DIY & Homeowner Tips Education

What to Consider Before Building a Deck

Do you love to entertain friends and family? Does warmer weather draw you to the outdoors? Do you enjoy relaxing at home? If so, then you may want to build or expand a deck! Before you start any project at your home it is important to research and properly plan. Here are some things you may want to consider before starting your deck project.

1. Consider all Materials

A deck installation is an investment in your home. It can add outdoor square footage and usable living space for your family. There are several decking material options you can choose from for your deck project ranging from pressure treated wood to composite home decking. Each material ranges in pricing, quality, and longevity. The most common deck materials include:

  • Pressure Treated Wood: Is the most common and cheapest decking material available. Pressure treated wood is typically made from Southern yellow pine and treated with chemicals to help prevent rot and termites. Most pressure treated wood splinters and has a life of about 15 years.
  • Tropical Hardwoods: Unlike pressure treated wood, tropical hardwoods are very dense and highly durable. On average tropical hardwood decks last 25 years on average. Because the wood is so dense and durable that you really can't even hammer a nail directly into it. Installers generally have to pre-drill holes to be able to secure the planks together. Tropical hardwoods come in a variety of rich colors and naturally resist insects and decay.
  • Redwood and Cedar: Similar to tropical hardwoods, redwood and cedar have natural defenses against rot and insects. Unlike tropical hardwoods the wood is considered soft and can be damaged and worn by normal use  over time. Typically redwood and cedar last around 20 years. The boards are lightweight, yet stiff.
  • Composite and Engineered: Composite decking is built from a blend of plastic and waste wood fibers, so it can have the texture of real wood, but it doesn’t splinter. Composite planks are typically heavier than most woods, and are also more expensive. Composites can be affected by temperature because they are not as stiff as real wood. When installing composite wood it is important to use the provided fasteners to prevent bumps and disturbances in the composite. Engineered composite decking has grooves on the underside of composite decking allowing it to be lighter without compromising thickness. The grooves allow you to hide fasteners and screws giving a seamless look to the surface of your deck. Composite and engineered decking is low maintenance. It is weather, insect, and rot resistant, making it last for 25 to 30 years longer than pressure treated wood.

2. Consider the Size, Style and Function

When adding a deck to your home it is important to make sure that your deck size and style compliment the the overall aesthetic of your home. Consider the proportion of the deck to your home and to your backyard. Many homeowners make the mistake of building a deck that is too large for their home and/or yard. If you live in a home that’s main level is 1,000 sq ft, your deck shouldn’t exceed 500 sq ft. If your yard area is only 500 sq ft, you should consider a deck no larger that 250 sq ft. Unbalanced proportions between your home and deck can look awkward and decrease your home’s value.


How will you use your deck? Before starting your build, plan out how you will use the space. If you plan to entertain, you may need area for dining, as well as seating. If you are planning to primarily relax on your deck, you may want to consider built in seating or benches. Are you an avid gardener? You can have built-in planters included in your deck. Don’t forget to consider lighting. Solar lights are a great way to add evening lighting to your deck for a low cost.


3. Consider Maintenance

Every decking material includes a certain level of maintenance. Be sure to talk with your consultant about the level of maintenance required for your deck. Wood decking needs to be stained or sealed every couple of years depending on wear and tear and exposure to the elements. If you are interested in a low maintenance option, you may want to consider composite. Composite decking only needs to be rinsed off with water once or twice a year.


No matter what material, size or style you choose for your deck, be sure to explore your ideas of how you will use your new living space, as well as your long-term plans for your home with your consultant.

 

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