Maybe you decided to hold off on building a deck when you built your home and it’s beginning to rise to the top of the priority list. Or maybe you just don’t like the deck you’ve already got. Either way, there’s a lot to think about before the first posthole gets dug.
How will you use your deck?
Planning for your deck goes beyond space and materials (which I’ll talk about shortly). Think about how you want to use it. What’s your idea of a perfect morning or evening on your deck? Do you want it to double as a sort of “service” entrance to your house when you’re working in the yard? Will you treat it like an extra room for entertaining? Will a single, traditional door suffice for traffic in and out of the house, or do you need to consider French doors?
Being happy with your deck means thinking about how it will make you happy.
Upkeep – The work doesn’t stop when it’s built
Sure there are a lot of materials (I promise I’ll get to them) to choose from, but the bottom line is that every deck needs to be cleaned at least once a year. And if you go with wood, which most people do, you’ll need to scrub it down or pressure wash and seal it. So the question then becomes whether you love your deck enough to give up a day to its upkeep or maybe even a full weekend, depending on how big it is.
Design – where to start
Ultimately, the design of your deck will depend on factors such as the size and slope of your yard, how you plan to use it, and your budget. Lowe’s has a great free tool that can help you explore and customize your options. The tool will even give you a report of the hardware and amount of materials (they’re next, scouts’ honor) you’ll need to get started.
Another aspect of deck design is to decide whether you’ll be building it yourself (don’t forget the permits, if so!) or whether you’ll be paying someone to build it for you. For a typical square-shaped deck with rails and a few steps down to the yard, you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $l,000 – $1,800. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit for design and cost.
Materials – beyond wood there’s a lot to choose from
Pressure treated wood, most often Southern yellow pine, is still the most popular choice when it comes to building decks. In recent years, however, more options have come on to the scene and they’re beginning to gain in popularity due to ease of maintenance, range of colors and styles, and durability.
Composite and vinyl decking materials still get a lot of heat because most don’t offer the natural appearance of a wooden deck. It can be accomplished, but be prepared to pay a little extra. The trade off is that you just may save money and time with easier maintenance and longer deck life. Wooden decks absolutely require regular maintenance, and even then, there’s a good chance that you’ll be replacing a board or two within a few years.
Beautiful deck, beautiful yard
Your deck can and should be the centerpiece of your yard. But that doesn’t mean you should stop once it’s complete. Once you finish the deck, take the time to plan some additional landscaping around the edges. Perhaps incorporate post lamps and landscape lighting not only to highlight your deck at night, but whatever plant choices you make as well. With a little forethought, vision and planning you can turn your backyard into the oasis you want it to be.
Final notes from our own John Rice
We asked John to weigh in on decks built the StyleCraft way. As usual, he had a couple great tips on materials and how to take care of your deck. John stressed that any deck built by StyleCraft Homes is constructed with ACQ pressure treated lumber for economy and durability.
He also said that StyleCraft tells new home buyers to let their decks rest for 6 months before sealing or staining it. Treated lumber comes with a green tint to it that color doesn’t come from a dye or stain. It’s simply to indicate that it’s been treated. Over the course of 6 months or so, any excess from the treatment process will leach out of the wood and allow it to stabilize.
Have you already built the deck of your dreams? We’d love to see pictures. Please feel free to post them over on our Facebook page where all of our friends can see them. While you’re at it, post images of your beautifully organized garage, your decked out bonus room, or even your kids’ super cool play room. We may just feature you (and your room) in a future post.