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Old 07-24-2013, 11:54 AM   #1
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


My girlfriend is having a remodel done in her yard and she hired a landscape contractor to do all the work. Among other things they are building a cedar deck. I went by yesterday to take a look and a few things popped out at me. I do not have much experience in carpentry but some of this stuff just doesn't look right. First off they are using wood putty to fill in gaps/ cracks where the wood planks don't meet, the wood pieces under the railings don't line up and there are cracks where they drilled the screws into the cedar. The contractors response to this was that they are using special cedar putty and that the cedar cracks easily. Is this acceptable? Any help/suggestions are much appreciated.

Also deck is going to be sealed after its done with a clear finish.









Last edited by awsd401; 07-24-2013 at 11:59 AM. Reason: added content, spelling
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:18 PM   #2
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


It's crappy, but I've seen worse...
I think the putty is stupid and just making up for not being able to cut well.
If the balusters had been predrilled it would have minimized the cracking, HOWEVER, I've seen them crack the next day just due to the temperature swings and humidity swings in a day/night. The baluster layout is terrible, it should be planned out so that there is equal space between balusters and posts on each section (the difference between pro's and not pro's).

I'm not sure that I'd say "Cedar cracks easier" I would say "ALL WOOD CRACKS" It's just part of a deck, with that being said during assembly every precaution to minimize/eliminate cracking should be taken.

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Old 07-24-2013, 12:23 PM   #3
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Wow I didnt even notice that until you just pointed it out....
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:02 PM   #4
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


That hand railing was done all wrong, there was no need for that 2 X 4. The rails should have been run all the way to the 4 X 4.
The way they ran that top hand rail is backwards, they left the end grain stick out where it's going to soak up water.
Those top railing could have been screwed in from the bottom so the screws would not show and not form pools for the water to lay.
They also should have been cut at 45's instead of just butting them together.
I predrill all my balusters with a combination drill and counter sink and they almost never crack. And I would never have just used one screw at the bottom like that.
I've never once used a filler on an outside deck.
Did they just nail the rim joist to the sides of the 4 X 4's?
Were not even allow to use 4 X 4's anymore on a deck that high.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:10 PM   #5
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


+1 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Joe and Robert are 1000% correct..... very amatuer to hack job.

Sorry..... but your instincts are 100% correct. A clear coat with that putty (won't last anyway) will make it look worse...if possible.

Have no idea what you can do now????
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:15 PM   #6
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What ^^^ said. The putty will fall out eventually once the sun gets a hols of it. really crappy carpentry job in my opinion. Sorry to be blunt about it!
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:48 PM   #7
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


I agree with previous posts, the carpentry work is poor. I am guessing that none of the screws were predrilled or countersunk, just driven. That is a sure way to crack cedar, which is brittle, and needs to be predrilled. Most hardwoods are like that too, they need to be predrilled.

All that said, the question that has not been answered is what did your contract call for. If there was no deck design, and no permit pulled, what was the basis of design for the project? It is difficult to hold a contractor to a standard that is higher than the standard in the contract.

If you had drawings and specifications for the deck, or perhaps a simple statement that the deck had to be designed and constructed in accordance with local rules and regulations, you might have grounds to refuse payment for the work. Maybe you can fill us in on the terms and conditions of the agreement between the Owner and the contractor.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:51 PM   #8
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


What everyone else said about that...the landscape contractor should stick to landscaping. Putty? I am not sure there is even any such thing as a special putty for cedar (whatever "putty" is). Cedar-colored, maybe. 2-part epoxy fillers are used in exterior wood construction and repair, but a competent craftsman should be able to put that together without so much "putty" that you'd notice.

As for a clear coat, that can be done well, or very badly, and with this landscape contractor I have no confidence that he will do even that right. I made some comments about the technology associated with clear coatings on another thread...see Exterior Door Veneer .

I'd hire another contractor and see what of this can be salvaged....
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:11 PM   #9
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


I've been working with Cedar since I was a kid and have never heard of "Special Cedar Putty", nor have I ever used any type of "filler" on a wood deck.

That's pretty darn ugly but I'm not sure what I'd expect from a landscaper.
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:15 PM   #10
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Landscapes are made of water-fountains and birdbaths and rocks and dirt and plants, aren't they?
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:32 PM   #11
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


What did they use for a bottom rail, it may be the camera angle but that sure looks thin.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:09 PM   #12
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


theres no such thing as special cedar putty filler. its called getting the angle right when you cut the piece of wood, the hand rail gap can be easily hidden by not having the 2x4 thats on edge flush with the top rail piece.. center it so it creates a reveal..

the builder isnt a custom deck builder by any means. if they do build decks they do "builders decks" which means they build them on new homes really fast for little money and they do large quantities of them
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Old 07-26-2013, 08:25 AM   #13
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


I believe that on the stairs, the triangular space made by the treads, risers and the bottom rail of the ballustrade is not allowed to pass a sphere 6 inches in diameter. From the pictures, it sure looks bigger than that. If so, it doesn't meet code in most places.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:11 AM   #14
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


I would have never hired a landscaper to build a deck. Now a paver patio is a different story. Should have went with a carpenter or deck builder. There isn't to much you can do now but stain it.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:39 AM   #15
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Questions about deck work from contractor (pics)


Thanks for all the replies. We told the contractor to hold off on staining as we are trying to figure out what to do.

Quote:
I believe that on the stairs, the triangular space made by the treads, risers and the bottom rail of the ballustrade is not allowed to pass a sphere 6 inches in diameter. From the pictures, it sure looks bigger than that. If so, it doesn't meet code in most places.
We are in San Diego. I went on the city website http://www.sandiego.gov/development-...etin/ib211.pdf and found this under residential decks:

"Guards shall provide for a complete protective barrier not less than 42” high completely around the deck if the deck is higher than 30” above grade. Guards shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere of more than 4” in diameter."

I'm guessing this would apply to the lower rail not only on the stairs but around the whole deck?

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