Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When Building A Deck or Porch; What Material Is Best For Your Project

When considering a deck addition to your home; design, cost, maintenance and functionality are some of the issues you will find yourself working through.  Typically all decks are similar from the ground up to the decking and railing system.  Footings are most often concrete; columns can be brick, wood or structural fiberglass and the floor joists are most often treated dimensional lumber.  The differences lie in the materials used to deck the floor system and the type of railing system homeowners choose.

There are basically 3 options to consider when choosing deck materials. 

  1. Treated Wood deck:  

    This is the most common material used.  Deck boards can be purchased in:

    1.  #1 Premium treated lumber (with little or no knots and imperfections)
    2. #2 lumber (boards can have many knots and imperfections). 
KDAT Deck by Porch-Life

Some homeowners like character in their wood but when it comes to treated
Lumber, the more imperfections and the typical heavy, wet, boards will twist and split and knots
can end up being a splintering hole in your deck. 

If you decide to use treated deck boards for your upcoming deck project, we at  Porch-Life
highly recommend that you spend the extra money and go with the Premium
Lumber that is Kiln Dried After Treatment (KDAT).  This material will give you a much
            better looking deck that is easier to maintain.

            Although you will save money in the short term with treated decking and railings, keep
            in mind that maintenance will be an ongoing expense required to keep your deck safe, 
            secure and looking good.
  1. Composite Deck:   

    Composite decking has made great strides in popularity over the years.  Although your upfront costs will be higher, in the long run your maintenance costs will be much lower which will allow you to recoup some, if not all your initial expenditures.
Composite decking had some problems years ago with aesthetic durability but the better companies have resolved those issues.

You can use hidden fasteners with these boards which results in no screws showing.
  1. Exotic Wood Deck:  

    Exotic wood decks are becoming more popular.  There are many varieties of wood to choose from.  People like the natural wood feel and the visual character of some of the exotic wood is inspiring.   It is a very dense and hard wood.  You can use hidden fasteners if the wood is ordered and modified for that application.

Exotic wood does not come cheap.  It is typically shipped from locations outside the United States.  You would think that paying the extra money for a product like this would offer less maintenance but that is not true.  It needs to be cleaned and oiled regularly to maintain its beauty.

Whatever materials you choose for your deck, it is well worth the investment to use a quality contractor that specializes in decks and porches.  A knowledgeable deck contractor with a good track record will have experience with the product you choose and will provide you with a beautiful deck when completed and one that will last for years to come.

Porch-Life has been designing and building custom Porches and Decks since 1997.  We take great pride in the work we do and the service we bring to our customers.

Feel free to contact us today with any questions you may have concerning your upcoming deck, porch or sunroom project.

Phone:       (704) 791-4381

Friday, September 12, 2014

Building experts give advice on home deck safety - CBS46 News

Passing along this short deck safety video for you to view to ensure your deck or porch is safe for your family and friends.

Porch-Life has rebuilt many decks and porches in the Greater Charlotte Area.  An unstable deck or porch can be risky and sometimes hazardous.

If you are considering a new deck or porch be sure to hire a qualified contractor and make sure they pull a permit (which will engage your local inspection department).  If you have an existing deck or porch, you should monitor its structural soundness through regular inspections and maintenance.

Building experts give advice on home deck safety - CBS46 News

Friday, July 18, 2014

Breathe New Life Into Your Home With a Custom Patio, Porch or Deck | Charlotte NC

Porch-Life of Greater Charlotte, NC was featured in this Charlotte Observer Home & Design article on Beautiful Outdoor Areas.  

The article shares pictures, planning and design ideas and thoughts to consider about Porches, Screened Porches, Decks, Patios, Sunrooms and more in the Greater Charlotte area!  The following link will take you directly to the home|design section and the article is on pages 10-12.

We are honored to play a part in beautifying homeowners lives in the Greater Charlotte, NC area and thank the Charlotte Observer for taking note of our work in this community.

Contact us at:
(704) 791-4381
...or visit our website to learn more at:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Screen Porch Charlotte NC | Porch-Life Builders 704-791-4381

Watch this Charlotte, NC area homes' back yard transformed from drab and dull to alive and inviting with an old deck removal and the addition of a new Screened in Porch and Deck by Porch-Life.  

This project took about 3 weeks to complete and the homeowners are elated!

Here is what the homeowner had to say:

"From the start, the contractor (business owner) spent plenty of time with me walking thru the basic design ideas he had for the porch, some features we hadn't thought of (and now really appreciate), and the pricing of every component of the project. This was the second contractor I had spoken with - and was impressed with the contractors knowledge, his non-salesy approach, and very transparent discussion of what would work and not work so well for our project. There were design elements in his design that stood out such as the 6x6 box columns, the vaulted ceiling with wide beams, stained bead board and railings that used bronze tubes for the balusters that are almost transparent when you look thru them. Best of all was that the contractor listened to what we wanted, worked with our schedule as best as he could, and was physically on site every day of the project. His team did amazing work and showed real dedication to the project.

The final porch exceeded our expectations, came in at our budget (no last minute surprises), and was completed in under three weeks. The price point was slightly less than my other bid, but they were fairly close. I feel like I got much more from Porch-life than I would have from the other - even though the other contractor was larger and more established. If you are considering a screened porch, you need to include Porch-Life (Southern Home Improvement) among your bidders. We have been extremely pleased with every phase of the project."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Things to look out for when building a Deck, Porch or Patio | Greater Charlotte, NC. A Charlotte area builder explains what one homeowner went through and shows you how you can avoid some of these pitfalls!

A Charlotte, NC homeowner hired an inspector to look at their deck / porch because they were concerned that it may not be safe.  They were also considering selling their home and felt that the deck may be an issue that they would have to deal with prior to selling.  The inspector informed them of multiple problems.

The following list states some of the issues these homeowner's were facing with their existing deck:

  1. The Posts supporting the deck were only 4x6 and code requires 6x6's in this case.
  2. The Ledger Board securing the deck to the house was notched out so that the deck was barely secured to the house and ready for collapse at any moment.
  3. Flashing was not properly installed where the deck connected to the house and water was penetrating the wall and getting into the home causing damage inside.  The homeowner had to have the Sheetrock, Trim, and Insulation removed and redone.
  4. There were no footings under the Deck Supporting Posts.
  5. The deck stairs were not properly built and were structurally dangerous.
  6. The deck was not properly secured to the posts making it susceptible to collapse.
Charlotte, NC Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life



This picture is the porch & patio area during demolition, redesign and rebuild.  You can see the poor design issue of having 2 sets of stairs.  The homeowners were constantly going down one set of stairs and right back up the other.

Charlotte, NC Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life




4x6 deck posts where used and code requires 6x6 in this case.  You can not see from here...but we found that there were no footings under any of the supporting posts!

Charlotte, NC Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life 








These are the ledger boards that were removed.  They were used to attach the deck to the house.  The bolts that the builder used were too short so instead of getting the right bolts they notched out the wood leaving only a thread of wood holding the deck to the house!  Yikes!!!

Charlotte, NC Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life



Poorly Built stairs.  The builder used 2x10's for the stair stringers making these stairs unsafe and susceptible to collapse.  We replaced them with 2x12's.  Also the 4x4 lateral bracing was improperly secured to the posts

Charlotte, NC Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life


Here we are cutting out the concrete to remove the old posts.  We discovered that there were no footings under the deck posts!  Yikes!









You may be surprised to hear that this poorly built deck was constructed on a home valued at over $500,000. The homeowners contacted Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life  of Greater Charlotte, NC for help. 

There were two things we wanted to do for this family in redesigning and rebuilding the deck:

  1.  Make the deck more functional for the homeowners. 

    The second floor deck had two sets of stairs and we advised doing away with one set of stairs and building a cat-walk between the driveway / sun room level and the deck. The homeowners were very happy with this recommendation because they said they were tired of going down the stairs and right back up the other set of stairs to get to their deck.
  2. We offered solutions to remedy all the building code and safety issues of their existing deck / porch. 

    The homeowners were anxious to get this fixed and hired Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life to do this project. In less than a week we had aesthetically changed the appearance of their back yard, functionally transformed their outdoor living space and they now have a deck porch that is safe for their family and friends to enjoy.

    Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life Charlotte, NC





    Completed Deck prior to staining and painting.

    Charlotte, NC Deck Project by Southern Home Improvement / Porch-Life

View of Deck at first floor level.  The homeowners also requested the 4' privacy wall you see.











The following is the Porch-Life builder's review from the homeowner which was posted on Angie's List upon completion of the job: 

"Brian and team executed the job flawlessly.  I'm in the commercial real estate industry with responsibility for facilities and project management.  I'm very hands on and particular about the way projects are executed.  Brian was very patient, took time to answer my questions (there were many), and let me be part of the process.  The quality of the craftsmanship was top notch.  The test is in the details, and those were done well. I plan on using SHI for my next large home improvement project."
                                                                                                        ~ Michael F., Charlotte, NC

Visit our website at to learn more about the Charlotte, NC area builder of this project.

You can also follow many of our ongoing projects, including pictures and videos on: