Deck Railing Options

Choosing the right options for your deck

Not All Wood Porch Railings are Created Equal
There are generally two reasons to buy new railings: you’re building a new deck, patio, or balcony, or you need to replace existing railings. How can you decide whether it’s time to replace?

If you have wood, begin by pressing a thin blade into your wooden column. If it goes in easily, and feels spongy, the wood is rotting. Now, take a close look at your old columns. You may notice yours have been scrapped together with regular old 2x4s, and not lumber that is pressure-treated and KDAT (kiln dried after treatment).

This is an important distinction, and a good benchmark for picking the right kind of wood going forward. Pressure-treated lumber and KDAT are better options than regular wood. Chemistry makes them rot resistant.

The most popular non-wood options include composite, aluminum, vinyl, and iron. We cover their qualities below.

Railing Styles
Once you’ve explored the best material choices, it’s time to pick the style that works best with your home’s existing architecture. The right choice will add visual appeal to your home. Bring in photos of your home—and existing deck, if any—for expert assistance on choosing the right design style.

We carry many options for deck railings, and each has its own strengths and advantages. Read below about the most popular options we carry, then let our experts help you choose the best railing for your project.

Fortress™ Iron Railings
This is a pre-welded, easily customized and enhanced version of traditional wrought iron railing that brings an upscale look and durability to a patio, deck, or balcony. Iron railings provide a clean, classic appearance that is versatile for a variety of applications and surfaces. Pre-galvanized steel, zinc phosphate, e-coat, and premium powder coating make it the most elegant and durable iron railing system on the market. We carry Black Sand in stock, and can order other finishes, like Gloss Black and Antique Bronze.

Xpanse Premier Vinyl and Aluminum Railing
As one of the leading manufacturers of residential and commercial railing products, Xpanse features enhancements like impressive durability, long-lasting color, low maintenance, an industry-leading warranty, and more. Their Premier Series rail products use Composicore®, a precision-engineered polymer containing no wood fibers or components, making it the most water-resistant core available. It won’t absorb moisture, rot, cup, bow, splinter, stain, warp, or decay, and will resist mold and fungus. They are also strong and durable, secure enough to keep you and your children safe. They can be easily cleaned, and won’t fade in the sun, as special UV inhibitors provide fade-resistant color and low-wearing color finish. We carry the Xpanse white railing kit in stock.

Treated Posts, Handrails, and Spindles
We carry pressure-treated and KDAT outdoor wood products, including spindles, and wooden handrails which have variations of spindle styles, turnings, lengths, and dimensions. They’re kiln dried and all machined after treatment, which also come paint-ready, with no drying necessary. If we don’t have something in stock we can order any styles or variations for your project.

Trex Aluminum and Composite Railings
Trex railings and components provide all the advantages of aluminum and composites—durability, color-fastness, rot-proof performance, and low maintenance, among others—with a selection of three exterior railing lines. Find the style you want from their wide range of colors, finishes, and style options. All this, plus easy configuration and maintenance, make Trex one of the most luxurious exterior railing systems around. We have the Trex Select® rail kit, white with black aluminum balusters, and Trex Transcend® in white (with 2”x2” white balusters) and vintage lantern (with 2”x2” black aluminum) in stock.

As with most of our product lines, if we don’t have exactly what you want in stock now, we can easily order just about any option for you. Start by evaluating your deck railings, and making an appointment to sit with one of our decking experts to make your vision a reality.

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Maintaining Consistent Lumber Quality

Top Quality, Reasonable Costs Despite Worldwide Price Fluctuations

If lumber prices could only petrify at the root, we would all be able to permanently—and happily—plan our future costs with ease.

Unfortunately, that’s not reality.

Why Do Lumber Prices Fluctuate So Widely? 
Lumber is a commodity, a raw agricultural product bought and sold around the world. Prices of all commodities are propelled by the pressures of supply and demand.

It used to be easy to pinpoint the reasons for a sharp increase in costs, such as a single hurricane. In the last twenty years or so, this seems to have changed. Specific price factors appear to be more abundant, and compounded with extreme, varying degrees of cost influence.

Just a handful of the contributing factors include wildfires, environmental changes such as severe storms, bad winters, the rising number of beetle-kill timber, tariffs between the United States and our trading countries, strikes, pulp values, currency arbitrage, and rippling effects from oil prices which impact transportation costs. Oil costs impact transportation costs, but limitations to hours in service for drivers has been a huge impact as well.

Over the last two years, we have witnessed some of the most dramatic changes in lumber prices. Beginning in 2016, an average western mill cost for 2×4 lumber was $243 per thousand board feet. The cost rose to a record high of $655 in the summer of 2018, before falling back down to $298 by the end of the year.

Who Is Impacted?
Everyone along the supply line feels these price swings, from sawmills to distributors, brokers, retailers, timberland owners, and consumers. Each member of this chain relies on the others for success, so we continue to work together toward cost consistency as much as the market allows.

Does This Mean Quality Suffers? 
Living in a world market where prices are fluid, JAY-K Lumber has built firm alliances with mills and distributors to continue providing the best opportunity for obtaining the quality of lumber we all want and expect.

Whether you’re a homeowner, contractor, or business that relies on our lumber products to see your projects to fruition, know that in a world of turbulent factors, JAY-K Lumber will continue to provide top-quality lumber at the reasonable costs you deserve.

Have a question about our lumber products or need an assist on your next project? Stop in at JAY-K Lumber, or start by asking an expert.

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Spring Clean Your Deck

Get ready for summer

Just like your indoor spaces, your outdoor spaces need to be taken care of on a regular basis. Spring is the perfect time to clean your hard-working deck and get ready for the great weather to come. Your deck can give you years of fun if it’s properly maintained.

Want to make your old deck look new again? In our climate, winter can be pretty tough on a deck; rain, snow, ice, and even the harsh sun can wreak havoc on your deck’s finish.

Composite Decks
To clean your composite deck, start by clearing all furniture off your deck. Then sweep or brush to remove any leaves, dust, or soil. Next wet the entire surface. Apply warm soapy water with a soft-bristled brush or push broom, and gently scrub the entire surface. Simply rinse with a hose, and let it dry naturally.

Trex decking, with a protective shell, makes cleaning even easier.

If you have a pressure washer, to avoid damaging the surface, make sure you don’t exceed 3,100 psi, use a fan spray tip no closer than 4 inches from the surface, and use only soft water. Use a good-quality deck cleaner in the pressure washer, and spray evenly over the entire deck. Then gently scrub with a soft-bristled brush, rinse well as described above, and let it dry naturally. This will clean up that winter residue, and leave a surface more resistant to mildew growth. Clean your deck this way at least once—and preferably twice—a year.

Wood Decks

Wood decks need a little more attention. Since wood is a natural material, it needs to be treated to resist mildew growth, graying, and sun damage. Regular application of top-quality stain or finish can slow down the wear and tear. This spring, take a look at your deck. If it’s in pretty good shape, a good cleaning with a deck cleaner should suffice. If your deck stain or finish is faded or worn, reapply to maintain the integrity of the wood. Translucent or semi-transparent finishes should be renewed every 12-24 months, and solid color finishes should be renewed every 24-36 months.

Don’t Forget Safety
As always, safety should be your first deck priority, so as long as you’re getting ready for spring, it’s a great time to make sure your deck is safe for kids, friends, and family this summer. Check out our blog on deck safety.

Need more assistance? Stop in at JAY-K Lumber for expert advice on designing, building, and maintaining your deck, or start by asking an expert.

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10 Benefits of Roxul Insulation

Fire and Moisture Resistance, Easy To Install

When you’re ready to insulate, choosing the right insulation can make a big difference in the installation time and effort, and the comfort of your home or commercial building for many years to come. Roxul insulation has a number of distinct advantages that make it the go-to choice for many professionals.

Roxul—which is slowly changing its brand over to “Rockwool” after its corporate parent company—makes and supplies a full range of smart and sustainable “stone wool” insulation products for construction use. You can find products for attic insulation, flat roof insulation, exterior and interior wall insulation, floor insulation, and ceiling insulation, as well as a full range of commercial and OEM insulation applications.

Advantages of Roxul

  1. Made from stone (basalt rock) and recycled steel slag.
    These readily available and sustainable materials make Roxul more durable, less irritating, and less dusty than fiberglass batt.
  2. Higher R-values than fiberglass insulation.
    For the same thickness, Roxul provides a higher R-value, or for a given target R-value, you can use a less thick Roxul batt choice, making installation more convenient (e.g. Roxul 3.5” thick = R15 and 5.5” thick = R23 vs. Fiberglass: 3.5” thick = R11 and 5.5” thick = R19.)
  3. Moisture resistant.
    Roxul actually repels water, and won’t absorb moisture like its competitors. This keeps your insulation spaces dryer, and prevents degradation of the adjoining construction material.
  4. Completely resistant to rot, mildew, mold, and bacterial growth.
    Over the long term, Roxul keeps performing without compromising the health and integrity of your home or commercial building.
  5. Fire resistant.
    Roxul gives you peace of mind with a fire resistant design that makes safety a high priority in your living space.
  6. Rodent-resistant.
    Roxul’s steel content keeps rodents out of your insulated space.
  7. Does not itch.
    Anyone who has worked with fiberglass knows the continuing pain of this itchy material. Roxul solves that problem upfront.
  8. All-friction fit.
    Make your installation easier and faster. Simply cut Roxul slightly larger than the space, then easily wedge in for a tight, convenient fit.
  9. Easy to cut precisely with a serrated blade.
    A bread-knife blade is all you need (Roxul has them available) to quickly and precisely cut pieces to fit, as well as cut out spaces for electrical boxes and other wall features.
  10. Denser than traditional fiberglass insulation.
    Roxul effectively reduces airflow and essentially, sound transmissions. Its higher air flow resistivity means better sound attenuation for a quieter environment.

Still have questions? Ask an expert, or stop in to talk to one in person.

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3 Reasons to Plan Your New Spring Deck This Winter

Why You Shouldn’t Wait

During these winter months, you may find yourself daydreaming about warmer days—and dreading the short deadlines on all your summer projects. Spring is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to think about improving your outdoor living space.

Believe it or not, now is the time to start planning your new deck, whether you’re building it yourself, or scheduling your contractor for the job. Planning early gives you more time to find the funds to build, choose early delivery and build dates, and enjoy your newly-built deck before next winter.

Why Plan Your Deck in Winter?

You probably don’t have a deck build at the top of your to-do list right now, but that can change with some smart planning. Here are the top 3 reasons to plan now.

1. Get it on your schedule—or your contractor’s schedule—now to have your pick of project start dates. Winter tends to be a slower time of the year for contractors. Start planning your project during the winter when it will be easier to pin down their ideal start date and give JAY-K Lumber plenty of time to help you design your perfect deck and order your supplies. Any special orders take more time, so early planning is important!

2. Time to save money for your deck. When you start planning early, you will know the approximate cost you need to budget for your perfect deck. Early planning gives you time to save money to complete the project, or to secure financing if needed. This means dealing with any cost obstacles well before you’re ready to build. Many people also receive tax refunds during the last few months of winter, so you may even have a little influx of extra cash to put toward your deck.

3. Maximize your enjoyment time outside. The earlier construction starts, the more time you’ll have to enjoy your new outdoor space. And the more of your summer you can spend enjoying your free time. That’s a win-win!

Our experts can help you choose the right decking for your goals, plan, and budget.

Visit our Deck Design and Planning page for tips and a free checklist to help you speed up your project. Then stop in to the store to see our new indoor Trex Decking showroom for inspiration. Their new lineup includes 4 different pricing level products, and more color choices than you’ll find anywhere else in the area!

With your vision and our expert advice, you can start your deck project now.

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Pros and Cons of Different Siding Types

Branded JAY-K image of housefront

Pros, Cons, and Trade-Offs

Installing new siding can be rewarding, and revitalize the look of your home. Choosing the right type makes all the difference. So how do you choose the right siding? We help you get started with this overview of some of the most common siding choices with their pros and cons, and the trade-offs to consider with each.

Vinyl Siding

image of vinyl siding

One of the most popular of siding materials, vinyl is strong, and available in a wide range of colors and textures. Simulated wood grain, shingles, and stone are popular, and colors are mixed into the material before forming, so minor scratches and gouges don’t show easily. This lightweight material is easily installed when walls are straight and free from rot.

Pros: Insulates better than wood, low maintenance, no painting or finishing required, relatively low cost, lasts a long time, resists rot, and increases your home’s value.

Cons: Overlapping creates visible seams, and can crack under strong impacts. Not biodegradable.


image of wood siding

Wood clapboard and shingle siding have a natural beauty that gives your home a warm, welcoming, upscale feel. There are many wood species, grades, and levels of quality, and your choice of sealer, stain, or paint will depend on the grade and look. Better wood is required for a natural stained look, and matters less if you plan to paint or opaque stain. Wood requires more maintenance, which means more cost, but with regular refinishing, can last many years. Make sure to choose certified sustainable wood varieties.

Pros: Easier to cut and shape, and the semi-skilled can install as a DIY job. Great looking finish. Easily biodegradable when disposed of. Not too expensive to install.

Cons: Better quality wood can be expensive. Regular maintenance increases ongoing costs. Can’t be used to cover old siding; must remove old siding before installing.

Fiber Cement

image if fiber cement siding

This popular siding choice is known for its stability and relatively low maintenance. Made from a mix of wood pulp, clay, cement, and sand, it is molded to look like wood clapboard, shingles, stucco, or masonry. It can be easily painted, and comes in a variety of finishes.

Pros: Very durable, and resists contracting/expanding with changes in temperature and humidity, requiring less maintenance. Fire-resistant, termite-proof, and rot resistant. Not too expensive, and offers long warranties.

Cons: Heavy, requiring specialized installation tools and methods. Also must completely remove old siding to install. Requires continual painting and maintenance.


image of stucco siding

Stucco is very durable, coordinates well with other siding types, and can give a distinctive look to a home when installed properly. Resists chipping and cracking, but requires an experienced installer. If well-maintained, it will last for many years.

Pros: New mixtures offer rich, unique colors through the material, so painting isn’t required, and minor flaws won’t show. Low-maintenance and resistant to fire and insects. Not too expensive.

Cons: Serious prep work and experienced contractors add to the cost of installation. A mixed environmental impact reputation for manufacturing and materials.

Engineered Wood

image of engineered wood siding

This type of siding is made from wood fibers and durable resins. It’s very strong, can withstand severe weather, and is available in a wide variety of styles, textures, and simulated finishes (beaded lap, clapboard, wood shingles). You can order it with a factory finish, or paint yourself. Engineered wood is generally less expensive than fiber cement and real wood, but holds up as well. Warranties can run up to 50 years.

Pros: Similar look to wood. Easy to work with, and the dust isn’t toxic. Insect resistant. Inexpensive; about half the cost of real wood. Low VOC, and production doesn’t create much waste. Comes with factory applied primer.

Cons: Requires continual painting and maintenance. Could rot.

Synthetic Stone

image of synthetic siding

This mixture of cement, aggregate, and sand is molded to look (pretty successfully) like real stone. You can choose from simulated stone types like granite and limestone, with a wide selection of styles and shapes. Generally used as an accent siding around chimneys or entrances.

Pros: Much less expensive—and much lighter weight—compared to real stone. Insect and fire resistant. Positive environmental ranking in manufacture (and reduced demand for real stone).

Cons: Outside of real stone, it still ranks as one of the most expensive sidings. While the look of simulated stone has gotten better, some don’t like the less “authentic” look.

Our experts can help you choose the right siding for your home, your tastes, and your budget. Let us know your requirements, and we can help you start on a new look that will last a lifetime.

For more information, start on our Roofing & Siding Department page, then stop in to the store for expert advice.

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Expert Careers at JAY-K Lumber

JAY-K Storefront

Growth and retirements create room for advancement

Both new and experienced staff are finding great opportunities at JAY-K Lumber, as on-the-job training, mentorship, and retirements offer room to grow. We make sure you have everything you need to make this a career, not just a job.

JAY-K Lumber is a real lumberyard as well as a home improvement store, where we do real and important work for our customers, who include homeowners and do-it-yourselfers, as well as local and regional contractors and businesses.

We do it well, and we do it professionally, because we choose people with potential, and experience. No matter what your level of experience is, there’s always more to learn about lumber, hardware, and building. If you’re up for the work, we’ll teach you the trade, and maybe just give you a career for a lifetime.

We’re a family owned, single location business, and have great relationships with each other and our customers, with camaraderie, fun, and whatever it takes to do the job well.

Retirements and Promotions

The perfect examples: some of our long-time career staff are retiring, and others are moving into positions of more responsibility.

Kevin Countryman, new Contractor and Outside Sales ManagerAfter more than 30 years, Jim Moorhead, our Contractor and Outside Sales Manager, is retiring. Moving into that role is Kevin Countryman, who has worked in lumber sales, and nearly 4 years as our principle deck designer. Kevin will be responsible for managing outside sales staff, as well as outside and contractor sales. His department services current accounts, responds to bid requests for construction work in the region, and cultivates new clients. In order to meet growing demand, he plans to implement current technologies to streamline our outside and contractor sales communications and logistics, from faster bid and client responses to more efficient distribution and deliveries.

Larry Cieply, our Building Supply/Millwork Purchaser, will be retiring after nearly 50 years as a JAY-K Lumber team member. Dan Murphy, a store veteran of more than 25 years, will be bringing his expertise to an expanded role that includes Larry’s former responsibilities. Dan has already served as a purchaser for the plumbing, electrical, and paint departments.

We have continued to grow steadily in response to demand for our products and expert services, and we’re already hiring for immediate positions in several departments.

Check out our current openings, and let us help you become an important part of our team!

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Making an Impact with Cambria Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are synonymous with strength and beauty.

If you want a beautiful kitchen that makes a lasting impression, Cambria Quartz for your countertop is a great choice. While many countertop choices (like marble or solid surface materials) come with compromises, you don’t have to settle when you choose quartz.

Why Quartz Countertops?
Anyone who has seen a quartz countertop can attest to its beauty. But why choose it over other surface materials?

Quartz is much harder than many other countertop options, such as marble, solid surface, soapstone, and laminate. That means it is less likely to scratch, chip or stain, and will give you worry-free performance. Granite sometimes requires re-sealing to prevent staining, while marble can’t be sealed at all against staining. Not only that, but some everyday items like ketchup and olive oil will etch the polish off marble tops.

But if you love marble, quartz has come a long way to replicating the look of marble varieties such as Carrara and Calacatta. See for yourself below!

Click on images to enlarge

Quartz is also very easy to take care of. Use regular soap and water to clean, and that’s it!

How are Quartz Countertops made?
Quartz countertops, while mostly natural material, are actually a man-made product. Natural quartz is mined and then ground up. Next epoxy and colorant are added. The mixture is then compressed under immense heat and pressure to create slabs. Quartz tops are made with 93% quartz, and 7% combined dye and epoxy. The more clear the raw quartz, the more vibrant the final color can be. Also, the higher the quality of epoxy used, the stronger the final product. Companies like Cambria use only the best quartz and epoxy. It shows in the final product. Cambria proudly boasts some of the most vivid designs in the quartz industry.

Click on images to enlarge

Why wait?
If you’re ready for a kitchen that makes a real impact and will serve you well for years to come, quartz countertops are a fantastic choice.

Learn more by making an appointment for a personal consultation with one of the experienced designers in our Kitchen Department.

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Making An Impact With Reclaimed Wood

Make any room beautiful

The look of natural, reclaimed barn or aged building wood for interior walls can make a room stunning, though the problems with reclaimed wood cladding keep many people from adding it to their décor.

The perfect solution: manufactured cladding. It’s virtually indistinguishable from reclaimed wood, and provides years of beauty and worry-free protection.

Manufactured Cladding
Using only heat and steam, manufacturers like Thermory use a thermal modification process to enhance natural wood and create an attractive, durable, long-lasting board. The resulting cladding is true wood that is highly rot-resistant without sacrificing strength or pliability, boasts reduced absorbency, and provides real longevity with rich, beautiful color.

Why Manufactured Cladding?
You want durable and reliable natural wood cladding, but you want it to be gorgeous, and age beautifully as well. You want real, natural wood.

Reclaimed wood—sustainable, strong, and beautiful—has become very popular. Recovered from old barns, factories and warehouses, it is aged, recycled wood. It sometimes requires a large amount of processing, and there’s wide variations in quality, stability, and reliability. It can be attractive, solid, and strong, but there are also a lot of unknowns, even with the most expensive brands, and they don’t always live up to expectations.

That’s where manufactured cladding really excels. Made from real wood, manufactured cladding, creates a brand new product combining the elegant, refined look and texture of reclaimed wood, with unrivaled stability and durability, and rich, beautiful color. These new products perfectly simulate the weathered look, texture, and distinctive patina of reclaimed wood, without all the risks and uncertainty that age, weather, reclamation, and processing bring. Manufactured cladding also gives you a choice of natural colors, and the boards fit with no unnatural gaps, so it’s much more stable on your walls. It also provides an insulative layer that mismatched wood does not.

A rich, stunning look can be yours. Create a sophisticated space anywhere in your home with this unmatched cladding.

Get started today by contacting one of our experts for a personal consultation.

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Making An Impact With Lighting

Create a beautiful space with dramatic and functional lighting design

Every room inside your home, and the outside as well, can benefit from better, more dramatic lighting. Make a bigger impact in every room with these simple tips.

Lighting Design Tips
How do those famous decorators take a home from drab to dramatic with a few simple lighting changes? They replace or add light fixtures for more style, more drama, better accents, and better functional lighting for everything you do.

1. First Impressions
The outside and inside of any entryway is where you make your first impression. Choose fixtures that match the style of your home, and accent your décor from the moment your guests enter. Chandeliers, stylish ceiling fixtures, and sconces can all be chosen or combined for the size and style of your entryway.

2. Overlapping Zones
Think of light from the top down: start with general area lighting, then accent each “zone” in your room. Overhead light gives you room-wide coverage, then task lights (tables, desks, beds, countertops, vanities) can make functional and stylistic statements. To add a decorator’s touch or create focal points in any room, use reflected or spot lighting to make top features stand out, like spotlighted artwork, under cabinets, or reflected on the ceiling.

3. Make Your Statement With Style
Hanging or pendant lights add dramatic spots in your room (which can also be functional), and can take your décor up a level with bold and dramatic styling. Multiple lights at different levels, or one dramatic design can give you countless ways to express yourself. Adding dimmers in any room can give you flexibility for lighting just right for the time of day, task, and mood.

4. Make Morning Magical
From the moment you step in your bathroom, your vanity and fixture lighting becomes functional and emotional, lighting your face for makeup application, and grooming. Include bright lights that won’t cast shadows, and add wall sconces for a dramatic flair.

5. Match Lighting To Your Surfaces
Have a larger table or long countertops? Light along their length with a series of pendants or undercabinet lighting. Make sure you place them for uniform illumination, and colors to fit the mood of each room and surface.

6. Go With The Flow
When traveling from room to room in your home, your light fixtures should feel as if they all work together. While they don’t need to match, they should coordinate stylistically, and the color temperature and quality of light should be consistent throughout.

With your own sense of style, and some help from the experts when you need it, you’ll be making your home into the showpiece you’ve always wanted.

Get started today by contacting one of our experts for a personal consultation.

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Have any questions? Ask one of our experts!


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