Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hiatus - Summer 2009

Vacation? Break? No, just the usual too busy to keep up with the blog. Sorry folks.

I did a couple of jobs, pergolas, curved gates, laminated gates and even finished up a fence in Brampton when a builder walked off the job. (not something I make a habit of). Too much desk work is not good for the disposition--so site time was much needed. I also did plenty of photography during, so our training materials will improve.

I spent about 3 weeks working with Jamie Elliott on a large waterproof deck in south Barrie Ontario this fall--he was under the gun for time so it was all hands on deck. He shared a new detail for waterproofing decks from above--to allow for finishing with wood below.

This is one gorgeous deck--and we'll show you some shots as soon as it is posted to the portfolio.

I promise not to be truant in the next few months--no promises next summer though.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The best builders of decks and pergolas in Kansas City

Welcome Stephen Ledman in Kansas City! We know you will be
building great decks, pergolas and outdoor kitchens--because you have
built many great decks and pergolas before. Have a look at some of the pergola and deck projects
that impressed us so much!

kansas city outdoor kitchens and pergolas
This large outdoor kitchen with pergola Stephen and his crew built
this spring.

tigerdeck enclosed deck - 3 season room

Stephen works with exotic lumber and shows great prowess with difficult

A massive A Deck in Red Cedar - Kansas City

Put simply--we are happy to find talented people like Steven that we know
will make our clients as happy. Quality shows through. Steven is a
career craftsman that has built homes and renovated older residences for
many years.

Welcome Steven Ledman "Accent
Remodelling" Kansas City Missouri.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Trex Composite Decking

Trex Composite Decking

I recently visited a home to have a look at yet another moldy trex composite deck. This one was built by a local Toronto builder that installs Trex decking in most of his projects. The client was furious--and after months of chasing (his builder), and Trex, he was having a meeting with the both of them. Here are some photos of the decking project and a close up of a moldy board.

Here is a close up of what trex looks like when it is magnified. As you can see there is semi protruding wood fibers that will rot over time. This deck was cleaned about 1 week before my visit with a specialty bleaching cleaner designed specifically to remove mold from wood fiber composite decking.
After inspecting and photographing this Trex deck for mold, the neighbour from across the street asked me to come by for a look at her trex deck… see photos below.

Now, this is just my opinion, but I think anyone in this day and age knowing what I know about the product--I would be insane to install any composite decking that contains pulp lumber or to advise any of our people to use composite decking that contains pulp lumber.

There is currently a Trex class action law suit to do with warranty issues, click for info.

Here are links to more composite decking information on our main site

This is a link to see all the information within this blog regarding composite decking.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Very Poor Deck Details

Poor Deck Detailing can take many forms.

On first view of this deck it doesn't look so bad. They cared enough to make the support columns blend with the home--and from a distance it looks like a handsome deck. As you get closer you begin to see what a train wreck of a deck this structure really is.

Handrails that protrude into brick causing the columns to crumble is small potatoes when you realize that 5/4 decking was run on 30 degree angle and sags between the overspanned 2x8 joists spanning 14'. The entire platform springs beneath your feet.

These ballusters have been illegal for second level decks for about 15 years now because they are simply too weak to keep a falling human on a deck. Placing the shoe directly on the decking just breeds rot.

What on earth were they thinking with these footings. I don't know how large the base of these footings are but I would have put 14 or 16" sonos in a 20" hole beneath these footings on the soil in this area. The deck seems to have sunk a little, however without putting a level on it I couldn't comment on movement.
I don't expect it has been inspected by the building department--if it had they sure didn't get very close during the inspection.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Deck Staining Company in Toronto has another Deck Refinishing Specialist Contractor in our group of pros!

We are happy to have Martin Mihaljevic involved due to his long track record and list of happy customers.

He works directly for homeowners and can be booked through any of our existing builders in the Toronto Area or contacted directly at (416) 951-9998. Dan is also available for speaking engagements regarding the subject of exterior stain in the Toronto area.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spacing Decking - Why it is necessary.

Spacing Decking- To Space ... Or not To Space

Here is the number 1 reason we space our decking.

This project has magnified the issue for us. As you can see this builder pushed the decking tight.

Last year was the wettest year in many decades in the area it was built. The deck faces east in townhomes and has homes to the southwest on the other side so the placement is sort of cave like.

This yard gets very little sun at the best of times so mold runs rampant.
For these reasons mold has formed all over the surface of this deck.

As you can see the mold is running up the wall (though it is winter killed here it was a pretty colour of green). When decking does not dry out it can actually absorb moisture and become wetter and tighter than when it was installed.
When decking is wet you cannot apply a coating and have it stick. If anyone attempted to stain this deck the finish would be peeling within months. If the pores are full of moisture--they cannot accept the finish into them.

I hear all the arguments--the wood is wet, it will shrink and then the spaces will be too big! Nothing looks more professinal than a uniformly spaced deck. Seeing a deck with no spaces tells me that the deck builder is an amateur.
This is a nearly 400 square foot deck with tight decking and tight skirting with no space below (floating grade beam footings). If the decking was spaced and the skirting were spaced this deck would not have had mold issues.

So if mold growing up the customer's snow shovel and furniture is your idea of a quality build--Enjoy your tight decking and prosperous future .

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Deck Builders Web Traffic- Real or Mirage?

Which Deck Builders have Traffic... and which Deck Builders are Faking it?

When you have it... flaunt it. When you don't, Fake it! gathers information from a number of sources and even if the actual numbers aren't perfectly accurate - for comparative purposes they are quite good.

By statistics has nearly double the traffic that Archadeck, Hickory Dickory Decks, and DecksUSA combined.

Hickory Dickory Decks seems to be faking it. Hits are quoted to people that don't know better in order to sell advertising in the side bar of their site. They are actually auto-generating hits with rotating ads. You can leave the page running in the background of your computer and leave for 2 hours--and give them a thousand or so "Hits". They pay an SEO company to increase their web traffic--but as the search engines get smarter, even that doesn't work very well. Compete is showing them with 2000 visitors or less a month. has so little traffic that they have to guess, so they show that as a flat line with maybe a couple of hundred visits a month.

In general, companies that don't actually have much traffic will quote hits. Hits tell you so little that Google Analytics won't even offer that up as a statistic. Visitors, Page Views and Unique Visitors are all that matters.
Here's how it works.

Hits - Are Requests for a file or information. It could be a block of text, a picture, an ad.

Page Views - Are requests for an individual page. It could be a refresh (F5), or someone returning to the same page.

Visits - Is a person visiting a site. It could be a second visit, third, 10th, or hundredth visit by only 1 person.

Absolutely Unique Visits - Is how many individual users visit a site in a given period of time.

We have 350% more traffic than thinks. (Actual Statistics for Traffic Above).
Our New Website was being debugged in April so that caused errors limiting our traffic for most of the month of april... however our actual traffic is stable at 125,000 visits per month.
Google is still digging through the new content so we actually expect traffic to improve later this year as things are indexed to reflect changes. We also have thousands of photos and projects to add to the site so stay tuned!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Opportunities with 2009

Hot Tub Surround and Deck Designed and Installed by Mark Schwarz of EarthScape, Our Builder in Kitchener Waterloo

There are still hot areas available for builders in the Group

Kingston, Niagara, British Columbia, South Carolina and most of California are still available. It is still early in the Deck and Pergola Building Season so get in touch if you want to bring your game up! There are hundreds of fantastic locations for builders to start up building our decks, fences and pergolas across North America.

This year we have started offering rural licenses as well--lower population means much more affordability.

We are in need of a post hole auguring company in Hamilton and Mississauga.

We have New Builders in Hamilton, Markham, Los Angeles, Kitchener Waterloo and Brampton.

We'll be coming to Owen Sound - Collingwood Ontario soon.

We now have a full service Deck Refinishing Company in the Toronto Area.

Dave Macilius in Hamilton and Mark Schwarz in Kitchener Waterloo are both Landscape Designers and full service landscape companies as well!

Most of our builders are booking work in July, August... which is very positive since this is a challenging economy and many of our competitors have seen their web traffic drop significantly of recent in many competetive areas. Some Deck Companies are seeing 75% decrease. Our traffic is quite stable at roughly 125,000 Unique Visitors a month...

Get in touch soon regarding getting started as a deck or pergola builder within the group of companies.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cheapest Fences in Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles...

Who builds the cheapest fences?

In areas like Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles and any other large metropolitan area, you will find the cheapest fences built by smash and grab brand new fence and deck companies.

You will get promised Fences for $22 a foot in Toronto, $15 in Dallas, $20 in Los Angeles…

You pay your money… you take your chances. Don't pay these guys up front...or you may never see them again.

Every year there are more than 500 new fence companies in areas like Dallas, Toronto and Los Angeles. The majority are gone in 60 days. I wouldn't expect an actual warranty from any of the budget companies. Face it--if they don't charge enough to be in business they won't be there to fix what they built.

Trouble is, they normally don't know much about building decks and fences. Not enough to be charging anything for it.

Here's a fence built by guys that attested to know what they were doing 7 or 8 years ago… they were actually sub-contractors for one of the largest budget fence companies in town. This time they contracted Brampton to build it right this time… Last time they went for the cheapest price. This time they will get a 25 year fence.

In Fact… Paying a few dollars more, for 3x the durability is actually the best value and cheapest fence in the long run.

If you want to see the results of a really cheap fence… click this link to see "Snoop Dog Square Pants" and his top 10 Wrong Methods for Building Wood Fences

BTW, if you plan to build a wood fence on your own, sells professional instructions for building fences here.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

LP Building Products (Louisiana-Pacific) product recall.

LP Building Products (Louisiana-Pacific) Has issued a recall Notice for
about 48 million linear feet of defective composite decking.

Can you imagine strolling out on your deck and having the Guaranteed not to split or crack premium composite decking shatter beneath your feet? I've put a foot through rotten roof plywood and I can tell you all about this painful, embarrassing, did I mention Painful?
It tends to break out the size of your foot...which is a little bigger than calf... it is when it goes over your knee and up your thigh that it really bites. It is like peeling the skin off your leg. It has happened to about 37 people so far. Broken bones and lacerations have been the results.
This recall has been ordered to work with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission by a court order.
Two questions arise. Will they be providing the labor to replace it? I am pretty sure their warranty excludes it. And Who will dispose of the faulty product... and what will they be replacing it with?
If you ask the affected clients...they may prefer something more predictable like Pressure Treated Pine perhaps?
One composite company was offering 500 sq' of free decking and a free nail gun to try their product... I still couldn't talk the wife into it... at any price.
Here is the notice site Defective-Product-site
Here is the press release from the CPSC
Here is the warning WeatherBest issued to investors... astonishing that people still see fit to invest... that's because it has been gently crafted so as not to alarm folks.
This stuff was sold under the Veranda, WeatherBest, ABTCo decking and Railing and Home Depot is named in the recall.
As you know Eon went skipped bankruptcy and entered liquidation a while back--
Attention Composite Decking Companies... Home Depot has a HUGE vacuum in their composite decking products division.... They Bought Eon, They bought Veranda, They bought Trex. and people will buy whatever product HD adopts Next.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The New Website is Up!

This is simply the best display of high end decks and pergolas worldwide.

The navigation issues that plagued us on the last site have been reworked. When you want to see Decks, curser over decks, gallery or diy plans to see the different sections for decks.

When you enter the gallery you will find many decks, pergolas, wood fences, landscape designers, arbours, outdoor kitchens... you should see stellar examples of whatever you seek.

Now, when you get into the gallery and click on a thumbnail, an entire page opens to show you more angles and examples of the design or plans in use with designer credits.
Only about half the content we plan to include is up... so bookmark it and come back often.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Urgently Needed... Post Hole Auguring Company

We received roughly 10 calls from
the Mississauga area for post hole auguring... Last Week.

We want to share these leads long term with a Post Hole Auguring Company, and many of our deck and fence builders also require your services.

Get in touch with Lawrence to make arrangements.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maintenance Free Decking- Which Decking is Best?

People ask me all the time. "I am doing research into decking materials and I don't know which one to choose... What type of decking would you use on your house?"

We all know that composites have had their issues and continue to be sued over durability and warranty issues--and until they get that settled I am steering clear personally. When a client insists on composite we will quote the job and before agreeing to build have them sign a waiver just to let them know that we won't be providing free labour to replace defective composite decking. The other issue has to do with cleaning. This "Low Maintenance Decking" typically needs a chemical wash twice yearly to keep it looking decent.

The old standard pressure treated decking is fine for most suburban locales. Lets face it, on a 200k house in the GTA, you won't likely get the cost back for a cedar or exotic decking if you have to sell. They stopped using arsenic a few years back and you have to use special ACQ fasteners, however the chemicals are the same thing they use to keep worms alive for months in bait shops. Apparently bugs don't like it, and it prevents rot and doesn't bother humans. Obviously pressure treated decking doesn't hold stain as well as Red Cedar Decking so you will need to apply stain every year or two.

Red Cedar and Redwood is gorgeous decking material--however it is soft and prone to damage by foot traffic. When it comes to maintenance though, if you pre-stain and end cut while the deck is built the finish may last a few years with NO Maintenance. The verticals will likely last 7 before having to be re-done. A well maintained cedar or redwood deck may last more than 25 years.

Ipe Decking is a protected species and is often cut by lumber pirates in Brasil. It is normally shipped green which means it will twist and cup and age quickly. It will need constant treating with oil. We simply don't reccomend it.

Tigerdeck is a kiln dried hardwood that has beautiful tone and contrasting grains within. It will need oiling twice yearly... kind of like mopping a floor really, however it will likely last 40 years. It is sustainably harvested in 40 countries.

Cypress grows in swamps in the southern states. It makes a nice decking as well though if left raw will much resemble driftwood. Very East Coast look...

There are many different hardwoods, that will act and look different and last varying amounts of time. Mahogany and Teak are fantastic materials to work with--though they are extremely expensive.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spring National Home Show 2009

We've been busy creating a display in the Spring National Home Show's "Dream Gardens".

It turned out well.

Most of our local builders participated and some have more than 50 hours invested so thanks for the tremendous effort guys.

Connie Cadotte was a pleasure to work with--She kept everything together. Gelderman Landscaping's landscape crews were helpful and efficient. Thank you all.
If you are a customer looking for ideas visit us at the spring national home show is on until Mar 1-09. If you want to meet with a designer give us a call at 888 293 8938 and we will let you know when to visit to meet with the right people.
If you need directions to the show click the banner link on the left to get to their site.

If you are a builder looking to join us, please get in touch. There are still a few areas open in Ontario.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lifestyle Ads

Here's the puzzle of the day:

What do you think these folks are selling using this photo?

Being Rich, White and happy with perfect teeth?

Their investments are paying off well enough that they can sit on this deck being shiny and happy all day long without a care in the world?

Doubt it.

Look at that grimy deck--betcha that's where the barbecue was--before the photo shoot I mean.

It is an ad for the largest deck and lighting company in the United States.

If you sell decks, but you don't build the most beautiful decks, then show happy smiling people. Who is smarter... them with their happy perfect people or the folks putting so much effort into design.

Time will tell.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009



1. The unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.
2. Something used and represented in this manner.

Thanks to for the definition.

The next word should be Infuriation--

I had to strip numerous pages of photos since someone that signed up with me, (that had good referances btw).

If you didn't design things you have photos of you can't claim to be the designer.

If you didn't build something you can't claim that you did.

If you are not a landscape Architect, or you don't have the right to call yourself a landscape Architect, or a Certified Landscape Designer, or Master Builder...

Don't misrepresent your credentials.

I don't claim to have an MBA from Harvard Law, (not that it is as much of a positive these days), but if I did have one, I'd be furious if someone that didn't claimed they did.

Anyhow, I just got off the phone with yet another deck company website displaying photos from our website, renamed and loaded into their site as their own project. That's what google image search is for... they are easy to find.

I am tempted to keep going on this bent and do a nice rant post about deck builders manipulating web rankings, and the same one manipulating their web counter, (listing page views as visits), and automatically giving themselves extra hits so that they can claim 4 million hits per year and sell advertisers their wonderful manipulated traffic--but I will save that for another day. I am so tired of waiting for Google to create an algo to subvert these cheats.

It has been very difficult to keep all the posts positive so lets end this dry, boring negative burst of posts with this one.


Trex Class Action Lawsuit 2009

Trex - Latest Class Action Lawsuit Jan 13-08
Trex Lawsuit info here
Trex Suit Information
Trex-Complaint-Filing-Jan 2009 

I have just scanned through 26 pages of very interesting information about the Trex Warranty and Marketing Materials. Really not much in it that we haven’t covered, but it is interesting that this group of lawyers doesn’t think their warranty is fair and equitable either. The suit intimates that they word their warranty in a way that people just won’t bother to fight or ask for what should be offered as remedy when your maintenance free decking falls apart or gets covered with black mold.

It basically tells the story of a home owner that bought a Trex Deck through a Contractor and when the decking fell apart and Trex tried to offer replacement Trex only, no disposal, no labor to replace… but instead demanded the home owner sign a release before getting anything from Trex.

They are looking for other people thus mistreated. Actually, Anyone that had issues with the Trex they purchased. Especially having to do with mold or anything else excluded from their warranty.

This includes anyone that had to replace his or her Trex deck if it was initially installed in 2004 or later.
(Earlier installations were covered by the previous law suit).

Now, this is early 2009, and I really want to keep this blog positive. It pains me to touch on a subject like this at the best of times, but in this case it is an ongoing wrong that just needs correcting. Trex should have corrected its issues and offering a real warranty long ago.

This Suit has not been Confirmed by a Judge yet, please get in touch with the law firm here for more information.
They discount the suit verbally.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eon Warranty Information

If you bought Eon Decking or Fencing you have no warranty. The company is in receivership.

In Ontario Brite, Xtendex, CPI Plastics ( Eon ) have all folded recently. The composite decking industry seems to have some issues of late.
The possibility of composite companies going under and not being there to honor these long term warrantee promises has to be considered when purchasing or building a composite deck.

I'd love to say they will be missed--however it just wasn't a good composite product and we simply refused to carry it. I'll leave you with this photo of an Eon Deck built by a client, (yes, I was there to plan the replacement with real decking).

More info about our history with Eon and CPI plastics:

Monday, January 05, 2009

Woodwork Art

What is Woodwork Art?
Is it doing something different for the sake of creating something different? Is it about being a trailblazer? Is aWoodwork Artist someone that creates out of a need to feel superior?
I’ve pitched all kinds of things and the most important thing is that it suits the client's tastes, and desires, and blends with THEIR HOME.
Some of these "Artistes", forget who they are working for. The client.
Some of these were decks in the quarter million range, upscale garden sheds and angel wing gates to allow foot traffic only. Some of these jobs happened, however some did not. At that time I didn't understand that shooting at an invisible budget is a wasted effort.
When someone says we want to make a statement and we would like to commission you to create a $250,000 pergola, that gives you free reign and a budget to work within.
.Sometimes, in order to progress an artist needs to tone down their work and take baby steps towards their end goal of being able to compose what they really want to do—and get paid well in the process.
When a client gives you "Artistic License", that means they love what you do and they trust in your judgement. That is instruction to design what you think will be best.
A while back a Contractor-"Artiste", told me that he was absolutely sure that he was far superior an artist than I. I guess you know you are good when you can accept a comment like that and smile—thinking back to the days when you thought the same way.
His severe criticisms rolled off my back, however I could not critique his work because I knew he could never accept it. It was his personal Achilles heel.
Phrases like “Form Following Function”, “Proportions being nearly Impossible to teach”, “Balance being Important”, and “Wishy-washy detailing being unacceptable” all contain seeds of what every designer, architect and artist must heed to achieve critical success.
Critical Success is when your peers look at what you do and see virtue in it.
If you want to know what makes the leaders in outdoor woodwork—it is Art.
.We have put in the 2 decades necessary to truly create "Our Own Brand" of Woodwork.
We don't get our ideas from magazines like some of our competitors do.
We don't just make it bigger, or use the newest untested materials, or the most expensive wood to make what we do special.
.We use our own techniques that we developed over many years that make it last longer and age more gracefully coupled with information gleened from projects studied from the ancient world.
.We share these advanced techniques with Craftsmen in our Builder Group.