Robert Lamoureux: Your Home Improvement


Hey Robert,

My name is Mike J. I live in Canyon Country.

I am installing a small deck outside my back door, due to be raised about a total of 18 inches.

I’m quite handy but have never done anything of this size, but, so far so good. I think I can pull this off.

I’m using 2”x10” Douglas fir for my joists and Trex for the decking.

I almost lose sleep due to thinking about how I’m doing all of this, and am currently worried about water getting in between the joists and the Trex. Should I put some caulking to prevent the moisture from getting in a causing rotting or is there something better to use for this reason?

I plan on retiring here and I’d like to prevent any premature rotting especially because I am one who washes down a lot to keep things clean and enjoyable.

–Mike J.



Great question!

I don’t think I’ve had this one come across my desk before, from any of the readers.

There is a product whose generic name is Bituthene. You can get this at any of the big box stores. I’ve talked about this product before, noting that it is a rubberized membrane that comes in a roll and has an adhesive side.

Bituthene comes in several different sizes, so purchase the size appropriate to cover the top of your joists with an overlap down the sides.

You can apply paint to it as necessary for a perfect match to your decking, then set your Trex.

Be sure to use decking screws, do not sue nails of any kind. Please do not mistake sheet rock screws for decking screws, the tinsel strength on sheet rock screws is not the same as what you’ll find in decking screws.

Sounds like a fun project, good luck to you.


Hi Robert,

I’m an avid reader of your article though I don’t live in the area.

My daughter does live in town and when I visit on the weekends I read your article, otherwise she saves them for me to catch up on. I’ve certainly learned a lot over time, and enjoy the information that you share.

My husband and I are doing something that we’ve never done before. We are adding to our home, including a second level.

We started with an architect who did the drawings and took them to a contractor that we liked who had a good reputation, and got our price.

We then submitted the plans to the city who then made a whole bunch of changes.

Now the contractor tells us that the price will change because plan check made corrections.

Is the contractor not bound to his original bid to do the work even though the city made some corrections? He looked at the plans and should know about corrections, right?

We want to be fair but don’t want to be taken advantage of, either. What is your opinion?

– Linda C.



I have several opinions on this.

If there are many corrections, perhaps the architect may not be well-versed and the problem may lie in the architect you chose.

This is why the city is there, to check on those planning the project and making sure that all plans are following city guidelines and local codes.

The contractor is not responsible for omissions of the architect, although I do wonder why he bid the work prior to you getting them through plan check so he could accurately bid on an approved plan – perhaps you were just asking for a preliminary number to work with.

In our company, we will typically bid on an approved plan so that we are not putting folks through what you’re going through now.

Legally your contractor is not bound since he didn’t receive monies, and if he is reputable and recommended, you may want to continue with him.

Please be sure before anything else though, that you check the status of his license, and ask him to have his insurance documents sent to you directly from his agent, making sure that he is fully covered for general liability and worker’s comp.

You need to be sure that you are working with someone who is fully insured, in case of any incidents. This step is the most important step in the process. I can guarantee it.

Be sure to not pay the final amount at the end until you are sure that you have final inspection signed off with the city, and all work has been performed to your liking, including clean up.

You are not obligated to pay until all parts of the agreement have been satisfied.

Good luck to you.

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