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I live in Valencia and have a permitted deck on my home that has nothing but slats on it; we used TREX.

When it rains, especially this past winter, since we only used Trex and didn’t put a waterproofing system on it, the water was getting down into our lower patio and soaking everything below. Now we have reconsidered and want to put a decking system on it.

I’ve sent you photos where you can see that I have a 3.5 inch drop on my door opening so that you step down onto this deck.

I’d like to do a system, which you recommended previously, that you said you have at your home and requires virtually no maintenance and is very durable – but for the life of me I can’t remember what this system is.

I wish I had kept that article, but this gives me a great reason to write in and possibly get any new information that you have on this.

I’m a handy guy, have done some concrete work and remember that you said this system needs some sort of concrete work so I think that I could do this myself. Is this something that I can do, do you think?

The other question is, do I need permits for this?

– John T.


Let’s start with the permits. Yes, absolutely because you’ll be adding load to this, though not a massive amount.

Just draw a footprint of your home and show where the patio is, explaining to them that the system you’ll use (this is what I recommend, however, your choice) is a Fiber Crete system.

AVM is the company that manufactures it. They are located in Canoga Park and they offer a fantastic system for this, which is my highest recommendation.

The representatives at the city will tell you precisely what you’ll need, if anything more than the drawing, and they’ll guide you as to when you’ll need to call for inspection.

As far as the steps go, you’ll first break out about 10 inches high of the stucco at the deck area so that you can install flashing and a weep screed. Integrate the paper so you don’t get leaks, and then repair the stucco.

At this same time you’ll install flashing around the edge of the deck as this will become your drip edge that will protect the wood as the water flows off of the deck. You’ll use diamond lath and secure it down (let me know if you need specifics on the spacing), followed by laying down concrete that has no rock, only sand and concrete.

You can also get this from AVM, and they will guide you on quantities when you shop with them, just provide your area. They have a mix that is for the Fiber Crete system.

I’d add some adhesive to it and begin your install, making sure that you are slightly higher at your threshold and that your slope is AWAY from the house. You don’t want a large pitch, just enough to direct the water away from the structure and so that you have no “bird baths”, meaning low spots.

Let it dry overnight and then water test the area. Hit it with a water hose, beginning near the threshold and watch the flow of water, as well as look for those bird baths. Any imperfections that you find will need to be fixed now, before your decking system is applied, and within the 24 hour period of laying that first layer, so that you get a good bond.

You can add a bit more adhesive and then the additional concrete, but take the time to make it perfect so you don’t have to deal with any water issues. This is perhaps the most important part because any water that is allowed to flow toward the house or sit in a puddle will begin to create long term issues.

Your next step is the fiberglass cloth that will be provided along with a resin mix. Lay the cloth down and apply the resin into it, making sure that your lap joints are tight. Let that dry for 24 to 48 hours and then you can put your finish on.

If you want a knock-down finish, and you’re handy, you’ll know how to use a hopper that will distribute the texture for you. They have cleats that you can use so that you can walk on the area without damaging the finish, working in segments.

Once your finish dries a bit, you’ll use a trowel and slightly smooth or flatten the texture, giving it the knock-down look. You can apply as much or as little pressure that you like for the surface texture that you prefer.

Let this layer dry overnight as well and then apply two layers of their topcoat product, which come in an array of colors. You can customize colors, but it is more costly. However, they have a pretty large selection of their in stock colors.

Roll one coat, let it dry a few hours and then roll the second coat. This is a fantastic system and depending on the amount of sun your deck gets you can go several years, but, the average addition of a maintenance coat is about three years.

Keep track of when it starts looking worn or slightly white. Then you’ll pressure wash it and use TSP soap, let dry and then lay another top coat over it.

This will last you many years, enjoy and good luck.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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