Decks add a significant amount of living space to a home. New choices in decking materials make this living space customizable to a greater degree than ever before. While deck building remains one of the easier and more rewarding outdoor projects, it’s crucial to adhere to codes and manufacturers’ recommendations to ensure a safe and long-lasting deck.
Redwood is a popular, naturally rot-resistant wood. With a clear sealer applied biannually, redwood will last a long time. It is easy to find on the West Coast and at large home improvement centers elsewhere. The reddish hue is not suited to the look of every home. It is the most expensive decking material, so consider using another wood for the framing and redwood for decking.
This rot-resistant wood is strong and durable. It is more common in the South and on the West Coast. Cedar weathers silvery gray unless you apply a sealer. It costs about 20 percent less than redwood, depending on availability.
Another rot-resistant wood, cypress is most popular in the Southeast. It is not as strong as cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated wood. Consider using a pressure-treated wood for the frame and cypress for decking. It costs a little less than cedar in the South and a little more everywhere else.
This is the strongest and most readily available lumber. Most comes with a greenish cast that weathers to a silvery gray, but you can also get it prestained to look like cedar or redwood. Treated lumber is the most affordable deck material, and thanks to new laws restricting the chemicals used to preserve the wood, today’s treated lumber is safe.
If low maintenance is your key concern, consider synthetic materials. Plastic lumber, which is made of recycled milk jugs and grocery bags, does not absorb moisture. Molded in various colors, plastic lumber can be painted, but it will never quite take on the look of wood. For proper installation, you need to use sliding clips because plastic expands and contracts in temperature extremes.
Vinyl lumber comes in white and several additional colors. Its pros and cons are similar to plastic lumber. Purchase brands that have the UV inhibitors impregnated directly into the vinyl and not sprayed on after production.
Regardless of which type of synthetic material you choose, you will need to install it over a support system built using real wood. To keep costs down, most homeowners choose treated lumber for these invisible underpinnings.
The simplest, and in many cases most affordable, deck location is directly adjacent to a home on a relatively flat portion of land. This platform style of deck sits low to the ground, allowing for easy access. One thing to focus on with this deck location is to ensure that all deck materials are treated for direct ground exposure to prevent rot and decay.
A Raised or Tiered deck may also be located adjacent to a home. This type of deck works best in a location with varied ground heights, so it can conform to the contours of the ground. Raised decks are generally more expensive and must incorporate safety features like railings.
Two-story decks make the most sense for locations with easy access to the second story of a home. The bottom portion of the deck generally allows for first-floor entry, and is connected to a top section, which allows for second-floor entry.
A freestanding deck can be a great option for homes without a natural deck location adjacent to the home structure. With sufficient outdoor space, freestanding decks can incorporate features like gazebos and multiple levels to great effect.
If you’re looking to extend your outdoor living experience past sundown, you’ll need to explore some deck lighting options. Consideration of a variety of deck lighting ideas should get you well on your way to a deck that’s bright and beautiful any time of day or night.
One of the keys to deck lighting is subtlety you don’t want blazing spotlights overwhelming your nighttime outdoor experience, and you also don’t want complaints from the neighbors that your backyard is beaming fluorescence into their windows at all hours.
You’ll want to focus on quality and durability for your deck lighting, remember, it’s going to be exposed to the elements. Make sure you have a timer or daylight sensor that’ll turn your lighting on and off at pre-set times, a transformer that will reduce the current coming from your home to the lighting system, cable to connect the lights, and of course the light fixtures themselves.
Outdoor living spaces are often used for sunbathing or other outdoor activities, but sometimes a little shade or shelter is required which is why awnings for decks are such a popular feature in many backyards.
As you plan and design your deck, you’ll have many choices to consider when it comes to awnings. Three main types are:
One of the most popular choices is the retractable awning. This type of awning is able to be extended or removed depending on the weather or the whims of those in attendance, allowing for the greatest flexibility. These awnings come in many styles and materials, and they can be motorized or manually retractable.
Another option is the canopy awning. These are recommended for climates where snow or heavy rain is not prevalent, as they’re good at keeping out sun but not as great when it comes to heavy precipitation.
For areas where snow or rain do occur more frequently a metal deck awning may be a better choice. These tend to be more durable and last longer, and they can go a long way toward protecting your deck from the elements, as well.
A deck can add value and beauty to any outdoor living space, but on its own, it can sometimes feel a bit lonely. Luckily, the array of deck railing ideas and options provide infinite possibilities for livening up your deck.
The first consideration as you browse deck railing ideas is what material you’re most interested in. Don’t feel bound to the deck’s surface material. In fact, a contrasting material can often provide the most aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Keeping it simple doesn’t have to mean keeping it boring, though. If you’re attracted to a more traditional wooden railing, add post caps and interior latticework or woodworking to add some visual flair. Topping the post caps with lanterns can also be a functional touch that’s quite pleasing to the eye. If you’re looking to get back to nature, consider a deck railing made of recovered wood or intertwined branches. This rustic look can be a great complement to a modern deck surface.
Color choice can also make a big difference. Lighten up a dark wood with a white or light-colored railing, or add a pop of color with a yellow or bright blue design. Lastly, don’t be afraid of curves. If it’s built correctly, your deck is flat, but your railing doesn’t have to be. Curved wood or wrought iron can add a great visual accent as well.