I’ve built many boardwalks, decks, arbors, pergolas, and pavilions over the years. Usually, they’re made from four-by-four posts with beams made from two two-by-sixes held on by bolts and nuts sandwiching the boards to the post. The bolts are usually bought in bulk, and are extra long so they’ll be able to reach through any number of boards. This leaves an unsightly three or four inches of threads clearly visible beyond the face of the board. If the bolt is any lower than about seven feet above ground, this becomes a safety hazard, because anyone using the structure could walk into the bolt end and injure themselves. If it’s higher than seven feet, then it’s just plain ugly. Cut bolts in a pavilion roof truss design, for example, can seriously detract from the structure’s appearance. Either way, using these bolts means I have little choice but to cut the bolt down to a more reasonable half inch or so of threads showing.
However, this creates a whole new host of problems, because cutting a bolt down neatly and safely is a surprisingly hard thing to do. It’s a “make-do” construction standard that persists because until recently there was no other option, and for the most part, no one has spared it any thought. However, newly developed bolts with sleeves work in a clever way so that there’s never any extra length sticking out. Before we explain them, though, let’s talk about why you should stop using your old bolts, the type that need to be cut down.
I spent a happy eight months working as part of a carpentry crew at the Canaveral National Seashore in Florida. The seashore is a wildlife preserve, and to protect the unique ecosystem of the dunes, we were charged with building boardwalks, viewing platforms, and other elevated areas to keep visitors from treading the delicate flora of the dunes beneath their sandal-clad feet. Sometimes we would build pergolas on the existing deck surface of these platforms. The park service had a tendency to order too much lumber, and building pergolas was a useful way to use up the excess lumber while providing visitors with a somewhat shaded place to rest when they’d gotten too much sun.
These extra pergolas ended up being horrible time sinks. The reason was that the structures weren’t part of the original plans, and were added on halfway through. Usually, we did this by deciding to leave certain posts in the center of the platform excessively long so we could use them as posts in the pergola. This led to odd shapes, weird spacings, and constant trips back to boardwalks that were already completed to mess around with the rafters to try to get things to look right. It can be difficult to get pergola rafter spacing exactly right, especially if it’s a pergola with unusual dimensions.
Come by The International Builders’ Show (IBS) 2018 Booth W7355 Meet the OZCO Team: Ian Hill, Tony Radilla, Jesse Gomez, Jerry Trehan and JR Craven. Stick around take some time to see many of the 2018 products like the Rafter Seam, OWT-Lite, Post Band and Cool Accessories up close! Oh and don’t forget to pick up your copy of the 2018 OZCO Catalog packed full of all the new products including new product levels like the 2 packs of rafter clips and 4 packs of the Hex Cap Nuts.
OZCO Building Products is known for disruptive innovations and product design features that accelerate installation while enhancing the attractiveness of the end-users’ projects. OZCO is the originator and leader in the Ornamental Wood Ties (OWT) hardware category, offering high-quality structural connectors for use in decks, pergolas, arbors, pavilions, planters, and more. OZCO also offers a great selection of specialty fasteners through its OWT Timber Screws and OWT Timber Bolts product lines, and OZ-Post features the largest selection of drivable post anchors for fence, deck and sign installations. The OZCO family of products are designed and manufactured for superior performance, visual appeal, and functionality, all with innovations so revolutionary they have been granted 10 US patents and others patent-pending.
OZCO Building Products created the hot new category of Ornamental Wood Ties. The heavy rustic and rugged looks of OWT is the icing on the cake for any wood framed project from pergolas, decks, pavilions to exposed trusses indoors or out. Seen several times on this seasons hottest home improvements shows OWT hardware is what your customers want to enhance their projects as well. Come see our newest connectors and structure at International Builders’ Show (IBS) booth number W7355. We can confidentially say we have a project like nothing you have ever seen before. Also, be the first to see our new project app.
Ranch style houses are the homes of the American Dream. Also known as ramblers and California ranchers, these are houses that were developed in the 1920s, built during the 1950s and into the 1980s, and, because familiarity breeds contempt, abandoned in the 1990s for a variety of revival homes that have collectively and contemptuously become known as McMansions.
But the humble rancher endures, and was actually the first home designed for the modern lifestyle. They’ve been built and refined for over a century, and they’re a staple of the American landscape for a reason. Yet these homes were built in batches, and as a result, they can blend together. It can be hard to make a ranch house stand out or reflect your family’s personality, but updating a ranch style house exterior with a structure like a pergola can change the whole look of a home and give it a unique and sophisticated style.
When making the rounds visiting friends and family at their homes this Thanksgiving, I noticed something odd. Everyone’s rear fences had doubled posts with a pale brand new wood posts planted next to an old weathered post. Closer inspection revealed that the old, gray, mildewed posts were nailed to their new neighbors, and these new posts were what was holding the fence up. They were also making it abundantly clear that the fences were old and in need of TLC, and that their owners were at a loss as to how to make a fence look better.
A lot of this damage was the result of a hurricane that came through earlier in the year. What happens with your typical wooden privacy fence is that the posts are buried in the ground, where they accumulate water and begin to rot. When a major wind event occurs, these posts snap off at the ground level and entire sections of fence topple. In the aftermath, as people begin recovery, they repair their fences and look for ways to build a fence that better resists the wind. In my opinion, adding a new wood post next to the old one is not the way to do this. A better way is to build a wooden fence with metal posts or replace your existing fence’s wood posts with metal ones.
In my opinion, the biggest challenge in building a fence is keeping it in a straight line. This is often the most time-consuming part of any project. A deck, for instance, requires a lot of measuring to get it precisely square. Fences are less forgiving of mistakes, however, and even slight errors will result in an awkwardly crooked fence.
The challenge is in anchoring the posts. To anchor a typical fence post you have to dig a hole, place the post in the hole, and then fill the hole back in while making sure that the post’s height is correct, that the post is in line with the others, that it is the correct space from the last post in the sequence, and that it is plumb—or perfectly vertical. Errors may require you to pull the post out, dig the hole again, and start over. It’s a lot of labor, and many DIYers learn to live with a crooked fence. If you use post anchors, though, learning how to build a straight fence is a lot easier, and this allows you to install your fence posts without cement.
Not long after my friend married and bought his first home, his wife headed out of town for a cruise with her mother and sister. While they were gone, my friend planned to host a series of low-key boys nights at his house. But when we arrived with my friend at the new house, we found that the battery in his garage door opener was dead, and because he never used his front door key, the lock wouldn’t turn. And, of course, he didn’t have the key for the fence padlock with him. I ended up having to jump the fence and open up the back door so we could get in. The result of all this was that the neighbors called the police, worried about the strange man they saw running through the backyard.
My friend is not alone. There are many people who go straight from their garages into their homes day after day, and as far as they’re concerned the front door and its porch may as well not even exist. Spending time outdoors is something they do in the more spacious backyard. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The right front porch renovation ideas can make the front porch a more attractive place to spend time. A cozy porch can add value to your home, encourage you to get to know the neighbors, and help you reclaim an underused space.
When I was growing up, the house next to my grandparents was a rental, and it was forever being changed and altered as tenants moved in, changed things to their liking, then moved on. It appears that the landlord was very permissive, because one tenant converted the garage into a den, only for the next to be at a loss as to where he should park his 1967 C2 Corvette Stingray.
His solution was to build a sort of lean-to next to the house. It was a ramshackle affair made of pressure-treated lumber and roofed with semi-transparent corrugated green plastic that never sealed no matter how much caulk was applied. Even at seven years old I thought it was ugly, and unfit to house such a classy vehicle. When that tenant moved out, the next renter tore “the shed” down because it leaked, meaning that it was a pretty lousy place to work on your car and a pretty lousy place to put patio furniture. If your vehicle is pretty enough to protect–or if it just gets you where you need to go–then it’s worth considering the best carport design ideas that will actually protect it.
My aunt–the same one who recently put in a raised garden bed–has a small patio which has been sitting mostly empty for some time now. She doesn’t have room for a big structure, but her patio definitely needs something that will make it an attractive place to relax and socialize. After talking about the options with me, she’s decided to go with a pergola swing. This is a great project for her, as she’s a relative DIY beginner. After brainstorming more than a few pergola swing ideas, we came up with one that will be the perfect fit for her patio area.
Pergola swings are fun projects because they’re easy. You don’t need a permit to build one and you can do it in a weekend. However, just because no one will inspect it doesn’t mean you should skimp on safety. A sturdy pergola swing starts with a strong pergola to hold it up. With a solid structure and powerful hardware in place, the rest of the project will go smoothly regardless of what type of plan you choose.
A long time ago, while repairing a detached garage for my mother, I had an epic argument with her about cutting replacements for the top chords of a truss that had rotted away. An experienced electrical engineer, my mother, upon hearing the word ‘slope,’ had decided that the slope-intercept form of the equation of a line would deliver all needed dimensions and angles. Words were said, I had to spend three days doing a task that should have taken three hours, and in the end, I vowed never to do handyman work on an engineer’s home—especially not an electrical engineer—and certainly never for a blood relation.
Needless to say, a mathematical formula used to determine the features of perfectly straight lines in an infinite theoretical plane doesn’t have a lot of relevance to structures that are distinctly finite, and built of wood, a material that often has to be worked into straightness as you build. Instead, the key factors to consider with pavilion roof truss designs–and trusses for any structure–are the dimensions of your structure, the geographic area where you live, and the aesthetics of how you want it to look.