a fulfilling and creative endeavor that gets you through the final days of the winter doldrums.
In keeping with its ongoing Green initiative, Boston Cedar has moved its website and blog hosting function to a “green” platform. Both the website and blog are now located on the carbon-neutral DreamHost servers. Boston Cedar chose DreamHost because of their very reliable record and the fact that they offset their power usage through the use of Renewable Energy and Emission Reduction Credits.
Many people think of the internet as being a “green” format, not taking into account how much energy is consumed both on the front end to keep computers and smart devices running, and on the back end to keep large server installations operating. When DreamHost learned that they generated as much carbon dioxide as 545 average-size homes on a yearly basis, they realized they had to do something to neutralize emissions.
The management of DreamHost found that an effective approach begins with basic resource conservation measures such as turning off the lights, reducing travel or printing on both sides of a page. The next step is to use clean, reliable renewable energy. Without the option of installing solar panels or connecting with a green power utility, DreamHost decided to purchase Renewable Energy Credits which are certified by Green-e. Finally, to neutralize those unavoidable emissions they invested in Emission Reduction Credits (a.k.a. “offsets”) which guarantee any remaining impact is effectively erased.
DreamHost has purchased enough of these credits – which are retired after purchase and not resalable – to account for their energy usage. The proceeds of these credit purchases are then put toward funding further emission reduction and renewable energy projects. Although DreamHost is not currently able to actually power their servers with the wind or the sun, these positive efforts spur innovation, job creation, energy efficiency and an overall brighter economic future.
Excellence differentiates a quality business from an ordinary business, but what does that mean? Does it mean treating each customer as an individual? Is it taking an extra step to consistently deliver beyond what is expected? Is it listening to an angry customer who has a reason to be upset and then turning the negative in to a positive? Or is it all of the above, and more?
We’ve been asked how Boston Cedar has been able to consistently grow since 1985. The answer is actually very simple. We’ve aligned the entire organization around one core mission… to provide the best customer service possible at all times. Not by using a receptionist or a single customer service department, but by utilizing teams that are responsible for a specific customer, all working towards the same goal. Making the customer happy!
Our passion for the lumber and building materials business, combined with our devotion to customer service, has led to an expanded product offering over the years. We’re proud to distribute the familiar brand name items you’ve come to know and trust. AZEK Building Products, Bevel in a Box, Cowichan Gold, Latitudes Decking, Perennial Wood, RDI Railing and the TYPAR Weather Protection System to name but a few.
Many Boston Cedar employees have in excess of 25 years of industry tenure and are eager to share their extensive experience. Knowledge shared with customers, industry affiliations, home builder associations, architects and builders a just a few of the many channels that we are active in. Again, all part of the customer service function without the distinction of coming from your typical customer service department. With so few independent lumber and building materials distributors and retail companies left in the marketplace, it’s nice to know you can still prosper the old fashion way, by consistently offering a commitment to the highest levels of customer service and satisfaction.
Imagine being stuck in an office and buried in a mountain of work that’s past due. The only thing that separates you from work-stress and a beautiful 70 degree spring day is a sheet of insulated glass. What will you do? Based on the rapid growth of commercial flat rooftop patios and deck spaces in the workplace, now you can do both. Increasingly popular rooftop outdoor spaces offer great opportunities for retreat and are also a catalyst for relaxed conversions and creative thinking.
In addition to creating a more inviting workplace for office tenants’, many building owners are now constructing rooftop patios with basic green principles in mind. According to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a not-for-profit industry association, green roofs retain rainwater, reduce storm water run-off, and significantly reduce roof heat absorption which helps to keep the rooms below cooler and utility costs lower.
Creating a rooftop deck poses the question of what material should be used. What about the additional weight of the chosen material? Does the product meet the architect’s design criteria and will that material contribute towards LEED points? All very fair questions but there are not many products that can meet all the demands.
Enter AZEK Composite Pavers. This award-winning product is breaking the traditional mentality that landscape pavers must be made from concrete or clay and are heavy and difficult to work with. Made from up to 95% recycled materials, patented AZEK Pavers are the most technologically advanced and socially responsible paver alternatives in the industry.
Why not transform an ugly tar and gravel roof into a pleasant ultra low-maintenance urban garden area that people flock to? Employees can head outdoors for a short break or for lunch, clear their head and come back in refreshed. Maybe a breath of fresh air stimulates a great idea that pops in to an employees head while they weren’t directly thinking about the task at hand.
At the recent International Builders’ Show (IBS) which was held in Las Vegas from January 22nd through 24th, cutting-edge building products and services were unveiled during this annual convention. In addition to new products and services, there were many live demonstrations and working models in over 300 building industry categories featuring the latest advancements in an industry that is on a rebound.
AZEK Building Products which is known as a company that annually showcases new and innovative products at this event did not disappoint. Highlights include:
AZEK 10ft Rail
AZEK Building Products has announced AZEK® Rail in 10 ft. lengths will be offered in Premier, Trademark and Reserve profiles. This innovative, one-of-a-kind premium capped composite railing spans a full 10 ft. between posts. It installs faster with less labor. On a 30’ railing installation, the AZEK Rail 10’ section is at least 14% less costly to install than standard AZEK 6’ Rail sections.
AZEK Rail Metal Baluster
Eliminate unattractive plastic connectors with direct-connecting AZEK Metal Balusters in round and square styles. Available in four lengths as well as stair balusters in two lengths, they are designed to meet rail building codes in all areas. An extruded screw channel allows direct attachment to the railing for a stronger baluster connection. Available in black with an aluminum powder coating.
AZEK Permeable Pavers
For help with stormwater issues, AZEK Pavers in Permeable Style features spacer lugs for water filtration of 450 inches per hour when used with appropriate aggregate. With up to 95% recycled from scrap tires and added plastics, they are perfect for new patios, driveways or walkway. The pavers install on a unique grid system.
AZEK Architectural Moulding
The AZEK Architectural Moulding Series introduces four new profiles: AZEK Colonial Base Cap, Bed Mould (3 ½ inch), Imperial Rake Crown and Wainscot Cap with detailed craftsmanship reminiscent of old world, milled mouldings.
AZEK Column Wrap
The widespread use of exterior columns and posts have long been essential components in architectural form and function for many projects. However, often times a simple unadorned post can be easily transformed in to a visually appealing element that provides functionality and a touch of class to a porch, home entrance or commercial building. To that end, AZEK Building Products announces the availability of the AZEK Column Wrap for 2013. Now a custom finished look can easily be created by using one or all three stock sizes consisting of a 4 x 4, 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 wrap all of which are in ten-foot lengths. Each engineered wrap has connected panels which neatly interlock and fit around standard posts to create clean mitered corners while providing significant labor savings over traditional wood construction techniques. Additional custom enhancements can be made to the wrap by using AZEK Trim, AZEK Sheets or AZEK Mouldings.