My son asked me to help build him a new deck. While developing the plan, I cringed recalling all the times I’ve had to crawl underneath a deck through disgusting old lumber, dead bugs, swiping spider webs out of the way, and wallowing in the damp mildew stench of the filthy job trying to relevel the deck posts every spring. The last deck, I’d crawled on hands and knees through ¾ inch gravel peppered with fallen screws, hooked the back of my shirt on one of the nails, and hit my head on a screw protruding down through the boards. I was filthy, sore and beat up.
I had an idea. Maybe I would never have to crawl under a deck ever again to relevel it!
After 30 years in the printing industry as a senior service technician, known as the troubleshooting expert, I enjoyed the challenge of solving complicated tech problems. I also sold and installed large format printing presses around the globe. The most critical challenge of installing these 50plus ton machines was constructing solid foundations and footings, with micro-precision levelling to run these beasts to produce quality print. Over the years, I’ve encountered many different levelling systems, but many were difficult to work with, due to the over-engineering that made them too complicated. I’ve always believed in the K.I.S.S. theory – Keep It Stupidly Simple. Years ago one system stuck out that took very little effort to adjust the levellers of these mega ton machines. The concept was simple. The theory made sense. Unfortunately the manufacturer closed down many years ago, but the theory stuck in the back of my mind.
As I thought about the deck levelling products on the market that I’d tried, you still have to crawl under the deck. They still all need adjusting from underneath. Not only that, cranking on the adjusting nuts to try and push the weight upwards takes a lot of effort which goes against my KISS theory. Plus the systems are exposed to the elements, so corrosion is another undesirable factor.
I wanted a system that was simple and effective, that required very little effort, and could be performed from the top of the deck! A big ask, but an idea was sparked.
I designed my first prototype for my son in British Columbia. He had to replace his deck and because of the location, which by the way is on the base of a mountain with a steep slope, so this was the perfect scenario for TopDeckLevelers (TDL). We built a 40’ x 10’ free-standing deck with a heavy timber frame pergola in the centre. We installed the TDL on all the post locations with access holes from the deck surface. The system works fantastic, and he loves the fact that he never has to go underneath. It is now 3 years and he still has no problem adjusting. When needed, with the simple turn of a ratchet he levels his deck from the top. No more crawling around under his deck, and he still marvels how simple and easy it is.
My son kept pushing me to patent the idea and after many hours of refining the concept and design, I completed the patent application for U.S.A. and Canada in February 2020. I am truly excited and thankful to my family and friends for their support in encouraging me to get this out to the world. Despite Covid, we have started to get this into the marketplace. TDL are now being manufactured in Canada and units are being sold online and through local advertising.
I’m excited to bring this product to the market to keep people safe from injury, and to enjoy using my simple system to easily level any deck and platform.
~ Rey Laferriere, The Inventor of Top Deck Leveler