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The BIG THING By Alli Rael, LC/DBM 26 LC DBM Left & Below Nexx- Steel uses a galvanized steel base that can be formed to any shape and is coated with plaster that, once dry, can be finished with any masonry product. In addition to decks, it can be used to construct outdoor kitchen spaces, privacy panels and more. Left This outdoor kitchen island was constructed using Ponzo's method, with a stucco finish. The steel frame is strengthened by a plaster coating, so it can easily support the countertop and kitchen amenities. I In 2002, after working in the structural steel industry, con- structing multiple story buildings, Jerry Ponzo had an idea to im- prove non-load-bearing masonry structures. At a residence he was building, he was asked to create an outdoor barbecue and bar structure. "After I learned how intense it was using traditional contrac - tors and materials, my wife stated, 'We have so many wire panels in the garage, can't we use them?'" Ponzo said. That was the start of the development of a new building method. At first Ponzo used it for amenities such as outdoor kitchens, barbecue islands or privacy screens in backyards. Then he noticed the popularity of raised decks – as well as the steep price and heavy maintenance that often accompanied them – and adapted his method to their construction. The structures start out as a galvanized steel mesh subframe conformed to the desired shape. The use of galvanized steel pre - vents rusting and allows a range of custom options. Two layers of the diamond lath mesh, interwoven with a wire truss system, make up the frame. Once built, the steel structure can be mount - ed to any substructure, including concrete, wood and tile. A coat of plaster is applied and penetrates one side of the pan - els; this increases the strength of the structure. After the plaster dries, the frame can be finished with any hardscaping material, such as stone veneer, stucco, pavers or tile. The versatility of finishing materials is one of the benefits tout - ed by Ponzo. In addition, the materials are designed to withstand wet conditions and won't rust or decay. Maintenance is minimal, and a steel and stone structure provides a fireproof alternative to a traditional wooden deck. This proprietary building method and materials that Ponzo de - veloped 12 years ago is available to contractors under the trade name NexxSteel. Contractors can take a one-day training class, part of the Nexx - Steel Pro program, to get certified in installation. Following an information session, contractors will build three decks that are reviewed by a sales representative. Once certified, contractors can call the company to obtain product material. Galvanized Steel Mesh Forms Custom Outdoor Living Amenities LC DBM