Decks and Railings
Why Western Red Cedar decking is the natural choice
Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata) decking is life affirming. In other words it feels right and looks after itself, remaining sound, solid and beautiful for decades. Western Red Cedar contains natural oils that resist moisture decay and infestation helping your cedar deck stand the test of time.
Being very straight-grained, Western Red Cedar neither warps nor twists, keeping the integrity of your cedar deck intact for many years to come. Its rich and variegated colouring ranges from pale saffron to a deep honeyed ochre that, over the years, gives way to an attractive patina of silvery grey. In fact, nothing grows old more gracefully than western red cedar. It is a good insulator, so compared to composites or plastic alternatives; Western Red Cedar keeps your deck surface cool on a hot day yet feels warm on a cool night.
In our long experience, nothing creates a finer impression than the warmth, beauty and character of a real cedar deck. For us, that means we only carry the best selection of Western Red Cedar, for its proven track record and enduring performance. All of our Western Red Cedar is sourced from properly managed forests in British Columbia, where natural regeneration and reforestation programmes ensure a perpetual harvest.
Deck Building – Practical Concept & Design Considerations
- Examine your available space. Consider special features and constraints, including views, elevations and privacy.
- Think about extending your daily use. Provide shelter from prevailing winds, the hot summer sun; incorporate wind protection or a pergola.
- Decide how the deck will be used; anticipate traffic flow, seating areas, BBQ placement, daily needs of common users and the type of usage.
- Multiple tiers help negotiate changes in elevation and provide opportunity to incorporate different design features in each level. Allowing you to incorporate different elements for various seasons and times of day.
- Multiple decks are also an effective way of accommodating the occasional larger user group while maintaining personable space the remainder of time.
Deck Building - Technical Details
- Cedar deck boards come in 2 primary thicknesses, 5/4X6 and 2X6.
- Maximum joist spacing for decking support is 16” and 24” respectively.
- Screws are ideal to fasten decks. Double hot-dipped galvanized screws can be used; however, Brown Ceramic coated zinc screws work well in dry climates.
- Stainless steel screws are best. For most applications a 304 (18-8) grade provides adequate corrosion resistance. For decks exposed to salt air, use a 316 grade.
- Screws must be long enough to penetrate 1” (25mm) into support members. Penetration of minimum 1¼” (32mm) is required for structural components.
- Blind fastening systems create an attractive, fastener free deck surface. They employ metal clips and/or joist top brackets that fasten the sides or bottom of the deck board to the joists so that no fasteners are visible.
- Joist & beam design is typically a product of deck size and appropriate spans are determined once a basic design is finalized (see Maximum Span Calculator for Wood Joists & Rafters
- For covered walkouts it can be useful to install a sealed membrane underneath your upper deck with a nominal clearance to facilitate proper watershed.
- An 8’-10’ deck space is suitable for personal use. For a small family, a 10’-12’ living circle is better suited. Larger families or groupings require at least a 12’ living circle.
- To ensure good function of the prime deck area, it is essential that provision for BBQ’s, swings, hot tubs, etc. be made outside of basic seating requirements.
- Aim to offset stairs from your main living area to minimize disturbance of your prime space.
- Whenever possible, make stairs at least 4 feet wide. Anything less may feel crowded.
- A comfortable standard for deck stair designs is a 7” rise and 11” runs.
A good railing design can define your deck, provide safety, be used to incorporate protection from prevailing wind and sun and is often used to add a level of privacy to your outdoor living room.
Many pre-planned styles exist; however, for a custom look, there are some excellent standards readily available to help you design you own look and feel.
- For structural reasons optimal Rail Post spacing is between 4’ and 6’ apart.
- Many standard packages come in 6 foot multiples
- Common railing heights are 36” and 42”. Check building code for local guidelines.
- For convenience in snow removal, many railing designs are offered in an open base format.
- In the interest of safety for small children, Code requires uprights to be spaced at 4” or less.
- Palings come in a variety of sizes and finishes. Cedar 3X3, 2X2, 5/4X4, 1X6, square, sculptured, turned, fluted; aluminum round, flat shaped; glass panes and glass palings, custom.
- Typically, decks less than 24” off the ground do not require a railing.
- Ground surface supporting a low level deck is an option under certain conditions.
- In general, foundation depth is required to be below frost.
Note: Confirm structural requirements (loads and deflection, design of guards, foundation depth, column support and anchorage with local codes.