Category Archives: best building practices

Wood Decks Are Not Your Friend In Fire Country, Ever.

“The deck that we had off the house,” she said. “It was a two-tiered deck, and it was redwood, and that’s what brought down our house.” Corey and Danusia Larsen of Malibu CA of the Woolsey Fire that burned over 600 homes.

I’m still trying to find it but I remember seeing a quote from a firefighter in California describing wood decks as organized kindling. That quote sticks in my head and won’t budge. I’ve reviewed hundreds of pictures of homes that are burned and often you can see the outline of a wood deck or the remnants of…

To me the ideal fire resistant home would be stucco or concrete or Hardie board with a metal of concrete roof any decking on it would be a division 7 traffic coating that is fire rated for use in California fire zones.

This article describes the new house that was built by the Larsen’s after the Woolsey Fire. https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/wildfires/2021/05/21/malibu-couple-fireproofs-home-after-losing-everything-in-woolsey-fire

It is my opinion that Cal Fire and other fire authorities will not specifically say or seek to ban wood framed and wood decks as the deck industry would be up in arms. However I will say that wood decks and wood framing exposed does not belong anywhere on a building particularly in a high fire hazard zone. Decking manufacturers will say that their products have passed tests under ASTM standards that is required by ICC-ES to get a report… My counter argument is let’s take an aged outdoors 5 years wood frame deck with wood boards or composite boards and put it into a real life type situation IE ember storm, fire wood stacked underneath the deck, plant growth around it etc and let’s see if that deck really is fire resistant. I will say outright that it is not.

Wood decks and composite decks are not your friends in fire country. If you are in fire country the only thing that will help you in my opinion are concrete decking systems and systems that rely on concrete backer board for their fire rating.

This article won’t make any friends in the deck industry that sell composite and wood decks but I’m just truth telling here.

Interesting Level and Concrete screed from Milwaukee Tools

I subscribe to Milwaukee’s Red Tool Store and get frequent updates on sales and new tools. One new tool from them is their combination concrete screed and level. They have concrete screed/level combo’s in 24″, 48″ and 72″ lengths. The levels range in price from $49.00 to $149 at Red Tool Store https://www.redtoolstore.com/collections/layout-tools

Does anyone doing concrete deck coatings out there have one or two in their tool box? Drop us a line and let us know how you like yours.

Live in the WUI? Fire Harden The Deck on Your Home With a Class A/One Hour Fire Rated Deck System

Fire Chief Blame’s Wood Decks as Cause of Fires Getting Into The Home , Advises Getting Rid of Them

WildFire and WUI experts such as Stephen Quarles of UC Berkeley, Jack Cohen of University of Montana and many others agree,  attached wood decks are a danger to homes that are otherwise fire hardened. Stucco homes with tile roofs have burned in nearly every wildfire when ember showers from the fire being whipped by wind land on the deck ahead of the fire actually reaching the home. The wood deck ignites, items on the deck and under it ignite, and can then climb the walls into the attic area.

This video discusses fire hardened homes and why they still burn-often from wood decks igniting and entering the house.

Well we have the perfect alternative to the problem with wood decks-Division 7 Pedestrian Traffic Coatings. Our manufacturer’s listed here all have at a minimum a Class A fire rating as a roof covering. Meaning they resist ember storms wood decks can’t.

Not only do they resist ember storms, but our deck systems also waterproof space below and provide an easy to maintain surface that needs an occasional cleaning and resealing.

Dex-O-Tex published a case study a few years back on a home with Class A Dex-O-Tex Weather wear on the decks. The home, in Glendale CA, was subjected to a wildfire along with it’s neighboring homes. After the fire burned through, the only home left standing was this one. Read the case study here Dexotex case study fire resistant house

With deck season in full swing, now is the time to consider building your next deck with unique, beautiful, waterproof and fire retardant deck systems from DeckExpert.com manufacturer’s.

Search our site for your perfect deck and learn more here.

Building in the WUI

hardening your home against fire

CohenPreventingDisaster

 

Exterior Elevated Elements Working Group Agenda for 5/25/17 is Announced

 

9e0e3-0216001100The deck waterproofing industry needs to speak up!

From the California Building Standards Commission-

Notice is hereby given that the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC), Exterior Elevated Element (EEE) Subcommittee will solicit technical expertise on the items listed in the attached agenda and the link below.  The public is invited to attend and provide their input or comments.  For questions on this notice, please contact CBSC at (916) 263-0916.

http://www.bsc.ca.gov/calendar/othermtgs.aspx Website www.bsc.ca.gov

 

Continue reading Exterior Elevated Elements Working Group Agenda for 5/25/17 is Announced

Property Management Company KNEW DECK WAS FLAWED, DID NOTHING! Students Injured as a Result Get 1.6 Million Settlement.

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Dry-rotted Framing Where Deck Attached to Building.                                                                            Photo courtesy of Robert Clayton Attorney

Wolfe & Associates Property Management Co paid a settlement of $1,600,000.00 to students injured when a deck they were on or under collapsed at a party during Deltopia in Santa Barbara CA. The reason Wolfe paid this settlement in my opinion? They knew the deck was flawed after getting a termite report that called out dry-rot, fungus and loose materials on the deck, yet they opted to do nothing.

Let me say it again, they opted to do nothing, no repairs, no notice to the occupants, nothing. They deliberately and IMO maliciously decided to not repair the deck. What scum does that? This goes towards proving my theory that property managers and management companies won’t fix something until someone dies!

Read the story here and read the termite report that led to the settlement. Similar to Berkeley, one of the POS defense lawyers wanted to blame the victims, saying there were to many people on the deck. Excuse me, but f you lawyer. It was your clients fault and you know it.

Lets hope that this case and the upcoming Berkeley lawsuit will teach these management companies a costly lesson. Hell it’s only money, soaked in blood.

 

R Brothers Waterproofing Has POS Victim Blaming Lawyers

When I read %&@! like this I want to hit something! From the Irish Times  article found here http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/berkeley-victims-may-have-contributed-to-balcony-collapse-1.2597039

“The plaintiffs and/or cross-complainants’ own carelessness and negligence may have proximately contributed to the events and damages complained of…”   

Those are the words in a filing from R Brothers Waterproofing attorneys on why the balcony in Berkeley collapsed last year, killing 6 people and leaving seven more with serious injuries and a lifetime of horror. 

It gets worse, R Brothers lawyers is trying to blame everyone else too – here they throw the architect under the bus. They may have a point but you don’t follow shitty plans either…

 “R Brothers Waterproofing also claims the “designs of others” that it had no responsibility for were to blame for the injuries complained of.

“This answering defendant did not select, design or approve the allegedly defective components,” it says under the heading of “causation”.
It also said it had no notice of any alleged defects and that the injuries alleged “were caused by third parties’ deficient work or products”.
So in California when one is looking at plans and one knows, as the licensed expert waterproofing contractor that they are, that the design is wrong, you don’t bid it. Secondly if it did slip by that the design was wrong and you did bid it, when you got to the job and saw what you were doing, you stop and don’t do the work until an RFI is made and a decision is issued by the architect and the general contractor. R Brothers apparently covered wet substrate with moisture trapping membranes and wants to say they aren’t responsible? 
So if R Brothers is saying this detail is wrong, why did
they apparently follow it? Inquiring minds want to know. 
Even worse, they say in their filing if we are found negligent, it’s secondary to others negligence…excuse me but WTF? 
I see it fairly simply-you check the moisture content of your plywood with a simple moisture meter. If it’s higher than 14-16% then you say can’t do it…and the problem is especially compounded when/if it was a double layer of OSB that’s soaking wet. It would take weeks of dry weather if ever to get that moisture content down to acceptable levels. 
Simple moisture meter gives a general reading of the moisture content
of the plywood I have the probes pushed into. The moisture content
is to high for applying a coating to right now so this wood needs
to dry more. 
Bottom line, the attorneys are POS scumbags IMO for even suggesting the victims had anything to do with their deaths and injuries.