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© Copyright 2012 Work-4 Projects Ltd.

New Products and Working Tips

By Jon Eakes

I was asked to write about decks but you all know how to build decks. So I thought I would simply share some new products and working tips.

New Product: Getting the twist on deck foundations
Screw piles for decks and other structures requiring solid frost-protected support have been around for a long time—and generally looked at sceptically by contractors more familiar with concrete columns and massive footings. The basic concept is attractive and easy to grasp: an auger that will drive itself deep into the ground without digging a hole; the blade that then acts as the footing; and a small smooth shaft that will not move with ad-freezing—an excellent concept for cold climate building.
A look at the “Thermal Pile” from a Canadian company called Postech Metal Foundations (www.Postech-Foundations.com) shows the coming of age of a simple idea in a complex climate. Aside from the CCMC listing and careful considerations to the building codes, this screw pile has thicker walled tubing for more lateral support, heavy galvanization for rust protection, various sized auger blades for different soils (after all, this is the footing) and now thermal insulation to prevent frost penetration via the hollow tube. All Postech screws go at least six feet into the ground and there is a torque meter to measure soil density during installation, which assures load bearing capacity. No more guesswork.
These are all the types of elements required for a contractor to have confidence that the screw pile has moved from an interesting idea to a rapid, efficient and reliable foundation for your structure—and your reputation.

Working Tip: Wandering beams
Sometimes we work just too hard trying to get deck posts all in a perfectly straight line despite rocks or other obstructions. Whether you are going around a swimming pool or around a rock, the reality is that beams that do not show on the outer edge of the deck have no need to be perfectly straight— in fact they can wander all over. The only requirement is that their top surface is perfectly flat and horizontal. Having a joist span a couple of inches more or less really makes very little difference to the structural integrity of the deck.

New Product: Get into the groove
Applying stains or waterproofing to a deck always has the problem of extra work or double coatings when you go back and try to get into the visible portion of the groove between boards. With a spray gun we tend to overspray the surface while trying to get into the groove. The smoothest application is with a paintbrush on our knees. Paint pads don’t touch the groove at all— until now.
Sur-Line now has a deck Stain Pad with a Grove Tool. Flip the handle and just like the keel of a sailboat, the groove pad retracts to load stain or work on flat surfaces. Flip the handle back and the groove pad drops down to fit the groove between boards as narrow as 1/8”. With the pad extending just less than 3 inches on each side of the groove pad, the tool covers half of each board. This allows for rapid wet-on-wet coverage as you work the full length of each board on the deck.
That high wrapped front and back edge to the pad helps prevent wear or ripping when going over rough boards or exposed fasteners.

Working Tip: Water repellents should be applied THIN... [just like the can says]
The most common error with transparent water repellents is to try to soak them heavily into all the cracks. It is like a force stronger than us; we just want to fill those cracks. So we ignore the instructions right on the can that specifically tell us to apply a very thin coating. The only harm done is getting a milky white haze for a few months, and wasting a lot of expensive water repellent—unless you put it on really thick and then it will peel. What part of “thin” did you not understand?

New Product: The end of smelly toxic end cut treatments
I am delighted to tell you about the new Cut-N-Seal end cut treatment. Traditionally end cut treatment has been about the most obnoxious smelly highly toxic stuff that we had to use on every end cut or hole drilled into pressure treated wood to assure the full protection against rot. Gloves and even clothing worn while applying this stuff were always condemned to never go back into inhabited space because the odours never got out of cloth. In addition it was bright green, greatly bothering our clients although we promised them that by the end of the summer they wouldn’t notice. Oh, there are transparent end cut treatments available, but they smell even worse. Hence, many of us just didn’t use end cut everywhere we should have.
I complained to my friends at Timber Specialties and they told me they had something on the drawing board. Finally this spring it is out. Just look at the label: This stuff is considered an “irritant”—no more skull and crossbones. It is water clean-up and the pungent smell is gone. They finally figured out how to protect the cut ends with an acrylic-based material. In addition, it comes in light green to match pressure-treated wood, as well as in cedar brown. Thank you, Timber Specialties, for listening.

Working Tip: Spacing for aluminum siding and railings
Most of us know by now that ACQ pressure-treated wood has a very high concentration of copper and requires special ACQ compatible fasteners and brackets since copper reacts with steel to rust it. But many have not yet realized that ACQ is even more corrosive to aluminum than to steel. That means that if you want to put aluminum siding over ACQ pressure-treated wood, you should attach white wood strapping over the PTW using ACQ approved fasteners. Then you can apply the aluminum siding using short aluminum nails into the white wood strapping. The white wood is high and dry so it should last a long time.
Similarly, aluminum railings and other fixtures require a rubber membrane between the aluminum and the ACQ pressure-treated wood. Then stainless steel screws should be used as they will be in contact with both the aluminum and the ACQ—and SS will bridge between these two incompatible building materials best.


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