Smyth Stolarz Construction Ltd.

Deck Construction Planning,
for Early Spring

Getting Ready for Spring Season Deck Construction

Early spring is typically a good time to begin planning a backyard deck building project in Edmonton. This is because the weather is just beginning to warm up and the snow and ice have melted. By late April or early May, the ground has sufficiently warmed up to allow for footing, excavation or piling installation, with temperatures rising above 10°C. However, in the month of March, you can start looking into deck ideas and materials, getting quotes from builders, and securing any necessary permissions from the City of Edmonton. By doing this early on, you’ll be able to get a head start on the planning process and be prepared to start building as soon as the weather allows.

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Deck Designs

For your backyard area, you can choose from a wide variety of deck designs. Here are a few well-liked choices:

  1. Platform Deck: A straightforward, low-level deck constructed in close proximity to the ground. It is frequently no more than 12 inches off the ground and is a wonderful alternative for a yard that is flat or small.
  2. Raised Deck: A raised deck can be erected at different heights above the ground and is supported by a framework made of posts and beams. If you want to take advantage of a view or have a yard that slopes, this is a fantastic alternative.
  3. A tiered deck is made up of two or more connected decks that are joined at various heights. If your yard slopes or you wish to designate separate spaces for dining and relaxing, this sort of deck is ideal. 
  4. Wraparound Deck: A wraparound deck can be constructed at different heights and wraps around the house. It offers a tonne of outdoor living space and is ideal for homes with many entrances.
  5. Pool Deck: To prevent accidents, a pool deck is constructed around a pool and is often made of a non-slip material. It is ideal for achieving a smooth transition from the pool to the outdoor living area.
  6. Freestanding Deck: A freestanding deck can be erected anywhere in the yard and is not connected to the home. It is ideal for establishing a dedicated outdoor living area that can be utilised for hosting, dining, and relaxing.
  7. Rooftop Deck: A rooftop deck is a deck that is constructed on top of a flat roof and can offer breathtaking views of the neighbourhood. Although it necessitates unique considerations, such as waterproofing and weight limitations, it might be a fantastic solution if you have a small yard.

These are just a handful of the deck design options you have for your outdoor area. While selecting a design for your yard, take into account your unique demands and tastes as well as the size and shape of your yard.

raised two tier deck
Composite deck material being attached to a decks joist structure

Choosing a Deck Material

Because of its innate beauty, sturdiness, and affordability, wood is a preferred material for decks. However, you can also think about using different materials for your deck. Some of the most popular materials for decks are:

  1. Composite decking: Composite decking is constructed from a mixture of plastic and wood fibres. It requires little upkeep and is resilient to rot, mould, and insects. Composite decking materials are available in a wide range of colours and designs. The downside to composite is that the price of composite decking is higher than that of wood.
  2. PVC decking, which is entirely composed of plastic, much like composite, requires very little upkeep. The main benefits of PVC are its scratch-, stain-, and moisture-resistant properties. Most notable are it is rot- and insect-resistant. Also like composite, PVC decking is available in a range of colours and designs.
  3. More common in commercial applications is aluminium decking. Decking made of aluminium is lightweight, strong, and resistant to decay, insects, and moisture. It can also be powder-coated in a number of colours and is very low-maintenance. The benefits of aluminium decking come at an increased cost over wood. Because it is metal, an aluminium deck can become more slippery in winter conditions than a wood or composite option.

Here are just a few of the decking materials that are used most frequently. It’s important to consider your own requirements and preferences when choosing a material for your deck because each material has advantages and disadvantages of its own.

Railing Options

There are many options for railings to use for backyard decks. Here are a few common ones:

  1. Wood Railings: For decks in the backyard, wood railings are a common choice. They can be manufactured from a variety of woods, including pressure-treated timber, redwood, and cedar. The colour and style of the deck can be matched by painting or staining the wood railings. 
  2. Aluminium railings are becoming more and more popular with new designs and styles coming out each year. Because they are strong, require little upkeep, and look very appealing, more homeowners are choosing aluminium deck railings over wood options.
  3. Glass panel railings: glass railings offer a clear view and a contemporary appearance. They require little maintenance because they are made of tempered glass. Glass panels are available in clear, frosted, or rain glass, which can give a deck a unique look. Glass panels are custom cut to size, which can make installation challenging. However, the glass panels used in wind wall applications add a beautiful aesthetic feature to any home.
  4. Composite railings are strong and require little maintenance. Because they are constructed of a combination of wood and plastic. They can be made to match the colour and style of the deck and are available in a range of colours and styles. 

Ultimately, the choice of railing will depend on personal style preferences, the desired level of maintenance, and safety considerations.

Decorative railing built on an Edmonton deck
Screw piles used for a new deck foundation

Deck Footings and Foundations

Depending on the particular soil conditions where you plan to build your deck, there are two foundation  options that work best in and around the Edmonton area.

Concrete Footings

Concrete footings are a common choice for decks in Edmonton and have been the popular choice for many decades. Typically, concrete footings are the easiest option for a do-it-yourself deck installation. They can provide a strong and robust foundation without the need for specialised equipment. These entail drilling holes in the ground, filling them with concrete, and adding metal brackets to hold the deck’s supports in place. The drawbacks to this type of foundation are that concrete piles create fill that needs to be hauled away. Also, during extreme weather changes, concrete piles can crack and allow moisture to get into the pile itself. When this happens, the moisture can freeze and expand, which breaks the pile and lifts it from the soil it is in.

Helical Piers for Deck Foundations

Alternatively, with improvements to engineering and manufacturing, helical screw piles have become a more reliable and affordable alternative to concrete footings. Decks built on unstable soil like that found in the Edmonton region should be supported using a helical pile foundation. Helical screw piles are made of a steel shaft with a helix that is screwed into the ground with a special machine until they reach a firm soil layer. In the past, screw piles were not a good option for decks due to the cost associated with hiring a contractor with the special equipment to install them. However, screw pile installation in Edmonton has become more affordable than concrete and offers a better, more solid foundation that resists extreme weather changes and moisture. A helical screw pile foundation built in compliance with the Alberta Building Code can be expected to last in excess of 50 to 75 years. This, along with the screw piles’ ability to quantify and measure their load capacity during installation, is why more people in the Edmonton area now choose screw piles for their deck foundation.

Choosing a new deck from Smyth Stolarz Construction Ltd.

It’s important to consult with a professional deck builder like Smyth Stolarz Construction Ltd. during your deck planning process. Smyth Stolarz Construction has a long standing reputation in providing excellent knowledge and craftsmanship in all our projects including deck building. Because of this Smyth Stolarz can help you best determine the options pertaining to your deck projects. Different factors such as intended use, location, soil conditions, deck size, and local building codes can impact the options available to you. Contact Smyth Stolarz Construction to learn more.