Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

February 8, 2012

Deck Cleaning Tips

Filed under: Decks — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 12:56 pm

Lancaster County, PA homeowners are often curious the best way to keep their new deck or porch looking beautiful for the long term. Different types of decking material need different types of techniques to be cleaned properly. First things first, inspect your deck before cleaning it. If something looks amiss structurally, call a contractor to take a look!

Here are some tips for cleaning a Wood, Composite or Cedar/Redwood deck:

Using that Power Sprayer – A power sprayer is a huge time saver when cleaning a deck; but before you hook it up and dial in a laser beam of water consider that you may do more harm than good. Using a narrow, high-pressure stream of water can wash off paint, and even gouge the wood so badly you couldn’t even hide it with a new coat of paint. It can also ruin the surface integrity of composite materials. By breaking the surface you are inviting mildew and grime.

It is best to hold the nozzle about 2 feet above the deck surface while swinging the nozzle back and forth like a pendulum. You may not be able to remove every stain with the power sprayer – and that is ok! Leave them to be finished later with a deck cleansing solution and a small brush.

deck-builder-lancaster-pa

Cleaning a Wood Deck – Make sure you first get all the needles or other debris out from between the deck planks. You don‘t want to be sealing in those needles and the moisture that can come along with them. You can usually just use a hose or power washer to clean out hard to reach places. For what the water doesn’t get, a putty knife or other thin blade is usually your best bet.

To clean the wood there are multiple deck cleaners out there. Always read carefully to make sure you have the correct cleaner. Don’t forget to cover all that stuff you have under the deck, like plants and your lawn furniture.

Cleaning a Composite Deck – Despite their well-deserved reputation for being low-maintenance, composite decks are not completely maintenance free. The good news is dirt and debris usually wash away easily with a garden hose.

lancaster-pa-deck-builders

However, a deck cleaner will probably be needed to get rid of stains and heavy mildew. If you’re not sure where to start, you can contact the manufacturer of the decking material. Usually their websites provide cleaning tips and advise you as to which cleaners are best. When using a deck cleaner, the usual procedure is to spray it on (you can use a cheap hand pumped sprayer), let it sit for about 20 minutes, then wash it off with a garden hose.

It is not recommended to sand composite decks to remove a tough spot or stain.

Cleaning a Cedar Or Redwood Deck – Cleaning a cedar or redwood deck is similar to cleaning a composite deck in many respects. Cedar and redwood, and most treated woods, are decay resistant, and also have less of a tendency to harbor mildew, although in areas receiving heavy moisture, mildew can still be a problem.

Cedar is a soft wood and could too easily be damaged if you attempt to power wash it. There are specific cleaning solutions in stores for cedar decks. Consider applying a brightener after everything has dried to help restore the natural wood look.

If you have questions or are looking for a beautiful Lancaster, PA deck of your own – please give us a call!

May 4, 2011

Your Decking Material Options: Pros and Cons

Filed under: Decks — Tags: , , — MBCremodeling @ 4:04 pm

We have been building wood, composite and solid PVC decks and screened porches here in Lancaster County, PA since 1999. With over 12 years experience I can tell you the decision most families struggle with is what kind of decking material to we choose for their new deck.

If initial cost were the only concern, the answer would always be simple: wood. Unfortunately, we must consider many important factors. Along with initial cost, the appearance you are looking for and long-term maintenance time and costs come into play. The types of fasteners used to secure the decking are also important to many homeowners. Please use this guide to help you decided whether pressure-treated wood, composite or PVC/plastic decking is what your dream deck is made of.

Pressure-Treated Wood


Why is the wood pressure treated? According to About.com: “Less durable woods, like Southern pine and Western fir, are treated with preservatives. This makes them more resistant to the elements, rot and insects.”

Wood is used for the structural pieces of your deck no matter what you choose for the top. The other types of materials used for the surface are most likely either not strong enough or too expensive (or both) to serve as the frame for your deck.

Pros:

  • Cheaper option
  • Looks like real wood… ‘cause it is!
  • Easy to work with
  • Mold-resistant
  • Hidden or visible fastener options
  • Usually comes with lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Will rot and lose appearance if not maintained
  • Contains chemical preservatives
  • Can splinter

Composite

Composite or synthetic decking is a lumber alternative that combines plastic and wood fiber. It is more environmentally friendly than wood, and the popularity of composite brands, such as Trex, has exploded over the past decade in residential deck building.

Pros:

  • Weather resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Made from recycled materials

Cons:

  • More expensive than wood
  • Varying appearance issues between brands
  • Not resistant to mold or mildew. Especially shows in places where the deck is under a lot of shade.
  • Tend to sag and bend over time more than wood
  • They don’t last forever. Varying warranty lengths (10 years – lifetime)
  • Can be difficult to work with

PVC



Plastic lumber (PVC), including products made by Azek, is a 100% recyclable decking option made from recycled plastics. It is said to need the lowest amount of maintenance of the materials we are discussing.

Pros:

  • Stain resistant
  • No mold or mildew
  • Scratch resistant
  • Will not rot
  • 100% recyclable

Cons:

  • More expensive than wood
  • Varying appearance issues between brands
  • Tend to sag and bend over time more than wood
  • They don’t last forever. Varying warranty lengths (10 years – lifetime)
  • Can be difficult to work with

Please comment on your experiences with any of these decking materials. If you are looking for a deck builder in and around Lancaster County, PA, please contact MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC at [717] 371.5136.

March 29, 2010

Sizzling Summer Decks

Filed under: Decks — Tags: , — MBCremodeling @ 7:53 am

Planning on installing a new deck or sprucing-up an existing one this season? If so, you’re not alone. Decks are still among the most popular home improvements. So, what’s hot in decks this summer? Here are some of the top deck trends for summer 2010:

Railings – Once merely a functional safety element, railings are now doing double duty as design statements. Railings are often the first thing one notices about a deck, so manufacturers are offering more aesthetically pleasing, architecturally interesting options. Hot railing trends include decorative balusters of aluminum, iron or even cable, glass panels and railing systems that combine materials for durability, as well as visual effect.

Multiple Levels – Designers are using multiple levels to create virtual rooms for outdoor use. A main deck might function as living and dining space, while a smaller, lower level addition serves as a kitchen area, and another level might host a hot tub. Multi-level decks facilitate multiple uses and add visual interest to the overall deck structure.

Indoor Luxuries, Outdoors – Homeowners want to bring the same luxuries they enjoy indoors outside onto their decks. In response, builders are adding touches like built-in fire pits and fireplaces, full kitchens with professional grade gas grills, spas, built-in benches and cabinets, shade structures and lighting to deck designs.

New Shapes – Piano-shaped, arrowhead and even oval shapes are appearing in back yards across the country. Modern materials, improved building methods and the creativity of designers and homeowners have permanently changed the shape and size of the great American deck. For added pizzazz, you can incorporate a pattern, such as herringbone or checkerboard, into the deck surface.

Composite Materials – While some homeowners prefer wood, composite materials continue to gain popularity. Not only are they durable and often eco-friendly (as many of them are made from recycled materials), composites can now mimic the much-loved look of wood.

-Mike Blank, CGR CAPS
MBCremodeling.com

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