The dREamodel team was recently invited to attend a day of classes and training for Trex University at the Boise Cascade campus in Lakeville, MN. The topics of the day included sales and marketing, lighting, railings, structure and capped composite decking. The Trex instructors were very knowledgeable about their products and shared some advice from successful contractors around the country on how to do a better job satisfying our clients.
Here is a list of the top 10 that were covered.
1) Lighting is like jewelry for your deck.
There is no better way to add some style to your deck than incorporating accent lights to your outdoor living project. These low voltage lights are available as post caps, post side mounts, stair riser lights and recessed accent lights. The new plug and play light system is water tight and is very reliable. Many municipalities are requiring stair lighting as a safety feature. This is an affordable upgrade that can make your evening parties come to life.
2) Capped composite decking – Good, Better, Best.
Last year 17 percent of deck consumers used low maintenance materials compared to 83 percent who used wood decking. The trends are showing that more people are choosing low maintenance materials such as capped composites because they hold their appearance longer and don’t require back breaking and messy staining work every year. The 3 leading composite manufactures are Trex, Azek / Timbertech, and Fiberon. The dREamodel team has years of experience working with many of the largest composite products.
Trex uses over 95 percent recycled materials to produce its decking. All of Trex’s materials have ICC certification which means they are approved to be used by your local building department. The mixture of the composite is polyethylene plastic and hardwood filler and is capped by a proprietary shell capping material on 3 sides. This cap is like the cover of a golf ball and protects the interior material from the elements. The bottom side is left without a shell to allow the gases and moisture to escape during the manufacturing process.
Good – Trex Select: This is the Trex decking for the budget sensitive consumer. It is the perfect product for starter homes in new construction and multifamily projects. It has the thinnest shell capping and is available in 5 colors.
Better-Trex Enhance: This product is stocked in Lowes and Home Depot. It comes at a mid-level price point and is available in 3 colors. It has a medium shell thickness and comes with a 25 year warranty.
Best-Trex Transcents: Considered the premium decking line from Trex, it has the thickest shell coating on 3 sides. It is offered in over 10 colors but the Tropical colors are the most popular.
3) Trex Elevations: The basics of steel deck framing.
As we all know most deck frames are built with pressure treated frames. Trex now offers an alternative with several benefits. This system has 3 components: box beam, joist and track / ledger. The parts can be cut with standard deck building tools and are easy to work with because they are 1/3 the weight of wood framing lumber. Because steel is stronger than wood you can achieve up to a 4′ cantilever on joists and a 17′ beam span with a double beam. That means your deck will require fewer support posts. Unlike wood, the joists will be straight every time, are non-combustible and come with a 25 year warranty. The system is relatively expensive but the end result is impressive. It is even possible to build incredible curved decks that look like they stepped out of a magazine.
4) Use Rain Escapes to keep the space under your deck dry.
This is the most popular water drainage system on the market for decks. You can make your outdoor living space a lot more versatile by making the underside water tight. Our carpenters have experience working with it and love installing it. The system involves using troughs to divert water to down spouts between the joists and eventually to gutters that will channel the flow of moisture away. Caulk, tape and post flashing keep the seams tight. We have built some beautiful under deck spaces complete with stamped concrete patios and screen walls.
5) Add years of life to your deck with Trex Protect Tape.
This butyl based tape is used to cover the top of a wood deck frame to prevent water damage and cracking. Trex Protect includes a 25 year warranty and only costs a little extra to extend the life of your deck. Butyl is the perfect material for this application because it flows and doesn’t bleed and fills the holes where water can collect on the top side of joists and beams. It also keeps the wood from drying out too quickly which can cause cracking. Some customers even comment that they love how clean it looks in-between the gaps in the deck boards. As if that isn’t enough it has the ability to act a barrier between wood and galvanized metal deck hardware to prevent corrosion.
6) Use Fascia to add a defining touch.
Some say the design is in the details. That is definitely the case with the treatment of the edges of your deck. The dREamodel team excels at designing and executing these finishes. Using picture frame decking around the perimeter of the deck allows us to elegantly wrap the exposed wood frame with sleek looking products. Heavy duty riser boards also fit into this category. They are designed to look great and withstand years of wear and tear. The instructors pointed out that they recommend using 3 starborn screws vertically every 18″ on center to eliminate waving. Everyone seems to agree that the finished look and performance are well worth the extra cost for a high end deck project.
7) Trex Select railings are the affordable choice.
This railing system is pretty basic but it is a good choice for a customer with a tight budget to work with. The system comes with white posts, caps, skirts, top and bottom rails and standard round black aluminum balusters. To add a little variety you can add a deck board cap to function as a drink railing. One drawback to this system is that the exposed black connectors leave something to be desired. All Trex railings are available in 36″ and 42″ heights.
8) Trex Transcends railing allows you to mix and match to perfection.
It’s time to put on your creative cap and get to work. This composite system gives you the freedom to design a railing system perfect for you and your home. There are 7 different colors that we can help you arrange in a variety of ways by interchanging balusters, railings, posts and caps. We encourage our customers to use Trex’s Decking and Railing Duos design feature to help you bring your dream deck to life. This system is so versatile it even allows you to create custom curved railing sections. Our dREamodel carpenters have the skill to build these systems solid, strong and attractive.
9) Signature railings are now the leader of the pack.
As aluminum railing systems have stormed the market in recent years it appears that this approach to deck design has firmly taken hold. Signature railings are available in white, bronze and black and have slender 2″ posts to keep the deck as minimalist looking as possible. You can also mix it up by adding a standard composite post and cap or a drink rail to match the rest of the deck. There are a variety of mounting brackets that give the entire railing a very custom and sleek aesthetic. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to the dREamodel team to see displays and samples.
10) Rod Rail: The jury is still out on this new product for 2018.
This modern looking railing system is an alternative to conventional horizontal cable railings. The difference is that instead of using steel cables in tension this system implements powder coated aluminum horizontal rods. Like any new product it takes a while to figure out the pros and cons so we are withholding our opinion for the time being. However it is important to mention that horizontal railings can be climbing hazards for children. In fact they are not even allowed to be used in certain cities. And at around $130 dollars per linear foot this system is one of the most expensive around.