4 Prerequisites to Building a Deck

Build Your Deck Right

The season is upon us!  Now that you’re thinking about spending more time outdoors, it’s time to enhance your outdoor space.  Building a deck is the best way to start or improve your home’s outdoor atmosphere.  Before you dive-in over your head, you must consider certain factors.

What To Consider Before Building a Deck

Deck, Patio, or Both?

Patios are ideal for flat yards, while decks are better for sloped or uneven landscapes.  Decks are also best for a home built on a crawl, because they are essentially a raised platform.  Using the same principle, a patio is ideal for a home on a slab.  Of course, you can always build steps down to a patio or steps up to a deck, but the latter options just make more sense.  Conversely, who says you have to choose one or the other?  It’s not uncommon to incorporate both patios and decks.  For example, it adds an appealing design element to connect a lovely wooden deck to your home with steps down to a beautiful brick patio.

Backyard and Outdoor Space

Deck and Patio Combo

Functionality and Use: How will you use your deck?

Is your deck an extension of your home or more of an outdoor oasis?  Do you have something else in mind?  The answers to these questions will determine how your deck should be designed.  An outdoor living space for entertaining and lounging can incorporate many features commonly found inside your home.  Your deck might require outdoor cooking areas, dining areas, a fire pit or fireplace, or even electronics, such as an outdoor TV or stereo system.  Alternatively, you might use your deck to enclose your pool or hot tub.  Maybe you want a more simple outdoor space, surrounded by beautiful plant life.

Determining your deck’s use is imperative.  Size, safety measures to implement, and materials to use are all determined by the proposed use for your deck.

Decide whether privacy is an issue and how much you’re family will need. If you don’t want to feel like you’re on a stage performing for your neighbors, you’ll want to think about adding an arbor, a pergola, latticework or something else to create privacy.

Deck Design

Multi-Use Deck

Design Elements:  How should your deck look?

Your home’s style and architecture shouldn’t clash with your deck’s design.  A professional will help you design your deck to make your house and landscape.  Also, which type of wood and color of stain will match your current style?  If you are implementing privacy features, you might consider how they match your home.

Composite Deck Design

Deck Design

Building Materials: Tying function and design together

Wood is the most commonly used material for decks; however, composite boards are another option.  When deciding which material to use, it’s important to keep your deck’s proposed functionality and look in mind.

Composite Boards are durable, low-maintenance, and often come with long-term warranties.  They also tend to retain their color and look for the deck’s lifetime.  For these reasons, composite boards may be a more expensive option for your deck.  Composite material is often a “green” option.  The mixture of wood fibers and plastic is often obtained from recycled wood products, old carpet, and shopping bags.

Wood is by far the most popular and visually appealing building material for decks.  Composite board manufacturers can come close, but nothing can match the beauty of natural wood.  Choosing wood for your deck provides a more flexible price range that reflects the type of wood you choose.  Most commonly used species are less expensive than composite board.  With wood, you won’t get a warranty direct from the manufacturer, but you might get one from the contractor.  Natural wood will weather and the stain will fade over time without regular maintenance.