Duradek Northwest News

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Eh, What's Up Deck?

Walkable, Waterproof and Sustainable Solutions to Decks and Flat Roofs

By Matthew Whale, President of Duradek Northwest

Outdoor Living 

Beautiful outdoor living spaces can be wonderful but what about the maintenance cost, inevitable rot and longevity? All exposed wood, whether cedar, fir, exotic, treated or composites made with sawdust fillers will decompose over a decade or so without costly maintenance and pain staking labor. History shows us that the very lumber used to support the wood or composite deck will fail regardless of the top of the deck and will be razed much sooner than people realize and warranties commonly do not cover the frame work. So history is clear that drip through style decks always fail and are neither forest sustainable nor earth friendly. 


Think About It… 

Consider if your deck surface needs replacing every 20 years, the forest can not sustain the consumption. If your deck top lasts 25 years but your structure frame rots out from underneath then your deck system is unsustainable and economically burdensome. If your composite boards or deck lumber requires treated lumber for its framing your deck will still rot and with certain treated lumbers even your metal screws, nails and joist hangers can rot. This too is unsustainable, economically unsound and the lumber may be considered a bio-hazardous material when removed.


In contrast, if your deck system is waterproof, protecting the wood frame, fasteners, and plywood from moisture, it will not rot (venting may be necessary). Simply put and the obvious proof is that wood trusses, in most homes, are not treated. They are just protected from the elements by the roofing or waterproofing and allowed to breathe through exposed ceiling or venting designs. The fact is non-treated trusses last for decades, even centuries and that is forest sustainable and therefore earth smart. 

Choosing A Surface 

When choosing a waterproofing, understand that if it requires additional coating every three to six years to maintain its waterproofing ability as well as warranty, then this should be economically prohibitive. Furthermore, if recoating your deck surface requires dry plywood or clean surface (dry being 6% or less moisture) then this goal is unachievable. New plywood is manufactured at 5% moisture approximately and as it acclimates, it absorbs ambient humidity, equalizing commonly between 9% to 13% moisture content. This moisture may cause blistering, peeling and delamination of coatings making resurfacing difficult if not impossible. Generally installing new plywood is the only way to meet their requirements and thus unsustainable for the forests and economically impracticable. 


Do It Right, Do It Once 

DuradekTM has been doing it right for over thirty-seven years and is proudly made in the USA. DuradekTM, the original waterproof vinyl membrane, requires soap and water to keep it clean and that’s it. Thirty-seven years of doing has taught us that all things wear out so at the end of your membranes life you can simply re-skin it. Yes, go right over the existing or peel off the first skin and reinstall the new. No rebuilding and no demolition saving you time, energy, money and the forest. You not only save money yearly but at the deck’s life cycle end. No deck system out performs and/or costs less in true life cycle costing than DuradekTM. No deck system is easier to maintain or easier on the earth. Your deck structure can now last centuries and your budget won’t get nickel and dimed. That is smart costing, good economics, and earth-friendly. 


Do Your Research

When, not if, comparing DuradekTM and the authorized installer network with the “we’re just like Duradek” companies make sure the manufacturer’s product is documentable as: 

  • Independently monitored for formula compliance and thickness consistency. 

  • Tested for deck traffic wear simulation of 20 years and have code approval documentation to prove it. A must for roofing application. 

  • Carry Class A or C fire rating (system specific.) 

  • Made in the U.S. of A. 

  • Manufacturer produces their own hand rail for true “Single Source” protection when incorporating rail in the project, one installer, who understands waterproofing; one manufacturer. 

  • Manufacturer provides over 30 different membrane choices. 

  • Material utilizes a cloth back, not fleece, reinforced technology proving maximum thickness of uninterrupted ware surface protection. 

  • Mid reinforced products can only provide half the ware life while a fleece back membrane can wick water uninhibited. 

  • Utilizing a removable fabric backing maximizing elongation thus providing superior and color matched non reinforced detailing. 

  • Passes IRC and ICC code required tests for welding seam strength as a roof application. 

  • Installed by an authorized company and recipient of the factory authorized education and training. 

  • Since over 95% of all quality waterproof vinyl membrane deck failure is installer related, this is a must, so require a copy of their certificate and verify installer authorization via phone from manufacturer, your diligence pays.


There are a lot of promises in the deck industry; do not be pennies wise but dollars foolish. If you are not thinking life cycle costs then costly reconstruction and pain staking maintenance is your path. Life cycle is economic prudence and the true cost of any service or product. DuradekTM is the right choice for you and our environment.



About the Author: 

Matthew Whale has lived in the Northwest all his fifty-two years of life. He has numerous awards for sales and has served on several prominent waterproofing and roofing manufacturer’s marketing counsels. His background includes lumber mill sawyer and manager, where they specialized in treated post, beams and stringers. He is a carpenter, a certified construction document technician and is factory trained in multiple thermal plastic single-ply, thermal welded and rubberized bitumen membranes as well as being a liquid damproofing, roofing and waterproof coatings representative. He has spent the last twenty-five years serving the Northwest in his current role as president of Washington Alaska Roof Systems, Inc and Duradek Northwest, a division thereof. 

How Do I Calculate a Deck Budget?

This template is not meant to establish market pricing but is provided as a tool for budgeting a simple deck. Job location , time year, job access, existing deck surface and siding are some of the additional factors incorporated into the final deck price. For an actual quote please contact your local trained & authorized Duradek Installer.

Please understand that currently Duradek has the only ongoing accredited waterproof vinyl Architectural Education and installation training program available in the Northwest. An installer list may be found online at duradek.com or by calling us at Duradek NW (253-939-6096).

How Many Decks Are You Going to Build?

Why is it that decks, our Great Northwest get away place, only last a decade or so? Roof structures are commonly made of wood and they can last for centuries so why not decks? Chemically pressure treated roof rafters, trusses, joist, planks or plywood aren’t commonly used, why don’t they rot? How does one build a deck once right? 

What causes wood to rot? Rot is the breaking down of an organic mass. Wood rot is natural. Wood, moisture, oxygen and warmth are all simultaneously required for rot to occur, limit the degree of wood’s exposure to one or more of these components and rot slows. Take away one of these components and wood rot stops.


Besides not having a history, let’s look at the facts, the top of the deck is not the primary reason for most deck failures. The surface boards are readily available for oiling, staining, or treatment to keep them from immediate decay. Any twisted, broken or rotted lumber is replaceable with little problem. Even when meticulous care is provided to the deck top the backbone of the deck is neglected. The backbone fails due to the wood structure’s supports and fasteners getting wet. They hold moisture where they are jointed and go through freeze and thaw cycles. Joist and beams left to nature rot or loose hold of fasteners due to the fasteners rusting, lumber’s interior rot or because of the treated soft lumber’s poor holding power. Deck failures occur when the deck becomes unstable or unable to support a load, not because it looks ugly or its getting too costly to maintain. Plastic lumber does nothing to increase the life of the supporting structure, therefore, it is not the fix one would hope.



Over the years as our deck lumber quality and longevity diminished, people have sought deck-tops requiring less maintenance. 

Chemically-treated materials have become common place in the deck market. Improvements to these lumbers have been made, incising, and pressure provide a means to maximize chemical treatment saturation but do not insure 100% penetration of the lumber thus the inner core is commonly still untreated. The harder, stronger woods do not absorb liquids very well, if at all. Therefore, the stronger wood products are not treated and softer wood lumbers are. Softer woods have less structural strength and fastener holding power allowing screws or nails to lose their hold. 

Fasteners penetrate the wood to the inner core allowing water to infiltrate the untreated areas. The sun bakes the deck’s wood surface causing ever widening cracks, which in turn allow deeper moisture penetration. Freeze thaw cycles widen surface splits while attacking and breaking down the wood surrounding the deck fasteners which causes even more moisture retention, ice breakdown, fastener breakdown and finally rot damage. Furthermore, the chemicals themselves may promote fastener, joist hanger and sway strapping corrosion. Indeed most common metals used in conjunction with the deck need some type of chemical or natural shield. The lumber joints, whether butted, sistered or laid together, remains wet for days allowing further breakdown, diminishing the deck integrity until finally, complete structural failure occurs. 

Treated docks fail and that proof is everywhere, just take a drive to any water’s edge and look. No, treated lumber only addresses the decay and insect infestation issues; therefore, it is also not the fix one would desire.



  • Only use treated ground contact lumber where required by building code 
  • Use Douglas Fir framing lumber when possible 
  • Slope the top surface ¼ inch per foot to allow water run-off 
  • Use ¾ in CCX or better Cross Banded end blocked or tongue and grove plywood 
  • Acclimate all lumber and plywood before installing 
  • Glue and screw the deck plywood 
  • Provide plenty of ventilation to the joist and underlying lumber
  • Verify factory authorized installation company 
  • Keep all the fasteners and hangers from getting wet 
  • Keep the supporting structure from getting wet
  • Use a proven waterproof product 
  • Verify factory training installer program 
  • Complete a moisture survey (nonpenetrating) of the perimeter and deck field every two years 
  • Maintain siding, window, door and post caulking or sealant 
  • Recover or replace membrane surface at serviceable life end 

Duradek Ltd. deck systems comply fully with the “Build It Once Right” qualifications. Having been protecting sundecks, roofdecks, walkways and porches, including their structures, for thirty years, Duradek also has the proof.

Duradek Northwest has the oldest, largest and most experienced local waterproof vinyl deck authorized installer network available. Duradek membranes are thermal plastic, this means they can not peel or flake and need no coating to maintain their warranty. Deck failures can mean much more than just replacing your deck, they are connected to your home or building and rot does not know the difference or have boundaries. For complete information on successful deck construction, call Duradek Northwest @ 1.800.442.9215 or visit our web site at www.duradeknorthwest.com.

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