Knowing what to expect when building a custom deck in Bellingham and Whatcom County leads to a smoother deck building process overall. Of course, the first crucial step of any home or business project is hiring the right contractor for the job. JPS Builders has been listed as one of The 9 Best General Contractors in Bellingham, WA by General Contractors Magazine in 2022. This is due to our steadfast commitment to great customer service and top-notch workmanship for over two decades and counting! From choosing the best decking materials to staying on budget, we provide open and honest communication at every step. Here is what you can expect when we begin to customize or build your beautiful deck.

What to expect:

  1. Deck Design
  2. Budget and Materials
  3. Building Timeline
  4. Work Environment
  5. Seasons and Availability

Deck Design

Adding a custom deck begins with a vision and purpose. Expanding one’s living space outdoors comes with an array of questions pertaining to the overall appearance and usage of the deck. For instance, do you prefer contemporary, traditional, or a style mixture of both? Are you planning to add a spa, or utilize the space more for personal dining? A custom deck can be created in any size or shape, freestanding or attached, ground or multi-level, and even include specialized railings as a final touch. Also, consider the location of your deck with relation to your home and environment. The level of privacy and lighting (during the day or time of year) may determine the comfortability factor of your new deck. As you can see, going into any decking project requires an idea of what you are looking for and how this translates to the type of design, proper materials, and safety measures for the deck in general. We can offer expert tips for choosing the right deck design to suit your Bellingham home and view.

Budget and Materials

Once you have a deck builder and design in mind, stating your budget is a very important step! Like you, we want your wallet to be happy and will work diligently to stay within budget from the beginning. There are times, however, when the unexpected happens and we suggest preparing for an extra expense. This tends to lessen stress and provide a good buffer for those unforeseen scenarios. Plus, we promise to work with you in each situation that arises to come up with the most suitable and affordable solution for your project and home.

Having a well-established budget also determines the type of material options available for selection. Cedar is always a classic choice that is typically less expensive, but regular maintenance and upkeep is required. Composite is excellent if you are environmentally conscious and looking for a low-maintenance type material, but this option will be higher in price upfront. Adding railings, whether wooden, composite, metal, stainless steel cabling, or glass (the latter being more expensive) is another cost to consider. If you have questions on whether you need to obtain a permit first, which can add an extensive cost and time to the project, then we will refer you to a professional Building Designer for more information. Ultimately, we will help you pick the most appropriate materials for your deck.

Building Timeline

We take great pride in our craftsmanship, and we know you will be pleased with the finished result. Having said that, you may wonder how long it will take for us to complete our work and when you will get to enjoy your newly built deck. This process, depending on the size of the deck and job at hand, can take anywhere from a day to up to six weeks. On average though, custom deck builds take about two weeks. It is important to mention the general time frame is dependent on the availability and arrival of decking materials, which may (at times) cause a delay. There are certainly factors outside of our control, but we will try very hard to maintain the schedule we lay out for you from the start.

Work Environment

Our integrity, positive attitudes, and attention to detail is evident in all areas, especially our work environment. You can expect a clean, tidy work site and great respect for your home and family. We will work fast, efficiently, and with little inconvenience to you. As with any building project, you can expect workers to be present at a set time, possible dust and debris throughout the process, and certain loud noises that will accompany machinery and tools. We will discuss these aspects of the deck building process with you in order to minimize any surprises and concerns.

Seasons and Availability

While it seems tempting to call us when the weather is nicer, the truth is we can work all year around through all seasons. In fact, business tends to slow down for us between the months of November to February here in WA State. This is actually a great time to build a deck in order to get ready for Spring time outdoor entertaining. In other words, do not let the seasons deter you from moving forward with a custom deck. We are available for custom builds any time of the year! 


JPS Builders has over 25 years of custom deck building experience, and a reputation for high-quality work and craftsmanship. When we build a custom deck, our customers can expect to discuss their deck design, budget and materials, how long it will take, our work site etiquette, and availability during each season of the year. We plan to build the kind of deck you envision that complements your home and lifestyle.

If you need inspiration, please browse through our completed deck photos and give us a call. We look forward to working with you on your new deck!

Choosing the right materials for your custom deck is key to long-term enjoyment, which includes adding the best deck railings to achieve your overall desired look. JPS Builders has over two decades of craftsmanship experience and an excellent reputation as a top custom deck builder in Bellingham and the Whatcom area. Ultimately, we uphold that high-quality workmanship and great communication are integral to building successful and beautiful decks for residents and business owners. We understand that choosing the best material for any project is the first step towards transforming your living space into your ultimate vision. Whether you have a custom deck in mind, or want to update a current deck, we can help you to figure out which deck railing material is perfect for the final touch.

Top five deck railing materials to consider:

1. Cedar Railing

No one can dispute that Cedar is an attractive, traditional, and popular choice of material for a deck railing. This type of decking is usually preferred by those who enjoy the beauty and feel of real wood, as well as Cedar’s lightweight, cooler, and softer properties. Cedar railings are often built with traditional 2×2 pickets, or can be customized with other types of rods, such as metal balusters, or even hog-wire is quite common. Keep in mind that while Cedar is striking and natural looking, regular upkeep and maintenance is necessary to prevent issues such as rotting (although Cedar decks are more prone and work-intensive than Cedar railings). Without periodic washing and staining, Cedar is subject to effects from weather and the elements, lessening its integrity. Living in the Northwest means plenty of moisture, so remember that Cedar railings will require some attention for overall functionality and aesthetic value.

2. Metal Railing

For hundreds of years, iron was the go-to metal most used in architectural structures. While this metal is strong, dependable, and often used in protecting homes and businesses, there are more options to consider for metal railings in this day and age. Aluminum is a good choice for a railing material, since it is lightweight, very durable and requires little maintenance versus others. Specifically powder coated aluminum railings can be customized and will last for years, even decades, without needing repainting or touch-ups. Often paired with vertical pickets and horizontal rods, metal type railings can look very sleek and professional. JPS Builders is very familiar working with the trusted Trex Company’s variety of Signature Railings, giving you many options to explore when picking the right metal railing to complement your beautiful deck.

3. Composite Railing

With Composite, the possibilities are practically limitless when it comes to style and design of railings for your deck. Composite is well known for its appealing blend of recyclable materials and wood fibers, with the primary goal of reducing landfill waste and remaining ecologically friendly. Not only is Composite popular for being extremely low maintenance (no annual staining necessary and is easy to clean), it will also not warp, splinter, fade, rot, or have termites! There are so many colors and textures available with this particular material, which means Composite railings can be more of a personal touch to any type of deck. They also tend to go well with Composite or metal balusters, or hog-wire, if you prefer. Overall, if you are someone who deeply cares about the impact on the environment and is drawn to a designer craftsman-like appearance, this is the kind of deck railing for you.

4. Stainless Steel Cable Railing

Another material with appeal and elegance is the Stainless Steel Cable Railing. Known to be quite strong and weather resistant, whether in the frame or interior parts of the railing, this choice is long lasting and picturesque for any deck. The relatively thin cable lines preserve your gorgeous view, allowing eyes to go past the deck with minimal obstruction. Stainless steel can be paired with another material, such as powder coated aluminum, or wood, which is a warm nod to a traditional look. While they involve little maintenance and prove to be rust resistant, stainless steel cables are not necessarily rust proof. During regular cleaning, you should avoid abrasive cleaners such as steel brushes or wool, as they can lead to rusting issues earlier. Basically, if you have an eye for the modern look and a scenic view to showcase, Stainless Steel Cable Railings are a top-choice sophisticated option for deck railings.

5. Glass Railing

To be clear, if you want the view from your deck to really shine, glass railings are the transparent choice for you (puns intended). There are benefits to having the look of large windows surrounding your deck, aside from preserving the gorgeous Northwest scenery. Glass can block wind and elements, allowing guests to feel protected while being entertained on your beautiful deck. Glass railings, paired with a thin frame (whether wood, metal, or Composite) can also give the illusion of total openness while still enclosing your safe space. The latest, costlier trend of Infinity Glass Railings includes eliminating the frame or upper railing altogether to provide the most uninterrupted horizon for viewers on any deck. Having said that, like any glass structure, this means frequent cleaning of fingerprints and streaks. Glass is also known to fog and get dirty easier, as well as confuse animals and individuals if they are not paying attention. In addition, glass may also chip if hit or bumped, so this type of material requires special attention to detail to maintain its luxury and purpose. However, one cannot deny that style and smoothness comes with choosing glass railings for your type of decking.

In Conclusion

When it comes to deciding on deck railing materials, there are many great options and customization is highly welcomed. No matter the type of deck, you can mix and match with railings based on preference and overall goal for your outdoor experience. Why not offset a unique deck with a simple railing, or vice-versa? Mix traditional Cedar with the modern Stainless Steel Cabling? Or choose low maintenance Composite railings to match your Composite deck? Ultimately, the choice is yours!

No doubt traditional wood is classic and the least expensive, whereas high-end stainless steel cables and glass panels are pricier. Remember that maintenance and upkeep for both deck and railings should be factors in choosing the proper materials for your lifestyle and home. 

JPS Builders are the custom deck specialists here to help when building your custom deck and the railings that adorn your outdoor living space. Do not hesitate to call us with any questions! 

When looking for the top three decking materials in Washington state, consider the region, seasons, and top expertise from a custom deck builder. JPS Builders has been in the custom building business for over 25 years and counting. Our team proudly provides high quality work and craftsmanship, with extensive experience in custom deck building that gives us a powerful edge over the competition. When you are ready to add any size deck to your home, we know you are ultimately ready to expand your living space and entertainment value. Picking the right decking material is key when you begin this process, so let us go over the top three decking materials for you to know.

Top three decking materials:

  1. Composite
  2. Cedar
  3. Ipe


Composite is the first material on our list, as it holds the highest appeal to our customers. This decking material comprises environmentally safe and recyclable plastic and wood fibers blended together, all to reduce quantities in landfills while giving you peace of mind by being ecologically smart. This type of deck is also well known for extreme low maintenance and being very easy to clean, which allows you to enjoy the outdoors with little to no work involved for the deck upkeep. This means Composite decking will not rot, warp, splinter, need annual staining, or even fade. Plus, termites will not be a problem. You can see why many choose this type of material for a deck, and why several Composite companies (Trex, Timbertech, and Fiberon) are also very popular.

Trex, Timbertech, and Fiberon

Trex is a very large provider of Composite materials, and overall is listed as one of the inventors of Composite decking. JPS Builders has become highly experienced in working with Trex materials, as we have the same goal in mind, to build the best deck for your home or business that will last a long time and be good for the environment. Timbertech is another such company that aims to reduce waste and leads the industry with its capped polymers made without wood (not offered by other companies). Composite materials from Timbertech are said to feel 30% cooler to the touch than the competition’s as well. Furthermore, Fiberon is proud to announce its Composite material is chemical-free, produced using sustainable methods, and they recover 98.5% of the waste they generate. In general, Composite decking is often chosen for the low maintenance, helping the environment, and a variety of aesthetic options to make your deck look great!


When it comes to custom decks, one cannot deny that the feel and smell of natural wood is particularly pleasing too. A number of homeowners pick natural wood over Composite for a number of reasons, one of which is the idea of real wood under their feet. Cedar is widely used in our Northwest region, and is a softer wood that is easy to work with, lightweight, and looks beautiful. This type of decking feels cooler to touch, and can be naturally resistant to rotting as well. In an area where rain is plentiful, a softer wood such as Cedar, is easier to install as it can expand and move as the seasons change. Keep in mind, however, that some maintenance is needed to prevent rotting and other issues. Periodic washing, sanding, and annual staining is necessary to maintain a Cedar deck’s integrity and overall look. Yet, the workability does not deter from its beauty, which is why Cedar is quite a lovely choice for a custom deck addition.


Wood decks are gorgeous, and on occasion, Ipe wood is requested. In case you are not familiar, Ipe is a beautiful and exotic wood that is contracted from parts of South America. Please be aware there is a black market for Ipe wood, so providers of this material must be FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified first. Ipe is a particularly hard, durable, strong, rot and insect resistant type of wood that many choose for its uniqueness and long-lasting quality. For living in the Northwest, it is important to note that the high density of Ipe lumber is said to be naturally water resistant and slip resistant as well. Without frequent staining or oil, Ipe wood can also turn gray in color. Nevertheless, Ipe wood is a great option for those who prefer building a deck made from one of the hardest woods in the world.

Pros and Cons

With all the positive attributes our top three decking materials provide, there are always negative sides to consider too. For instance, certain materials carry higher prices or necessary labor for what you are desiring. Composite tends to be more expensive, but the low maintenance is a big bonus for this type of decking. Cedar is beautiful, soft, and easy to work with, but can scratch easier than Composite. Also, Cedar’s continual maintenance yearly can meet the same price of Composite over time. Ipe wood is hard, durable and long lasting, but can be quite pricey (more than Cedar) and will require extra care when installing and for regular upkeep purposes.

All in all, the one who has to be happy with the product in the end is you. We will build the kind of the deck you have always imagined, and will offer our knowledge and quality craftsmanship at every step from beginning to completion. So, let us get started!