Skip to content

A DIY Quickie.

After rambling on considerably about fixing the backyard deck, I have one final thing to add. For purely cosmetic reasons, I replaced the lattice that runs around the base of the deck. 

Lattice is there for two reasons:

1. Practical: To keep critters from making their home under the deck, wherefrom they can cause damage to the house, deck, or just generally sink up the place.

2. Cosmetic: To make the deck look neater, more finished and tidy. The lattice keeps debris from collecting under the deck. 

The existing lattice did the first thing: it was critter-tight. It wasn’t very esthetic though. This is how this house has been maintained over the years. Functional, not pretty. Minimize cost, in materials and labour.

Anyway, been eyeing vinyl lattice for a while now. This was the year to go for it. 

Vinyl is appealing for:

  • durability. The existing wood lattice was algae covered, and a variety of colours based on how long it had been in the sun and/or weather. Because it’s composed of thin strips of wood, stapled together, ultimately not that durable. Try punching through it, it’s easy. I’m a bit concerned that critters that like to chew things (squirrels, raccoons and maybe groundhogs) will chew the vinyl. Will monitor.
  • appearance – the weathered-look that the lattice achieves is fine to go along with weathered boards of the deck. Unless the deck is painted/stained, which is a good idea to extend its life. Painting lattice is annoying. Try it. Getting an even colour on the various depths requires the patience of an impressionist1.
  • not sure about this one but should be better for the environment if it’s more durable (less waste), easier to maintain (fewer chemical washes and finishes) and is made of recycled materials and recyclable itself.

Purchased lattice in ‘redwood’ colour and matching U channel strips for installation and short deck screws in light brown. 

A few minor challenges:

1. Best way to cut the lattice? Internet said use a circular saw, which I’m sure would work great to rip straight lines. The project required more fine-tuned cutting. The height varied from less than a foot to over three feet, sometimes in sections, some times as the ground sloped. There are footings to cut around every 8 feet. These are cement forms sitting on the ground. Not my first choice for footings but better than redoing the entire deck. To do the detailed cuts, I found tin-snips worked well. The trick is to pull the two sides apart as you cut, to avoid binding. With the right orientation, the tin snips cut vinyl like scissors cut paper. 

2. Matching the pattern. Since the main goal of this project was esthetic, matching the cross-weave was important to make it look good. Laying out the pieces on the driveway before cutting made the match easy.

3. Finishing outside corners. Although the lattice product has matching U channels (and double, essentially butt jointed accessories), it was clearly meant to be in a framed system. However, due to the incremental approach to building the deck (bits added over time), and the style, it wasn’t practical to completely frame in this lattice. Often lattice is attached in front of the rim joists below the deck floor. Since my railing posts are on the front of the rim joists, the lattice had to go on the bottom of the joists. And the cement block footings stick out 3 or 4″ beyond where a lattice frame would normally sit. I suppose an entire facing structure could have been added beyond the footings and railings, but I can’t see that looking good. Instead, I created outside corners to give the appearance of a fully framed lattice, by sawing part of the U channel off, making an L to fit it around lattice joints on the posts.

4. The base of the lattice. This lattice is designed to be installed with the framing around all four sides. Burying the bottom in the ground seemed like a better idea, providing a barrier to critters and flexibility to the install over gravel, dirt, tree roots, asphalt, and patio stones. And easier to adapt to random sloping of the ground. I learned it was easier to make a trench to fit the lattice into and fill it back in once the lattice was vertical. Where possible, I buried 2 inches into the ground, thinking that should deter larger critters from ducking underneath.

All done. A brief but satisfying project. Esthetics achieved, durability expected, critters on watch.

1 i.e. the entire picture is created with minute dabs of colour, taking hours longer then the swishing of a 4″ brush, soaked in paint, back and forth across a flat surface, which is a reasonable amount of patience for painting something that will require it again next year. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *