For the past decade, Steve Rayboy of Urban Exteriors has dedicated his livelihood to fulfilling the fine decking and woodworking needs of residents based throughout the historic Brownstone Brooklyn section of New York City, where nearly 60 percent of the area’s fabled brownstones fetch upwards of $1 million apiece. “No matter what you do, you better do it well in this community,” says Rayboy. “Word-of-mouth is everything. More than half of my business is based on referrals. Quite simply, customers expect the very best and mediocrity is not an option since my work is on display all day, everyday for all to see.”
Specializing in all forms of woodworking ranging from built-in cabinetry to decking, Rayboy and his company are still primarily recognized for their deck building craftsmanship, which has greatly expanded the outdoor living spaces of both backyards and rooftops across the borough. Designed strictly with Ipe, a very popular tropical hardwood used by Urban Exteriors for its long-lasting qualities, Rayboy builds approximately 25 decks per year, commanding anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 for projects ranging from 100 to 300 sq. ft. Some of these can even be seen hundreds of feet above the city’s streets and atop residences dating back to the 1800s.
Rayboy’s woodworking career began 35 years ago when he built his own tropical wood home in Costa Rica without the use of electricity and power tools. Enjoying the experience so much, he built several more homes in Costa Rica before returning to Brooklyn in the mid 80’s and honing his skills as a trim carpenter and cabinet maker as well as working for a high-end landscaper in Manhattan building decks, pergolas, fences, and planter boxes. Rayboy then returned to Brooklyn in 2001 to found Urban Exteriors and over the next 10 years became renown throughout the neighborhood for his magnificent work and attention to detail.
Meticulously absorbed in every aspect of his work including the proper selection of finishes and fasteners, Rayboy has also experimented extensively on his very own test decks to perfect his art. “I hand pick everything from the Ipe deck boards to the stainless steel screws, which I only use due to their durability and longevity. As a result, I have not had a single call back related to loose or squeaky deckboards since I went into business for myself more than 10 years ago,” adds Rayboy.
Although he once used a variety of fasteners, Rayboy now only relies on the Headcote stainless steel deck screw from Starborn Industries for all his projects. In addition to standard threading for trim and flat heads, Headcote coated heads are available in 18 separate colors to blend with all types of decking, including Ipe, Cedar, Mahogany, treated lumber, PVC, composites and capstock.
“I ordered my first batch of Headcote screws about seven years ago and never used another fastener again,” explains Rayboy. “They blend perfectly with the Ipe boards to complete the luxurious look my clients require. Plus, they never fail to perform even in weather conditions that can range from 100 degrees in the summer to the teens or even lower in the winter. When used in conjunction with the Starborn SMART-BIT, it makes a perfect marriage of fastening convenience for Ipe boards.”
In recent months, Rayboy has also become a fan of the new SMART-BIT® PRO PLUG® System, which was introduced by Starborn Industries to quickly and consistently plug a deck in less than half the time of traditional plugging methods. Consisting of the PRO-PLUG Tool for Wood, the PRO-PLUG Glue Nozzle and PRO-PLUG Plug & Fastener Kit in different wood species and fastener sizes as well as the PRO-Plug Glue Nozzle, the SMART-BIT® PRO PLUG® System was specifically developed to perfectly install plugs in more than 20 species of decking, flooring and wood, while delivering superior results, plug after plug.
“I especially like this product because it will not only greatly speed the efficiency and time of plugging projects, but was partially introduced with my input. When Starborn heard about my work in Brooklyn, they invited me to their offices to try out the new SMART-BIT® PRO PLUG® System before its release,” offers Rayboy. “I was immediately intrigued with its precision and the way it streamlined the entire process. It definitely cut my plugging time in half since I no longer have to make my own plugs and roll them in glue. Every plug comes out perfectly to complete the high-end look my customers demand.”