Decks are an outdoor reflection of the family’s lifestyle. While some are smaller and just used for relaxing, others will be extensive, may use several levels and include an outdoor kitchen, spa or sauna, and several seating areas.
Local building codes may have an impact on the size of the deck and the materials to be used. Check with the Building Department before making any purchase.
Slope of the property or level of the structure on which the deck is to be attached. Second and upper floor decks will require additional supports. Yard slopes will have an impact upon the supports to be used.
The activities to be conducted will have an impact on the materials used, the size and shape of the deck. If cooking on the deck, or installing a fire pit, preplanning is vital. The weight of a spa or sauna will require extra supports.
If the deck boards are to be installed in a pattern, consider that extra support may be required.
Family members and pets will be using the area, so heat and splinters produced by the deck may be a consideration.
Location on the property or on the structure is important. Consider privacy from inside and neighbors; shade may be important to the activities and will have an impact on the deck board materials.
Budget is vital. It will have an impact on the material used, the size, the installation methods, and the desired result.
Pressure-treated deck boards: The least costly and most often installed material for decks, Southern yellow pine is treated with one of several preservatives:
• Waterborne, copper based preservatives prevent termite attack and fungal decay. Copper Azole (CA) and Alkaline Copper Quat (ACQ) are used in exterior residential, as well as commercial and agricultural construction.
• Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) contains micronized copper and biocides, providing less copper leaching from the material. For use in outdoor and landscaping projects.
Pine must be kept clean and maintained frequently to reduce swelling, cracking, splitting and warping. Standing water also will cause the deck boards to deteriorate. Splinters may surface over time and use. Pine is a softer wood and will require supports at frequent intervals, such as 16” on center when using 5/4 X 6 boards.
Redwood has a natural color desired by many homeowners ranging from a light beige to a full red. The natural oils of redwood make it resistant to insects and rot so it will not be treated with chemicals, but note the beige outer areas do not contain the natural resins that resist insects and decay.
Redwood is graded for use by its appearance, with over 30 grades determining its use. Redwood’s red color is the heartwood; cream shades are the sapwood. Deck boards can be chosen from heartwood grades or sapwood grades, but if the redwood will be on or near the soil, heartwood grades — Clear All Heart, Heart B, Deck Heart, Construction Heart — should be used. If not coming into contact with water or soil, Deck Common, Construction Common, Clear, B Grade, Deck Common or Construction Common may work well.
A stable wood, redwood will not warp or split easily; although it should be kept clean and maintained every few years with a clear finish to keep its natural beauty and reduce moisture absorption. Redwood decks have a lifespan of about 20 years.
Cedar — Western Red Cedar — is frequently used as decking materials due to its beauty and natural resistance to moisture, decay and insect infestation. Cedar decks have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Dimensionally stable, Cedar does not warp; lightweight, it is easy to handle and install. Unfinished Cedar ranges in color from a light amber to a reddish brown with a satin luster. Cedar accepts stains and finishes easily.
Grades of Cedar from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association range from Architect Clear — to be used when only the best will do — to Custom Clear — encompassing A & Better, B, C and D & Better S4S. Knotty grades include Architect Knotty and Custom Knotty, which is used as an economical choice when building knotty decks.
Hardwoods, especially tropical hardwoods are popular due to their durability and long life span. Hardwood decks, when installed correctly, can be expected to last from 25 years to 50 year, depending upon the species and regular maintenance. Tropical hardwoods naturally resist mold & mildew, insect infestation, and fire. Strong and dense, tropical hardwoods can handle heavy foot traffic. They also do not shrink and expand extensively in changing temperatures and climates.
Hardwoods can be more difficult to work with; dense, they do not cut as easily and may need predrilling for installation. Darker colors are hotter to bare feet. If natural fading colors are not desired, oil finishes must be applied to retain original colors. Hardwoods are more expensive than alternative wood decking materials.
Tropical Hardwoods should be kiln-dried. Cut ends should be sealed with a oily wax sealant and butted to the next cut end during installation. Ventilation around the deck boards and underneath the surface is important when using hardwoods. While hardwoods absorb less moisture and will expand less than softwoods, space is needed between and underneath so the boards to not cup.
• Ipé (pronounced e-pay) is the most popular of the tropical hardwood deck materials. A Brazilian wood, the color runs from dark brown to olive brown. It turns gray with age. Ipé does well in wet areas, such as around pools, Ipé is the densest of the tropical hardwoods and should be pre-drilled for screwing during installation. It is stronger and heavier than other hardwoods. . Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system.
• Massaranduba is a Brazilian hardwood also known as Brazilian Redwood due to its dark brown color and straight grain. It is dense and strong, and works well in shaded areas as it will fade if not maintained. Available as tongue-and-groove or pre-grooved for installation with a hidden fastener system.
• Cumaru is called Brazilian teak for its warm golden to reddish brown coloration with dark grain accents, but is denser and stronger than teak. Cumaru is almost as hard and dense as Ipé.
• Garapa is a Brazilian hardwood with a yellow or amber coloring; known as Brazilian ash. It will gray over time, but the lighter color makes it less hot to bare feet. Regular maintenance should retain the natural yellow/amber coloring. Available in pre-grooved and tongue-and-groove boards for easier installation.
• Tigerwood is a Brazilian hardwood with light golden brown to reddish brown with dark brown streaks. Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system
• Teak is one a fine choice for decking due to its natural oils, which eliminates the need for preservatives or sealants.
• Cambara is a South American mahogany with a light to medium brown coloration and course graining. While it looks like mahogany, it is harder and stronger than mahogany. Cambara can be stained or painted and should be regularly maintained for a long life. Cambara is not termite resistant. Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system.
• Machiché is a tropical hardwood of reddish brown to dark brown hues with a large grain known as Caribbean Cherry and Black Cabbage. With a density similar to Ipé, it is easier to work with. It will patina to a silvery tone naturally. Available from some suppliers as pre-grooved or tongue and groove for installation with a hidden fastener system.
Composite decking is a product of combining wood fibers or recycled paper with recycled plastic. It will not splinter, warp, crack or peel. Due to the manufacturing process, the composite material will not attract termites. Low maintenance, it does not require much upkeep other than a sweeping and washing — be careful with powerwashers, though. If used on high, powerwashing may damage the surface of composite decks. Even though wood is contained in the product, these boards do not absorb significant amounts of moisture. Because they contain plastic, they will expand in high heat climates. The life expectancy on composite decks is at least 25 years.
Colors range depending upon the manufacturer, and surfaces may be smooth or grained to look like wood. Colors fade, as with natural wood. A plastic surface may be applied over the composite to resist staining and scratching and to reduce facing.
Profiles may be slotted or tongue-and-groove to assists in installation with hidden fastener systems. Boards are produced in several profiles, including scalloped, hollow, open flange, or textured both sides, smooth both sides or a combination of the above.
Each manufacturer will provide advice on installation systems. If boards are not slotted or flanged for installation, face screwing is recommended. Some manufacturers offer color-coordinated screws. Boards should be supported every 16-inches and space between board ends considered depending on the climate.
Since these boards contain plastic, several types can be heated and curved to provide design considerations not available with wood products.
Plastic deck boards are produced from pure plastic (PVC) with no wood fibers. PVC will not rot, stain or fade nor will it absorb moisture. PVC decking weighs about half of many composites. These boards can be installed at 24-inch joist spacing. Plastic deck manufacturers may offer a lifetime warranty on the decking materials.
Aluminum decks are created from powder-coated aluminum to reduce heat build-up on the material. Waterproof, stain and insect proof, the aluminum will not warp and is fireproof.
Aluminum decks are installed gapless making them appropriate for second and third levels of a building as they do not leak and provide a waterproof area below. Aluminum decks support 240 lbs per square foot live load so upper level decks are safer and snow loads will not damage them.
Finishes have non-skid surfaces and are created in several colors, even wood grain designs. No painting or preservatives are required, making them maintenance free.
Material choice will be the biggest portion of the budget.
• Tropical hardwoods, especially Ipé, are more expensive than the other materials; Cumaru costs about 2/3 of Ipé with the other hardwoods falling in the middle of those two.
• Pressure treated deck boards are the least expensive of the choices.
• Cedar is cost effective with Redwood, but Redwood heartwood will be slightly higher in cost.
• Composite decking varies widely depending upon the manufacturer, the profile, and the color. The price of composite materials is more than the softwoods available and less than the tropical hardwoods.
• PVC decking costs more than Composites but less than Tropical hardwoods.
• Aluminum decking will be more expensive than softwoods but less than Composites, PVC or tropical hardwoods
Maintenanceshould also be considered when looking at the budget:
• Composite, PVC and aluminum will need no or little maintenance. If the composites scratch, a sanding will remove scratches. Oily liquids should be wiped up immediately.
• Woods will need maintenance to maintain the beautiful colors. Scratches and stains can be removed by sanding. Penetrating oils will need to be applied every 2 to 3 years, or more frequently to retain the beauty of wood. If the deck is in full sun, annual application of preservatives will be necessary.
Installation costs can increase depending upon the method used. Face screwing is the quickest, least expensive option, but will leave a rough edge. Hidden fastener systems add to the time for installation and the costs due to the price of the system.
• Ipé is so dense that predrilling of screw holes is necessary. These can then be plugged with matching material to make them invisible. Other tropicalhardwoods are less dense but the price of the material suggests using a hidden system or plugging screw holes to maintain the beauty of the surface. Stainless steel screws should be used in tropical hardwoods.
• Cedar requires the use of stainless steel screws as other materials will stain the cedar. Screws should be one-third longer than those used in hardwood.
• Composite and PVC deck manufacturers will recommend specific installation systems. If face screwing, leave room from the edge of the board to eliminate damaging the edge face
• Aluminum decks are purchased with an installation system that permits the boards to hook into the next board, but an adhesive or sealant is required in the hook area to create a waterproof unit.
• Grooved or flanged boards will make using hidden fastener systems quicker and easier. These boards cost more to purchase, but save time in installation.
Lifespan is a consideration. How long does the homeowner plan to live in the house and use the deck? Pressure treated decks may need replacing in 15 years; tropical hardwoods last from 25 to 50 years; Composites will last at least 25 years and PVC decks are warrantied for the lifetime of the owners… Read warranties.
Designs in the deck, such as angling the floor boards or creating a medallion in the middle, will increase the cost due to time for installation and extra materials needed to create the designs.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right "deck and decking material"
Lumber is a general term for all types of wood products cut from a log into all sizes and shapes, which may be treated with preservatives or not. There are two types of lumber: softwoods and hardwoods. Softwood lumber comes from conifer trees like pine, fir, spruce, and cedar. They can be easily dented with just your fingernail.
Hardwood lumber comes from deciduous trees, which have broad leaves that fall off in the cold months. The most common trees you’ll see hardwood lumber come from are oak, maple, walnut, hickory, and mahogany. As you can gather from the name, most hardwoods are harder than softwoods with the exception of balsa wood.
Softwood — while not soft — describes wood product milled from evergreen conifer trees such as pine, fir and hemlock. These trees keep their needles year-round. Softwood has a broad range of uses, with 80 percent of construction materials created from Softwood, including window frames, interior doors, medium-density fiberboard, and studs. Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Pine and Cedar are the main sources for building materials. Softwood trees have a faster growth rate. The grain of softwoods is less dense than in hardwoods.
Hardwood is the term for wood milled from deciduous trees—those that shed their leaves. Walnut, Mahogany, Oak, Maple, Alder, Hickory and Teak are the most popular. These hardwoods are more expensive and are mainly used for furniture, cabinetry, flooring, and decks. The grain in hardwoods is denser than in softwoods.
Pressure Treated: Used on the exterior of the home. To reduce deterioration of wood products due to insect, or other micro-organism, and mold/decay fungi attack, wood exposed to moisture is treated with chemicals. By forcing preservatives deeply into the wood, organisms cannot use the wood fibers as food.
Dimensional lumber: while named the “actual” or “nominal” size, dimensional lumber will be smaller in width and depth due to shrinkage from drying and planing. Cut to actual size at the mill, the wood then may be dried and planed, reducing the nominal size to the dimensional. Length is actual. For example: 2 X 4 reduces to 1-1/2” to 3-1/2” in width and depth. An 8-foot 2X4 will measure 8 feet long, but 1-1/2” by 3-1/2”.
Green lumber refers to milled wood products with a moisture content of 19 percent or greater.
Dry lumber has been dried or seasoned to less than 19 percent moisture content.
Kiln dried means it was seasoned or heated in a chamber to reduce moisture content.
Heat-treated refers to wood placed in a closed chamber and heated to a core temperature of 56-degrees C for 30 minutes, which may or may not reduce the moisture content.
Rough sawn may show the edges from milling and will not be finished with sanding or planning.
Dressed or Planed has a smooth finish produced by mechanically removing the rough surface.
Softwood lumber is classified by government standards as Yard, Structural, and Factory and Shop Lumber, which is used in smaller pieces for remanufacturing, such as door rails and stiles, or in wood ladders.
Yard refers to lumber used in general construction, such as boards, laths, and wood siding. The lumber is graded visually:
• C Select is almost free of all defects; used for cabinets and shelving
• D Select is almost free of defects but may have small knots less than the size of a dime
• 1 Common contains knots that are small, tight and won’t fall out, such as pine
• 2 Common contains slightly larger knots; may be used for shelving.
• 3 Common contains larger knots and is suitable for fencing or crates.
Structural Lumber is used in framing buildings as posts, beams, studs, rafters, joists sill plates and wall plates. The size chosen will be determined by its use and strength or bendability. 2X4; 2X6; 2X8; 2X10; 2X12; 4X4; 4X6; 4X8; 6X6; and 8X8 are the sizes produced as dimensional lumber.
• Machine grading measures stiffness or density to provide information the builder needs to construct appropriately. Moisture content and species are also noted as well as the mill producing the lumber. Species is included in the grading. The following are grades for Western Wood Products and Southern Yellow Pine, although SYP are graded for the first three only.
• Structural Light Framing (SFL) is 2” to 4” thick; 2” to 4” wide grades Select Structural, No. 1, No. 2 No. 3 used in structural applications where highest design values are needed in light framing sizes.
• Light Framing (LF) is 2” to 4” thick, 2” to 4” wide grades Construction, Standard, Utility used where high strength values are not required, such as wall framing, plates, sills, cripples, blocking, etc.
• Stud2” to 4” thick; 2” and wider graded Stud is an all-purpose grade for studs including bearing walls.
• Structural Joists and Planks (J&P) are graded as Select Structural, No. 1, No. 2 and No.3.
• Beams and Stringers are 5” and thicker, width more than 2” greater than thickness are graded Dense Select Structural, Dense No.1 and No. 2 (Doug Fir or Doug Fir-Larch only); Select Structural, No. 1 and No.2 used for beams and stringers when sizes are larger than 4” nominal thicknesses are required.
• Post and Timbers 5” X 5” and larger; width not more than 2” greater than thickness Dense Select Structural, Dense No.1 and No. 2 (Doug Fir or Doug Fir-Larch only); Select Structural, No. 1 and No.2 are used for vertically loaded applications where sizes larger than 4” nominal thickness are required.
• Structural Decking 2” to 4” thick, 4” to 12” wide Selected Decking used where appearance of the best face is important; 2” to 4” thick, 4” to 12” wide. Commercial Decking is used when appearance is not of primary importance.
• Softwood Boards are cut less than 2” thick and 5” deep in various lengths used for moulding, shelving and woodworking projects.
Timbers are milled 5” thick or greater and used as beams, stringers, posts, caps, sills, girders, or purlins.
Treated lumber is milled to dimensional standards for use in outdoor projects such as decks, sheds, etc. Decking is milled with curved edges for use as deck flooring and railing. Treated with preservatives described above, deck boards are pine milled to about 1-inch thick by 5-1/2 inches. Some deck boards may be slightly thicker.
Hardwood does not have standards like Softwoods, but hardwood is cut in ¼’ thicknesses, ranging from 1/2” to 4”in various lengths. Mainly used for cabinetry, moulding, shelving, woodworking projects, and crafts.
Grades for Hardwood:
• FAS (First and Seconds) highest rating, with 83.3 percent usable; minimum board 6” X 8’.
• F1F (First One Face) better face will be FAS, the poor face will have minor defects (No. 1 Com) Minimum board 6” X 8’
• Select: better face will be FAS, the poor face will have minor defects (No. 1 Com). Minimum board 4” X 6’
• 1 Common: Have minor defects ; 66.66 usable material; Minimum board 3” X 4’
• 2A Common: Have some defects; 50 percent usable material; Minimum board 3” X 4’
• 3A Common: Have many defects; 33.3 percent usable material; Minimum board 3” X 4’
Waterborne, copper based preservatives prevent termite attack and fungal decay. Copper Azole (CA) and Alkaline Copper Quat (ACQ) are used in exterior residential, as well as commercial and agricultural construction.
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) is no longer permitted for residential use by the Environmental Protection Agency. It may be found used on Utility Poles, Highway Construction, etc.Micronized Copper Azole (MCA) contains micronized copper and biocides, providing less copper leaching from the material. For use in outdoor and landscaping projects.
Borate (SBX) is the most commonly used of the Carbon Based preservatives (PT1 and EL2) to treat wood used in residential construction, except where the wood meets the ground. Used for sill plates, roofing trusses, joists, etc.
Creosote is one of the oldest preservatives and used for severe environmental situations, such as railroad ties, commercial, industrial and marine installations. Not for use in residential applications due to the odor and oily appearance.
Oilborne preservatives such as Penta, Oxine Copper and Copper Naphthenate are applied for industrial applications.
Plywood is an engineered product and considered a general construction material as it is used for sheathing, subfloors and various applications in construction. Plywood is constructed from two thin sheets of softwood, hardwood or a combination of both with a sandwiched layer of wood chips running vertical to the grain of the top and bottom layers. The chips are glued and the sheet is baked at high temperatures to create a strong sheet. Three layers, or plys, are standard but extra layers may be added to create a stronger sheet. Plywood is tested for tensile strength, can be treated for fire and water resistance. Produced in 4X8 foot sheets.
• Structural plywood is used where strength is needed such as flooring.
• External plywood is not used for structural purposes and has a finished panel and is used for wall cladding, or exterior door panels.
• Internal plywood is not used for structural purposes, has a finely finished top panel and is used for walls and ceilings.
• Marine plywood is treated with preservatives, paint or varnish so it won’t delaminate.
• Grades of plywood run from A, B, C, D, or N. N has very few and little knots or defects in graining while D may have many of these. A, B, and C will range from few to a few more. C-D is interior rated with a top sheet with few defects and a D undersheet that may have more so. Also, the adhesive used is appropriate for interior use.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is used for sheathing and underlayments. Created from chips and flakes of wood oriented at 90 degree angles from each other and set in a resin that is baked at high temperatures to produce a strong sheet. Water resistant, OSB is tested for strength by how much weight it will hold. Available in 4X8 foot sheets, ¼-inch to ¾-inches thick. Tongue and groove designs are manufactured.
Finger jointed lumber is used when the lengths of 22-feet to 24-feet are needed. Dimensional lumber is cut to small lengths under 2-feet and with finger joints are glued together producing stronger lengths up to 36-feet long.
Structural Composite Lumber is a category of engineered products formed into billets by layering dried and graded wood strands, veneers or flakes in a moisture resistant adhesive. The billets can be sawn into sizes specified for construction materials. Due to the engineering process, these materials will not warp or split.
• Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is produced from thin layers of wood that are bonded together with the grain parallel to the long direction. Since it is manufactured under controlled situations with jointed or lapped veneers, it is engineered to be stronger, more uniform, and straighter than traditional lumber. It can be sawn and used as flanges on engineered i-joists. Frequently specified for headers, hip and valley rafters and ridgeboard.
• Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL) is engineered from clipped long strand veneers that are laid parallel and bonded with adhesives. The strength-to-thickness ratio is about 300. Designed for use on long, clear spans, PSLs can be used as beams, headers and even load-bearing columns.
• Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL) is composed of flaked wood strands combined with adhesives with a length-to-thickness ration of about 150. The strands and adhesive are formed into a large mat or billet and pressed. Cut in lengths up to 30-feet as studs, sill plates, and headers, they can be used for creating tall walls without warping and twisting.
I-Joists are engineered as strong yet lightweight for framing in residential and light commercial construction. Shaped like a capital I, the I-joist has a top and bottom flange, often created from sawn LVL, with a center web of plywood or OSB. Used for floor and roof framing, I-joists are engineered for longer spans, and will not crown or warp. Common depths are 9-1/2”, 11-7/8” 14” and 16”; flanges vary in width from 1-1/2” to 3-1/2”.
Glulams are strong structural beams often left exposed due to their beauty. Created by using durable, moisture-resistant adhesives with wood laminations running parallel to the length of the design. Available in custom or stock sizes, Glulams are used where a long run is desired, such as in garage door headers, ridge beams and large cantilevered beams. Stock sizes are 3-1/8”, 3-1/2”, 5-1/8”, 5-1/2” and 6-3/4”. Created in premium, architectural, industrial and framing classifications.
Rim Board is rated by the APA-The Engineered Wood Association and is manufactured for strength, dimensional stability and structural reliability of plywood, OSB, glulam, or LVL in lengths up to 24’. Designed to match the depth of I-joists, Rim Board is used in floor systems between the sill plate and bottom plate of a wall, or between the top plate and bottom plate of two wall sections.
Cross-Laminated Timber is engineered for use in multi-family and commercial construction. Manufactured from several layers of kiln-dried lumber boards stacked in alternating directions and pressed with structural adhesives.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing engineered lumber.
First, siding provides protection for the structure from the climate and elements. When designing the exterior of a home, builders and homeowner have a multitude of options for creating the desired look and lifestyle. The façade of a building is the most visible aspect and will send a visual message. By choosing the siding material, color and style, the owners determine that message.
Wood is the traditional exterior siding for homes. Available in a range of species, grades, and profiles, wood offers a traditional charm and expensive aesthetic. The use of wood creates a depth in design. Depending upon the area of the country, wood species will be readily available, or may be ordered, which will increase the time for installation. End cuts of any wood siding must be treated to avoid moisture absorption.
Pine is an economical softwood often used for siding especially when painted or stained. When treated and stained, it can mimic the look of cypress — which is expensive and often not available. Due to the nature of the wood, it should acclimate to the humidity of the area prior to installation to diminish the spaces between the boards or shingles after installation. All sides and ends of pine must be sealed or it will absorb moisture and warp or cup. Treated pine will be rot-resistant but maintenance is a must for pine siding.
Spruce is a softwood available in the East and Fir in the West with much the same features as Pine. Easily milled into profiles, these species will require maintenance as they are not rot resistant.
Cedar is naturally rot and insect resistant and since it does not have resins, it is easily milled into profiles. Frequently used for shakes and shingles, Cedar is prized for its graining, and staining will enhance its look and long life.
Redwood is naturally rot and insect resistant and is easily milled into profiles. The color of heartwood redwood is prized and is the most expensive of the wood siding choices. Since it is a Western species, Redwood can be even more expensive in the East. With little resin, it takes paint and stains easily, but staining is the most popular because of the beauty of redwood. With proper installation and simple maintenance, Redwood siding should last a long time.
Engineered Wood is produced from thin layers of wood that are bonded together with the grain parallel to the long direction and compressed into strong, uniform boards. Since it is manufactured under controlled situations with jointed or lapped veneers, it is engineered to be stronger, more uniform, and straighter than traditional lumber, plus an overlay makes it water and insect resistant. When compressed, textures can be added to the surface. Boards are light-weight, and primed or pre-painted.
Vinyl has become the most popular siding for exterior cladding due to its longevity and low maintenance factors. Created in a multitude of profiles that may mimic wood or offer a smooth finish, vinyl siding is now produced so color is retained throughout. Newer technologies for color in vinyl also permit darker colors that will not fade. Vinyl is insect resistant and does not absorb moisture so it will not warp or expand — unless exposed to a direct heat source. DO NOT locate an outdoor grill up against a vinyl sided structure! Vinyl siding will carry a warranty of a minimum of 50 years and many offer a lifetime warranty.
• Insulated vinyl siding will contain an expanded polystyrene formed insulation that fits into the profile of the vinyl siding. While it provides an R-2 to R-3.5 value, the insulation is also a thermal block. Plus, the insulation provides a backing that reduces cracking from blows versus non-backed vinyl.
• Certified vinyl siding will be resistant to 110 mph. winds and even higher. In hurricane prone areas or along the coast, wind resistant products are required and vinyl offers products in that category.
Plastic is formed into siding products such as shakes and shingles, and decorative trims such as scallops.
Fiber Cement siding is created from wood pulp, cement, clay and sand that is mixed and molded into siding profiles. Fire-resistant and insect resistant, fiber cement is resistant to water, salt spray and ultra-violet rays. Siding is molded into a variety of profiles, surfaces—wood grained or smooth— to provide a variety of designs. Fiber cement is heavier than other materials. Delivered primed or pre-painted, it may need to be touched up if scratched and will need to be repainted periodically, but not as often as wood. When handling, fiber cement use proper protection for the eyes and a dust mask. Cutting with a circular saw requires carbide-tipped blades.
Aluminum siding — everything old is new again. Created in several thicknesses (thicker gauges will be more wind resistant), profiles and textures, aluminum is fire, water, and insect resistant — essentially maintenance free! Industrial-grade paints resist fading and chalking, although scratches must be touched up. Hail may damage.
Steel siding is created from heavy-duty, galvanized steel. Profiles may be woodgrain or smooth finish. Moisture, insect, and fire resistant, heavy-gauge steel resists impacts and high winds. May be finished with a fused polyvinyl chloride low-gloss coating in a variety of colors, steel siding will only need an easy cleaning.
Brick provides an aesthetic unlike any others and is insect, water and fire resistant. As an insulator, brick is unrivaled by other siding products. It is wind resistant and provides a strong covering for a home. Brick is a natural product created by forming clay and shale into pieces that are cured at extremely high temperatures to produce a long-lasting, attractive construction material. Manufactured in a variety of colors, brick also can have a range of textures. The deterrent to brick is the cost. Laying brick is a time-consuming process, too.
Stone siding may be a composite material or natural stone created as panels and easily installed, almost like puzzles. Water, insect and fire resistant, the stone veneers require no maintenance. These panels are mostly used as accents in combination with other siding materials and not on the whole house.
• Natural stones such as limestone, marble, quartzite, sandstone, slate and travertine are used to create panels that can be easily installed.
• Composite stone panels may be a mixture of concrete, aggregate sand and water molded into panels and cured. Color will be throughout the panel. Water, insect and fire resistant, the composite stone panels require no maintenance other than washing.
BrickVeneer is produced from natural clay or an aggregate mix. Some manufacturers use a mounting surface or grid for easy installation. The brick veneer is about half the thickness of regular brick and created in a variety of colors, textures and shapes.
Stucco is one of the oldest siding materials used to protect homes. Made from natural elements of cement, sand and water, it is applied in layers to provide a strong, insulating layer on the exterior of the home. Colors can be personalized to provide a custom exterior and textures can be designed into the surface. Water, insect and fire resistant, stucco can last up to 50 years. While the materials to create the siding are not expensive— the slurry will be applied to a mesh substrate attached over a moisture barrier — the installation process is time consuming and requires experience in application.
Material choice will have the greatest impact upon the price.
• Brick is the most expensive to consider with much of the cost in the installation. With little if any maintenance and longevity, it may be an appropriate choice depending upon the budget and style of the home.
• BrickVeneer and Stone are higher in cost depending upon the stone used but have a lifetime of 100 plus years. With low and no maintenance other than cleaning, weigh the cost against the aesthetics.
• Wood siding can be expensive for the materials, installation and maintenance. Wood does not offer the same lifetime as other materials. The aesthetic of wood should be compared with the overall costs.
• Engineereed wood siding is very inexpensive especially when factored over the lifetime of the panels and the low maintenance.
• Vinyl siding can range in costs depending upon profile, manufacturer and design, with insulated vinyl adding an upcharge of almost 50 percent. With no maintenance costs and a lifetime of 20-30 years, vinyl is an affordable siding.
• Aluminum and Steel are inexpensive alternatives in the lower range of siding materials, although not as many options are offered. With no maintenance costs, and a 20 to 30 year lifespan, metal is an affordable material.
• Fiber Cement may run 50 percent more than vinyl. The cost of installation for fiber cement is higher than vinyl, aluminum and steel. With low maintenance and a lifetime expectancy of 35-50 years, consider the advantages of fiber cement.
• Stucco is among the more expensive of the siding options but it requires none or little maintenance and will last more than 50 years.
Resale value of the home may be taken into consideration when choosing to re-side a house. A higher investment when residing may turn into a significant return at resale.
Installation if done by a professional contractor will cost more than an experienced do-it-yourselfer.
Maintenance costs may be a factor in choosing siding as the pricing is factored over the lifetime of the material. Maintenance is discussed under each material.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right siding.
While they are called patio doors, they are designed to provide access to the outside living areas of a home, not just a patio. The doors may open to the deck or lawn of the home, a pool or spa area and are most frequently glass systems that offer a clear view to the outdoors.
Building Codes of the area will have an impact on the patio door. Always check with the building department when choosing a door or window.
Activities and lifestyle may be a factor when making a decision on the door. The amount of space inside and outside of the door opening is important, especially if choosing a hinged door instead of a sliding door. If a large opening is desired, a multi-slide or bi-fold option may be appropriate. Water infiltration could be a problem if a spa or pool is located close to the door.
Energy-efficiency of the door can save money in the long run. Since patio doors are mostly glass, consider the type of glass to be used. The R-value reports the energy-efficiency of the glass; the higher the number the more efficient. The U-factor is the energy-efficiency of the whole door, including the frame and the lower the number the more efficient.
If security is a consideration, choose a multi-point locking system to deter intruders.
Privacy may be a concern. Since patio doors contain large glass areas, blinds between the glass, or privacy glass, may be an option.
Sound transference can be decreased by choosing glass options that offer a noise reduction.
The architecturalstyle of the home may have an impact on the patio door style. Depending upon the visual impact of the door on curb appeal, the patio door may demand grills, or wood to maintain the value of the home.
Sliding doors open along a top and bottom rail. One of the doors will be stationary while the second door will slide open. Opens either right hand or left hand.
Swing (French) doors are hinged and will swing in or swing out. In regular swing doors, one of the doors may be stationary with a left hand or right hand swing. French doors open at the center and swing out, providing a larger opening but requiring more space outside to accommodate the size of the doors.
Bi-fold doors are multi-unit doors that travel along a track to expand the opening to the outside. Bi-folds operate accordion-style and fold outside or inside, depending upon the space provided and the need of the homeowner.
Multi-slide doors open for an unobstructed view. Full door panels will remain stationary until lifted into the sliding track and stacked or fitted into a wall pocket.
Glass makes up the largest portion of a patio door.
To reduce solar heat gain and block ultra-violet rays use Low -E glass. The sun’s rays provide increased heat and light that may fade materials. By including Low-E glass in the window system, heat and cold outside are reflected back into the environment and heat and cold inside are reflected back into the structure.
Impact-resistant glass will be required in some areas along the coastlines and storm-prone areas. Know the Building Codes for the area in which the home is located.
Double and triple pane glass provide insulation and noise attenuation.
Grills can be added to the patio door, and will enhance a French door due to styling. The grills mimic divided lites for architectural accuracy. Depending upon the manufacturer, grills may be placed on the inside glass panel or between the panes of glass.
Shades and Blinds may be installed between the panes of glass for privacy and to block outside sunlight.
Screens are available in a variety of designs, depending upon the design of the door and manufacturer. Sliding screens, side retractable screens and top-hung rolling screens block intrusion from for bugs and even sunlight.
Wood: The traditional material for frames, wood provides a thermally efficient frame that is durable. Using wood construction offers the ability to change colors and when well maintained, a long life for the unit. Available in a variety of species, the homeowners can match the wood to the trim of the home or complement the outdoors.
Wood Clad: The frame is constructed of wood with a metal or vinyl cladding on the exterior to protect the unit from weather conditions. The interior part of the door frame retains the wood for purposes of aesthetics. Cladding requires less maintenance and is available in an array of colors.
Vinyl: Polyvinyl chloride is extruded into frames that are constructed with hollow spaces to slow temperature transfer for energy efficiency. Low maintenance, vinyl is available in an array of colors for aesthetic purposes. Colors are integral to the vinyl so scratching the exterior will not show as the color is throughout the material.
Steel: While metal will conduct heat/cooling more quickly than other materials, thermal breaking in the construction of steel patio door frames can make them as energy efficient as other materials.
Fiberglass and composites: Fiberglass frames are strong, making them useful for large door panels, and are energy efficient. “Pultruded with or without resins and about 60 percent or more glass, they are considered “green.” Frames can look like wood with graining or smooth surfaced, and can be painted.
Size of the opening is a great impact on the cost of the patio door. Taller and wider doors will cost more than a standard size patio door due to the materials needed to construct the unit. Custom sizes will have a major impact on the budget.
The material used for the frame is a major consideration. Wood doors, especially hardwoods such as Mahogany, are more expensive than other materials. Steel is the least expensive, followed by vinyl and fiberglass increasing the cost.
Glass that is Low-E or double and triple pane will increase the cost. Impact-resistant glass also costs more since additional film applied to an internal pane is one of the means of blocking storm-driven debris from entering the home.
The type of patio door is another major factor, with sliding doors the least expensive, hinged doors increasing the cost. Bi-fold patio doors and multi-slide doors cost the most as these will be larger, more complicated to construct and install.
Installation by a professional will increase the cost but the more complicated systems may require the employment of an expert to fulfill warranties.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right patio door.
The front door is the “welcome” factor of the home and provides curb appeal. But it also must function for security and for keeping out weather’s elements. Entry doors are constructed from a variety of materials, and are created in a vast range of designs. Standard design for an entry doors is a six panel, stile (vertical component) and rail (horizontal component) construction. Many different configurations can be ordered to create an individualized ambiance. To enhance the look of the front door, homeowners may consider a variety of features.
Steel doors account for about 50 percent of the market. With foam core insulation they are energy efficient. Manufactured with a smooth or woodgrain surface, steel doors are delivered primed, or with a finish paint or stain. Steel doors resist shrinking, swelling and warping, but will scratch and rust if not quickly finished after being damaged.
Fiberglass doors also are energy-efficient with a foam core and are manufactured with a smooth but most frequently a woodgrain finish. More expensive than steel, fiberglass doors are less expensive than wood and are low maintenance when compared to wood. Finished in a variety of textures, fiberglass doors may be painted or stained to mimic solid wood. Fiberglass may crack under extreme pressure.
Solid Wood doors provide an expensive and substantial look to a home. Constructed from a variety of hardwoods — mahogany to oak— wood doors are 1-3/4” thick offering energy efficiency and security to the building. More expensive than other materials, wood doors must be maintained to eliminate warping, swelling and shrinking. A traditional choice for older and historic homes, wood doors can be stained or painted, and even hand-carved to variety of designs.
Glass Inserts for front doors are offered in many colors, patterns and textures. An insert will increase the cost of the door, and can have an impact on the energy efficiency of the door. Designs of glass inserts provide an individualized feature to the entry door and are offered by most door manufacturers.
Sidelites and transoms can be factored into the opening of the front door, adding curb appeal and increased sunlight. Sidelites may be created on each side of the door or just one side. Transoms are inserted over the entry door.
Iron grills are being used as ornamental and security features on front doors. The grills over the lites in the door panel, project a heavy, safe, and decorative aspect to the entry.
Entry doors can swing in, or out, which depends upon the hinge location. Consider the structure’s front entry when deciding which is appropriate.
Wood doors, especially exotic woods, are the most expensive. Add glass inserts and sidelites, grills, and carved panels and these can cost into the thousands of dollars, depending upon the height and width. Also, the maintenance of wood doors should be factored into the lifetime cost of the door.
Fiberglass doors are less expensive, but add glass inserts, sidelites, grills, and the price can escalate. Maintenance should be minimal on fiberglass.
Steel doors are the least expensive, but may need maintenance if the door receives hits or scratches, such as front doors on porches. Again, factor in glass inserts, etc. Steel may be low cost, but it does not offer the look of fiberglass and wood.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right exterior-entry door.
Storm Doors offer an extra layer of insulation and security to the home. While a Storm Door will cover the front of the home’s main entry, it will protect the front door from inclement weather. If inserted with a screen, a storm door can provide fresh air when opened.
Full View storm doors are constructed with a full pane of glass, which offers a full view of the entry door and maximum daylight, and when fitted with a screen, a sizeable area for fresh air exchange. Screens may be full view, requiring the glass to be removed and stored, or retractable with self-storing space for the glass.
Split View storm doors contain a glass panel on top and bottom with the ability to slide the upper glass into the lower section, or to be removed and stored. A screen on top offers ventilation. The screen may be retractable into an upper chamber, or fitted into the upper portion.
Mid View storm doors have glass panes about three-quarters of the way down the door with a kick plate area at the bottom. A screen may be fixed into the upper portion with the glass panel removed or slid into the lower panel area.
High View storm doors have a glass panel in the upper portion and a solid lower panel. The glass panel may be interchangeable with a screen or have the ability to slide into the lower panel to provide ventilation.
Security Door — Several points of locking, as well as a sturdy aluminum or steel panels with steel mesh screen to deter unwanted entry.
Panel Screen — Removable or permanent screen inserted into the frame for full, split, mid or high view ventilation.
Retractable Screen — Screen rolls down to provide ventilation, and rolls back up into a pocket of the frame.
Wood — The door’s frame and panels are constructed of wood with an exterior cladding of vinyl or aluminum to protect the unit from the weather and to extend the lifetime of the door. Wood is a natural insulator and is strong for maintaining the structure in holding the glass panels. The cladding is rust free and requires little or no maintenance.
Vinyl — The least expensive option, vinyl does not show scratches as the color is throughout the extrusion, can be energy efficient with insulation in the extrusion chambers, and comes in a variety of colors.
Aluminum — Hollow core or foam filled chambered aluminum requires little or no maintenance, won’t rust and is structurally strong. Long lasting, the doors can meet Energy Star requirements when insulation is included and energy-efficient glass used in the panels.
Steel — Heavy gauge steel panels on a solid core or aluminum frame are maintenance free, won’t rust and have a long life.
Material: Aluminum storm doors are the most expensive. Steel insulated storm security doors may be comparable in price with wood clad and vinyl the lower cost options.
Glazing: Options such as decorative glass inserts, beveled glass or tinted, Low-E glass will increase the price but may satisfy the desires of the homeowner. Full view glazing adds to the cost when compared to Mid-View or High-View glazing.
Screens: Steel security screens are more expensive, but may provide added security to warrant the price. Retractable screen doors also have a higher price than doors with panel screens.
Hardware: The number of hinges, the style of hardware and locking systems will have an impact on the cost of the door.
A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right storm door.
Garage Doors may be one of the mot visible portions of a house, providing curb appeal as well as security for the home. Manufacturers produce hundreds of styles that roll up a frame attached to the structure— even styles that look like they swing open. Special doors that swing open can be custom made to suit special needs.
Architectural style of the structure should be carried though to the garage door, especially if the garage is visible from the road.
Usage of the garage will suggest features of the garage door.
• If the area is detached from the house and used only for storage of automobiles and tools, then a simple, attractive door will suffice.
• If the garage is attached to the house or underneath occupied rooms, or if it is used for hobbies, then a well-insulated door should be specified.
Glass in the garage door add natural light, but may be a safety concern if the garage is along the street and easily accessible. Glass will add to the cost, so decide how much natural light is needed, if at all.
High-wind or hurricane areas along the East Coast and Gulf Coast may be require reinforced garage doors. Due to the size of the door, high winds or wind-blown debris may cause the door to buckle, throwing he door off the track. Manufacturers have prepared specific doors for these geographic regions.
Installation costs may be included or may not be included in the price of the door. Ask if the installation costs are extra or included. The cost of the door will be increased due to the hardware needed and for installation.
As a do-it-yourself project, remember the hardware will be purchased separately from the door.
Panel Designs will create the style of the door, from traditional to contemporary.
• Carriage House Panels may contain several layers of material that appear when closed as
a solid swing door. • Flush Panels may be flat or textured, used for modern designs. • Raised Panels offer depth to the door and are considered traditional. • Glass Panels add natural light and may come in a variety of styles, even art glass.
Panel Skins are created in a variety of materials and available in several thicknesses and layers. Exterior skins may be made of one type of material with the
interior skin created of a different material, or one of lesser thickness.
• Single layerconstruction consists of an outer skin of panels with or without glass. Has little to no insulating value. • Double layerconstruction includes the outer skin with an inner layer of polystyrene or polyurethane insulation. The R-value is increased with the insulation. • Triple layerconstruction includes two skins with the inner polystyrene or polyurethane sandwiched between the skins. Highest R-values with three-layer construction.
Frames holding the panels may be constructed of a variety of materials. The frame may be insulated.
Joints may be tongue and groove or shiplap to slow airflow or temperature transfer with the door is closed.
Weather seals may be used between the sections, and a bottom seal should be installed if it is not part of the door construction. The bottom seal will stop drafts, may reduce water infiltration to the garage, and deter pests.
Wood panels offer an aesthetic provided only by real wood. Wood doors are produced from a variety of wood species — Redwood, Cedar, Fir, Mercanti, Hemlock, etc. — in a multitude of designs and layers, including multi-layers with insulation. A range of glass designs is available, also. Wood doors and be stained or painted and will need refinishing for maintenance over the years. R-values will range with the thickness of the wood panels and the insulation.
Composite Wood garage doors are created from wood fibers and resins to produce a wood-grained design that is stable, requiring little or no maintenance. When stained or painted it may be indistinguishable from solid wood. R-values range depending upon the insulation used between the layers.
Fiberglass may look like wood with graining and coloring. Available in several layers, with insulation that will increase the R-value of the door, fiberglass will not require maintenance and will not warp, twist, or expand/contract with moisture and humidity levels. Recommended for use in double or triple layer construction. R-values will range with insulation.
Steel garage doors are produced in a variety of thicknesses with or without insulation and is one of the most popular materials used. Steel outer skin with insulation may have an inner skin of another material to reduce the cost. Available in a wide array of colors, styles, R-values and prices.
Aluminum garage doors are rust and corrosion resistant and can be powder coated in a vast range of colors or painted. The aluminum panels may be flat or wood grained to create the desired design. R-values will range with the thickness of the aluminum and the thickness of the insulation.
Vinyl garage doors are constructed in several layers with or without insulation, which lowers the cost. Vinyl will resist dings and will not show scratches since the color is throughout the material. It will not rot or fall prey to insects — virtually maintenance free. R-values range with the type and thickness of the insulating layer.
Size of the door is a major factor. Two single doors will cost more than one double door.
Material used for the skins will be a major part of the budget.
• Wood is expensive, depending upon the species. Maintenance is required and should be factored into the cost over time. • Composite Wood is less than solid wood, and more than the least expensive steel, and will not require maintenance due to the composition of product. • Steeldoors with top of the line insulation may cost as much as wood, but lower quality steel with lower R-values will be in the affordable range. • Fiberglass may cost as much as wood, depending upon the amount of insulation, but will not require maintenance over the years. • Aluminum is in the mid-range of pricing. • Vinyl is lower to mid-range of costs and will need little to no maintenance. • Glass will add to the cost of the basic material and if decorative or art glass is desired, the price will increase.
Insulation thicknesses will raise or lower the price, but will raise or lower the R-value.
Combine materials to reduce the cost of the material by purchasing an expensive exterior skin, but a
lower cost interior skin.
Professional installation should be budgeted into the price but a skilled do-it-yourselfer can reduce the cost.