Renovation & Design

Don't be afraid to mix and match

Always a way to satisfy a client's desires without breaking the bank

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

A 24-foot-by-16-foot L-shaped deck topped with TREX composite and brown-treated lumber fascia, partial wraparound stairs with flush-mount LED lighting and traditional wooden railings showcasing black metal profile balusters.

Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

A hidden hatch was created with brown-treated lumber fascia, held to a frame with velcro.

The benefit of having built decks for several years is there are plenty of photo examples to choose from when discussing design options with potential clients.

Shortly before this deck season began, a potential client suggested that although she wanted composite for her top-decking, she was not keen on top-mount aluminum railing, nor the added expense of composite fascia.

Luckily, we soon agreed on a mix-and-match design that best suited her esthetic desires, all the while remaining within her budget.

The new deck is just over twice the size of the old, and consists of a brown TREX composite top-decking, brown-treated lumber fascia and railing with black metal balusters.

And once the old 12-foot-by-14-foot deck was demolished and removed from the work area, the framework to the new 24-foot-by-16-foot L-shape deck could begin. The ledger board was affixed to the back wall, and along the front edge of the inner part of the L. To satisfy the load requirements of composite top-decking, the joist hangers were then mounted to each ledger board with structural screws on 16-inch centres. For this particular shape of deck, three parallel double-laminated two-by-eight beams were placed at every 7½ feet. The beams were set on four-by-four posts atop four-inch-high 12-inch-by-12-inch concrete deck pads. For adjustability, a deck jack was fastened atop every post, just below the beams. Once the main two-by-eight joists were set into the hangers one by one, the deck slowly began to take shape. The perimeter joisting was then secured to the main joists, providing the footprint of the L-shaped deck design.

Railing would grace the long of the deck until the stairs began on the far end near the heel of the L. Due to the height of the deck, four stairs were required. The stairs continued along the entire front side of the deck facing the yard, and wrapped slightly along the short of the L where railing was once again introduced.

To create an inviting esthetic, a 45-degree angle bordered both legs of the wraparound stairs. For the proper support, 19 stair stringers were required, and were custom cut on-site. Each stair had a rise of 7½ inches (the height of a two-by-eight for fascia), and a run of 12 inches (the depth of two 5½-inch deck boards). With the stringers securely mounted to the framework, top-decking could begin.

To facilitate moving the composite boards onto the deck surface, the stair tops were completed first. The boards were fastened to the stringers, mitered at the 45-degree angles of each stair. The top-decking was installed starting from the yard side, working my way toward the house. The initial boards were each cut to follow the 45-degree angle, and a nearly 16-foot-wide and 10-foot-deep area. To increase efficiency, 12-foot composite boards were ordered to satisfy the area that encompasses the long of the L toward the house, which is exactly 12 feet wide. In no time at all, the top-decking was completed.

Next came the four-by-four brown-treated railing posts, which were prepped by notching out the bottom of each post to a height of 7½ inches and a depth of roughly 1¾ inches. The posts were set equidistant from each other along the long of the L and along the top and bottom of the staircase ends. With the posts in position, the two-by-eight brown-treated lumber fascia was installed between every post and along the front of every stair section, mitered as necessary. A two-by-six lumber railings cap was secured to the top of the railing posts. And finally, horizontal top and bottom supports, on which the balusters could be fastened, were positioned below the cap and 3½ inches above the top-decking, respectively. The black metal balusters were then placed four inches apart, fastened to the horizontal supports.

As an add-on, the client requested flush-mount LED lighting along the face of each stair. And once an equidistant lighting layout was established, 20 holes were drilled through the midway point of the rise of each stair. The TREX flush-mount lights were then set into place and connected together with TREX lighting-system connectors. The main transformer and dimmer were affixed to the inside of the post nearest the outdoor GFCI outlet and the system was plugged in and fully tested. And with the LED lights fully illuminated, this mix-and-match deck was now complete!

Clients are sometimes unaware decks can be built in combinations of styles. It just so happens this deck design mimics the balcony configuration I selected for my two-storey south-side addition. The black metal profile balusters of the wooden railings showcase a traditional style, while the composite top-decking offers a sleek and modern look.

No matter the design, there’s always a way to satisfy a client’s desires without breaking the bank. Don’t be afraid to mix and match.


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