Frequently Asked Questions

Wood Decks:

Q: What kind of wood does Heritage Design work with?

A: We work with two main types of wood -- pressure treated and cedar. The pressure treated wood that we carry varies in species, depending on the application. Posts come in red pine, while lodge pole pine is used for decking. The balance of our PT wood inventory is SPF (spruce-pine-fir mixed). We use western red cedar as well.

Q: I heard pressure treated wood is bad for you; should I avoid it?

A: Well, I wouldn't eat it. Pressure treated wood includes chemicals for preservation and to resist rot. Older treatment methods included arsenic, but those methods were banned in North America. Modern treatment methods use copper. Experts agree that consumers should not worry about having a pressure treated wood deck in the yard.

Q: What is 5/4?

A: 5/4, pronounced "five quarter," is the standard name for a deck board. Around 15+ years ago most decks were built with 2x6 decking. Modern 2x6 is used as framing material and lacks the final finish that 5/4 deck boards offer. 5/4 boards present a nice beveled edge, which adds a delicate touch to the look of the deck surface. As a plus, Heritage Design uses lodge pole pine decking. This wood species tends to lay flatter, has a tamer grain, smaller knots and retains its sap better.

Q: Do I need a permit?

A:  Each city/township has its own rules. The general rule across Ontario states that any deck over 24" off the ground at any point requires a permit. Some cities say that every deck construction must begin with a permit, some say it is only required if the deck is actually attached to the house.

Q: How long can I expect my wood deck to last?

A: A well-built wood deck should deliver 15 to 20 years of life. This applies to both pressure treated and cedar decks.

Q: The base of my deck seems good and solid, but the top is getting old. Can I replace just the top?

A: Yes, for sure. We would generally come out and inspect the base or framing, just to confirm that it is in good shape structurally. From there we can remove the old decking and install a new surface.

Composite Decks:

Q: What is composite decking?

A: Composite decking is a man-made decking material that typically consists of recycled wood and recycled plastic. Many manufacturers offer this material and all have their own "recipe." No composite board is made the same. You will find some really soft products, while others are really hard. Some fade substantially over time and others will never fade.

Q: What composite decking does Heritage Design recommend?

A: The composite decking world operates on the survival of the fittest. A company that offers a product with too many defects naturally runs into trouble and will not be around in a few years. We have seen our fair share of "latest and greatest" products, with many becoming obsolete or bankrupt within 2 years time. Trex has been proven in the industry over more than two decades, and is considered our "tried and true" composite. Year after year Trex produces new and improved products to address customer's concerns, while offering a solid foundation of experience and integrity.

Q: Why is it so expensive?

A: Composite decking is more expensive to produce, therefore the final product costs more than, say, a pressure treated wood deck. Composite is also a little harder to work with. The preferred fastening method for composite products involves hidden clip systems attached to the framing, a process which takes a bit more time than standard wood decking installation.

Q: Is the framing made from composite too?

A: No. The framing for a composite deck will be pressure treated wood, as dictated by the local building codes. Composite wood is not considered structural, so posts, beams, and joists all need to be pressure treated wood.

Q: I heard from a friend that composite decks don't pass code--is that true?

A: Bit of a loaded question, that one. The composite decking itself should have no problems getting approved. On the other hand, matching composite railings can be tricky in terms of deck permits. We haven't had many issues over the last 3 to 4 years. Prior to that time, local building authorities were not allowing composite railings due to the inclusion of recycled material. Unfortunately, a certain amount of uncertainty exists when applying for a permit, as each city/township operates differently and railings that pass in one town, may not pass in another. If we run into problems with a deck design, Heritage highly recommends using aluminum railing as an attractive, maintenance free solution.

Q: I saw a deck on some TV show that had all these curves in it. Can you do that?

A: To a degree, yes. Another nice thing about composite decking is that it's malleable and becomes even more so when heated.

Q: So is a plastic deck the same as a composite deck?

A: No, not really. A plastic deck is just that--plastic. Composite deck products use a combination of plastic and wood.

Q: Will it grow mold?

A: Due to the presence of organics in the product, there is a chance that composite decking will grow mold. We've found that decks installed closer to the ground have a higher chance of developing mold and mildew. On the plus side, we've also noticed that the most recent product line from Trex (Transcends Series) has had no problems in close-to-ground installations.

Q: Can I do angled decking?

A: Yes, for sure. You just have to make sure that your joists are installed at 12" centres, rather than 16" centres.

Q: I have an older deck. Can I replace the deck boards with composite boards?

A: As long as your framing is solid and installed at the proper spacing (16" centres or 12" centres), replacing the deck boards is entirely possible. Give us a call to arrange for a free estimate.

Wood Fence:

Q: What is the maximum height I can build a fence?

A: It depends on where you live. Each city has its own fence by-law that you must obey. Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge are all 8' high and 6'6" is the maximum fence height allowed in Wilmot Township. Be aware that corner lots have more restrictions.

Q:  How deep do fence posts get installed?

A: Heritage Design sets fence posts 42"-48" deep to get below the frost line. After digging a hole to that depth, we generally put a base of concrete at the bottom and rest the actual post on that foundation. Therefore the post is installed about 36" in the ground.

Q: Why do you offer different post sizes? What's the difference?

A: There are two main reasons why customers choose larger sized posts.  First, a larger post (6x6 or 5x5) will be stronger than the standard 4x4 post and more stable in high winds. Some of our customers are in areas where the winds howl and they need added stability and protection. The second reason is for looks--a larger, chunkier post really stands out on a backyard fence. This style looks even better on a corner lot.

Q: How long will a fence last?

A: We believe a well built fence will last 15 to 20 years

Q: Are there any rules about who gets the "nice side"?

A: No, not really. The only time that it matters who gets the "nice side" is when there is a pool involved.  

Q: How is it determined where on the property line a fence is installed?

A: This is usually determined before Heritage Design shows up. It all comes down to ownership. If a fence is installed completely on your property (generally a few inches in from the property line), it is your fence. Your neighbour should have no claim to it. If the fence is installed on the property line, then it would be considered shared. All we need from you is a property survey and instructions on where you want the fence located.

Q: What is the difference between "board on board" and "shadow box" fencing?

A: They are the same thing. Like "pop" and "soda," it comes down to where you are from. Both terms describe the type of fencing that you can see through from an angle, but can't see through when looking straight on. Some people call this a "good neighbour fence," because both sides of the fence look the same.

Q: In your pictures it seems like all gates look the same, why?

A: Good eye, and there is a reason for this. Gates have a tendency to sag. The weight of the gate pulls on the supporting post and over time the gate comes out of level. This condition could make the gate unusable. We recommend installing a lightweight gate and arbour to help avoid this problem.

Q: Is it better to nail or screw your fence boards on?

A: That depends. Heritage Design installers use air nailers or air guns (like in Happy Gilmore, sorta). This tool installs nails with a lot of force for a very strong and secure finish. They also allow us to install a durable, built-to-last fence quickly. On the flip side, if you're building your own fence and don't have access to an air nailer, we recommend using screws for a longer lasting structure.

Chain Link Fence:

Q: What colours does chain link fence come in?

A: Black, green, brown, white and galvanized (silver).

Q: What heights does it come in?

A: Standard heights for a residential installation range from 4 foot high to 5 foot high (pool grade). Six foot high can be done, but is more often used for commercial applications.

Q: Can I use chain link fencing for around a pool?

A: Yes, you can. Pool grade chain link fencing has smaller diamonds than standard chain link. A pool installation requires 1.5" diamonds, where "normal" chain link comes with 2" diamonds.

Q: Do you pound in the posts or do you concrete them in?

A: Heritage Design always sets chain link posts in concrete, ensuring your fence lasts longer. Other companies in the area may just pound your posts into the ground, so be sure to check and compare.

Q: How deep are the post set into the ground?

A: Heritage Design sets fence posts 42"-48" deep to get below the frost line. After digging a hole to that depth, we generally put a base of concrete at the bottom and rest the actual post on that foundation. Therefore the post is installed about 36" in the ground.

Ornamental Iron Fence:

Q: Is ornamental iron the same as wrought iron?

A: No, it is not. Wrought iron was used a long time ago and has now morphed into ornamental iron. It is very rare to find a company that makes wrought iron.

Q: Why would someone want ornamental iron over a wood fence?

A: It often comes down to personal taste. There all also instances where a customer enjoys the view in their yard and prefers ornamental iron fencing, a style that leaves sight lines in tact while providing the security and safety of a fence.

Q: Is iron fencing suitable for a pool?

A: 100% - We have a lot of clients who want the look of iron to accent their new pool or enclose the area for safety reasons. Our iron fencing passes all pool codes in the Kitchener Waterloo area.

Q: Will the paint flake and peel off?

A: The manufacturer uses a powder coated technique to finish ornamental iron fencing. The paint will not peel, flake or fade. Iron fence is a great choice for consumers shopping for zero worries. Set it and forget it.

Q: The iron is nice, but I want privacy. What can I do?

A: We often install a normal wood privacy fence in the backyard, and finish the front with iron fence and an iron gate. This design allows for great street appeal, and is also very inviting and stylish.

Q: Are all the iron fences made the same?  They look the same.

A: Believe it or not, they are all different. There are a good number of manufacturers out there and they all make their product differently. Manufacturers even paint differently.

We have worked with Medallion Fence ornamental fencing styles for more than 20 years, enhancing thousands of backyards in the KW region. We choose to use the best product available to ensure that your fence lasts as long as possible. Medallion Fence has one of the best paint lines in all of Southern Ontario, and uses a thicker steel to manufacture their fencing products (when compared to the competition). Rail and picket dimensions are also larger than other product lines available. In essence, you get more steel for your money with Medallion products. Inferior iron fence products lead to countless problems, such as sagging top rails and unattractive yards. We avoid those issues by offering the best iron fencing available.

Vinyl Fence:

Q: What manufacturer do you use for vinyl fence?

A: We use HomeLand Vinyl Products for the majority of our vinyl fence installations.

Q: How is a vinyl fence put together?

A: Vinyl fencing assembly involves a snap and lock system. Vinyl fence rails are formed with special tabs and fence boards snap into place using a notching tool. Different vinyl fencing styles require different fasteners, including the rivets and screws often used to assemble vinyl privacy fences or semi-private styles.

Q: Can my vinyl fence break? How strong is it?

A: Any fence material can break with sufficient force applied. To add strength and stability, HomeLand uses top quality impact modifiers and ultra precise engineering techniques to create superior impact resistance. All of the vinyl fencing offered by Heritage Design is manufactured to go beyond minimum standards and  withstand greater impacts.

Q: Why do Big Box stores carry cheaper vinyl fencing and what's the difference?

A: Quality is the bottom line. Commodity levels control the price of resin (with supply and demand playing a key role) and the price of additives change in the same fashion. Some manufacturers break into this competitive industry by offering lower prices initially, with plans to increase prices later on. Others manufacture a lower quality, thinner product for an economic price. Be aware that these products may not comply with industry standards and local building codes. Another way for manufacturers to keep prices lower is to incorporate recycled materials, frequently altering product dynamics and durability. Some companies also resort to inferior production methods, involving glued pickets and screwed rail brackets, as opposed to a proven, well-engineered snap and lock system.

Q: How can I spot an inferior product?

A: Look for obvious differences in the look and feel of the vinyl fencing product, such as:

  • Drag lines (also called striations) running down the face of rails, posts and fence boards/pickets
  • Lower gloss finish could indicate the use of inferior additives
  • Differences in the corner radius measurements indicate inferior quality control - are the posts, rails and pickets square?
  • Discolouration on the back or inside of the vinyl generally indicate a high percentage of recycled materials
  • Thinner outer layer of vinyl (also called cap stock) that looks almost painted on
  • Weak fasteners or brackets for assembly often indicates high-volume production and lower levels of quality control

Q: Will my vinyl fence yellow?

A: Heritage Design uses HomeLand vinyl fencing products, manufactured with TiO2, an advanced, highly durable, non-chalking titanium dioxide. This element blocks harmful UV rays and resists discolouration. Use a garden hose to keep your fence clean and bright for years to come.

Sheds:

Q: I found a shed I like online. Can you build it?

A: I would be amazed if we couldn't. Every shed that we build is customized--we have no kits and no plans that we reuse over and over. This allows our customers to purchase a shed that's exactly what they want for their backyard. Need a shed with a 2'2" roof peak, 6'8" high walls, 3 operational windows, a door with a decorative glass insert, and an exterior in tongue and groove cedar? Done. You dream it up, we'll put it up.

Q: Do I need a permit?

A: It depends on the size of the shed you want. Generally, in the Kitchener Waterloo area, any shed over 108 square feet requires a building permit.

Q: What do one of your kits cost just to buy?

A: We don't sell kit sheds. Every shed that we construct is built by our skilled installers from scratch and on site.

Q: What does the shed sit on?

A: You have some options there. Use a concrete base to create a concrete floor in your shed. We can also set posts in the ground and build a base (kind of like a small deck) for the shed to sit on. This option creates a plywood shed floor. Lastly, you could float the shed on patio stones or deck blocks, but this method would be the least advised.

Q: What kind of finish can I get for my shed?

A: A typical Heritage Design shed comes with board on baton rough barn pine for the exterior finish. But really, the sky is the limit. You could opt for tongue and groove cedar, tongue and groove pine, horizontal or vertical vinyl siding, cedar shiplap, or even stone veneer.

Pergolas:

 

Q: Is a pergola just used for shade?

A: No, not at all. Heritage Design installs far more pergolas for looks than for shade. A pergola really stands out in your yard, dominant and decorative. It adds a talking point, and creates a mood or setting.

Q: How much shade will I get?

A: That really depends on how your house is positioned and what time of day it is. We advise customers who truly want shade to consider installing a roof, instead of a pergola. Pergolas only offer speckled or dappled shade at certain times of the day.

Q: Is there a compromise between a pergola and a solid roof?

A: You could add a second layer of slats to your pergola. We refer to this design as a "double pergola." It will add shade, but still not solid coverage.

Q: How many decorative end cut designs are there?

A: We have about four "go to" end cuts that past customers have liked. But really, an end cut design is up to you. If you want your pergola to be unique and customized, start doodling on a piece of paper and we can make it happen.

Q: How can I make my pergola really stand out?

A: If it suits the architecture of your house, a beefy or chunky pergola looks pretty awesome. Consider using larger beams to create a heavy, durable look. Rather than standard 2x8, think 2x10 or 2x12. Same goes for your posts and the slats on top--go big or go home. Add a few candle sconces and a drape and you will have all of your friends jealous in no time.