Decks and Patios
For the Northwest Environment
Protect Your Deck
Wood frame decks are difficult to maintain in the Northwest environment. If you decide to use a wood deck, it needs to be framed with pressure treated lumber (a building code requirement). Even waterproof decks are prone to failure. If a waterproof deck is designed over a living space, the workmanship must be perfect.
When possible, concrete or paved patios are preferable. Synthetic decking such as "Trex" (made from recycled wood and plastics) works as well and lasts forever, although it can stain and mildew. In terms of maintenance, and longevity this type of decking is preferable over Cedar or lightly treated "Outdoor Wood." In fact its longevity combined with the fact that it is a recycled material makes it an ideal choice for green design.
Creating Attractive Railings
Building code requires that deck railing members be no more than 4" apart. Due to the size of lumber, a properly built wooden railing will resemble a dense screen; difficult to see through. Additionally, a wood railing system is high-maintenance.
To avoid both problems, we highly recommend powder-coated iron railing systems with welded joints. Metal members are much smaller and more "transparent", and are almost maintenance free.
Solid railings work well in some situations where you want privacy or to block out the bottom of your view (possibly of someone else's roof). It is critical that solid railings vent; do not install plywood or tar paper under most siding types and they will work well, although their maintenance is high. Any hollow post or structure exposed to the weather must be vented both at the top and bottom, or they will rot from the inside out. Under no circumstances should a solid railing or post be sealed in with stucco.