Craftsmanship in stone
 and wood since 1981



Low Cost Decks

There are essentially 3 levels of deck quality and cost. They are;

1-Low Cost," Simplicity" decks; These are basic wood platforms, with these characteristics;   

--They are framed and decked with pressure treated wood;
--They are less than 24" above grade, allowing them to be built without building permits or railings; This may mean that they require steps down from the door to the deck.
--They are built on "deck blocks" or other floating footings rather than deeper footings;
--They are not attached to the house;
--They have no skirting, so the area under the deck can be seen;
--The area under the deck is not excavated;
--They have no decorative elements


2- Standard cost, "Cedar" decks . These have  several upgrades from the simple decks above. They are;

-- They are framed with pressure treated wood, but the decking is usually cedar.
--They can be more than 24" above grade, which means they may require building permits and railings, which are usually cedar but may be aluminum or vinyl or other material;
--They have more substantial footings than deck blocks, usually "sonotubes" at least 48" in the ground. 
--They are not usually attached to the house;
-- They may have skirting,  either cedar lattice or tongue and groove cedar is the most common type;
--The area under the deck is excavated to remove the sod and crushed stone may be installed to keep the area drier;
--They can have many different types of decorative elements, such as more ambitious railings or pergola-type sunscreens;

3- Elite, "Premium"  decks - These decks usually have the following qualities;

-- They will  still be framed with pressure treated wood, but the decking will always be cedar at a minimum, but could also be composite, or a tropical hardwood.  
--They can be any height. All decks over 24" above grade require railings.
--They have substantial footings usually, in the Ottawa area, sonotubes to 60" below grade with a spread footing.
--They can be attached to the house;
--They are usually closed on the sides  with skirting that is compatible to the decking. They usually have a door allowing access to the area under the deck;
--They may have any number of decorative elements, unusual shapes, unusual decking patterns, unique railings, Pergolas or other sun or wind screens;
--Because they have the better footings, these decks can have roofs attached to the house.

Pros and cons of "Simplicity" decks

--Lowest possible cost. This is probably the least expensive way to build a seating area, less expensive than interlocking brick, concrete , other types of decking; We will beat anyone's deck prices with this kind of deck.
--Quick installation. Often can be installed in 1 or 2 days;
--Low maintenence. No maintenance required. It may be stained after 1 year if you wish. 

-- Appearance.  May be too plain for some people;
--Deck block movement; Deck blocks are more susceptible to settling than other types of footings. They can be relevelled , if necessary. We warrant deck blocks against movement for 2 years,
--Lack of skirting. Animals may like the area under the deck. Uninvited guests. Skirting and/or pest resistant mesh can be added.

Pros and cons of Cedar Decks

--Appearance. The appearance is great. Cedar is undeniably beautiful. The style is classic.  When we finish building a cedar deck, everyone always loves them.
--Longevity. Sonotube footings are quite stable, Cedar wears well. Other than staining, little maintenance is required.
--Design flexibility. The possibilities are many and varied.
--Reasonable cost. These decks cost about what most people expect a deck to cost. The cost is a reasonable compromise between utility and beauty. 

--Maintenance. It isn't essental, but most people stain cedar decks.  Once that is done, it needs to be redone about every 2 years, especially in high traffic areas.
--If required,a building permit adds cost.

Pros and cons of Premium Decks;
--Design flexibilty. Anything can be built. They can be fitted in almost anywhere, as in the picture to the right. Curves, unique decking patterns, pergolas, multi-level spaces, roofs, hot tubs,outdoor kitchens. Many of them are really house additions.
--Premium materials , such as ipe (a tropical hardwood) can add visual interest and long life,
--Longevity-Deep footings allow attachment to the house and insure long life, no movement. No compromise means longer life without maintenance.
--Impressive appearance, The neighbours will be jealous. 

Cost; They cost more. Hard to say a percentage, because the designs can vary so much, but it's significant.
Material limitations; Some materials that are considered premium have design and/or durability limits. (think composite decking) They must be used with knowledge and caution. Some haven't stood the test of time as cedar has.