Planning the Perfect Deck: Questions and Considerations

 

Spring is the perfect time to starting planning to build a deck to expand your living spaces outdoors. How much you are going to spend is probably the most important question you need to answer—the price point you decide on will make the difference in how large the deck is and what materials you are going to use.

 

Here are some other things you may want to think about before starting this home improvement project:

 

What size, shape, and look do I want?

 

Brown, wood, rectangle decks are what most people think of... but you can customize the shape to complement your home (think about a half-circle deck) or you can make multiple levels to your deck—which could be a great way to expand out a small porch you may already have off the back of your home.

 

What about railings—do you need them (depending on the height of your deck, you may not)? If you'd rather do without, we suggest surrounding most or all of your deck with stairs, gracefully allowing you and your outdoor guests the freedom to transition from your deck to your yard, nearly anywhere they’d like. If you love the idea of railings or feel it’s a necessity in your household, think outside the (wooden) box. You have many choices for material like metal, cabling or glass.

 

Planning the Perfect Deck: Questions and Considerations

What material do I want to use?

 

The traditional option is wood. If you are a fan of real wood for your outdoor space, we suggest a pressure-treated cedar or redwood—both are excellent and traditional choices for this project.

 

Wood isn’t the only product for decking anymore. Several synthetic materials are out there now and they are giving the traditional wood decks a run for their money. These materials are nearly maintenance-free and they will last for decades. They will certainly cost more, but the cost upfront will save you time and money later. Composite decking can look very similar to the wood deck you may be envisioning … but maybe you don’t want that. Synthetic material like vinyl won’t look like a wood deck at all—they are going to look like vinyl siding does after a decade or two. If your material contains recycled plastics, resins or wood fibers, they will most likely weather to a gray color.

 

How much care am I going to put into maintaining it?

 

If your deck material is wood, just know that it’s going to take a (weather) beating. You’ll need to clean it regularly and refinish it periodically. Building this time into caring for your deck will be worth the returns—a longer life to your outdoor living space. You may want to plan an additional investment into a pump garden sprayer to distribute the deck cleaner that you choose and a pressure washer to take that chemical cleaner completely off the wood when it’s done doing its job. Hammer down nails that have started protruding, or replace them with quality deck screws. Quality hardware for your deck is going to make a world of difference in the solidness of your deck for years to come.

Planning the Perfect Deck: Questions and Considerations

A wood composite decking is certainly less labor intensive—you should plan to wash off the surface grime (which you will get, regardless of what type of deck you choose) with soapy water and a soft-bristled brush. Staining on a wood composite deck is a problem, so you’ll want to clean up spilled food and beverages quickly. You’ll also want to plan to clean the deck with some regularity, as leaving dead leaves and bird droppings will discolor the deck and may create a mold problem (which probably isn’t the look you're going for!)

 

Another non-traditional route for materials is a synthetic decking material like vinyl. The benefit to a deck like this is that they don’t need a periodic sealant application. They will show airborne dirt a little quicker than a traditional wood deck (due to the lighter color), but they are going to need minimal care—just washing every couple months, if that!

 

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner! Thinking about your new outdoor living space is something to be excited about!