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Questions to Ask Your Potential Deck Contractor

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As a homeowner, it’s not uncommon to hire a few contractors for home improvement projects. Many homeowners can relate to the feeling of trying to decipher facts from sales pitches and looking over competing quotes to find the best options. As with many other things, asking your deck builder lots of questions is the best way to help you make a good, informed decision. Without asking the right questions before a project starts, you risk having an end result that doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped it would.

Here are some good questions to ask your potential deck contractor to help ensure your new deck will be all you had hoped for.

Are you licensed and insured?

When beginning the process of finding a deck contractor, always make sure any contractor you move forward with is licensed and insured. Licensed deck builders are informed about permits and codes needed to properly construct your deck, as well as having the expertise needed to build a safe and durable deck. Additionally, you want to make sure your deck builder has insurance that includes coverage for both personal injury and property damage.
Unfortunately, some contractors may lie about their insurance and licensing. To check that potential candidates have the licensing and insurance required, you can search the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s database online and check reviews on the Better Business Bureau.

What kind of lumber do you use for the framing?

Builders should be using grade #1 or #2 pressure-treated wood for all of your deck framing. Pressure-treated wood is made with a combination of chemicals and pressure. Similarly, some pressure-treated lumber may be dried in a kiln to improve lifespan and durability. Depending on your location, different types of wood may be used; however, coniferous trees like pine and spruce are most common. Higher-quality lumber generally has more of a uniform appearance with minimal knots, blemishes, and tight patterns.

Using pressure-treated lumber for your deck frame is important as it prevents insect damage, protects against moisture, lasts longer, and is significantly more durable than untreated wood. Quality deck contractors will also know that posts beneath your deck need an extra level of treatment as they will be in contact with dirt and below ground. A good contractor will use pressure-treated wood to keep your deck safe and make your investment last.

What kind of fasteners and hardware do you use?

There are specific types of hardware and fasteners that are approved for exterior use with pressure-treated lumber. You don’t want a deck contractor who uses low-quality or incorrect hardware and fasteners to save money.  Pressure-treated decks generally use stainless steel hardware and fasteners or hot-dipped-galvanized (HDG) steel hardware and fasteners.

While both of these types are approved for pressure-treated decks, your contractor should not mix different fasteners and hardware together. Using a stainless steel fastener with HDG steel hardware and vice versa will corrode any galvanized materials.

Do you use hidden fasteners to attach the deck floor?

Hidden fasteners give your deck surface a uniform appearance that’s level and smooth. In addition to looking better, decks with hidden fasteners are safer. With hidden fasteners, you don’t have to worry about screw heads sticking out that can hurt bare feet, trip people, and catch on furniture.

Ask any potential deck contractors if they use hidden fasteners when attaching the deck floor. All deck builders should be able to use some type of hidden fastener system for this deck flooring. Some contractors include hidden fasteners in their quotes while others may charge extra. Ensure you know all the fees upfront by asking potential builders if they charge extra for hidden fasteners.

What brand of decking and railing will you use?

Before choosing a deck contractor, you should know the specific type of decking and railing they will use. Pass on any contractors who only use vague terms like “composite” or “vinyl” instead of naming specific brands. Not all composite and vinyl decking are created equal. You want to hire a contractor who knows what brands are industry leaders and won’t skimp on durability to save money.

Once you know the brand(s) a contractor will be using, do your own research to determine which brand fits what you want and need in a deck. For example, at Decks R Us, we commonly use TimberTech PVC composite decking which is top of the market. TimberTech PVC composite decks are known for their durability, weatherproofing, real wood appearances, and cooler surface temperatures than other brands in the industry.

When can you start building my deck, and how long will it take?

The length of time it takes to build a deck varies by the season and time of year. After deciding to add a deck to your property, choose a general completion date that you’d like the deck finished by. This will help narrow down potential candidates as some may not be able to meet your deadline.

The fall and winter months are best for building or replacing a deck. Deck contractors are busiest in the spring and summer months, so fitting into your ideal builder’s schedule during these seasons may not be possible. Best of all, by choosing to have your deck built around the end or beginning of the year, your deck will be ready to enjoy when warm weather arrives.

With this list of questions, you can confidently begin your search for a trusted and reliable deck builder. Built on integrity with high-quality work that speaks for itself, our team at Decks R Us has been trusted by countless families and homeowners throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northern Delaware. Want to learn more about our process and the materials we use? Contact us today for a free consultation.