Fortress Blog

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Let’s Talk Shop: 3 Pieces of Deck Building Advice from an Expert

Today’s industry-wide craving for durable, cost-effective outdoor living products is apparent in the wide selection of decking materials flooding the market. From long-lasting composite and PVC deck boards to alternative framing materials, homeowners and builders have more choices than ever to sort through before making a purchasing decision. Looks, performance and budget all come in to play. So, how do buyers select the right decking?

In this expert interview, we sat down with decking professional, Toby Bostwick of Fortress Building Products, to discuss how to best navigate the deck planning and purchasing process. He answers some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding a deck build and sheds light on how to make sure buyers get the best bang for their buck. Read along to gain insight on what to look for when selecting decking that invites relaxation for years to come.   


Q: How do builders and homeowners decide which decking material is best for their application? 

A: In my experience, cost is always going to be a driving force behind a buyer’s decking material decision. But, the cost of a product entails so much more than just the initial price tag. When selecting a product based on budget, there are two important questions builders and homeowners should consider:


First, what’s the cost of paying the cheapest price for a decking material, but not loving the look of the finished product? And second, what’s the cost of loving a decking product at the point of purchase, but later realizing it doesn’t perform well long-term? 

 Thankfully, there are best-in-class products that blend cost-effectiveness, aesthetics and performance. I’m an avid fan of composite and PVC decking lines. They deliver the look of wood grain, but will not splinter, crack or fade like wood boards. And, users of these decking alternatives won’t need to spend a weekend re-staining or have to open up their wallet in 10 years to build a new decking system. In stark contrast, composite or PVC decking will last for a good twenty-five years, with minimal maintenance required. Now, that’s a good return on your investment.


Q: How important is framing when building a deck? Are certain materials better than others?

A: When built right, framing is the supporting structure that is unseen and unappreciated. But, if builders or homeowners use the wrong material or install the framing incorrectly, the entire decking project can be compromised. 

 Wood has long been the traditional framing material, but it’s not necessarily the best choice because it’s subject to deterioration. More durable alternatives, such as light-gauge steel framing, are quite different. Steel framing starts with recycled metal that has been extruded into controlled dimensional profiles that remain straight and true over time. This means pieces won’t warp or twist, a quirk often associated with wood boards. And, because steel framing doesn’t embody the same “living nature” as wood, it isn’t subject to detrimental rotting, drying out or insect damage. When it comes to building with safety, durability and aesthetics in mind – steel can’t be beat.


Q: What is the biggest mistake deck builders should avoid when planning and constructing a deck?

A:  In short, not doing adequate research to confirm all of the decking system components are compatible with one another. Research is essential because industry trends and product specifications are constantly evolving.

 Consider traditional wood framing. Newer preservatives in treated wood are more reactive. When used with incompatible metal fasteners and flashing, failure can occur. In turn, this failure creates the opportunity for water damage, rot and decay to occur within the framing structure. Fortress light-gauge steel deck framing eliminates these concerns. It’s a complete, non-reactive framing system that works compatibly as one cohesive unit, decreasing the risk of structural failure.


Concluding thoughts

While there are a multitude of decking materials today, selecting the right product for the job does not have to be complicated. There are cost-effective and high-performing building materials on the market that will ensure lasting style and minimize upkeep. From durable deck boards to intuitive steel framing kits, Fortress provides building materials that are expertly suited for nearly any decking project. Want to learn more before getting started? Check out


🡐 Back to Blog


Fortress Building Products uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you accept our use of cookies.