Mike Guertin, East Greenwich, RI, US
editorial advisor

My first taste of construction was nailing off subfloor sheathing and shoveling crushed stone at age 7 helping my mechanical engineer father build our family home.

My plan was to be a school teacher but when offered a job during my student teaching making less than I earned framing houses during summer break, I took up home building full time. I didn't understand benefits and pensions at the time or I may have made a different choice.

Gender: Male

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Precast Footings:  EZ-Tube

Precast Footings: EZ-Tube

Instead of getting sacks of concrete delivered, get precast EZ-Tube footing sections dropped off. Dig the hole, stack them up, start building.

CAMO Edge Pro

CAMO Edge Pro

The CAMO Edge Pro speeds up edge-screw decking installation without bending over.

CAMO Marksman Edge

CAMO Marksman Edge

The CAMO Marksman Edge edge-screws wet pressure treated lumber even with the boards tight together.

1.8 Million Reasons to Measure Twice

1.8 Million Reasons to Measure Twice

Cut a board wrong and you blew a few bucks; build a house on the adjoining property and you may blow $1.8 million.

DCA 6 Deck Construction Guide - New Version for 2012 IRC

DCA 6 Deck Construction Guide - New Version for 2012 IRC

My go-to deck design and construction guide has been revised to dovetail with the 2012 International Residential Code. DCA 6 'Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide' has most of the information you need to build a code-compliant deck.

Diablo Demo Demon carbide tipped recip blades

Diablo Demo Demon carbide tipped recip blades

The right tool for the job - Demo Demon carbide tipped blades work well perform well at cutting through nail-embedded wood abrasive materials (like asphalt roofing, fibercement siding and old plaster.

Composite Post Sleeve Scraps make great bird houses

Composite Post Sleeve Scraps make great bird houses

Rather than toss post sleeve cutoffs in the trash, recycle them into bird houses in just a few minutes.

Consistent Screw Setting Every Drive

Consistent Screw Setting Every Drive

Deck Screw Depth Setter from Starborn sets consistent screw depths on more than just deck boards.

Deck Construction Guide Reduces Southern Pine Spans

Deck Construction Guide Reduces Southern Pine Spans

The American Wood Council reduces southern pine beam, joist and stringer spans in the DCA-6 Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide

AfterShokz - Jobsite music bliss

AfterShokz - Jobsite music bliss

AfterShokz headsets allow personal music listening without risking jobsite safety.

Short format base cabinets and accessible storage make kitchen work for aging in-laws

Short format base cabinets and accessible storage make kitchen work for aging in-laws

Standard 36 in. countertop height doesn't suit everyone. Short base cabinets set the countertop a few inches lower and afford height-challenged clients a comfortable working surface and easier access to upper cabinets.

Future Deck Codes - Round the corner in 2015???

Future Deck Codes - Round the corner in 2015???

The IRC ramped up deck codes in 2009 and 2012. See what may be coming around the corner in 2015

Deck Ledger Bolting Patterns Limit House to Deck Level Drop

Deck Ledger Bolting Patterns Limit House to Deck Level Drop

The 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) includes a few new provisions that limit where you position the deck ledger in relation to the main floor of the house. Those of us in snow-prone regions who like to drop a deck one step from the inside floor level will be challenged to continue doing so.

May is Deck Safety Month - Check Your Deck!

May is Deck Safety Month - Check Your Deck!

Decks on the verge of falling down generally don’t look any different than safe decks. You have to take a close look in order to see if problems exist.

Mounting Deck Ledgers to Floor Trusses

Mounting Deck Ledgers to Floor Trusses

You can't just bolt or screw a deck ledger to open web floor trusses. Follow either the fabricator's detail or one from the SBCA.

Mounting Deck Ledgers to Engineered Floor Systems

Mounting Deck Ledgers to Engineered Floor Systems

The 2012 IRC ledger attachment schedule only works on house rim joists made of solid-sawn lumber or Douglas fir laminated veneer lumber (LVL). You can’t follow it when mounting deck ledgers to rim joists made of engineered wood products. Instead we have to look to other resources to ensure these connections are made safely.

Freestanding Decks Solve Ledger Attachment Challenges

Freestanding Decks Solve Ledger Attachment Challenges

Decks were not in the plans when many homes were built, so the framing was not designed to permit easy deck ledger attachment. Many homes framed with wood I-joists and floor trusses, for example...

Materials Review: EverFlashing Makes Deck-to-Wall Transitions More Durable and Attractive

Materials Review: EverFlashing Makes Deck-to-Wall Transitions More Durable and Attractive

Premium deck ledger flashing is well designed and durable

Paslode CR175C Cordless Gas-Powered Roofing Nailer

Paslode CR175C Cordless Gas-Powered Roofing Nailer

Cordless comes to roofing with the Paslode CR175C gas powered roofing nailer. It excels at prep work, wrap-up work and small roof jobs.

2012 IRC Codifies Window and Door Pan Flashings

2012 IRC Codifies Window and Door Pan Flashings

Window and door flashing best-practices are now code-minimum practices in the 2012 IRC

Step Flashings - Code calls for 4 in. legs

Step Flashings - Code calls for 4 in. legs

The 2009 IRC now has prescriptive step flashing size requirements. They're still puny and don't meet my sniff test but it's a step in the right direction.

Indoor Airflow - Perfect Balance vs. Door Undercut

Indoor Airflow - Perfect Balance vs. Door Undercut

Unbalanced indoor air movement diminishes HVAC comfort and can lead to increased energy bills. Testing identifies problems and two door treatments can solve them.

Code-Compliant Guardrail Post Connections

Code-Compliant Guardrail Post Connections

FHB's 'Start Your Railings Right' spring 2010 article covered the basics of securely mounting deck guardrail posts to the frame. Now an article in Professional Deck Builder magazine goes the next step - and fills in the blanks along the way.

Choosing a Chimney Flue-Top Damper

Choosing a Chimney Flue-Top Damper

Pop-up dampers and hinged dampers install and operate similarly.

Attach-A-Deck ledger mounting system

Attach-A-Deck ledger mounting system

Attach-A-Deck spaces the ledger off the wall even on existing houses without removing the siding.

HIDfast - Hidden Decking Fasteners > Fast!

HIDfast - Hidden Decking Fasteners > Fast!

Decking is essentially flooring so why not install it using a pneumatic flooring nailer? You can now with the HIDfast decking tool and fasteners.

The Eliminator

The Eliminator

The Eliminator hidden fastener installation tool comes in two versions. One model works exclusively on the Mantis hidden decking fastener and the other works on several fasteners.

Tiger Claw Installation Gun

Tiger Claw Installation Gun

Well known for their hidden decking fasteners, Tiger Claw offers the Tiger Claw Installation Gun. It's a metal connector style nailer with a specially designed nosepiece that grooved board fasteners clip onto.

Automatic Speed

Automatic Speed

I’ve just about given up installing hidden fasteners by hand. Now I use a semi-automatic or automatic pneumatic tools to mount grooved decking fasteners or specially designed fasteners. It’s a fast-changing part of the deck business and one to keep your eyes on.

Recommended Fasteners for Decking

Recommended Fasteners for Decking

So what hidden fastener works with your decking? Dig deep into decking manufacturer installation instructions and you may find the answer. Or you can check this list. We checked the recommendations of over 30 decking brands and here's what we found.

Deck Mates - Decking specific fasteners

Deck Mates - Decking specific fasteners

Many decking companies offer unique or branded hidden fasteners. Here's a list of what to look for.

OSHA Relaxes Residential Fall Protection Requirements - Sort of

OSHA Relaxes Residential Fall Protection Requirements - Sort of

In 94 OSHA started ramping up fall protection requirements for residential construction leaving most of us baffled how to comply. Now OSHA is reverting to an older, more relaxed standard.

Inswing or Outswing Doors?

Inswing or Outswing Doors?

Hinged entry doors can swing in or swing out. Which style is best for sealing out weather and thwarting would be thieves?

Deck Ledger Bolting by the Code

Deck Ledger Bolting by the Code

Rule-of-thumb deck ledger fastening is out and the code is in. Now the International Residential Code 2009 has a table to follow for bolting and lag screwing.

FastCap Hammer Holster

FastCap Hammer Holster

FastCap Hammer Holster replaces a conventional hammer hook with a few extra features and benefits.

Quick Change Nail Set

Quick Change Nail Set

The Bostitch Quick Change Nail Set gives you two sized set tips with just a flip.

Bostitch Twin Blade Knife

Bostitch Twin Blade Knife

The Bostitch Twin Blade Knife gives you two blades at your fingertips in an instant - what's not to like?

Disaster Safety Will Blow You Away

Disaster Safety Will Blow You Away

The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) research facility is large enough to fit two full sized 2-story homes for wind testing - see the results.

ThruLok screw-in bolts replace 1/2 in. through-bolts

ThruLok screw-in bolts replace 1/2 in. through-bolts

FastenMaster’s new ThruLok is a screw-in bolt that replaces ½ in. through-bolts used to mount deck posts to beams and guardrail posts to the deck frame. ThruLoks will save time and $$ - I think deck builders will warm up to ThruLoks quickly.

Power Hand pulls and pushes deck boards together

Power Hand pulls and pushes deck boards together

The Power Hand is a specialized bar clamp for installing deck boards.

Tiger Jaw Deck Board Tool

Tiger Jaw Deck Board Tool

The Tiger Jaw pulls deck boards together with ease whether you're installing hidden fasteners or straightening a warped board.

Pre-assembled Woven Shingle Corners by Maibec

Pre-assembled Woven Shingle Corners by Maibec

Pre-cut white cedar shingles from Maibec for inside and outside woven corners will speed installation without sacrificing quality.

Simple Screen Gutter Guards Better Than Pro-Installed Systems (and way cheaper)

Simple Screen Gutter Guards Better Than Pro-Installed Systems (and way cheaper)

Consumer Reports' evaluation of leaf guards confirm my suspicion, solid gutter caps don't perform as wells as humble gutter screens.

Bark Side Up or Bark Side Down?

Bark Side Up or Bark Side Down?

So when you install pressure treated, flat sawn, wood decking, do you face the bark side up or bark side down? Ask ten people and half will likely say ‘bark-side-up,’ a few will say ‘bark-side-down’ and the rest will shrug their shoulders. For some direction, we can turn to wood scientists – they actually study stuff like this.

Concealed Screwed-Down Decking

'Concealed' Screwed-Down Decking

Want the look of hidden fastener attached decking and the positive anchoring you get with screws? Then check out the Kreg Deck Jig.

The Goal of a Finished Railing

The Goal of a Finished Railing

In "Start Your Railing Right" (FHB 212 pp 67-69), Mike Guertin describes the details for securing guardrail posts to the deck frame. Here he describes a novel method for detailing the infill between posts.

Use the Right lumber and the Right fasteners and ignore misleading information (and people)

Use the Right lumber and the Right fasteners and ignore misleading information (and people)

Not every pressure treated board today can touch the earth. Most are only treated for above ground applications. And don't skimp on the fasteners or they may not last.

Clean Crosscuts with Fiber Cement Shear

Clean Crosscuts with Fiber Cement Shear

Malco's fiber cement cutter shears panels without dust, electricity or battery power.

7 Rules for Remodelers

7 Rules for Remodelers

Ensure success and happy clients by following these important guidelines before the work begins on any remodel project

Free Deck Construction Guide

Free Deck Construction Guide

The AFPA has a new version of the Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide – DCA 6

Deck Construction book ala Code

Deck Construction book ala Code

New book from ICC cuts through 850+ pages of the IRC and gets down to where the business of building decks intersects with the code. And an added plus – it deciphers code language with discussion.

A (Complete) Guide to Estimating Energy Efficiency Payback

A (Complete) Guide to Estimating Energy Efficiency Payback

This time its payback. Consider these variables when when estimating the cost savings of an energy efficiency upgrade to your home

TimberSil Decking

TimberSil Decking

Heard of TimberSil? Wondered how it's different than ordinary pressure treated lumber? Mike Guertin tried it out on a 900 sf deck last year and reports on what it is, how it handles and the upsides and downsides.

Set Tile Without Mastic or Thinset

Set Tile Without Mastic or Thinset

Skip the mess and stick ceramic tile right to the wall using a new peel and stick mat.

2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!

2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!

The 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) has a number of big changes when it comes to framing decks. If your state, county or town will be adopting the ’09 IRC you’d better take a look at a copy of the code before you get a code violation.

Green Driveway Paving

Green Driveway Paving

Many driveways are oversized to provide extra room for backing and turning and parking for occasional guests. Excess pavement often overwhelms a small lot and increases storm water runoff. On a recent project I used blacktop pavement for the high traffic area with Turfstone ™, a green pervious paving alternative around the perimeter for extra swing room when turning and extra off-street parking.

Kickout Flashing: How to Flash Troublesome Roof-to-Wall Intersections

Kickout Flashing: How to Flash Troublesome Roof-to-Wall Intersections

I use redundant layers of flashing integrated into the housewrap to keep water from getting behind exterior cladding; a kickout flashing directs water into the gutter. The process might seem overcomplicated at first, but the minor expense in time is much better than having to tackle rot repairs down the road.

Recent comments

Re: Making and Installing Wood Plugs

Can't tell what brand of countersink/plug cutter you're using but the high quality ones will chamfer the end to make entering the hole easy. Your's either doesn't cut the chamfer or you didn't bottom the bit to the wood surface. The benefit of a chamfered plug edge is there's lower risk of bruising the workpiece than when inserting a square edge plug.

And ideally you don't want to glue the bottom of the plug. Best practice is to swab the rim of the hole with a little glue and insert the plug. Ear swabs work good to spread the glue and there are specialized bottle applicators.

Re: Precast Footings: EZ-Tube


"Are they IRC code approved?" They don't need to be 'code approved' Only alternative building systems need an ICC-ESR. Since precast footings (like EZ-Tube) are equivalent to poured-in-place footings they fall under the prescriptive measures of the IRC. So they are qualified as far as I see it.

The company has engineering data if you find a building official who expresses concern.

"How do they resist frost action" - provided you dig the hole deep enough and place the EZ-Tube below frost depth, you're all set. That's one thing I like about the system. If you're in VA with a frost depth of 16 in. you just need a base and 1 section. If you're in ME with a 4 ft frost depth, you stack up 4 sections on top of the base.

Re: CAMO Marksman Edge

I haven't had to remove any Camo screws on the decks I used the system on so I can't speak specifically to them. I have had to remove face-screwed PT deck boards and found the difficulty was cleaning out the dirt and wood fibers that filled the screw heads. The gunk prevented good engagement of the bit and without good engagement the screw heads cammed out. I tried blasting the screw heads with compressed air to clean them out - no luck. A blast with a pressure washer worked great and once the heads were clean I could back out the screws. My guess is the same trick would work on Camo screws.

Re: Laser-Guided Sonic Stop Makes Measuring Miter-Saw Cuts a Breeze

I got a similar device a couple years ago after reading Justin Fink's review http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/10751/sawgear-automatic-length-measuring-for-your-miter-saw

It's not sonic but it does automatically register the miter length by moving a mechanical stop.

After watching Chuck's review of the sonic stop I'm miffed - the automatic stop Justin steered me to set me back $2000. The sonic stop is only $9.99.

Re: Letter to the Editor: Financial burdens of complying with future building codes

Though I'm a proponent of energy efficient homes, I don't think mandating efficiency through the building code is the best way to go. I also don't think sprinkler requirements should be in the building code. And I don't like the 7 3/4 in. rise / 10 in. run stair geometry.

I live in a state that adopts a statewide building code. The state building commission reviews each model code revision and amends out sections they feel suit our state and amends in other provisions. Though the ICC develops codes, it still comes down to state, county or local control through the adoption process. And hopefully there, area residents will let their voice be heard.

Interested people can propose changes to the I-codes during their development each cycle. The 2015 codes are in development now. Lots of new proposals are out there. A few days ago I was reading the proposed changes to just the sections related to decks - about 25 pages. All the proposals are available to see through www.iccsafe.org. You can send in written comments and you can attend the hearings to speak as well.

The 2015 energy codes are just a step along a path to net-zero homes. The code development process is influenced by many interests - among them, the DOE. And the projection is within 20 or so years the code will require new homes be built in such a way so they consume no more energy than can be produced on site. This will happen unless people interested in stopping or slowing the process speak up through channels that the code officials will hear.

Re: Blower Doors Have Become Essential Home-Building Tools

And blower door tests are required by code.

It's been a two step process with the 2009 IRC and IEEC outlining two pathways to comply with Air Leakage. One option is a visual inspection based on a fairly extensive list of components and criteria. The other option is a blower door test. While the air leakage is allowed to be as high as 7ACH@50pa, the IRC is a minimum standard.

The 2012 IRC and IEEC require blower door tests and raise the bar on leakage rates. IRC - N1102.4.1.2 Testing: " The building or dwelling unit shall be tested and verified as having an air leakage rate of not exceeding 5 air changes per hour in Zones 1 and 2, and 3 air changes per hour in Zones 3 through 8."

So blower door testing is an essential building tool no matter what level a contractor is building at - High Performance or Bottom-of-the-barrel.

Re: Deck Ledger Bolting Patterns Limit House to Deck Level Drop

Free-Standing decks are a viable alternative to ledger-mounted decks and have several benefits. There's a short piece about the practice here: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/22775/freestanding-decks-solve-ledger-attachment-challenges

I'm not familiar with the old UBC live load. But I've heard of jurisdictions that increased the IRC live load for decks to 60 lbs, 90 lbs and 100 lbs. Several structural screw makers include fastener schedules that result in higher live loads.

Re: May is Deck Safety Month - Check Your Deck!

I agree with Milwaukee that in some instances it is better to replace a deck that has many problems than to repair it. I did a quick cost analysis on this project and determined we can make effective repairs that will make this deck as secure as a newly built one.
In a couple weeks we're going to fix the deck. I figure it will take me 3 days and about $200 in materials.

Here's a list of the major work items:
1 Add a second layer to the outer rim joist to make it an effective rim beam.
2 Install 4x4 posts beneath the rim beam.
3 Replace the joist hangers (since there aren't many nails in the current hangers - that will be fast work)
4 Secure the ledger with additional structural screws.
5 Install hardware to secure the stringers to the head board.
6 Install 2x4 jacks beneath the stringer head board
7 Install self-adhering membrane over the wall sheathing and the ledger - then cap it with a substantial drip cap flashing.
8 Check the footings for depth and size.
9 Install two lateral load tension tie assemblies to tie the deck joists to the house joists.

It sounds like a lot but several items can go fast.

There are other factors that tip the scale towards repair in this case. Every situation needs to be evaluated on the conditions at hand.

Re: How To Make a Woodworking Spring Clamp out of PVC Drainpipe

The PVC pipe clamps aren't just good for solid surface glue-ups. I use them for loads of clamping jobs - wood gluing, temporary holding, edge banding.... And you can use any size pipe to make clamps. I have some 6" and 8" pipe cutoffs I picked up from a municipal water install and some small 2" central vac cutoffs.

If you drive screws in at an angle to the clamp kerf/opening, you can use the clamps as miter clamps.

And you can use foam-core PVC, ABS and HDPE pipes to make clamps too.

Recently I made some 2 in. wide clamps to hold plastic sheets on a greenhouse frame.

I'm always scrounging through the plumbers' waste pile for more clamp stock.

Re: Design snapshot: Cable guardrail

We'll have an article on a installing cable railing system on a deck in an upcoming issue of FHB.

Re: Code-Compliant Guardrail Post Connections


See page 17 of DCA 6 (Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide) for information on stringer code requirements and stringer span limits. http://www.awc.org/Publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf

You will probably have to go with housed (mortised) stringers if you want just one run of stairs. The span is probably too great to use cut (notched) stringers without a landing mid-span.

Re: Larry Haun (1931-2011)

I learned a pile of framing practices from Larry. Drop-cutting with a worm drive, gang-cutting rafters, plating walls and making every movement count. Towards the end of one 2 hour phone conversation about framing techniques and our tolerance levels for plumb and level some years ago Larry said "That's why they call it 'rough framing' and not 'finish framing.'" That simple statement stuck with me on several levels. Often when I get amped up about some detail on a job or in my life, Larry pops into my head and says 'don't sweat the little things.'

Re: Kickout Flashing: How to Flash Troublesome Roof-to-Wall Intersections

To Phoobs,

I retrofit kickouts all the time. Doing so involves removing the siding in the area and perhaps going further to remove some roofing and some of the housewrap in order to get laps for positive drainage.

On a retrofit you may not be able to get the large lapping pieces of housewrap onto the wall but you can layer in a couple pieces even if you only pull 3 or 4 siding laps off. It's a process that's next to impossible to convey with words and unfortunately I don't have retrofit photos. But your question does prompt me to photo my next kickout retrofit and post it when I do.

Perhaps this description will help - Remove the siding at the end of the eave edge from the bottom of the facia and up to 3 courses above the drip edge line. Apply housewrap tape over all nail holes. Place the kickout flashing at the eave edge and draw the outline on the houswrap for reference. Then 4 in. above the top of the kickout flashing outline, make a horizontal cut in the housewrap about a foot to the left and right of the kickout wing position. Cut a 2 ft wide by 3 ft tall piece of housewrap and slip one edge into the cut and up at least 5 in. Fold the piece up along the cut line and apply a piece of housewrap tape (this undertapes the piece of housewrap).
The bottom edge of the housewrap piece should be long enough to lay over the top lap of a siding course below. This is your fail-safe backup to any leak at the kickout wing. Any water that may pass through the small hole where the siding is trimmed around the wing will be drained back out onto the face of the siding.

Now Install the kickout flashing and step flashings up the roof as needed. The wall leg of the kickout should be applied OVER the housewrap Cut a 2 ft square piece of housewrap and tuck one edge into the horizontal cut (the same one the first piece of housewrap was slipped into) and up under the housewrap on the wall by at least 5 in. Tape over the cut in the housewrap with housewrap tape. Trim the housewrap piece around the wing of the kickout flashing and along the roof-line. Then tape the sides of the housewrap piece down.

Since the kickout wall leg is applied over the housewrap beneath, any water that may leak by the cut will be redirected out onto the siding surface through the lap you placed the 2 ft x 3 ft piece of housewrap over.

Even though you end up cutting into the siding at the vertical wing of a kickout, it is still the best solution. The alternative is common practice and will often end up causing leaks because the end the step flashing ends up behind the siding. This only dumps water directly behind the housewrap and/or siding.


Re: Step Flashings - Code calls for 4 in. legs

Follow-up to Creebomb's comment -

You're right, when siding is in direct contact with the roofing, you're asking for problems. There are code requirements, industry association technical information and product manufacturer instructions that all call for an airspace between the bottom course of siding and horizontal surfaces.
For me the space serves multiple functions. It's a good view point for flashing inspection; it prevents the wicking you noted - so the siding and paint/stain finishes last longer; it lets air flow freely so things that get wet can dry out; and it minimizes the chance debris will collect and foster decay.

And for those opposed to seeing mill finish aluminum - install a counterflashing strip of color-coated aluminum or choose another flashing metal (copper, lead, stainless).

Re: Attach-A-Deck ledger mounting system

I have the full Norton suite but never had trouble accessing Attach-A-Deck's site nor a warning. Perhaps an anomaly.

Re: Frame Decks Faster and Easier with ThruLOK Fasteners

You'll find my review of ThruLoks in the Deck Blog section (http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/13931/thrulok-screw-in-bolts-replace-12-in-through-bolts) which is a good supplement to Justin's video.

And there's another similar bolt called the ScrewBolt from Universal Fastener. The business end has screw threads to drive the screw through wood components like the ThruLok. But behind the screw threads are machine threads for a nut. Just snap off the screw thread section, spin on a nut and you're connected.


ScrewBolts come in 10 lengths and two head styles - hex head and torx for a flush mount.

Once you try either the ThruLok or ScrewBolt, you won't go back to piloting and bolting.

Re: Festool Postpones New Jigsaw

I was very much looking forward to both the D handle and barrel body designs - I had two of each on order already. Guess I won't be seeing them anytime soon.

Re: Framing with Energy in Mind - We're Still Missing the Boat!

Let's not attribute too much air sealing benefit from the housewrap. I'm old enough to remember when Tyvek, Typar and other wraps marketed themselves primarily for air control. Then when energy efficiency concerns diminished they marketed themselves as weather resistive barriers; and now they're singing the efficiency song again. In practice, it's very very very difficult to apply housewrap in a fashion that will halt air leakage. It's much easier to seal up rigid materials like drywall, wall sheathing and rigid foam panels than it is to detail housewrap.

On the framing side - in addition to the stud spacing, it appears from the photos that they did not use OVE framing techniques. I see double top plates, extra cripple studs under window openings, structural jack studs, boxed in corner framing.... Version 3 of the Energy Star Home program requires some advanced framing techniques. I think it's only a matter of time before the IRC moves towards requiring minimal framing as part of improving energy efficiency.

I'm going to guess that the framers were in their 20's and 30's - the amazing thing is that they were born in an era after OVE framing and housewrap installation best-practices were developed. Why is it they fall back on 60 year old practices? I'll bet they all have G-3 or G-4 devices.

Re: Are you a Master Deck Builder?


Check with Mike or Glenn again on the specifics regarding the MDB designation.

I took the first class in March at JLC Live.

1 - You have to be a NADRA member to get the designation (anyone can take the classes and tests though)

2 - You don't have to take the classes in order to become a MDB - you only have to take the tests.

3 - at this point, as far as I know, there are 4 exams (or maybe they are administering the exams in conjunction with the classes).

4 - The exams are open book and the course is based on Glenn's book (see my blog on the book here: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/9688/deck-construction-book-ala-code

5 - NADRA and Glenn plan to have his sessions available via web-video courses at some point. They taped the March class.

I'm still awaiting a grade on the test I took a month ago. It was pretty straight forward. If you know the building code and have Glenn's book in front of you, there's no reason you can't pass a test.

Re: 'Concealed' Screwed-Down Decking

Response to Rodney:

The Kreg Deck Jig is designed for use on square edged boards. The pilot bit and screw hit the board about 1/4 in. from the top edge which is about where the slot in grooved boards is. So once the screw sets to its depth, it would be in the middle of the groove rather than seated in a pocket hole.

I'm all for saving money too but using the Kreg Deck Jig on a grooved board may be risky. There's only one way to know for sure. You can get some pieces of decking and try the Kreg Deck Jig to see what happens.

Thinking about material cost for your 16x24 deck.
Kreg Deck Jig ($100) plus Kreg screws (~.25/sf= $100) totals $200 for the deck.
The least expensive grooved board fastener is the Wadsworth Deck Clip (0.66/sf)totals $250.
Several other brands can be had for about 0.90/sf which would bring you up to $350 for the deck.
So you do have other alternatives using a grooved deck board fastener system that will be far less than your anticipated 'savings' of $400 using the Kreg system.

My assessment is not a knock against the Kreg Deck Jig. It is a good system if you want to edge screw square edged decking down. But since you intend to use a grooved board, then I'd advise you to spend a few extra bucks and use the proper fastener type.

Re: Deck Ledger Bolting by the Code

Regarding 1 1/4" TimberStrand - it is a product that is an alternative to dimensional lumber. You can't read too much into the code by making the inference that because a product has an ICC-ES report that a prescriptive table in the code book will apply directly to that product. Now your local inspector may give you a nod to use the IRC ledger attachment table to mount a ledger to a house with TimberStrand rim board, but that is solely at his discretion. I'd check with my local official before trying it.

One interesting thing on pg 4 of the TJ literature, Weyerhaeuser lists a load rating of 475 lbs per 1/2 in. "lag bolt". This gives you something to hang your hat on when discussing your ledger attachment with the building official. Of course, Weyerhaeuser only lists 'lag bolts' and not through bolts.

Re: Flashing for Hose Bibs - QuickFlash Review

I concur that QuickFlash flashings are great. Unfortunately they aren't widely stocked so many people don't know about them.

In addition to this review, you can also find a short review on QuickFlash electric outlet flashings I wrote in FHB in 2004 here -


Check out http://www.quickflashproducts.com/

Re: Radiant Barriers for Exterior Walls

Matt - So what was the cost for labor and materials for the radiant barrier material used on this project?

And what is the 1% of my comment that you don't agree with?


Re: Radiant Barriers for Exterior Walls

Show me the benefit of a radiant barrier in this application. Just because you can ‘feel the heat’ reflecting off the surface of the sheet when it’s exposed to direct sun doesn’t mean you’ll get much benefit once it is behind a stone veneer. Sure, a radiant barrier will reflect some of the heat that transfers through the stone but with rigid foam and cavity insulation also blocking heat transfer, how much heat gain will the radiant barrier actually block?

Martin Holladay puts radiant barriers in perspective in his Green Building Advisor blog post last fall (http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/radiant-barriers-solution-search-problem ). I think radiant barriers can be useful in some situations but in the application discussed in the video, the $ would probably have been better spent on more rigid insulation.

Before you spend the money on a radiant barrier, whether it's in the attic or on the walls, consider where you are building, the existing or proposed insulation levels, how much heat transfer the surface will actually ‘see,’ how much the stuff costs and whether there’s a savings driven reason to use it.

It seems to me landscape shading and roof overhangs can solve most solar gain issues on walls. Just use light colored or reflective roofing and siding and you’ve knocked down the heat gain problem down to its knees – and saved yourself some $$.

Re: Inswing or Outswing Doors?

Closing and locking either an inswing or outswing door shouldn't be an issue if the strike is set properly. Both door types need to lock in the pull direction - Outswing when you are in the house and Inswing when you depart. No difference there.

Loaded down with kids and baggage would be even more of an issue for inswing doors with storm doors than an outswing door. Electric strike plates work great to ease the problem whether it's an outswing or inswing door.

High snow areas do have an egress issue with outswing doors. I recently opened my basement inswing door only to have a 3 ft drift of blowing snow tumble in - Covered or double entries are the way to go there.

Re: How to Attach a Deck Ledger to the House

There are lots of approaches to mounting a deck ledger to a house and several proprietary mounting systems. Many of the ones that Scott summarizes won't comply with the 2009 IRC. There's a new bolt and lag screw table that lays out the prescriptive options. One of the footnotes basically says that any connections that don't fall into the prescriptive measures (such as using spacer blocks or any proprietary products)must be designed by an engineer or using engineering principles. Check out "Deck Ledgers by the Code" http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/14730/deck-ledger-bolting-by-the-code

I reviewed all of the ledger connections depicted in Rob Thallon's "Graphic Guide to Frame Construction" and though in the intro he states "Every effort has been made to ensure that the details included in this book are accepted by building codes" fewer than half will today. (I guess it's time for Taunton to revise).

But despite what the codes state, if you can get your chosen ledger mounting system passed the local building official then you're clear - aside from the liability you take on.

Re: 2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!


Good catch on the post vs. comment. I can only go back in to edit the original post and can't edit comments. Hopefully that will change when FHB converts their website to another format.

Your last note "...don't know if it will pass local building official interpretation." is where the matter lies.

Without independent testing, using the Maine Deck Bracket to transfer the lateral load from floor joist to deck joist can be denied by a building official. The load ends up being offset from the web of the MDB and would need to be tested before Simpson or USP would stand behind the detail. But as long as the building inspector thinks it's okay - you're all set.

Re: 2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!


I checked the Hilti Kwik Bolt 3 (KB3) ICC-ES Report and the listed specs from Table 10 "Hot-Dip Ganvanized Kwik Bolt 3 Allowable Loads in Normal-Weight Concrete" on their technical report (see link below.) It looks like the Hot-Dipped Galvanized Kwik Bolt 3 will work provided you have 3-1/2 in. bolt embedment in minimum 2000psi concrete (either solid concrete or fully grouted CMU. The tension limit is 1895 lbs.

So to make the lateral load connection, you would need to still transfer the load to two floor joists on the deck using the DTT-2Z or DTB-TZ connectors mounted to the deck joists.

As far as the vertical load, the Kwik Bolt 3 will support 2190 lbs with the same 3 1/2 in. embedment - BUT you still have to consider that the ledger board will be the limiting factor. You will likely have to position the bolts closer together than the shear value of the bolts allow because the wood won't be strong enough.

Of course, all of this ultimately needs approval of your local building official.


Re: Finally, a foam gun that will last (I hope)

I have 4 of the GreatStuff pro foam dispenser guns. After 2 years occasional use all 4 are toast. Even though the cans have been left on for the duration something is going wrong - either the propellant is leaking or the foam is curing inside. I had high hopes for the gun due to the all-metal construction but no luck.

I plan to give gtmtnbiker's acetone cleaning a shot.

Re: ThruLok screw-in bolts replace 1/2 in. through-bolts

hipaul - ThruLoks can be used in conjunction with Simpson Strongtie's DTT2 or USP DTB2 brackets to provide the 200 lb design load (which actually translates into 500 test load) for the guardrail post to deck frame connection. When a post lines up with a floor joist then you'd still have to use a 1/2 inch bolt through the rim, post and connector because Simpson and USP require that; but the bottom bolt (which has no hardware connected to it) can be replaced with a ThruLok.

Most often, my posts end up somewhere between joists so I'd use 3 ThruLoks to mount the post to the rim board; then I would still mount DTT2s or DTB2s to the joists on either side of the post to reinforce the rim to frame so the rim is secure enough to resist the load on the guardrail post.

When I saw FastenMaster's display deck frame at the Deck Expo last month where they showed ThruLoks in place, I was excited because there were no hardware brackets. I assumed they figured out an alternative to the hardware solution to provide the a code-compliant solution for the guardrail post to frame connection. The FastenMaster rep told me that wasn't the case. I suggested that they do some additional testing with blocking and ThruLoks and maybe some LedgerLoks to give us some more options for making a secure connection.

As more deck builders install composite and plastic guard rail systems the post to frame connection will become more of an issue due to the ASTM D7032 requirement noted in the code - but that's another blog topic for later.

Re: Blower Door Testing Prior To Remodeling

This is a good overview of a blower door test but there's one important process that should take place before a blower door test is done on your house or if you're a contractor - on a client's home: A complete safety check that includes combustible gas leaks and combustion appliance exhaust performance.

Ideally the blower door technician should be certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and follow their testing protocol. The safety check not only identifies unsafe conditions within the house but also ensures that operating a blower door won't cause an unsafe condition inside the house.

Re: Clean Crosscuts with Fiber Cement Shear

A piece of pipe to extend the handle would be a good idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be oriented opposite the handle (ie 'T'). Just slipping it over the end should work.

Re: Clean Crosscuts with Fiber Cement Shear

You're right - The handle is narrow and does not have a padded grip. I wear a good pair of carpenter's gloves when I use it so I don't notice any fatigue after cutting on and off for a day. The cut guy on a production crew would probably have trouble. One suggestion I'd make is to get some good pipe insulation like Armorflex to wrap the handle as a cushion.

Re: Bark Side Up or Bark Side Down?

End Sealing: Wax or otherwise helps resist checking / end splitting. It won't stop checking on pressure treated wood but helps. On the exotic hardwood decks I've done, end sealing seems to stop most all checking. Only places I've seen checking on hardwood decking that has received end sealing treatment is miter cuts.

Western red cedar - One of my favorites as well. Provided of course that homeowners understand how it behaves (graying out, staining, soft nature). I don't know that 'all in the trade' consider it the 'greenest' but it has its green points.

Re: BUILDING SKILLS: How To Cut Housewrap For Window Rough Openings

The "upside down wine glass" method was state of the art 5 - 10 years ago. The method most window and housewrap manufacturers are moving to is a full 'I' cut where the bottom cut is straight across the rough sill.

The problem with the method shown in this video is the sill flap interfers with the sill pan flashing when you are using a self-adhering flashing tape. The flap prevents the flashing tape from bonding to the rough sill and can lead to bunching up of the membrane that may leave water puddled beneath the window.

I go one step further when cutting the housewrap from an opening. Instead of a single vertical cut in the center of the opening, I gauge in from the jack studs about 4 in. (for 2x4 walls) or 6 in. (for 2x6 walls) and make vertical cuts at each side. This leaves a large piece of housewrap that can be used in any one of a number of other value-added housewrap upgrades like a 'high pressure wind skirt' or double wrapping inside and outside corners. Very large pieces from door openings are often big enough to wrap dormer walls or spaces between windows elsewhere.

Re: Kickout Flashing: How to Flash Troublesome Roof-to-Wall Intersections

Peel and stick materials are:

FlexWrap (DuPont Tyvek) - flexible white stuff

York HomeSeal - the straight runs where flexibility not needed. Any plastic surfaced self-adhered membrane will work (Grace Ice and Water Shield, IKO GoldShield Ice & Water Protector, Owens Corning WeatherLock Flex.

Finishing with vinyl - I just J channel 1 in. off roof surface. The ugly part is channeling around the kickout wing. For any lap or shingle siding, the process isn't a problem. You just use a jigsaw to cut a notch in the siding for the kickout. With fibercement, you have to leave 2 inches to the roof surface and for wood you should leave about 1 inch.

Re: BUILDING SKILLS: Tape Housewrap Seams to Keep Water and Air Out

Best practice does call for a mechanical patch over tears and holes as Justin shows. There are a few finer points when preparing a patch piece and the housewrap itself.

I start by sizing the patch piece at least 10 inches taller than the damaged area and a foot wider. I slightly taper cut the piece so the top is about 1 inch narrower than the bottom.

I place the patch piece over the damaged area as a visual guide for how wide to make the horizontal cut. Make the horizontal cut about an inch above the top of the damaged area - that way you don't have two loose flaps to contend with. There is no purpose for the short diagonal cuts that Justin shows; one single horizontal cut is all that's needed.

Then slip the top of the patch piece into the horizontal slice and push it upwards about 4 or 5 inches. Since the patch piece is tapered, it will fully fill to the sides of the slice for a much mechanical protection as possible.

Then you can tape around the perimeter - 4 straight pieces- starting at the bottom, then the sides then the top.

I learned this process from Carl Hagstrom. He's devised many housewrap installation details that have been adopted by DuPont and other housewrap manufacturers and included in their instructions.

Re: Reader Email: Bargain bin flooring nailer?

I have a dozen 'off brand' tools from framing nailers and flooring nailers to impact wrenches and grinders. Many are knockoffs of proven designs that have gone off patent. Take the Hitachi N83 nailer. A bulletproof tool that Hitachi still makes; but after it the patent ran out you could but 3 or 4 other off-brands that copied the same design. Many of the parts used in the off-brands are made by the same companies that supply Hitachi. I caniblized one off-brand tool to repair a couple Hitachis and everything was interchangable. I've seen the same happen with old Bostitch designs as well.

I wouldn't be surprised if the flooring nailers were old Bostitch or PneuTools designs that some company copied - hence they're pretty reliable. And if you can sort out what the gene line is, you can easily order the parent tool parts because getting parts for the off-brand tools is often a problem.

And if anyone's in the market for a flooring nailer specifically, check out the Harbor Freight flooring nailer for $149. It'll shoot T cleats, L cleats and staples - so now matter what your preference is, it's got you covered. And at that price, it'll pay for itself on the first job.

Re: 'Concealed' Screwed-Down Decking

DC - The Kreg system definitely won’t compete with an auto-feed screw gun. I have 2 Quik-Drives, 3 DuraSpin models and a Makita and have tried Muro and a couple others. They’re great and fast. I don’t know of any that drive collated trim-head screws though – And I guess I default to hand-driven trim heads as a baseline comparison for the Kreg.

Regarding the automated and semi-automated fastening systems. There’s an article in Decks & Outdoor Projects Vol. 3. (http://store.taunton.com/onlinestore/item/decks-and-outdoor-projects-vol-3-027021.html)

I’m not sure Taunton will repurpose it for FHB but I’ll ask to see if they’ll post it in the Deck Planning Center.

Otherwise, I plan to write up each system as I get a couple decks under my belt with each one. I just finished a large deck using the HID Fast system and plan an post on this blog shortly.


Re: 'Concealed' Screwed-Down Decking

I've talked with others who share WallaWallaBuilder's concern about the edge-driven screws being a travel path for water. I don't think it would be any different (and probably less) than face-screwed decking. And slotted boards used with hidden fasteners present another concern that I think may be a greater risk than the pocket screws. The real issue with water comes into play with wood decking vs. synthetics which aren't as moisture sensitive. As with most new systems and tools, only time will tell. Until then we can only make educated guesses.

The TigerGun can only be used with their TC-G grooved board fastener and not the TigerClaw pin type fasteners. SureDrive has a tool called the Eliminator - another modified metal connector nailer for driving in NailScrews or Scrails into the Mantis hidden fastener. It works much like the TigerGun and is manufactured by the same company (PneuTools Inc). Another soon to be released nailer will looks like it will be one step beyond the TigerGun and Eliminator because it can be operated while standing on the decking you already have installed rather than the others where you have to stand on the joists to operate effectively.

Re: BUILDING SKILLS: Installing Housewrap At Inside Corners

There is a benefit to Justin's inside corner wrapping method; he essentially double layers the housewrap at a vulnerable location. When siding butts an inside cornerboard, there's an open gap. Caulking isn't a long-term solution but the double layer helps resist water leaks.

And Justin selected his block well. Unlike some framing lumber that has radically eased edges, his has a nearly crisp corner - important to avoid a void.

Re: Bosch redefines sliding miter saw category with new "glider" system

So when will FHB get a hard copy and do some video on how this model works? It would be good to see it in action.

Re: The Goal of a Finished Railing

Blaeberry, The net just barely complies with subsection (c) of your code by 0.35 mm. The net squares are 1 3/4 in. wide which equals 44.45mm.

The code language is vastly different than what we have in the US so it's difficult to compare. Here the codes differentiate Guardrails from Guard infill. It looks like in BC they are grouped together.

Re: Flushing Out the Ultra Water-Efficient Stealth Toilet

It's been almost a week since I installed a Stealth toilet. It works better than the 1997 1.6 gallon it replaced. The flush is fast, not noisy, and the recovery rate is - well, half the time.

The water spot is larger and deeper than the old toilet and better than I expected.

You don't appreciate the engineering that Alex describes until you push the button on top. It flushes, the bowl clears and the water spot fills all in an instant.

Part of the flush/refill water cascades from under the rim and seems to wash at an angle rather than straight down. I think this helps give water more 'hang time' on the 'above the waterline' portion of the bowl helping to clean it.

One neat thing about the ultra low flush is that the tank has plenty of reserve capacity inside for back-to-back full flushes if needed. We haven't needed yet though; but should the need arise.

We'll see how the flush mechanism holds up. I have high hopes for it. So far it has solved one problem of the original toilet - flapper chain hang-ups.

The configuration of my drains are probably worst-case for an ultra-low-flow toilet. 20 ft. run at 1/8 in. per foot on one pipe diameter upsize from from fixture load requirement. At 20 ft, there's a 90, a 45 into a TY and on to a 20 foot pipe to the septic tank. That run is 1/4 per foot. I scoped the cleanout yesterday and there's nothing lingering on the low slope run.

I'll bet there are a lot of desert southwest municipal water conservation managers eying the Stealth for their toilet replacement programs. Who knows, they may be replacing tens of thousands of 1.6 gpf models they only installed a few years ago.

Re: The Goal of a Finished Railing

Answering questions from Carpenter 183 and nuked:

I would be reluctant to use fence staples with the net configuration I used - inset between the posts/rail because under tension they would be subject to withdrawal. However, fence staples may work if the net were stapled to the inside face of the posts/rail. Your notion got me thinking that rather than ordering separate net for each post - post section, one long narrow net could be used with the net spanning across the inside faces of a series of posts.

As far as kids climbing - For a short time the IRC had a restriction on any horizontal guard infill I believe. In RI where I work, the state amended code prohibited horizontal infill for many years - the caution being horizontal infill turns the guard assembly into a 'jungle gym.' Of course cable railing system makers and designers who prefer horizontal batten infill couldn't sell their wares or designs . Now there's no code prohibitions against horizontal guard infill.
I feel kids will have a harder time climbing the net than other horizontal infill. The 1 3/4 in. pattern makes it hard for even tiny shoes to gain purchase into the net. And the flex of the net web really makes it challenging to hold onto the net as climbing. I tried climbing a nearby soccer goal with a similar net and couldn't manage. So I'm not worried but I would make sure any clients consider the possibility of budding rock climbers practicing on the net.


Re: BUILDING SKILLS: Cutting a Door

For production door cutting I use an EZ Guide Rail system from EurekaZone. It works like a 'cut board' noted by jkidevcorp and 'shooting board' Brian mentions but has a chip-free cutting edge.

This post is listed under "Building Skills" and was intended as entry level information.

Instructions for building and using a shooting board jig appeared in Fine Homebuilding many years ago but as far as I know, no one has done a video for the FHB website yet.

Re: Green Building Myth #1: It's More Expensive

I've been building green homes for almost 20 years and have found that building green doesn't cost more and in some cases costs less. There are many levels of green building as reflected in green building certification programs. There's no reason a mindful builder can't achieve basic or even mid-level certification at the same price he's building a run-of-the-mill house now.

There are many utility and government incentive programs that make it easy to add some otherwise costly green features like solar thermal, PV or advanced heat pump systems to a new or existing home. Combining incentives available in my area, we can install a geothermal heat pump system for less than a conventional system.

There is a learning curve to planning and building a green home cost effectively so the first 2 or 3 projects will either take more effort or cost a little more. The challenges for many builders are to set aside preconceived notions about construction, spend the time necessary to learn how the pieces of green building fit together, and give it a try.

Re: Accurate marks on any material

Aluminum knitting needles - leave a crisp mark on ceramic tile that doesn't wash away when cutting with a wet saw.

Re: Why Building Science Matters to Builders (and Drinking Birds)

Most builders and remodelers don't make an effort to learn how buildings work; and when they do hear a piece of building science here or there that conflicts with notions or practices that they've held dear for 10, 20, 30 years - they dismiss it.

At some point, as green building becomes more institutionalized and contractor licensing and continuing education requirements become more widespread, more contractors will begin to change their ways - or, hopefully, won't even begin falling into the pattern of outdated practices.

Re: On conscience and construction

If you deck is close to grade level then the fall usually won't cause injury should it collapse or the railing falls off. The trouble with deck failures as I understand it is they don't give much warning. Like an earthquake, it's quiet one moment and then it's tumbling.

Re: Revealed: Who's Behind Those Superhuman Job-Site Videos

This is like learning there is no Santa. Not to be outdone by these guys, I've been practicing several of the skills they show. I found if you use a narrow kerf 8 in blade you can just about cut through a 2x4 from 15 feet. Funny thing is that the closer you get, the less deep the blade cuts. I tried stepping back to 20 feet but can't get the aim down to hit the crosscut line.

The framing nailer art trick can almost be done but you have to shoot into Homosote or rigid foam board - no matter what pressure I pump the compressor up to, the nails won't penetrate solid wood unless you're w/in a foot or so.

And please don't tell me the juggling German hammer guy is a hoax - I can do that trick with curved claw hammers but am still reluctant to use straight claw hammers.

Re: IBS 2010: Promising New Water Heater from GE

Heat pump water heaters aren't new. There have been a few stand alone and add-on units for several years but as Brian notes, GE's is the first E Star. The other models are by much less known brands. One of the other brands -Air Tap- can be connected to ducts and help dehumidify and cool interior air. It's unfortunate that GE's doesn't seem to adapt well.

As other commenters point out, the installed price of the GE model may have a long payback period but it's the first from a major manufacturer. Hopefully other companies will introduce their own and we'll see prices come down. Then, when the payback drops into the 10 year or less range we'll probably see heat pump water heaters become commonplace.

Think hybrid cars and the few early adopters who paid a premium. It's only a matter of time before heat pump water heaters change the landscape.

Re: 7 Rules for Remodelers

Where to start, where to end. I think with all the good suggestions we should go back to the drawing board and publish 20 Tips (or more). There's no shortage of good ideas -

Re: IBS 2010: We're Taking Questions on New Tools and Products

GE is supposed to introduce a residential sized (170 lb, 6 ft high) low wind speed, turbulent windflow, ridge mounted wind turbine. It has a unique design and supposedly it's cost effective. But no one's seen it in real life. Grill the GE people. N2303

Re: Are Replacement Windows a Waste of Money?

It's unfortunate that the ARRA (stimulus package) energy efficiency tax credits were positioned to promote windows over other improvements. Homeowners can only take credit for the insulation material in an insulation upgrade (no labor) yet windows garner a labor and material credit. And with so many replacement window specialty companies making it easy for homeowners (they even fill out the paperwork) to get the credit, the owners go with the path of least resistance.

I have to admit, I'm a fan of replacement windows. Right job, right conditions, realization of what the energy benefits (and functionality benefits) are and the right window for the project - they make sense. But they aren't a cure for heating bills.

Re: 2009 In Review: 5 Most Dangerous Home Building Videos

Dead link on Bonus

Re: Time to retire your hammer-tacker?

Since we can't use hammer tackers to fasten housewrap or synthetic underlayment there aren't many uses left. Flooring paper underlayment, laminate flooring underlayment, carpet pad, lost pet posters.

Re: Which is the greenest wall system: brick, stucco, or EIFS?

What's not clear is if BASF addressed the issue of brominated flame retardant HBCD, a persistent, bioaccumulative toxin in the polystyrene Senerflex insulation board that's used in the Senergy system or if they only addressed the surface coating - the E, F and S in EIFS.

Re: Breaking News: Senco unveils a nitrogen-powered cordless nailer


I got a chance to try out the Senco nailer at the Deck Expo and was amazed at how fast it cycled. I think it will drive 3 nails per second. It did have a little more kickback than you get with regular pneumatic finish nailers but not so much that it was bothersome. One battery charge will drive something like 500 nails - more than I drive in a day - so the single battery they supply should be enough.

The Senco weighs in about halfway between a pneumatic nailer and a Paslode gas powered or DeWalt battery powered nailer

To me, this is a game changer. All the other tool companies will be playing catchup. And I have to believe that Senco is looking at staplers and framing nailers.

Re: Deck Construction book ala Code

The book can also be had direct from the publisher in the bookstore at www.iccsafe.org

Re: Gas Fireplaces: Direct Vent vs. Vent-Free

There is no such thing as a vent-free gas fireplace. 'Vent-free' is just a marketing term. All gas fired appliances have exhaust. And 'vent-free' models vent the exhaust inside the house.

Most naysayers focus on the potential CO issues and they may have a point. But what about the moisture vapor. I've been called in to look at several homes with 'moisture problems' where the culprit turned out to be gas fired appliances exhausting inside the house. The RH was topping 70% and even though these homes have mechanical ventilation systems set for normal household moisture levels (showering, respiring, pets, plants) they couldn't handle the 'vent-free' fireplace.

I'm not sure why California prohibits the sale and installation of 'vent-free' fireplaces but they may be onto something.

Re: Are hoseless nailers worth the hassle?

I've used hoseless nailers for over 30 years and find them indispensible.

I'm not sure about these gas powered or pneumatic things you are talking about but my hammer works day-in and day-out without much service and no maintenance.

Re: Set Tile Without Mastic or Thinset


Bondera isn't asphalt based or anything like the Grace plastic surfaced peel and stick membranes. I used Bondera last week on 3 tile installs and it worked great. No problems with bonding except over drywall dust (to be expected)and wrinkles can be cut out then sealed over with companion seam tape.

Re: Get FREE hot water, AC, and dry air

I predict that over the next 10 years standard electric resistance hot water heaters will vanish from the marketplace. Air source heat pump water heaters are where the market is headed and we will see several factors driving the change. Electric utilities will provide incentives for homeowners to change-out resistance models for heat pump models. The federal government will increase efficiency requirements that resistance water heaters will be unable to meet. State energy offices will get into the act at some incentive level too. And as more manufacturers introduce more models, the price will come down.

Air Tap is a retrofit for existing water heaters. They are usually sold through installing dealers but you can buy one online for about $750. Anyone handy with basic tools and electric wiring can convert their electric or gas water heater. The Air Tap inserts a heat exchanger through the dip tube. Other companies (Trevor-Martin, North Road) make similar retrofit heat pumps.

If you're in the market for a new water heater I recommend looking into a fully integrated heat pump water heater rather than the AirTap retrofit. A GE model will be the first large US maker to offer a model. It will be out in November and will cost $1200 or so. Expect several other companies to offer heat pump water heaters soon.

$1200 sounds expensive when you figure a new resistance model of the same capacity is about $400. But unlike the payback-guesstimates for insulation upgrades, it's easy to calculate payback period for heat pump water heaters. The new heat pump models cut electric consumption by at least half. The average electric hot water heater uses $600/year (5000 kwh). So you save $300 a year in operational cost. The new heat pump water heater pays for itself in less than 3 years.

A handy person can also turn one of these heat pump water heaters into a dehumidifier and air conditioner. The 'exhaust' air from the heat pump is cold air. Simple duct work can deliver that air where you want it. So just like your refrigerator helps warm your house in the winter, your water heater can cool it in the summer.

So what's next on the horizon? The water heater / refrigerator combination unit. Both operate on the same technology (refrigeration cycle). The heat extracted from the refrigerator warms the water. Nothing goes to 'waste' any season of the year. I'm sure there are companies out there working on models.

For more information:
US DOE Research: www.ornl.gov/sci/btc/apps/hotwater.html
North Road Technologies http://www.northrdt.com/
Trevor-Martin: http://trevormartin.com/hwg_main.asp
GE: www.geappliances.com/products/water/heat-pump-water-heater

Re: Payback Estimator: Insulation Upgrade

This calculator will likely give a user false information for a number of reasons. It likely doesn't adjust for air leakage which if not addressed could make any insulation upgrade nearly worthless from an energy saving perspective. Other questions aren't addressed either that would impact the results: Does this calculator use basis dollars (2009) or does it ignore overall inflation (diminishing value of money)when determining the payback period? Does it adjust for fuel price inflation? If not, it is likely that the resulting period would be much shorter. Read my blog post a better explanation on how to calculate payback: www.finehomebuilding.com/item/9365.

Re: TimberSil Decking

ewoodhouse - I'll send you the text draft of the article. No photos but you may be able to sort it out. Email me with your email - mikeguertin@juno.com

Re: TimberSil Decking

What you see covering the joists is EPDM. Couple years ago I priced out a number of the 10 underdeck drainage systems out there and considered their installation details. I worked out a system to use EPDM that's fast, easy and less than half the cost of commercial systems. FHB's Chuck Bickford already photographed and video taped the process and I wrote up an outline for an article. Still awaiting Brian Pontolilo's go-ahead. I'm guessing the soonest it will appear in the magazine is a year.

Re: Who Do You Blame for Your Energy Lemon?


One answer to your question is that several city, county and state governments have initiated or proposed laws that (would) require some form of energy efficiency disclosure / audit of homes upon sale. There are different approaches. Home energy rating report by third party, energy use disclosure with different look-back periods, checklist disclosure of energy efficiency conditions of the home, prescriptive improvements that must be made and verified before sale transaction and others.

Many of these measures have only been put in place in the last few years and there's a growing list of government (local, state and federal) looking at disclosure requirements.

May be a good time to become a HERS rater.

Here are some examples I dug up; I'm sure there are more.

Enacted Requirements:
Austin, TX: Energy audit required of homes older than 10 years old.
Maine: Landlords must provide prospective tenants with energy efficiency disclosure on rental property.
Berkley and San Francisco, CA: Before resale or during remodel basic energy efficiency upgrades must be made. Proposal to require energy audits upon resale.
Montgomery County, MD: Requires sellers to provide buyers with home's energy bills. Originally required full energy audit but that aspect dropped due to enforcement/cost issues.

Proposal Stage:
Ontario Canada: Proposed bill requiring "home energy rating report" on homes before sale or lease.

Seattle, WA: Studying energy performance disclosure.
Denver, CO Studying energy performance disclosure.
Minnesota: Legislature considering residential energy disclosure.

Re: Who Do You Blame for Your Energy Lemon?

Builders who work in municipalities that have adopted (and enforce) the 2006 IRC have to put an 'energy sticker' on the house. N1101.8 Certificate A permenant certificate shall be posted on or in the electrical distribution panel....."

The information required on the 'sticker' is R value of insulation in the ceiling/roof, walls, foundation, floor and ductwork; U factors and solar heat gain coef. for windows and doors; efficiency of heating and cooling systems.

Insulation levels and window and door efficiencies were bumped up.

As far as practices go - the IRC 2006 addresses them too. N1102.4 Air Leakage - fairly complete list of air sealing locations that must be treated with caulk, gasket or weatherstrips.

I think where things fell apart - and perhaps what you saw - is lack of enforcement. I'd say most builders aren't aware of the finer points of what's required by the building codes. And for the most part, they don't get thorough oversight from inspectors. To conduct a complete insulation and air sealing inspection would take an inspector at least 2 hours on an average house.

The 2009 IRC upped all the requirements again and a couple of the new provisions specifically address the inspection/enforcement side. Builders who have never heard of blower door or duct blaster tests will get a rude kick in the kiester when their local official asks for the 3rd party documentation before passing his visual inspection. Yup, performance testing is on the way.

I did a assessment of the 2009 IRC and compared it to the Energy Star Home requirements for my local HBA. The 2009 code is almost on par with Energy Star.

Regular FHB contributor and building official, Lynn Underwood, has been writing about the 'green' aspects of the 2009 IRC in the "Code Green" blog at GBA. Check it out:

Re: Synthetic Decking: Best Buy or Absolute Nightmare?

2Paul, Perfecionist I'll weigh in with others who favor concrete decks; they last.

There is no need to frame them out of pressure treated lumber provided you manage the water that migrates through the slab. I use regular lumber for framing, plywood sheathing and then 0.45 EPDM sheet tacked down the face of your outside framing. Overhang the slab 3 in. around the edges and trim over the EPDM covered framing. Posts will have to be treated or use steel columns.

Things to keep in mind:
Your dead load is going to go up from typical 10 lb/sf to about 75 lb/sf (presuming a 5 in. slab).
Reinforce the slab - rebar grid, welded wire - mainly to keep slab from separating in the event of cracks.
Forget about common ledger mounting systems. Either support the deck independently from the house, run the deck joists on top of the foundation or have an engineer devise a ledger connection.

My engineer father built his 28 ft x 16 ft deck (8 ft off grade)with a concrete surface 43 years ago. It's easy to keep clean, reassuringly firm underfoot and maintenance-free.

Re: Synthetic Decking: Best Buy or Absolute Nightmare?

Beideck - Your question regarding TimberSil prompted me to post a blog entry on the product.


Re: Synthetic Decking: Best Buy or Absolute Nightmare?

It's all about the attributes you want in decking. Show me the 'best' looking, maintenance-free synthetic I'll bring it to it's knees. Same goes for premium woods. Every decking material out there has strong points and shortcomings.

What persuades people may be the drumming hype of the manufacturers of synthetic decking. In unison they make a lot of noise. The WRCLA ('Real Cedar') and Southern Pine Council support their species but they don't have deep pockets.

Pressure treated SYP and HemFir still dominate and I suspect they will for a long time to come. Often it all comes down to price.

Rob - is there any chance that FHB will compile a new survey of synthetic decking and one on wood decking? Many of the products in Chris Green's article have been changed, manufacturers have vanished or been gobbled up and there are lots of new products on the market. And there are many more woods out there suitable for decking than most people realize. It would be nice to have a quick Pro / Con on different products too from a performance perspective.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes


You note that the sprinklers are in-line between supply and fixture and not a separate branch. How does that work? I configure my home designs for interior 'wet walls.' Very short supply runs to an intermediate manifold with short runs to fixtures. No pipes go overhead in rooms. In order to put sprinklers high on walls or the ceilings of rooms, I would have to run separate lines.

And according to the requirements of the sprinkler code, we can forget about 1/2 inch supply pipes. Minimum allowable size is 3/4 inch (P2904.6) and will likely jump to 1 inch when you do a sizing calculation following NFPA 13D or the IRC's prescriptive method.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

Sprinkler System Question:

Is there any cause for concern with stagnating water in a potable supply pipe style residential systems?

Commercial sprinkler systems are isolated from potable water with backflow preventors, but residential systems usually have sprinkler heads on cold water supplies. If those pipes are 'T'd off and dead end at a sprinkler then the water sits there for years and years and years.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

Another Idea for Fire Protection

I have monitored burglar / Smoke / Fire / CO alarm systems installed in every house I build and remodel. A complete wired system costs between $500 - $1000 and will handle up to a 3500 sf house. Monitoring costs $200 - $300 per year.

When a smoke, heat or CO detector goes off and no one is home, the fire dept is there in minutes.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

Chris - Regarding the cost effectiveness of sprinkling new homes: Direct impact on property damage.

The enormous number I calculated ($1.1 Billion) surprised me. If we factor in major remodels which will also fall under the sprinkler requirement, then the price tag goes up even further.

I couldn't find any stats through federal gov nor NFPA that correlates year of home construction and property damage cost in event of fire. That would be the only way we could determine how 1.1 Billion spent on sprinklers might impact the 7.5 Billion in losses.

I suspect there will be very little impact.

I still think the $ is best spent on smoke detectors - It's the only way we can address older homes that do and will continue to be the largest percentage of dwellings in the country.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

Chris, You are right, I got my fire death numbers incorrect. I was using stats I got from a local fire official - not sure his source. You have to sift through the NFPA reports and extrapolate to get specific numbers on one and two family detached home fires and associated deaths. Home fire death numbers are aggregated with certain multifamily dwellings. So the total 2007 deaths in one and two family dwellings (those the IRC addresses) were 2394 in US.

Re: 2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!


I got a response from an engineer at Simpson Strongtie. His answer was in general terms about the code provision:

"The 2009 IRC R502.2.2.3 Deck lateral load connection detail functions by using a pair of hold-down tension devices, connected together by a rod in tension. Because this rod is in tension, there is no effect on having 3 inches of clear space between the ledger and the main structure."

The folks I corresponded with at Simpson Strongtie have concerns about the Maine Deck Brackets. Their concerns revolve around following the ICC-ES report to the letter. There are conditions in there that many people overlook when using them.

Re: Stair Square jig

This trick works great for laying out rafters too.

I use a similar method. Rather than making a clamping straight edge, I drill a series of holes in a framing square and screw the square to the straight edge. One advantage over a clamping system - less likely to get knocked out of adjustment; on the con side - harder to microadjust.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

How many lives will new sprinklers really save? Not many. Instead of wasting the money on new homes, use the money wisely on a more effective system with a proven track record. Let's impose a special 'fire prevention tax' on all new homes and use the money to put smoke detectors into old homes AND conduct annual fire inspections of all homes. Read on for the logic:

Homes built since the '70's have integrated hardwired smoke detectors and many states now require CO detectors and heat detectors as well. I believe all states require homes built before hardwired smoke detector requirements must be retrofit with battery operated detectors verified at time of resale.

Smoke, CO and heat detectors alert occupants far earlier than sprinklers activate. According to NFPA stats, prior to smoke detector requirements in new AND EXISTING homes there were 10,000 to 15,000 home fire related deaths in the US each year. Recent stats have the number at 300 - 400 per year. Smoke detectors save lives - lots of lives.

It will cost $1,125,000,000 to install sprinkler systems in half a million new homes built each year based on the $2250 figure Chris notes above for a 1500 sf (small) home.

With the fact that older homes burn much more frequently than new homes in mind, how many of those 300 - 400 lives will be saved by installing sprinklers in newly constructed homes?

Pay close attention next time you hear of a tragic house fire where people lose their lives. Note the age of the home and more importantly, did the home have working smoke detectors. Often reporters make note when there were no detectors or non-functioning ones.

Instead of requiring sprinkler systems in new home I propose a more practical use for the money. State fire marshals should impose a fee based on the square footage of the new home along the lines of the anticipated cost of a new sprinkler system - $1.50/sf. Put those funds in a locked account to keep politicians away. Use the money to:
1-Install free smoke and CO detectors in old homes and
2-Conduct annual inspections of EVERY house. (you can bet people will change detector batteries before the inspector shows up knowing they'll be charged a hefty reinspection fee)

Many states have motor vehicle inspection requirements to ensure drivers and passengers are safe - Why not home inspections?

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

They got it backwards! Requiring sprinklers in new buildings is not the best use of money. I keep a mental log of the houses that burn in my state (small state - easy on the aging mind). The houses that burn are the OLD ones. Generally balloon frame vintage. It would be a lot more sensible to require anyone with homes built before say 1952 to be retrofit with sprinklers ASAP.

The few relatively new homes that I've heard of burning locally were attributed to 3 causes. Attached garages (combustibles stored ignited), Natural Gas (backhoe pulling a line), and Arson.

I'm sure there'd be pushback to forcing owners of older homes to pay for sprinklers but there is a president here in RI. Several towns have begun requiring that homes with cesspools either hook up to sewers or have new modern septic systems installed. Average cost for sewer hookup= $4000 plus $700/year; new septic system = $20,000. Owners of old homes complain loudly but the measures haven't been struck down in court.

So let's get the code amended to require old homes be sprinkled.

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

Whether you agree with sprinkler codes or not - The firemen porked us! They packed the ICC meeting last fall. They got lobby $ to pay for bodies at the vote. I'm a dues paying member of the ICC and am entitled to vote but I have to pay my own way to the meeting. The firemen got a paid vacation, paid time off work (due to union contract rules) and all they had to do was show up for the vote.

The I codes are supposed to be 'consensus' codes where all stakeholders have a seat at the table. I was disappointed to discover that 'consensus' meant 'lobby $$$.'

Re: Code-change alert: Fire sprinklers in all new homes

Residential sprinkler requirements mandated by communities aren't new. Growing communities are faced with heavy infrastructure and operations costs - in this case, new fire stations, equipment and personel. Existing residents often are burdened with tax increases to pay for the improvements even though the costs are due to the newcomers. And when communities try to shift the costs for new infrastructure to new residents, the courts often smack them down. By requiring new homes to be sprinkled, the community reduces the distance and capacity requirements for fire station locations. I think under these circumstances (new expanding neighborhoods), the requirement for sprinkling new homes is a good idea.

Re: How to Set Deck and Shed Footings with Plastic Piers

reikiguy2003 You have to do some calculations to determine what is best without going overkill. For the most part, if your beam is a 2ply 2x and you aren't maxing out the beam span then 4x4's will be fine provided the deck isn't too high off grade. When posts are tall, you either need a larger size (6x6) or lateral bracing to resist bending.

Re: How to Set Deck and Shed Footings with Plastic Piers

Verygood - No worry on deterioration if you follow the instructions. 1 The green caps are UV stabilized. 2 The PVC pipe only goes to grade therefore covered. 3 How much sun will actually reach the ground - sure it depends on the deck configuration and sun exposure angle but for the most part there isn't an issue even if it gets exposed a little. 4 if the earth berms up to the top of the post cap and touches the wood deck post then you have the same problem you get when the earth berms up around a concrete deck footing and post bracket.

I've painted the pvc green or brown when I expect there will be soil settling. When the pipe is exposed, it's got UV protection by virtue of the paint. Another solution is to wrap the pvc pipe with a short section of 6 inch galv duct or wrap it with a piece of aluminum or pvc coil stock.

There are lots of solutions to the pipe exposure problem.

Re: Manufactured Deck Railings Look Good, But Do They Last?

One more Con for many of the manufactured deck railings: Most mounting systems will not pass the ASTM D7032 - 08 (Standard Specification for Establishing Performance Ratings for Wood-Plastic Composite Deck Boards and Guardrail Systems).

Though not specifically integrated into the 2009 IRC, I expect to see something pop up in the 2010 IRC Supplement. From what I understand most railing systems won't support the code required loads even many have ICC-ES reports for railing suitability.

Re: 2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!


I think the Maine Deck Bracket and Simpson DTT2Z make a dynamite combination. I've used the Deck Brackets on a number of decks and like the flashability of them. Here's how I do it: http://www.deckmagazine.com/pdf/2007/0703/0703prod.pdf

I have not yet had a chance to use the two devices in combination. The lateral capacity of the DTT2Z isn't really related to how you mount the ledger for vertical / shear load. Your inspector may be questioning the difference between the code drawing where the ledger is in contact with the wall and how the Maine Deck Bracket holds the ledger off the wall.

The principle of the code configured lateral load connection is great - the rod connects the hold down devices from the house joist to the deck joist regardless of the ledger position. I believe they designed the connection to work this way so builders who like to use a stack of washers, Attach-A-Deck, Wall-2-Deck or other ledger spacing system can still provide a lateral load connection without having to switch to a different ledger mounting system.

I'll contact a guy I know at Simpson and get his take on the combination and post the information back here as soon as I hear back.

The codes do give final say to the local officials for better or worse.

Re: 2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!

Larry, I too drop my deck surface 6 or 7 inches below the floor and thought about the drawing. There's nothing to say you can't install the through rod at an angle. Catch the lower 2 inches of the floor joist, the top two inches of the deck joist and a slight angle.

To others who have a gripe with the code - Do as I did and Join the ICC [http://www.iccsafe.org/]; now I can vote on proposed code changes. And the lateral load ties ARE code. And as soon as your code authority adopts the 09 codes, you too will have the opportunity to use the newfangled connection.

The solution is not looking for a problem - there is a problem. Stats show that more people are seriously injured or killed each year in deck collapses than any other single part of a house (that surprised me). Deck collapses are like car accidents - they happen every day but the national news requires a threashold of blood before it leads (think bus accident - 8 dead, Chicago deck collapse....).

And the lateral connection shown in the code is not 'required.' You are perfectly welcome to have an engineer design another solution that meets the performance standard (1500 lb lateral load resistance).

Re: Why I Don't Use Cellulose or Blue-Jean Insulation

I'm curious why cellulosefacts has not provided a profile. I put my name, face and sometimes faulty reputation behind my statements. I think it only fair to know with whom we are discussing issues with. (is it 'whom' or 'who'- I always forget)

Re: Why I Don't Use Cellulose or Blue-Jean Insulation

I couldn't have made the points Michael does any better. Durability and Performance may be achieved through different means by different designers and builders in different locations. The open discussion about building materials and practices that get us to Durability and Performance is valuable but sometimes confusing. I learned a couple new perspectives reading Michael's blog and the string of comments from readers.

There will never be a definitive prescriptive approach to material selection and construction practices that leads to a green house. After I've completed a 'green' house or remodel I learn something new or think about something a different way that makes me question whether we did the best work we could have from design through construction. Maybe someday someone will build the 'perfect' green house that we can all agree 100% with, but I doubt it.

Re: That Can't Be Safe! A Visit to the Shingle Mill

I have standing invites from the owners of two shingle mills; one in BC and Quebec. The companies are top of their league and employ the most efficient and safe methods according to the staff. I've only heard stories of the saws and their description matches what's on the video. The only difference is that the guy seems to be moving pretty slow. It's piece work- paid by volume and he's moving pretty slow.

I suppose if you showed the sawyers videos of us using nail guns and sidewinder circ saws they'd think we were crazy too.

Re: Play Fine Homebuilding's Game "The Inspector"

The 'framing code' violations are not necessarily so. It took me half an hour clicking all over the photo to sort a couple out. Some are 'maybe' code violations, dependent on details not defined (The gable window header - you only need a structural header if the ridge is structural, The stud in the cheek wall - only needed if the distance between the main and dormer roof rafters exceeds the span rating of the sheathing, The wall plate - not necessary by code unless the floor sheathing is less than 3/4 inch). Shear blocking is not needed in all regions, plus it probably wouldn't be needed on a gable end due to the rigidity of the rafter triangle, and There actually are ladders designed with only 3 legs -though I get the point with that one).

One thing that would be good to add to the game is a listing of how many people have played and their rankings. That way players can see where their score placed. And include a Top Score Holder - like the old PacMan machines from my younger years, we'd play just to try and get our moniker listed on a machine for bragging rights. I think I own the alltime low score on the Inspector; I got a -3500.

Re: Craziest Shingle Tear-Off Method Ever?

I'm already thinking of other ways to put this practice to use.

Sidewall shingles - as long as you can get the bucket to catch the bottom lip of the shingles - you're golden.

Asphalt roof shingles - why not 'eh?

You can damage anything if you aren't careful so each project needs to be assessed independently.

There may be an upcoming market for specialty blades and buckets for jobsite lifts - get your patent ideas in fast.

Re: 2009 Deck Code Changes - Pay Attention!

Justin, Ed,

Cut to the chase - DeckLok brackets will not work; their load rating is too low and can't be used to comply with the prescriptive code requirement of 1500 lbs lateral load resistance. Maine Deck Brackets (MDB) don't work because they only connect ledger to band joist. The code requires the deck joists to be connected to the house joists for lateral resistance. This is to avoid the problem where decks fall due to the house band joist pulling out of the wall (and going down with the deck) OR the deck joists pulling away from the ledger board (ledger left on wall, deck on ground). MDB's can be used but we still have to add the DTT2Z bracket system (or other locally approved method).

Background - I called Michael Morse - owner of MT DeckLoK and maker of the DeckLok bracket in March when I reviewed the freshly printed 2009 IRC deck code provisions. Although he was the person who initially proposed more stringent deck codes to the ICC back 10 years ago or so and started ICC looking into the issue, he did not keep abreast of the most recent provisions and was not aware of the prescriptive connection detailed in the code (until I alerted him).

DeckLok brackets are rated for 900 lb load and the IRC prescriptive ledger connection bracket system requires 1500 lbs (at each bracket). So DeckLok brackets will not meet the code requirement. That noted, Michael directed me to one of his lateral load resisting deck to house connection at http://mtdecklok.com/ . That detail uses 4 DeckLok brackets to mount offset deck and floor joists using the house band joist and deck ledger for intermediary load transfer. Michael said that since his brackets are rated at 900 lbs and the detail pairs them (2 inboard and 2 outboard) that you could use his brackets to comply with the intent of the code provision.

However, since he does not have an ICC-ES report showing the compliance then it will be up to any user of the DeckLok solution to submit it to his/her local inspector for their approval.

I think DeckLoks are good brackets and Michael Morse, though headstrong and driven, has his heart in the right place. But I would be reluctant to use his detail when installing a deck until he has 3rd party testing to show the bracket system will meet the code requirement.

It's also important to note that Simpson tested their HD2AHDG brackets - now often used to secure guardrail posts to the deck frame - And they don't meet the deck lateral load requirement. That's why they engineered the DTT2Z. As far as I can tell the other major player in metal connectors (USP) isn't putting out any specialty deck brackets for post or ledger or deck to house connections. SO Simpson owns the market and can charge whatever they want for the DTT2Z brackets - and we have to use them.

Re: Green Driveway Paving

The water receptor is a system that includes filter fabric (geotextile) with a thick matrix beneath. Rather than collecting run-off the combination of permeable paver and receptor material lets water flow through and percolate into the earth. In heavy percipitation events, the receptor stores excess water until it can soak into the earth.