(guest post by Maureen Murray)
Trey Gregory is an animator and principal at Entertainment Creative Group (ECG) Productions, but like most of us, he’s also a homeowner. When he and his wife bought a home four years ago, they had no idea how deteriorated and unsafe the deck on the home had become. Many of the moisture-related dangers for decks go unseen until someone gets hurt.
Constructed in the 1980s, the home’s original yellow pine deck was constantly under assault by moisture. The Gregorys yard backs up to a creek and dense woodland owned by Cobb County’s Board of Education. Both the uncovered and covered side of the deck, as well as the stairs leading up to it, had fallen victim to chronically wet conditions, which over time, rendered the original structure and surface dangerously rotted.
“Our backyard is almost completely shaded, so when it gets wet it stays wet for weeks—plus we are near a stream,” said Gregory. “The deck stairs had rotted out and one of our landscape contractors almost fell through the top step, but luckily didn’t hurt himself. It was a warning sign!”
After that incident, Gregory added yellow caution tape to his deck to prevent future injuries. In desperate need of a replacement, Gregory called in expert deck contractor John Lea.
A seasoned deck builder and owner of Decksouth of Marietta, Georgia, John Lea has been serving Atlanta and the surrounding areas since 1998. Lea specializes in creating new outdoor additions for his customer’s homes with elegant looks and lasting craftsmanship. Upon inspecting Gregory’s decaying deck, Lea noticed the ledger wasn’t even bolted to the home’s sill. Lea advised Gregory that it was time for a replacement from the ground up. He also created more outdoor living space under the deck with a new patio using Belgard Pavers.
The Right Materials
Lea has a great deal of experience with composite decking, working with it since it first came on the market. To provide a highly durable and budget-sensitive solution that could endure the damp environment of Gregory’s backyard, Lea proposed MoistureShield’s Elevate capped wood composite decking in Lake Fog, a rich gray shade. He also suggested a grooved profile so that hidden fasteners could be used to achieve a smooth, fastener-free surface. He went to work designing a new deck capable of withstanding the damp environment. In fact, MoistureShield is so moisture-resistant right to its core, that it can actually be submerged underwater.
After removing the old wooden structure, Lea began by replacing the original footings with concrete forms set with Sakrete High-Strength bagged concrete mix for added stability and moisture-resistance for the new 15-foot-high deck.
“The bagged concrete was easy to work with and sets itself correctly. It doesn’t flash and it cures properly,” said Lea of Sakrete’s consistency. “It’s pure and smooth, and there are no chunks of aggregate. You can mix three bags together, and if you come up short, you can add a fourth without worrying about how it’s going to affect the whole mix. There’s no guesswork.”
“The materials I use matter,” Lea said, explaining that’s why he chose the MoistureShield boards for the deck surface. “The Elevate capped boards are super-resistant to wear and tear and scratches during construction. We don’t even need to protect the surface with a drop cloth as we do with others. It doesn’t shred or feather when the board is cut, which is very important with a cost-conscious board.” Lea noted that some entry-level boards have so little cap-stock that you have to be careful to get a clean cap-stock separation at the cut line.
Like all MoistureShield decking, Elevate’s proprietary Solid Core manufacturing process makes it impervious to damage from moisture, rot and insects, offering an ideal solution to standing up against Gregory’s sunlight deprived yard.
“This stuff can truly do it all,” said Lea of the decking. “It’s rigid for workability, won’t swell, warp or rot—and insects don’t know what to do with it.”
Adding finishing touches to the deck, Lea utilized different lengths of grooved decking in tandem with solid edge and fascia boards to deliver a polished, upscale look. “The litmus test for me is when you get down on your hands and knees and see zero board deflection and zero inconsistency in the board’s finish,” said Lea.
Further adding to the Gregory’s new outdoor oasis, Lea chose Belgard pavers with the natural look of cut slate to create an elegant, color-matched hardscape space below the deck—and to create a transition to the backyard.
“We used the Sakrete bagged concrete for the patio slab underneath the pavers (located below the deck) and along the border of the patio to secure the edge,” Lea said. He then filled the paver gaps with Techniseal® polymeric sand supplied by Masonry Supply, a division of Oldcastle APG, to seal the patio.
“I like to use products that have synergy when creating outdoor living spaces,” Lea explained. “When I sit at a customer’s kitchen table and ask them to put their trust in me, I want to know that the brands we’re offering put their name on the line every day just like us. For my personal brand, it’s important that these materials perform consistently on each job and are always available. If my customer’s neighbor likes it, I want to be able to offer them the same colors, styles and warranties.”
With Lea’s design visions for the deck and patio complete, the Gregorys can enjoy their new outdoor spaces that blend in seamlessly with the woodland views. They have the peace of mind knowing that it can stand up to the harsh conditions in their backyard—no caution tape or avoidance, just pure outdoor enjoyment.
“We absolutely love it and can’t wait to have our first meal outdoors,” said Gregory. “John turned our nightmare deck into a dream space.”
About Oldcastle APG
Oldcastle APG, North America’s largest manufacturer of outdoor living products, is part of CRH’s Building Products division. CRH is a leading global diversified building materials group with operating locations in 32 countries worldwide. MoistureShield, a division of Oldcastle APG, proudly manufactures composite deck boards and related products, serving a range of retail and distribution customers across North America and several international markets. The development of new technologies and patents has enabled MoistureShield to manufacture superior composite products from recycled wood fiber and recycled polyethylene plastic.