2016 Best of Oakland Awards - Deck Construction & Restoration Contractors &
Oakland Business Hall of Fame
We recently tore out and replaced a 40 step set of stairs with ‘manufactured’ slate in San Francisco.
Looking down, they made me nervous. If someone fell face down, they would slice and hack their face.
Movers and gardeners were sure to chip the edges. Nearly every stair I see with vertical edges is chipped here and there.
Solution! We utilize a grinding machine that makes the edges ‘bull nosed’ or rounded. No more chipping, no guillotine edge!
It works great on tile topped railings and walls giving a finished edge. Factory molded tile has casting marks and an unattractive edge. The new edges have a clean finished look, versus raw edges.
Durability show always be considered in products selected. Safety issues are not only paramount for our workers, but also the end uses and owners of stairs.
Here is a typically chipped tile stair (Dalmatian foot optional)
Tiled deck with tiled railings with rounded edges on top
Picture of the new finished stair with the nice, & safe rounded edges
Our clients had storm damage to redwood panels in their cathedral ceilings. Unfortunately, their insurance company said they could not be replaced and offered Douglas Fir as a replacement. We were able to fabricate redwood ply panels that were a spot on match to the originals. Their home is now good as new. Eventually, we even got the adjuster (long faced) to step up and cover the costs. Whatever it was, we can make it new again. Difficult jobs are the most challenging and the most fun.
We have a client who hired the wrong person to re-build and cap some large outrigger beams on their house in Berkeley.
The results were devastating. All the beams rotted fully into the inside walls, leaving the roof ‘floating’ without support.
Both aluminum and pure zinc corrode rapidly when standing water, or salts are present.
Remember looking at old barns and seeing the wood rotted away around rusty nails? Moisture condenses in the wood interior every night. If the nails are not hot dipped in galvanizing, they will rust away. Iron fixating bacteria will eat the rusty wood, until it disappears. The same thing happens to wood windows, particularly open celled wood like pine. We have seen many commercial wood windows rot away from the inside.
A consulting client who fabricated and installed 24 stories of powdered coated aluminum. The powder coating company cleaned the newly fabricated rails with tap water, leaving chlorine salts behind. They did not prime, only applied one coat without a clear finish sealer. The rails all 24 floors turned to aluminum oxide (like foam) under the paint and disintegrated.
So powder coating is not a miracle, particularly when standards are not followed.
Decks leak commonly because galvanized metal flashing corrodes away if not fully water sealed with epoxy, the rubber, generally in less than 5 years.
So beware of contractors and designers who are agnostic and don’t believe in what they can’t see. Gravity is invisible, but mighty effective! It is not who you know, but who you know, who knows!
Few things are as exciting as having the opportunity to rebuild wooden windows! Both period windows and modern wood windows have a disastrous tendency to rot out. To replace and install new windows can be quite an expensive proposition. On a recent job, we were able to save the homeowner from having to expensively replace her windows that were rotting by refurbishing and replacing them. Two special skills are involved in a project of this sort. First we milled out new trim, sills and replacement parts in redwood and replaced the windows. Then we fabricated and installed copper, no rust weather flashing to permanently keep water out. The copper is wonderfully decorative to boot! This second step can be done with galvanized metal as well. This process in stainless steel can also compliment the architectural style of the very modern home. The windows in the job shown here are so exciting to me as an example of making architectural elements, in this case wood trim and copper flashing, have a real function, flashing the window and keeping water out. What also makes this special is the environmentally sound process of salvaging existing windows rather than throwing them away and replacing with new. This also allows homeowners to salvage historic windows, which are virtually irreplaceable. This is a best of all worlds’ solution as refurbished historic windows can function better than new replacement windows while keeping the architectural integrity of the home. We are able to do projects like these all in house with our skilled craftsmen. Saving architecture and the environment while saving our clients lots of money. Wonderful!
Last month I had the opportunity to visit Chicago where I gave three talks for the “Design for Durability: Performance and Preservation” workshop series put on by the Wood Products Council. While taking in the architectural sights of Chicago I was inspired by the stainless steel rail at a pedestrian bridge in Millennium Park. This walkway railing, fabricated from panels of stainless steel, became a shimmering sculpture while still serving a basic function. Wonderful! Seeing this creative use of sheet metal drives me to continue to think about innovative ways to turn the ordinary in to inspirational.
Periodic musings, tips & tricks from Karl Kardel and the KKCo team.