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HGTV Canada's deck expert Paul Lafrance with his Jeep. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
HGTV Canada's deck expert Paul Lafrance with his Jeep. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

My Car

Paul Lafrance is all decked out in his Wrangler Add to ...

Paul LaFrance

  • Profession: Host of several TV shows on HGTV: Disaster Decks, Decked Out, Deck Wars
  • Age: 39
  • Hometown: born in Wimbledon, England; grew up in Mississauga, Ont.

Notable achievements

  • owner and CEO of Cutting Edge Construction and Design
  • lead singer, guitarist and song writer for his band, Found in the Fury, which released Songs from the Cave in 2012
  • designed and built more than 1,500 decks in Ontario

Upcoming

More Related to this Story

  • Decked Out airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV Canada; Disaster Decks airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV Canada

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Paul Lafrance is HGTV Canada’s resident deck expert. He has been designing custom decks and transforming backyards into oases for more than 15 years.

That led to a string of television gigs – Lafrance hosts HGTV Canada’s top rated backyard makeover series, Decked Out and Deck Wars. He just launched another do-it-yourself show called Disaster Decks in addition to his role as a judge on Handyman Challenge. In his spare time, he’s the lead singer and guitarist for Found in the Fury.

These days, his schedule is jam-packed with TV shoots. To get to set, he drives a 2012 Jeep Wrangler.

Why did you buy a Jeep Wrangler?

When we first got married, we had a Grand Cherokee, an old-school one. We liked it. It was a laid back, cool type of vehicle. A Jeep can be just as cool covered in mud as it is totally shiny clean.

When I was looking at vehicles, I saw a Wrangler – it’s more like free-loving life. Forget about appearances, what people think of you. Take the doors off, take the roof off and if it rains, who cares? It’s much more of an enjoying life kind of vehicle for me. Its definitely more me than any sports car.

A lot of guys find their identity in their vehicles, which I can never personally do myself. For some, the definition of success means you’re driving an S-Class Mercedes, but it’s just not for me. I drove a Smart car for years just because of the humour and irony in it. Being a guy’s guy – a construction dude driving a Smart car was way too humorous. Because I also have four daughters, I figured if I didn’t get a larger vehicle my wife would kill me.

It’s a white Wrangler, but I did get it chromed up pretty nicely. It has some heavy-duty rugged features on it like the chrome taillight covers, chrome mirrors, chrome gas tank cover, and chrome side step-up bars. I chromed out the grille as well, which makes it stand out.

You must feel the gas pinch going from a tiny two-seater to a Jeep?

It is a considerable difference. I could drive from Toronto to Seattle on a tank of gas in the Smart car. But there’s a trade off. My Smart car broke down all the time. But I did enjoy it. I got more attention in that car than any other vehicle that I’ve driven.

As my recognize-ability factor has gone through the roof I actually find that my car is my quiet little sanctuary. My wife actually bought me license plates that say DECKGUY. No way am I putting that on my Jeep! If I had those license plates I’d have to wave at every other person on the highway.

Do you know what’s under the hood?

I’m not versed in mechanics as much as a mechanic. It’s a six-cylinder. And it has all the bells and whistles.

You’re handy with decks, are you handy with cars?

I’m mechanically inclined in any way shape or form. But, to be honest with you, when it comes to vehicles I’ve had terrible luck. I'm a guy that can’t even wear regular watches because my body will stop any regular hand watch within a day. Computers don't like me – they always crash on me.

It’s always been that way with cars as well. The Wrangler is the only one I haven’t had problems with – he seems to like me and I like him.

What problems did you have with the other cars?

You name it. I’ve owned every type of truck you can imagine. The Smart cars I had were terrible – they were the first diesel cars they had in Canada. They broke down every second week.

I’ve had terrible luck with mechanics. I think I’m giving off some weird electric field – I break things that are electrical or mechanical, which is why I get along well with wood.

Have you gone off-roading with the Jeep?

I haven’t done off-roading with it, but during some of the massive snowfalls I had the ability to go bombing around in fields with the 4WD, which is an absolute blast. In a couple of weeks, I’m taking it camping and I’m planning on taking it off road.

We have a cottage in Georgian Bay and the roads around there are absolutely atrocious, particularly in the spring after the thaw. The roads aren’t paved. You can’t take a regular vehicle up there so the Jeep is absolutely perfect. It doesn’t matter if the roads are icy up there. A lot of times you can’t get access, but in the Jeep the cottage is available 365 days a year no matter what the weather is or the road conditions are.

My favourite time in this vehicle is when there’s no doors and no roof – how many vehicles can you do that with? It is the most fun vehicle I’ve driven in my life. It’s so versatile. You have the hard top in the wintertime, you take it off in the summer. One of my favourite moments is if I get caught in a rainstorm with no doors and no windows – some people would freak out. I think it’s an adventure.

What was your first car?

A red Eagle Talon. It was inheritance money from my grandparents... It was a very ostentatious vehicle. I had terrible luck with it – the engine exploded on me. It was a lemon. I had a strong love-hate relationship with it.

I’m 21, and I buy this car and I think it’s the hottest looking thing in the world – its fire-engine red and I think I’m going to look so cool driving it. I had it for four years and two of those years it sat in a mechanics shop or my driveway.

When it worked I loved it; it felt like I was Michael Knight driving Knight Rider. It had such a cool cockpit, but the rest of the time I wanted to throw rocks at it because it made me so angry it never worked. I got hit – some old lady ran into me in the middle of an intersection and I was never happier to see that car go.

Then I got married and got a Grand Cherokee. Then I had four daughters. I spent seven years driving minivans, which was terrible for both my wife and I because we both consider ourselves to be cool musicians. Now, she drives a Jeep Commander and I got my Wrangler. We’re a Jeep family for sure.

The interview has been edited and condensed

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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