Plastic standoff designed to eliminate moisture problems by Scott Gibson

To allow for drainage between the house and the deck, many builders put spacers between the deck ledger and the rim joist. A Colorado company has developed a plastic standoff that makes that connection weathertight — and doesn’t require the removal of either siding or flashing.

J Squared Manufacturing’s Attach-A-Deck fittings are manufactured from polypropylene and sized to fit a 2 1/2-inch hole drilled through the siding to the face of the rim joist. One half of the device is screwed to the wall and partially filled with caulk. Then as the second piece is pressed in place, caulk is forced into the gap between the fitting and the siding, sealing it. A hole in the middle of the device accommodates 1/2-inch lags or bolts that attach the ledger to the rim joist.

The sealed connections keep water away from the framing and sheathing while providing an air space between the ledger and the siding, the company says. Fittings are set in pairs along the length of the ledger; the spacing depends on the span of the deck joists, local building requirements, and other factors.

Once the ledger has been screwed or bolted in place, there’s no need for any additional sealing or flashing, and the siding behind the ledger remains undisturbed. The space between the deck and the house also allows a little room for seasonal expansion of deck boards.

The company says Attach-A-Deck fittings were tested at the Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory at Washington State University. They cost between $4.50 and $5 each.

Scott Gibson is a writer in East Waterboro, Maine.

J Squared Mfg., 719/651-2794,

Hidden Fasteners

Proprietary clips for Trex Brasilia decking

Demand continues to grow for decks that are free of visible nails and screws, according to Trex, especially among homeowners with children or pets. That’s why the company teamed up with Tiger Claw to develop a hidden fastener system specifically for use with Brasilia grooved deck boards; the result is the Hideaway Hidden Fastener System.

There are two types of Hideaway clips: The Connector Clip goes between deck boards and the Start/Stop Clip is designed for use on outer boards. Clips and screws are stainless steel with a black finish.

Trex, which worked with contractors to test the design, says it’s simpler to install these fasteners than similar systems on the market, because the teeth on the leading edge of the clip position the fastener and free up the installer’s hands. All connections are made above the deck.

Connector Clips cost about 60 cents each; Start/Stop Clips are 88 cents each. Brasilia decking retails for about $5.65 per square foot, according to Trex. — S.G.

Trex Co., 800/289-8739,

Multipurpose PVC Goop

Adhesive and nail filler in a single tube

Formulated to match the white color of Versatex trim boards, Fill n’ Fasten is both a structural adhesive and a nail-hole filler for cellular PVC trim, eliminating the need to carry separate fillers and adhesives in your tool bag.

Fill n’ Fasten cartridges fit in a standard caulk gun (gear ratio of 15:1 or greater recommended). The glue bond or filled nail holes will weather at the same rate as the trim, the company says, and UV inhibitors protect against damage from sunlight.

The adhesive maintains flexibility in a range of temperatures and can be used on wet trim. Versatex says Fill n’ Fasten is typically two to three times stronger than the substrate it bonds to, outperforming water-based PVC glues that may separate along the glue line over time. Fill n’ Fasten can fill gaps of up to 3/8 inch without sagging.

Versatex is manufactured by Wolfpac Technologies in Aliquippa, Pa., which produces cellular PVC extrusion products such as trim boards, moldings, and door and window trim.

A standard-size tube of Fill n’ Fasten retails for around $32. — S.G.

Versatex, 724/857-1111,

Cedar-Composite Decking

Help save Texas water

Juniper Mexicana trees, commonly known as Texas cedars, extract so much water from the ground they threaten the aquifer supplies for grazing grasses and for the state’s growing human population. To control the problem, ranchers have removed the trees from thousands of acres. The wood, which would otherwise be burned as waste, is being used by Arkansas-based Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies as an ingredient in its Juniper Collection of composite decking.

An addition to the company’s MoistureShield decking line, Juniper decking is made from 90 percent recycled material, including polyethylene. The company says that because the decking is made with natural cedar it doesn’t need mildewcides, insecticides, or coloring agents. The product exceeds requirements for landscape decking in the LEED for Homes sustainable building program.

Juniper decking is guaranteed against decay and insect damage. Boards are currently available in one color — ash — in 2x6 and 5/4x6 planks in 12-foot, 16-foot, and 20-foot lengths. Balusters, trim boards, posts, and rails also are available. Decking costs $2.49 to $2.75 per lineal foot. — S.G. ?

Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies, 866/729-2378,

Pre-finished Hardwood

Decking and matching screws provide a finished look fast

McFarland Cascade offers three of its hardwood decking lines in a prefinished version and has introduced a deck screw that it claims eliminates the need for most predrilling.

The company says the finish provides better coverage and penetration than would be possible on a job site. The option adds about 15 percent to the cost, but it saves money over the course of the job, the company says, because there’s no need to acclimate the decking or apply finish on site.

Prefinished decking is available with three types of hardwood decking — ExtremeTigerwood, ExtremeAngelim, and ExtremeMerbau — which McFarland says are South American and Asian in origin and harvested using sustainable forestry guidelines.

Decking carries a 25-year limited warranty, and the finish is guaranteed for one year. Customers may purchase the company’s Extreme Finish to maintain the decking; the company recommends it be applied six months after installation and then annually.

The new self-tapping screw, designed specifically for McFarland Cascade’s line of decking, is called the Super Deck Screw. It has thinner, more closely spaced threads, and the company says it creates a tight fit between decking and framing. It’s available in three colors — cedar, redwood, and gray.

The 5/4 prefinished decking, which is distributed on the West Coast, costs from $2.47 to $3.42 per lineal foot, depending on the type of wood. Super Deck Screws retail for $22.50 for a box of 275 and $104 for a box of 1,375. — S.G.

McFarland Cascade, 800/426-8430,