Recently, my two brothers, sister and I decided to build my mother a new deck and fence. It wasn’t easy to come to a consensus about which products to buy, but we knew we wanted something: long-lasting, easy to install and low maintenance. In addition, my sister insisted on something “green,” preferably made from recycled materials. We bought Veranda decking from Home Depot. It’s a composite deck board capped by an HDPE coating called ArmorGuard. It fit every one of our criteria, came with a 20-year stain-and-fade warranty and cost about 10 percent less than other brands available.
The deck was low to the ground so it didn’t need stairs or a railing, and we purposely designed it just under 16 ft. wide so we could install 16-ft. planks (which Home Depot stocks) with very little waste. It took us two Saturdays to build. The first Saturday was spent on layout, footings and installing the ledger board. On the second Saturday, we had it framed up by lunch. Installing the decking was by far the easiest part of the whole process—it took us less than three hours to install the decking and the fascia boards.
The planks cut just like wood, and I was extremely impressed with the fastening system. The self-gapping hidden fasteners fit into the grooves on the planks and were super easy to install. I also liked the fact that they were metal because the last hidden fasteners I used were plastic and had a tendency to crack and break when overtightened. The Brazilian Walnut color looked awesome when we were done, and all my siblings and I were so impressed that we decided to give Veranda fencing a try. Veranda makes a composite fencing to match its decking, but we decided to go with the white PVC to add a little contrast and match the trim on her house.
Digging the holes and setting the posts was the hardest part, but lucky for us, Veranda just came out with a new SlideLock Bracket that was really simple to work with. Once the posts were set, all we had to do was install the dovetail bracket at the proper heights on the posts, slide the fence bracket onto the rails of the prebuilt section of fence, and then slide the whole fence section onto the dovetail bracket. Another nice thing about the dovetail design (think French cleat) on the SlideLock Brackets is that it hides all the screws. Other bracket systems have three or four visible screws on each side of the fence.
The fence took longer to build than the deck, but digging the holes took almost a whole day (even with a motorized auger) because we had hard clay soil to contend with. When we were done, the transformation to my mother’s backyard was incredible, and the only maintenance she has to worry about is an occasional wash with some mild cleaners and a garden hose. It was a lot of hard work, but it was nice to spend time with my family, and mother always made sure we were well fed.
I would love to see some finish photos. It sounds like a great project for your Mom.
That is very sweet of you and your siblings to complete a DIY project for your mother. It is definitely an experience to remember for an entire lifetime to have received a present straight from the heart. A fence might look easy when it is all mighty and standing. However, the process of building it from scratch definitely requires some skills and a lot of effort.
It is always nice to spend quality time with family especially our parents and to be able to gift them with a DIY present is even better! You guys did an awesome job building those beautiful deck and fence and I just had an idea what to do this weekend – time to get everyone to bond while improvising our backyard!
After talking with a cabinet maker at our house, I mentioned to him I was going to resurface our deck with composite decking. He bluntly told me he hated composite and compared it to vinyl siding. In a very short span of time I now completely agree with him. Composite decking is low maintenance, but nothing more. It is 3-4 X the price of cedar, is not as rigid as cedar thus needs more support underneath. Composite decking exposed to sunshine will not only fade over the years but will get blistering hot. Composite would excel if it's perpetually in the shade. No overheating, no fading ,and resistant to moss. Still the look of a freshly stained cedar deck cannot be imitated. The time it takes to wash and reseal a deck is not that much. I would gladly do this yearly if needed to save spending $4/linear foot for a deck that looks, feels, and performs like plastic. I would submit that composite decking has hit its peak and will likely be a fad that will go the way of shag carpeting. My last deck I resurfaced with composite and yes it will last forever, but in the sun it's like a frying pan. No regrets building my new deck with a cedar top
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