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May is Deck Safety Month, and each year building professionals — deck builders, contractors, manufacturers, and home inspectors — emphasize the importance of inspecting the residential deck to ensure it is safe and secure for the warm weather season. Most homeowners can perform their own precursory inspections with the steps outlined below.

Deck Safety Month 2022

1. Check deck boards

Whether it’s a composite, PVC, or wood deck boards, check for any damage from the winter. Look for loose, rotting, or warped boards, and replace or add a finishing coat of paint or stain. While checking the boards, look for any rusted or corroded nails or fasteners and replace them with Grip-Rite fasteners.

2. Examine railings and banisters

Check that banisters (posts) are properly fastened and secured (with brackets or per the manufacturers’ recommendation). Ensure railings are accurately spaced and follow the 4-inch sphere rule, and if you notice loose or wobbly connections, repair or replace them as necessary.

3. Inspect stairs

Ensure stair stringers are sturdy and secure to the deck frame from the surface to the landing area. Like deck boards, check stairs for loose, rotting, or warped boards and replace them as necessary. Check the handrail for grasp-abilty, and that it is continuous and smooth.

4. Check underbelly connections

Check for any deck ledger connections that have pulled away from the home (if applicable) and are connected appropriately to the deck joist. Check the posts, beams, and footings are stable and secure.

5. Check for pest damage, mold, and mildew

Pest damage can occur on exterior structures no matter your location. Check for nesting areas and any insect damage; treat appropriately. Mold and mildew grow on everything, from humid to wet and cold regions. Clean off any residual mold and mildew with a deck cleaner.

6. Clean your railings

Most deck surfaces only require washing off the debris collected over the fall and winter months. For railings, especially if you have cable railings, use a mild detergent and soft cloth to clean and protect your cable railings. We offer RailFX EZ-Clean that cleans and protects all season long.

These quick tips are easy for most homeowners to inspect the deck and detect any quick fixes. Keeping up with regular maintenance is essential to ensure your deck lasts for years to come.

If your deck is older than 10-years or you detect some problem areas, it is recommended that you seek a building professional to conduct a thorough inspection for peace of mind.

Kirch Improvements

Okauchee Lake Project

One of the fastest-growing areas of Wisconsin is the City of Oconomowoc, sitting midway between Milwaukee and Madison. The city, named after the Potowatomi word for “where the waters meet,” is in the heart of Waukesha County’s Lake Country. One of the many lakes surrounding the area is Okauchee Lake, comprising 1,210 acres; and is fed by and drains into the Oconomowoc River.

Boating and being on the water is the way of life on Okauchee Lake, with many families using a boat to get around the houses to visit and socialize with friends; a place to connect. And when not on the water, the homes surrounding the area boast beautiful views. So, it’s no surprise that a deck is a must to enjoy the view.

For example, consider this home and its accompanying boathouse with expansive decks recently completed by Kirch Improvements. The original deck was comprised of old composite and wood posts with makeshift cable rails that weren’t sturdy or safe. “The original railing was 36-inches and may have had five or six cables running horizontally,” said John Kirch, owner of Kirch Improvements.

John worked with the customer to keep the existing curved radius design. “We replaced the old composite decking with new capped polymer decking and used RailFX 400 series with a capped polymer top rail,” said John. The white aluminum railing, a standard color from RailFX, compliments the contemporary white house design.

“Overall, it’s a simple design, with shorter rail sections to mimic the radius look,” added John. “We also added lights to the rails.” A nice added touch for those long summer nights while sitting outside or navigating from the boathouse to the main house and back.

We designed and installed RailFX to offer the homeowners the ultimate in clear views ~ John Kirch

Daylight Saving Time brings with it the promise of longer days and warmer weather – inspiring many homeowners to refresh their outdoor spaces and create an oasis that can be enjoyed with friends and family all season long. With this in mind, getting your deck season-ready may have already shifted to the top of your weekend to-do list.

Consider these helpful tips as a kickstart to this year’s outdoor living season.

Inspect and Repair

Prioritizing safety is a smart start to your warm weather preparations. During the off season, shifting temperatures, inclement weather and a lack of consistent maintenance can take a toll, causing deck boards, railings, and hardware to loosen or shift. By taking the time to complete a thorough inspection you can ensure the safety of everyone and extend the life of your deck.

Check out the RailFX® article, Inspect the Deck, published for last year’s deck safety month (May). You’ll find simple – yet important – tips to help you complete an annual inspection of your deck’s structure and materials, including the railing. Likewise, our friends at This Old House have created a deck safety checklist with great advice on how to check for signs of deck damage caused by bugs and mold and mildew, along with suggestions on how to contend with cracks, rotted wood and unexpected creaks.

Refresh, Renew and Replace

Now that you’re confident your deck is safe, are you equally as positive about how it looks? There’s no better time than now to get a head start on sprucing up your deck for outdoor entertaining or an upcoming staycation. But, before you begin decorating your space, take the time to remove debris or weeds that likely collected over the winter; eliminate any corrosion that may have occurred; and clean the patio furniture. The experts at True Value share these Five Tips for cleaning and prepping your deck for summer. If you have – or are considering – a RailFX® aluminum cable railing system, cleaning will be quick and easy. You’ll appreciate the insight we share here,  on how to clean cable railing or choose one that will work best for your existing deck.

With the bulk of the work out of the way, you can turn your attention to the fun stuff – decorating. Creating a space that you’ll love is filled with decisions – is it possible to extend your indoor living, to outdoor? What are best solutions for dining, capturing the view or complementing the existing style of your home’s exterior? Check out these ideas from House Beautiful or get started dreaming when you visit the RailFX Inspiration Gallery.

Beauty and Durability for the Long-Term

Investing in updating or designing an outdoor living space is big decision.  The RailFX® FlexFX Program allows you the flexibility to fashion your deck, balcony, or stairway just the way you want – combining your choice of materials – wood, composite, or metal with durable cable railing from RailFX®. 

Is this your first-time considering cable railing for your deck? It’s a smart choice! It delivers unobstructed views, adds value to any home by offering an upscale look (in a variety of finishes) and it’s durable – backed by a 10-year warranty.

Curious to learn more? Contact us to get started.

 

Case Study: Jill Wright of Contractors Building Supply

Project: Marietta, Ohio Residential Home

Project Summary: RailFX Cable Railing for Decks

In the southeast corner of rural Ohio sits Marietta, the oldest city in the state, also known as a riverboat town, just shy of the West Virginia border. Since 1997, family-owned Contractors Building Supply has been serving contractors and builders in the mid-Ohio valley. Their goal has been to give customers outstanding old school service with the highest quality products and competitive pricing.

Jill Wright, owner of Contractors Building Supply, built a log home more than 20 years ago out in the country. Each of the logs are hand peeled logs and fits right in for the area. Some were starting to rot, so it was time to give her home a facelift.

“I sat on my porch one day, and all I saw was logs,” said Wright. The look was heavy, and it was time to provide more balance. She began to explore options for cable railing for decks.

In early 2020, Wright was at FenceTECH and spoke to the staff at RailFX.

As I did more research, I kept going back to their product. ~ Jill Wright

Cable railing for decks is pretty unique in the mid-Ohio valley area; there’s typically a lot of aluminum and vinyl used.

“This area tends to be more traditional; honey oak is big, and it’s hard to break out of the cycle. There’s not a lot of demand for the modern look.”

Today, Wright is happy to sit on her deck and take in the view of the pond and the deer and relax. She’s hoping more of the trade will use cable railings to upgrade any home. Cable railings offer customers a seamless look by opening up an area without taking away from the design aesthetics of a home from traditional to farm to contemporary and modern designs.

RailFX Cable Railing for Decks
RailFX Cable Railing for Decks

Case Study: Linda Evans of L. Evans Design Group

Gaston, Oregon Residential Home

Project Summary: Wire Deck Railing

A general contractor and interior designer, Linda Evans, always makes sure she’s the right fit for each client, and it has served her well for the last 35 years. Based in the Pacific Northwest, her work has garnered repeat business over the years, which is the case for her latest project. More than 20 years ago, she renovated Carla and Michael Green’s home when they lived in Portland, Ore. A recent move to the country, the Green’s called Evans and her team once again for a major remodel.

Just 30 miles southwest of Portland is a small community called Gaston. The Green’s new home sits on a hill of 28-acres overlooking the valley where they raise their sheep, dogs and practice their green thumbs. Evans has spent three years on the project, remodeling the three-story home from top to bottom and working in phases.  From the new kitchen and bathrooms, to new hardwood flooring, metal roof, and structural elements, the last project was the deck and railing.

The deck wraps around the majority of the home, offering panoramic views of the property and a significant secondary deck below at ground level. The existing deck and railing needed replacing, and Evans’ team expanded the outdoor decking area slightly. The Green’s chose composite decking in vintage hue and wire deck railing.  Evans initially tried to talk the Greens out of using cable railing but soon lost the battle, and it proved to be the right call.

I have never worked with cable railing before. My supply company, Lakeside Lumber, said I should use RailFX. I worked through Lakeside Lumber and with a customer service representative from RailFX, and they helped me with everything from start to finish. ~ Evans

Evans and her crew replaced the old wood railings on the second story deck, including adding a stairway for accessibility, with RailFX Aluminum Cable Railing System using bronze posts, top rail and mounts, and 1/8-inch cable railing. To finish off the railing project, Evans used a RailFX cable rail gate in bronze. Below deck, Evans used a wrap product to provide a dry space for those well-known rainy days in Pacific Northwest.

The Greens are pleased with their new deck and wire deck railing. They can relax and enjoy the view of their sheep grazing on their property and the expanded valley. “Everything went together fairly quickly, and my client is thrilled with the result.”

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Case Study: Joe Aulino of Corinthian Fine Homes

Project: Dublin, Ohio Residential Home

Project Summary: Aluminum Cable Railing

This farmhouse design inspired by Napa Valley architecture sits this contemporary mid-range home on 50-acres of farm property in Columbus, Ohio. Custom builder Joe Aulino and his business partner Kevin Koch own Corinthian Fine Homes in Dublin, Ohio, and they built the farmhouse to the architect’s plans.

The homeowners worked with an architect before Joe and Kevin started the build, and the vision was to design a home to fit the landscape: contemporary farmhouse architecture. Clean lines, metal roofs, retractable doors, and concrete porches are not generally specified in this area.

There are first and second floor balconies and an expansive outdoor living area with a swimming pool, outdoor patios, fire pit, and retaining walls with layered landscaping.

We have used a lot of cable railing in our projects. We heard about RailFX from one of our decking reps in town. We liked working with RailFX, the quality of the product, available options, and support staff. ~ Aulino

This home features interior and exterior aluminum cable railing, by RailFX supplied by Zuern Building Products and Design Center, in Allentown, Wisconsin. “In the last three to five years, we have used cable railing for interior use with interior design trends leading us down that path.”

For more than 27 years, Aulino and Koch have primarily built one of a kind homes on estate lots, golf course communities, and high-end residential areas. While farmhouse generally doesn’t shout estate or high-end, this one breaks with tradition.

Aluminum Cable Railing on deck
Aluminum Cable Railing

Case Study: John Kirch of Kirch Improvements, Inc.

Project: Richfield, Wisconsin Residential Home

Project Summary: RailFX Cable Railing System

Each year, Remodeling magazine publishes cost versus value report on projects that are likely to retain value at resale in more than 100 markets. Year after year, a new deck addition has always averaged a return on investment well above 60 percent and has been as high as 80 percent within the last five years. That’s no surprise to John Kirch of Kirch Improvements.

A family-owned and operated firm with more than 15 years of industry experience, Kirch’s company specializes in high-quality materials designed to be an extension of the home. Kirch Improvements builds decks, pergolas, screened-in areas, outdoor kitchens, and railing installations. Located in Brookfield, Wisconsin, just 15 miles west of Milwaukee and surrounded by area lakes, Kirch has built several stunning deck projects.

He and his crew recently finished building a deck at a lakeside home on Lake Five, a small spring-fed lake in the Richfield-area. It’s a second home for his customer, and they tore down a wood floor deck with steel framing and railings. The deck was more or less rusted and designed like a dock rather than a deck.

Kirch built a composite deck with an aluminum-based railing for longevity.

One of our customers specifically called out RailFX by name. That was our first job using the RailFX cable railing system. It’s a hardy rail and holds up well. ~ Kirch

Kirch installed the Aluminum RailFX Cable Railing System with a 1/8-inch cable infill. “RailFX layout sent to us, noting the components for each section of the deck, made it simple. We would use RailFX again, and we have a few projects coming up that it would be a nice fit.”

“We also continued the railing down to the water, so the customer has ease of access.” The homeowner loves the new deck and RailFX cable railing. They have added lights to the posts, and it is inviting and safe.

Kirch Lake railing
RailFX aluminum cable railing
RailFX aluminum cable railing

Case Study: Corbett Lunsford on Modern Cable Railing Systems

Project: Atlanta Homestead for Home Diagnosis T.V.

To watch the Lunsford installation process and learn more, watch our collaboration video.

Building to Last 100 Years

The Science Behind Modern Construction Methods

Inside Atlanta’s perimeter is a lovely rural oasis where a family homestead resides on two and a half acres of land 15 minutes from downtown. The homestead, owned by the same family since the 1930s, recently was sold to Grace and Corbett Lunsford, creators and producers of the Home Diagnosis T.V. series airing on PBS, which aims to demystify the science behind products and construction methods used in the home building process. “We describe it as This Old House meets C.S.I.,” said Corbett. They are building a high-performance home on the land and will be airing segments in season two.

The family of the original homestead sold it to us because they liked that we wanted to homestead it similar to what they did, instead of selling it to a developer who would then turn it into 20-plus houses. ~ Corbett

It’s the first time Corbett and his family have built a house from start to finish. And, as he describes, everything the Lunsford’s do is a family affair. Family is the T.V. show. The only things they didn’t do themselves are the top layer of the roof, drywall, electrical service, drain lines, finish flooring, and tile. Aside from that, 90 percent of the home, built by the family, including Corbett’s parents and their two young daughters cheering from the sidelines.

This 3,000 square foot home intends to explore and teach people the science of homes, including physics, chemistry, and microbiology. They’re building a home that is the ‘perfect character’ in the story of the science of homes. 

Traditionally, homeowners and builders build the way it’s ‘always been done.’ However, the Lunsford’s aim to change the conversation and start thinking more scientifically about homes — is building and using products that may be slightly different to achieve specific, often invisible goals for a high-performing home that will stand the test of time.

Product Selection: Maintenance Free and Durable 

Choosing beautiful and durable products that don’t require a lot of upkeep is vital for this home. The house is being built to last 100 years, and the products will need to keep pace. The Lunsford’s don’t want to have to worry about replacing things on a 10-year rotation, as many homeowners sadly do. 

I equate it to not wanting or needing laces for my shoes, now that we have that option. I want the same ease of use and low maintenance experience in the products I choose for this home. ~ Corbett

Although Corbett and Grace chose wood for the decking and siding, traditionally a high-maintenance material, he used a thermally modified wood product that is durable and doesn’t require sealing now or in the future. It can stand up to the climate of the southeast and is virtually maintenance-free. 

Other products include air sealing details to be as quiet as possible due to the proximity of one of the world’s busiest airports and installing a dedicated ventilation system to pump filtered outdoor air throughout the home. When they open the cupboards, they won’t smell the stored vinegar or cat litter box as a result. It is also obviously ideal in areas where wildfires and extreme humidity are a problem.

The home has even been ‘hurricane tested,’ creating a significant vacuum inside, and then pressure washing the house to force that water to penetrate inside the home if it can. After pinpointing the failures, they fixed them all, so the family can now withstand major storm events without worry.

Modern Cable Railing Systems: Clean and Classic Design

When it came to adding railings to the first and second-floor decks, the Lunsford’s wanted a classic and clean look. They chose cable railing because it enabled them to see the landscape’s beautiful views from inside the house and see the house from outside without obstruction. It offers a seamless panorama with it’s modern cable railing system.

The Lunsford’s found RailFX at an industry trade show in early 2020. After talking to several cable railing manufacturers, RailFX was most in line with what they were trying to accomplish. “RailFX was also the most excited about our project out of everyone we talked to,” said Corbett. 

Corbett’s parents installed RailFX in two different areas of the home. The ground floor and second-story decks. They commented that RailFX makes it very clear and straightforward to install. There was one slight field modification made, but it was easy to adjust. 

“I’ve taken deck safety courses in the past, and I find that it can get complicated, but RailFX makes it very clear,” said Corbett. 

The Lunsford’s installed RailFX’s black aluminum top railings, a surface mount, and posts with 1/8-inch stainless steel cable for the exterior decks. The next installation will be the interior stairway once the painting and flooring is completed. They will use custom wood top rails and silver fascia mount posts.

Because it's made in a state of the art facility, the railing system is perfectly designed and fit for our purposes. ~ Corbett

Forever Home Update: Interior Stairway Cable Railing Installation

Corbett is making the finishing touches to his Atlanta forever home and recently installed RailFX cable railing systems on the interior stairway. Corbett said the real difference for the internal cable run is the amount of use they will experience with three small children running up and down the stairs.

He opted for fascia-mounted posts on the stairway, which was a different attachment process than he experienced on the outside’s surface-mounted posts. Since the interior stairway is four feet wide, code dictated he install ADA compliant railings on each side. Corbett used RailFX’s ADA graspable handrail and RFX 400 top rail option in silver. He used pecan wood from Grace’s family’s backyard for the top rail for an upscale finishing touch.

“Now that the installation is complete and we’re living in the house, I love it,” said Corbett. “It feels very solid, and I love knowing that if it gets dirty, scratched, or anything, the fix is very easy.”

How disruption makes us better

This year has been anything but predictive. With a pandemic to multiple hurricanes and other weather disturbances to forest fires in the West, it has been a significantly unpredictable year. Manufacturers, dealers, distributors, builders, remodelers, and contractors were forced to look at how they do business and learn to manage their business differently. RailFX customer service continues to be a major focus for our business.

Some lasting effects and changes will live long past this year. Industries are changing to ensure everyone is safe and healthy. While the outlook is anything but crystal clear, one thing is sure, the building and remodeling industry continues to be a bright spot in the nation’s economic recovery.

With more homeowners working and playing from home, the need for specific products rose during the second quarter. Manufacturers able to pivot and adapt haven’t missed a beat. In our RailFX facilities, we made modifications to keep employees safe and healthy while supplying our customers and homeowners with products from the start of the pandemic to today, while also looking at the future.

Technology + Personalized Communication

Now, more than ever is the time to embrace technology. Whether it’s new or enhanced, technology like video conferencing, has replicated the face-to-face business transaction. We no longer need to be in the same room to have an effective meeting, and in some cases, we’re more effective and efficient.

Technology, coupled with practical communications skills — writing an email, social media, text messaging — has led to improved productivity. At RailFX, we made the transition seamlessly.

We make it easy to order with our simple online quoting form and step-by-step process. Faster lead times are possible with our aluminum railing systems, FlexFX, and, cable railing kits. Quotes are turned around in 24-48 hours, and products (stock colors) shipped within three to five days to all 50 states in protective packaging. 

RailFX Customer Service

There are many products to choose from and depending on the category, it can make the decision process difficult. You can rely on RailFX customer service and our expertise in the cable railing business. We do the work, so you don’t have to spend the time and dive into all the microscopic details.

Any company can say they have excellent customer service, but they may fall short somewhere between quote and final installation. At RailFX, we personalize each job for all our customer, from dealer, builder, and our DIYers. We offer support for all your technical needs in the field for a smooth installation.

Simple Installation

Our installation process is simple. Because of the way we manufacture our cable railings and accessories, RailFX products don’t require fabrication in the field. You only need to assemble the cable railings onsite. Generally, basic tools are all that’s needed to install our products.

Interior stair mount

Our website offers technical data support and installation documents and videos from simple to complex installations along with one-on-one technical support. Because our products are easier to install, our reorder, and satisfaction rates are excellent. See for yourself how stellar RailFX customer service is.

To learn more about RailFX and our turnkey cable railing solution, email us at sales@railfx.net or call our customer support team at 206.453.1123.