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.
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