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Five Questions to Ask Before Starting a Cincinnati Deck Build

Building a deck – it’s one of many Cincinnati homeowners’ dream projects.

A beautifully built, well-maintained deck opens the door for many possibilities. It can make your home a haven of hospitality and entertainment for your family, friends, and neighbors.

At ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman, we get dozens of calls asking for deck building evaluations and advice. And we build plenty of decks in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky of all shapes and sizes for our clients.

Are you looking to build that dream deck? It can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve compiled five of the best questions you can consider as you prepare for your Cincinnati deck build!

What’s My Deck Build Budget? How Will I Use My Deck?

Okay, so we’re starting with two questions. But these two may be your most important for your Cincinnati deck build – and they go hand-in-hand.

While your dream deck can be affordable, it’s critical to seek to understand how much you’re willing to spend. 

Some clients call in with an extravagant wish list: custom railings, full composite decking (more on that soon), room for a hot tub, and more.

All of that is great – but the greatness can wear off quickly when the eye-popping estimate soon follows.

So how do you create your realistic dream deck wish list? Start with that second question we pose: how will you use your deck?

Do you have a large family with lots of kids? Maybe you’re looking to entertain often by grilling out? Then durability may be at the top of your priority list.

Looking to host the neighborhood block party? You’re going to want a larger deck that flows well into your home and yard.

If you need higher durability or a larger space, that will likely mean you’ll either need to increase your budget or be willing to sacrifice in other areas to meet your budget.

Composite or Wood Decking?

Remember that composite decking? Chances are you’ve seen a neighbor with it or at least seen pictures of a deck incorporating it.

There are lots of positives to composite decking. It’s durable, making it a great choice for those who will highly utilize their deck. It also is easier to maintain and clean than lumber – though it is not without some level of maintenance.

Plus, it just looks really polished. Check out some of the recent decks we’ve worked on to see some great examples of composite decking.

While there are several brands of composite decking out there, most customers who want composite decking request Trex brand decking. It’s what you’ll likely find at your local Home Depot or other hardware store.

Trex is a great product that offers all the positives mentioned above. So what’s the catch?

Trex decking is currently more than double the cost per board of standard pressure-treated decking. At time of publication, you could buy one standard-size 12-foot Trex board for $41 at Home Depot. You could buy the same size pressure-treated deck board for just $18.

Back deck build with Trex composite board.

It’s important to keep in mind that this may not always be the case. When lumber costs skyrocketed in 2020 and 2021, Trex decking and pressure-treated lumber were approximately the same price. Now, with lumber costs dropping, Trex decking is not nearly as economical, even if you choose to stain or paint your wood deck.

Where does that leave you? It all goes back to that critical budget question – is it in your budget to splurge on the Trex decking? Is it worth it for how you will use your deck?

If you’re not sure where you stand on your budget, talking through it with an experienced craftsman and deck builder may be a great next step.

Do I Have the Necessary Permits for a Deck Build?

Wherever you’re conducting your Cincinnati deck build, you’ll need to know the legal requirements of the county you reside in for your deck size and structure, as well as how to obtain a permit for building a new deck if needed.

This is not only a necessary, but critical step to ensuring your deck is up to correct building code. At ProMaster Home Repair, we commonly receive calls asking for deck repairs or modifications to make a previously-built deck up to code.

Each county (and sometimes township) in the greater Cincinnati area (primarily Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren in the state of Ohio) has some differences on what’s needed to apply for a residential deck permit.

For example, Clermont County requires two complete sets of drawings, while Hamilton County requires three. 

Use the links below for more information on requirements and how to apply for a residential deck permit:

A good deck building contractor will be aware of these building codes and permit requirements in each county near Cincinnati. It’s important to hire someone who is not only highly skilled, but will also leave you with a deck build with no issues with codes once completed. 

That comes from experience working in the Cincinnati area, and ProMaster Home Repair has been working on all sorts of home repair and remodeling contracts here for more than 15 years.

Should I Paint or Stain My Deck?

If you decide to go with pressure-treated wood instead of composite decking, that leaves you with the all-important question once your deck build is complete: what’s next?

You’ll want to protect that investment somehow, and painting or staining are two of the most common ways to protect and maintain your deck. 

Let’s break down the two options.

Staining Your Deck

  • Staining your deck will be more cost-effective. This is because stain of any kind is generally less expensive than paint and does not require primer. Stain also won’t chip like paint will, meaning there should be fewer touch-ups in the future.
  • Staining will maintain the aesthetic of wood grain. If you want your deck to maintain that look of natural wood grain, you’ll want to stick with staining. Paint will cover that wood grain. Neither is a positive or negative – it’s all about personal preference here.
  • Staining will almost certainly require more maintenance. Because you’re maintaining the wood grain, there are more natural grooves and curves for dirt and leaves to get trapped. This makes regular cleaning of your deck a priority, along with ensuring the deck is appropriately re-stained when needed.

Painting Your Deck

  • Painting your deck offers more options for color. As you might expect, you can really flex your creative muscle when painting a deck. While there are plenty of options for staining a deck, most will maintain a wood-grain and therefore wood-colored finished. Painting gives you many more options.
  • Painting will generally require less maintenance. As mentioned above, painting removes that wood-grain finish and provides a smooth surface, making it easier to sweep and clean when the time comes. However, paint can also chip, making some touch-ups necessary from time to time.
  • Painting is a more permanent solution. This is a double-edged sword. While painting does generally require less maintenance, it’s also harder to reverse your course on the look of your deck once painted. A stained deck can be re-stained or painted, and a painted deck can always be painted again. But it’s much harder to stain a painted deck, as the deck needs to be stripped down to its original wood and often sanded to apply stain.

How Do I Find a Great Deck Builder?

As you might have already figured out, embarking on a deck build is a big project and there are many important decisions to make! 

Perhaps highest on that list is finding the right contractor to complete your Cincinnati deck build.

What does finding the right contractor mean?

It will be someone who will walk you through these processes and be willing to work with you to help your deck fit your needs. In order to do that, the contractor and their craftsmen will need to have plenty of experience building decks and understanding what it means to work in the greater Cincinnati area.

Then, of course, the craftsmen on the job will need to actually be highly-skilled. Unfortunately, because decks are a common wish list item for homeowners, there are loads of contractors who claim to build decks well but struggle to follow through for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes, that can be poor craftsmanship that causes the deck to be unstable or just look unprofessionally done (see below). Other times, it can be excessively long lead times or unfinished projects that leave clients short on time and money.

Unfortunately, we receive those calls far too often. That’s why at ProMaster Home Repair, we feel it is important to provide not only excellent craftsmanship, but also on-time and family-friendly service. That means we’ll not only show up when we say we’ll be there, but we’ll also complete your project on time.

If you’re interested in scheduling a meeting with one of our expert craftsmen, you can schedule an appointment online or contact us by phone, email, or text message.

Let us help you build your deck right!

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