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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a flooring contractor, I would not have guessed in a thousand years that I would have 2 seperate jobs arise in one month that involve decks. I am not complaining, I'm just sayin'.

The newest job involves an existing deck that has pressure-treated lumber used for the framing, but the rest is something else to be determined. I have not inspected it yet, but apparently there is some degree of termite infestation. My job will be to remove/ replace the lumber with obvious damage which I am told is only apparent in some of the railing and balusters.
This small deck sits about 2 feet off of the ground, has two steps, and measures roughly 12 feet by 20 feet. It is 5-6 years old and when I saw it last year (before the termites were obvious) it appeared to be in fine shape.
Based on the vague description of this job, if anyone has any thoughts that may help, I appreciate your time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
expect more rot than you expect...

~Matt
Good point. I will suggest that the customer 'brace for the worst'. It could be a huge mistake if I do not cover that possibility before any demo has begun. Thanks.
 

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Good point. I will suggest that the customer 'brace for the worst'. That could be a huge mistake if I didn't cover that possibility before any work was done. Thanks.
More of a "likelihood,"
than a "possibility."
The only surprise here, would be
if you aren't surprised. :thumbsup:
 
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A lot is going to depend on the species of decking. Some are more susceptable to termites then others.

Termites that eat into a low level deck are usually subterannean, and require moisture. Look for areas that would trap moisture. Have a ice pick ready to probe areas. Most damage is not easily apparent. If you can see visable damage, it's most likely much worse.
 

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Custom Stuff
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Make sure you are very careful with the wording in your contract. "Contract?", you say. "Yes", I say. The Scope of Work should specifically EXCLUDE termite treatment for example, and should cover repairs only to areas of visible damage and your warranty should not cover any future damage from rot or termites whether the damage is new or not. They most likely are subterranean termites but the could be Formosan termites as you are in San Diego and with either one, the HO should be looking to have their home treated. Repairing damage will not make them go away.
 

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Cost Plus?

In my experience, you just can't prepare homeowners enough for the worst scenario. Most of the time homeowners will trust you and your opinion, but every now and then, you get a homeowner that inspects EVERY board to validate that you truly had to toss it out. Depending on the type of customer you're dealing with, it might be better to approach the job from a "cost-plus" standpoint. This way, there is total transparency in the whole operation. You provide the cost for the materials and labor (and miscellaneous items such as permitting) and agree to a percentage to be tacked on (20%?) for your fee. Again, if the homeowner is agreeable and very easy to work with, forget this suggestion. However, it the homeowner is a tough cookie, consider the transparency approach and how it certainly makes it appear that you are there to save him (or her) money.

I agree with the other posts - expect worse than what you think you're going to encounter....

Good luck.
 

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In all likelihood, it is going to be cheaper for them to have you replace the entire deck.

FWIW, I never warranty the framing if I do a decking tear-off/replace. If I didn't build the framing, I'm not guaranteeing it. BTW, I rarely do "re-decking" jobs. This makes for a good selling point to having the customer get you to tear it all out and replace the entire structure.
 

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If its a 12 by 20, 2 feet off the ground it shouldnt be that much more costly to start over as opposed to repairing a lot of it. Especially if the ribbons are rotted. I would look into some termite repellant sprays you can pre-spray the soil before you begin.
 

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Option, or the only truly sensible thing to do?

I would definitely suggest a new deck.

Recently I took the liberty of giving a potential customer who requested a fence repair estimate, an additional estimate for a new fence. Even though the difference was substantial (as far as a fence quote goes), I simply pointed out the key benefit.

"You will not need another repair job done until the new fence rots." (since rotted post base are almost always the culprit). The result was a new fence installation on her property and a neighbors.

No matter how much of an honest effort you put into something like trying to save this deck, there is a reason termites and infestation are often used in the same sentence.

You would be doing her a better justice with a new deck and a suitable, professional extermination.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
In all likelihood, it is going to be cheaper for them to have you replace the entire deck...BTW, I rarely do "re-decking" jobs. This makes for a good selling point to having the customer get you to tear it all out and replace the entire structure.
Thanks for replying, DecksEtc. I will remind the customer that the framing is not my work. As for selling him on the idea of a complete replacement, it would be out of my league. Mostly, I am a flooring guy. I like working with wood, but am not experienced enought to tackle the project as you probably could.
I like your thinking, though. I would do as you suggested if my skills could back it up.
 

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Thanks for replying, DecksEtc. I will remind the customer that the framing is not my work. As for selling him on the idea of a complete replacement, it would be out of my league. Mostly, I am a flooring guy. I like working with wood, but am not experienced enought to tackle the project as you probably could.
I like your thinking, though. I would do as you suggested if my skills could back it up.
Thank you realizing your limitations.:notworthy Find yourself a deck framer, learn and your in a new line of work:laughing:
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Two months later...

I have inspected the deck and it appears that only the railings, which appear to be pine, are being eaten by termites. The posts, framing, deck all appear to be a different species (redwood?) and free from damage.

Can anyone tell me what species I should replace the railings with?
Thanks in advance.
 

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I have inspected the deck and it appears that only the railings, which appear to be pine, are being eaten by termites. The posts, framing, deck all appear to be a different species (redwood?) and free from damage.

Can anyone tell me what species I should replace the railings with?
Thanks in advance.
Species: vinyleous plasticus, otherwise known as vinyl or PVC. Replace the posts with PT, use vinyl sleeves and rails.:thumbsup:
 
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If the rest of the deck is redwood that's what I would use for rails. Maybe upsell the customer on deckorator balusters, they look good with redwood.

The termites here do not seem to be fond of redwood, the heartwood anyway, they will eat the sapwood tho.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the tip

...Maybe upsell the customer on deckorator balusters, they look good with redwood....
I did a web search on the Deckorator balusters. The metal ones are very cool. I will see how much they cost here in San Diego. That would definitely be a great look.

...The termites here do not seem to be fond of redwood, the heartwood anyway, they will eat the sapwood tho.
I called a lumberyard in town today. He said most of the redwood I will find is sapwood. Is that what you find to be true? He also said that I could use Douglas Fir. The price is so different (Douglas Fir 2x4 @ $ .27/ LF vs. Redwood 2x4 @ $1.08/ LF) I can only assume that the pine will last about 1/4 as long as the redwood. What do you say?

I appreciate your help.
 

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You should be able to buy construction heart redwood easily in CA. It will have no sapwood, but will have knots. If you can get B heart for not too much more go with that, much nicer boards with only a few knots that will be quite small. A lot of yards are starting to sell construction common grade redwood that does have sapwood which I would not use for that rail. Redwood sapwood is white, the heartwood is red, easy to tell where the sapwood is.
 

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I'm in No. Calif. and can get just about any grade of redwood I want.

I never use any redwood with sapwood. The quality of redwood has gone down a lot, over the past 20 years, but redwood with sapwood, would not last any longer then douglas fir or pine. Neither which should be used for a exposed surface on a deck. I don't think that any of the lumberyards that I frequent even carry a deck board with sapwood, other then HD.

I would never use const. heart for a deck, unless it is handpicked. It is guaranteed to lose some knots. Best used for fence boards.

Select heart will have a lot of knots, but they are generally solid and smaller.

Heart B will have fewer knots then Sel. Hrt, but sometimes they will be larger.
 
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