Category Archives: Related Social Issues

The Best Shovel for your Deck

The Best Shovel for your Deck

Do you ever notice scratches on your deck in the spring? The most common cause is the use of metal shovels, or plastic shovels with a metal strip/trip to remove snow.  I apologize if I sound repetitive, as I have posted this before, but DO NOT USE METAL on your decks!!!

The best shovel is a plastic shovel with no metal on it.

Is your deck made of  composite/vinyl decking, like Fiberon, TimberTech, Azek, Gossin, or one of the many other composite/vinyl products on the market?  Or perhaps red cedar, pressure treated, Garapa, or Ipe?  They will all scratch when scraped with metal.

Your local hardware store, Home Depot, or where ever you purchase your snow shovels, sells all plastic shovels and they are usually less expensive then their metal counterparts.  Specifically look at the section that touches the deck.  Many plastic shovels will have a metal strip/tip on the bottom (the part of the shovel that touches the deck) for breaking ice.  These shovels are not acceptable.  Buy the shovel without the strip.

ImageImageMany of you may say, “Why would I shovel my deck?”  Although I cannot comment on decks built by other companies, I can comment on decks built by Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties. www.ctdeck.com, and this is what we believe.

Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties builds all their decks to a design load of 60 pounds per square foot. The design load is for “live load” which includes people, furniture, barbeques, heaters, and yes, snow. A 10 x 10 area, evenly loaded, should hold approx. 6,000 pounds. That’s a lot of friends, furniture, and/or a lot of snow.  If we have built an outdoor kitchen, fire place or spa,  your deck is engineered for those items in addition to people, furniture and snow.

 

The weight of snow is not exact, as all snow is different.  But in general terms a cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds. Light fluffy snow has less water than wet heavy snow and Ice is almost 100% water with air. Light, fluffy snow weighs approximately 12 pounds per cubic foot, where wet heavy snow is closer to 21 pounds per cubic foot.  Ice is the heaviest and is assumed to weigh approximately 62.5 pounds per cubic foot.

 

A deck built by Archadeck of Southern Fairfield and Westchester Counties should accommodate 5 of light fluffy snow, 3 of wetter heavy snow or 1 of ice.

 

So what do all these numbers mean?  They are approximates and should not be challenged.  Snow can act as an insulator and may seem fluffy on top, but ice or wet, heavy snow could lie underneath.  Shoveling your deck helps avoid pushing limits or challenging any of these approximate numbers. Furniture and barbeques have weight of their own, additional weight is added when snow piles up.  It’s best to clean the snow off these items too, both for their preservation in addition to the extra weight the snow is creating.  Removing snow also keeps snow away from your doorways and sidewalls of the house where damage could occur with melting, freezing and new snowfall.

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Lastly, for all you pet owners, shoveling snow can prevent your animals (especially those little ones) from believing your deck is now the ground….need I say more.

 

For those of you who do not yet have a deck, or, would like to replace one, it is never too early to start planning for Spring.

 

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The Storm of 2010 and it’s Trees

As many know, last weekend the Northeast endured a nasty storm. This particular type of storm is affectionately referred to as a “Nor’easter”.  Heavy winds prevailing from a northeast direction is not common, fortunately, but when it occurrs, the East Coast gets hammered. This time we experienced 5″ inches of rain and wind velocities up to 75 mph. Paricularly hard hit were New Canaan, Stamford and Greenwich, Ct. where 2/3rds of these Towns were without power for several days. New Jersey also had some dramatic damage, but that is not as close to home, so I am without first hand information.

As a purveyor of a small construction business, specializing in Decks, Screen Porches and Sunrooms, one might wonder why I would write a blog about a nasty Storm. First, for the record, our products did just fine. Second, I spent some time viewing downed trees. In a storm like this, falling and fallen trees present the greatest dangers. I am not a tree expert but I am a builder, and trees are a part of what we do, and I have some observations. Third as a builder, I need to be aware of future results that occur as a result of my construction activities.

Many large trees came down in this storm, taking out power lines, blocking roads, occassionaly hitting houses and unfortunately took lives. I have never seen so many trees down from a single storm and this was not even a hurricane. I met a Connecticut Light and Power employee out assessing damage who seemed depressed and  overwhelmed. He said “everytime he turned a corner, he found more damage. He had been in one small area for 4 hours.” My question is, did we as a community do anything to enable this magnitude of damage instead of avoid it? Here is a tree amature’s point of view.

Most of us like trees. The old large ones are magestic, their blooms in the spring are refreshing, shade in the summer, releaving and Autumn leaves spectacular. But what do we really know about our trees?  Do we really know their age and how to take care of them. For some reason, too many trees came down, and 75 mph winds were not the only reason.

First, trees do not live forever. They do get old and feable. We hesitate to take an old tree down, and this is good, but, everything has it’s time. Second, the storm brought so much rain that the ground was saturated, and it lost it’s holding power for the roots. When the trees came down, the root balls came up. This is the simple analyses but it goes beyond this.

Here in Greenwich and Stamford, we live in a developed community. Real estate is valuable and was in high demand, and the  homes have increased in number and size dramatically over the last 20 years. As this occurrs, our green space, that once held water, diminishes, leaving less land available to absorb the excess water. Now add the cutting of tree roots or damage to these roots, to make room for foundations, footings, roads, sidewalks, patios, decks, accessory buildings and swimming pools and we have weakened a trees base and holding power. Now bring in this type of storm and witness the results. It is a purge.

I was amazed at how many trees, did not hit houses. They fell in the direction of the wind and away from the sidewalk or house foundation that may have contributed to their demise. Being that Noreasters occurr less often, when a big one comes, it takes the trees weakened on the North and East sides.  The occassional big storm exposes these weaknesses. 

As our communities become more crowded with construction, we displace capacties that once enabled or assisted our trees and other vegetation. We now have less holding power and filtration for excess water, less room for proper root expansion and we will lose our trees as a result.

I do not advocate not building. Afterall, I am a builder and most of what we build, were once trees. If you would like a porch, deck or sunroom, we would love to build it for you. What I do propose, however, is the proper placement of your new area, keep green space in mind, build the project well, with appropriate Town approvals, and if you lose a tree, plant a tree. When it falls, pick it up and plant one again.