Deck builders need to exploit every advantage to create the most attractive, safe, and cost-effective designs while minimizing their labor and time. As more decks utilize high-end boards, customers gain greater expectations for their deck’s appearance and want more personal touches. Here are some tips that can save installation costs while providing a beautiful, long-lasting look:
1. Leverage length options. Flexibility in board lengths provides more design versatility, allowing cleaner picture-framing details, long diagonal runs, and other designs while minimizing waste. Multiple lengths can save time by not having to add additional joists or blocking to support butt joints. For instance, a 24-foot board allows the creation of a diagonal pattern without butt joints on a 16-foot-deep deck. Having more length options reduces cutting time and minimizes scrap.
It’s important to know the specifications for products being proposed before presenting a deck plan. Some manufacturers limit available lengths for square-edge boards to one or two lengths. NyloDeck boards come in standard lengths of 12, 16, 20 and 24 feet in both square- and grooved-edge boards.
2. Know the code and the products. Code requirements vary by municipality, and many have changed or been updated in recent times. Builders should review the requirements for the specific location in which they’re working and also review the specifications, code-compliance reports, and installation guides for the products being used. Utilizing these resources can also reduce call backs.
Knowing the available lengths, span ratings, fastener options, and expansion rates will ensure the most efficient material use. For example, a product with a low thermal-expansion rate will allow for more intricate designs and eliminate the need for breaker boards on longer runs. It will also provide a more attractive appearance year-round, with smaller gaps in the winter and no buckling issues in the summer.
With replacement decks, existing framing may be reusable. For instance, a 24-inch span-rated deck board, such as the one offered by NyloDeck, can allow diagonal patterns over existing 16-inch on-center joists. It can also be used on decks or docks built on 24-inch centers that originally were decked with 2x wood. The longer span-rated boards save time and material by not having to add in supports or scrap the existing, functional substructure.
3. Automate the process. Using fastener systems can speed up jobs and provide greater consistency in securing deck boards. Extensions on fastening tools also can allow the installer to work while standing, providing a more comfortable position that can increase speed and stamina. Check the options available—NyloDeck, for example, offers four gun-driven fastener options, and there are a number of collated-screw options.
New product choices to aid installers are coming onto the market regularly. Contractors need to stay abreast of new choices and review them carefully to decide which provide the greatest design flexibility and fastest installation speed without sacrificing quality.