The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

The New Deck {Before}

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The time has finally come for us to replace our rotting wood deck. After evaluating all the options and materials, we’ve decided to go with TREX composite decking. In this post we’ll take a look at the plans we considered as well as the final plan.

Handan just can’t stop yapping about getting a new big brown deck. Seriously, she’s been yammering about it all summer. Well, the time is here. She’s about to get her big brown deck. Maybe once she’s out there sitting on it, she can stop her incessant blathering, and I can stop correcting her English. You know she’s a Turk, and you know she mispronounces words from time to time. “Deck” is one of the words she mispronounces. There’s just something about the way she says it. It’s not quite right. It’s actually rather embarrassing, especially when she starts telling friends, family and strangers about her plans to have a big brown deck. Can you imagine? I mean, really, what will people think? What will they say?

You’re probably saying it in your head right now, right? Maybe you’re laughing, maybe you’re shocked. But you’re definitely thinking about Handan and her big brown duck.

What? you weren’t thinking that?? Good lord, madam.

*****

The months of planning, designing, saving, borrowing, haggling and hiring are over. The contract is signed and the materials are sitting on our lawn. It’s time to build. Let’s take a look at how we got here and what we plan to do.

When we toured this house back in the summer of 2013, we thought the deck was the cat’s meow and the bee’s knees. It had a fresh coat of paint (yes paint, what the hell did we know?), and it overlooked the pool. It was pretty much perfect to our inexperienced eyes.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

It remained perfect for a while. The paint stayed put, and the colors were true. Gray was gray and white was white.

Then came winter, and winter brought salt, and salt brought terror to the deck paint. (Paint!) Small peels of gray stuck to the dogs’ paws and to my boots. The same ghastly drama was playing out in the garage and in the basement. All the fresh coats of paint applied when the house went on the market (the lipstick on the pig, if you will…) were peeling, and the peels were being deposited all over the house. You can imagine Handan’s joy at seeing this.

Over the next few years, the state of the deck degraded further and further. It is made of pressure-treated pine, and without the protective layer of paint, the elements started to have their way. Pieces began to rot. The railings started to wobble. Mold turned the white step risers to a lovely tie-dye green.

And the worst part is that my dearest and lovely Handan stopped going out there this year. The deck became an abandoned, unloved thing, only suitable to hold planter boxes and flower pots.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

Sure, I still put the table and chairs there, but we only sat a few times to scarf down hot dogs while taking a break from landscaping.

As the summer wore on, the deck became a repository for random crap that never made it into the landscape beds or back into the shed.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

The dogs still liked it, though. Then again, they lick each others’ butts, so I’m not sure their opinions carry much weight.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

Yep, our once-proud relaxatorium had become a peeling, festering eyesore.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

Besides my mom and dad, we had no guests this summer.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

Handan had been wanting a new deck for the last two summers, but we didn’t have the money for it. We saved and saved to be able to afford it, and this spring she declared it was time. My babes was going to have her new deck.

We explored our options, both in terms of material (pressure-treated wood or composite) and how we would get it built (a big box store like Lowe’s, a dedicated deck pro or a seasoned handyman). Handan also tested every free deck design software out there. I also dabbled with most of them. I found them all lacking, but Handan was able to get results that I could not, and she became proficient with the deck designer on the decks.com website.

Her first design was ambitious, to say the very least. I’ve outlined the original deck in red in the picture below.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

We decided to give Lowe’s a call to see what they would charge to build this monster. Figuring that any composite would be out of our reach, we asked for a quote for pressure-treated.

They returned to us with an eye-popping $23,000.  The light went out of Handan’s eyes. She thought her dream was lost for another year. We were figuring on a number in the $14,000-$15,000 range.

She went back to the drawing board and tried a smaller plan.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

But Lowe’s  couldn’t come up with a price we were comfortable with. We needed a new plan entirely.

There was a time when Handan gave up and declared that it couldn’t happen this year, but then her old fire returned, and she insisted that we would have it this summer. If we could buy the materials ourselves and get someone to build it, we should be able to have a new deck for under $20,000. By buying the materials ourselves from Home Depot, we could take advantage of their periodic no-interest promotions and spread the payments out over two years. This would also allow us to buy composite decking instead of pressure-treated.

We examined the pros and cons of pressure-treated and composite and decided that if we could afford either, the choice was clear: composite had more advantages for us over pressure-treated wood.

  1. Composite decking should last longer than pressure-treated (though nothing lasts forever, and anyway, if we’re still kicking around here in 20 years, I’m sure we’ll want another new deck).
  2. Composite decking is easier to care for than pressure-treated – it only needs to be scrubbed with soap and water, whereas pressure-treated needs to be re-sealed every year or two (depending on your climate) and periodically re-stained.
  3. A pressure-treated deck cannot be stained and sealed right away. The boards must dry first – a process that usually takes months. Around here, that means a whole season, which basically means a year. (Update – summer 2018: pressure-treated pine can be stained right away. The proof is right here.)
  4. It is easier to have a two-tone or multi-tone deck with composite than it is to do so by staining a pressure-treated deck with different shades of stain.
  5. Though the composite look isn’t perfectly natural, it is close enough for us.

Once we had settled on composite, we had to pick a brand. There are more composite/PVC deck board manufacturers than I care to list in this post. They vary greatly in price, though they are all considerably more expensive than pressure-treated pine. We looked at Timbertech, AZEK, Veranda, Fiberon and Trex, but there are many many more. It’s pointless for me to list the pros and cons of each. That information is plastered all over the internet. In the end, it’s a personal decision between price and quality. The company that suited our needs best was Trex. We settled on their Transcend line of products.

Handan returned to her deck design program and hammered out the final design.

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com

Whereas her two previous designs ate into the patio space quite a bit, her new design preserved that space, and even expanded it between the two staircases. We discovered this summer that we also enjoy sitting on the patio, so keeping that space was important.

In order to get a handle on how much we would have to pay for labor, I called a whole slew of deck specialists and handymen in the area for quotes. Angie’s List is great place to start if you’re looking for companies or handymen in your area. You may have heard of Angie’s List, but maybe you never used it because they charged a membership fee. Those days are over. It’s free now for a basic membership, and that’s all you should ever need.

Some insisted that only they could provide the materials (so they could mark them up). I asked for a quote anyway, just for kicks.

Every quote I received, save for two, was obscene. One guy wanted $42,000 to build the deck! I noted that he wore high-end clothing brands and drove a shiny new $60,000 pickup. Business must be good.

In the end, we went with a local handyman who gave the lowest price for labor and allowed us to buy our own materials.

The next challenge we faced was picking a color for the deck. We didn’t want another gray deck, so we looked at some of the darker brown options. We settled on a two-tone deck. The perimeter and a line down the middle will be framed with Vintage Lantern, and the main deck will be Spiced Rum. The benches and stairs will be made from Spiced Rum and trimmed with white AZEK.

Spiced Rum and Vintage Lantern Trex Composite Boards

We signed a contract, and I plopped a wad of cash in the contractor’s hand (50% of the total). We were committed.

Hop over to the next post, wherein we will explore the trials and tribulations of working with Home Depot’s Pro Desk and take a look at how the project is coming along.

CONTINUED ON TO>>

The New Deck | Trex Deck design ideas | Things to consider when choosing a decking material | How to find a deck contractor | Why we chose composite decking | Composite deck vs pressure treated wooden decks | Tips on Home Depot’s pro desk | How to get great discounts at Home Depot’s pro desk | How to plan a new deck | How to design a deck| Trex Deck Vintage Lantern and Spiced Rum | Guardrails vs deck benches | A deck before and after | TheNavagePatch.com
The New Deck {Progress}

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19 Comments

  1. i get accused of blathering whenever i want to do something to the house to improve it, so i feel for handan and i am glad she is getting her deck and i don’t care how she pronounces it and i think for all your griping she should plant you in the front yard with the pulley ha ha xx

  2. In Colorado, we had to have our foundation replaced. I can appreciate the journey. I’m really impressed with your efforts to bring vision and reality together. Look forward to the commentary and the fulfillment!

    1. Wow, I can’t even imagine how you’d replace a foundation. Did the house have a basement? That seems incredibly difficult! We’re looking forward to the fulfillment too, Derry!

      1. Simple. You take an 1898, 2 story, 16′ on center 40×25 sqf house and run a couple of REALLY long steel beams under it and take a bobcat into the very poorly conceived and constructed underneath garage. You build two huge cribs for it to set on while the rest of the new foundation is constructed. While you’re down there guys, let’s put in a full basement. And plumb in a bathroom. Oh and you move a family of six + dog + 2 cats out plus lock stock and barrel out for six months. Did I mention the children were homeschooled? Yeah, good times. And that’s just the middle of the story!

  3. Errr, why didn’t you build it yourself? With your carpentry skills it wouldn’t be difficult. Good luck anyway and I am happy for you and Handan that you are going to have a new deck, but I am really puzzled about you paying somebody to do it.

    1. Oh, Val, there’s just no way on Earth I could have done it. First off, the town requires architect plans for a deck before they will issue a building permit. One look at those, and I knew that it was beyond my capabilities! As for the work – it requires a minimum of two, and sometimes three strong guys. I work here alone during the day – Handan isn’t here to help, nor do I know anyone who could. Some of the boards they are using weigh over 100 pounds. This is also a job with some specialized skill and knowledge. They had to drill through our house to install the ledger board and secure it from the basement – no way I could do that alone! They also had to pour 4 concrete footings which required digging 4-foot-deep holes that were about two feet across. You’ll see the machine they used for that in the next post. I know my limitations – there are just some jobs that are best left to the pros, especially when building inspectors are involved, lol!

  4. I have to admit, I thought you were going to build it yourself! In Canada as long as you provide the beer and pizza you can usually get free help from your friends! I’m not saying it will be done right but it will get done eventually! Lol! I need to replace mine but it is much smaller at approximately 10’x10′. I can’t wait to see your and to get some ideas!

  5. Yay, finally the journey begins. Will it be finished by Halloween? I can’t wit to see how you guys deck it out 😉

  6. As a carpenter, I was fascinated by this. You really know your woodworking stuff! I would say, the Vintage Lantern is a great choice of colour too. Provides an almost burnt wood look that also won’t look horrible in the rain!