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With the transition from wood decks to maintenance free materials, deck building has become more specialized. If you are someone considering building a new deck or refurbishing your existing “Ugly” deck, there are a few things to consider.
What Size deck do I need? – When designing your deck, make sure you plan out the size carefully. You don’t want to build something and regret the space you have created. Figure out what you plan on putting on the deck – Grill, table, seating, etc. I use the inside of the house, specifically the kitchen / dining area to use as a guide to plan the space, since there is already a table with chairs in the area. Also the inside of a house will give you a sense of structure. When you are outside planning the space it is difficult to get a concept of space. Also if you are going to have a staircase, where you put the stairs can impact the usable space of your new deck. Keeping the stairs in closer proximity to your door – keeps the flow space higher, therefore maximizing the space of the deck. A Spiral Staircase may make sense to maximize space and create a design element.
What type of material makes sense for me? – There are numerous products out there – Composite, PVC, aluminum etc. What type of material maintenance are you okay with? What colors and styles do you like. These are the types of questions that you need to ask yourself when figuring out the materials you should use on your deck. Most homeowners like to match the style and color of the house. A big change in deck design, is that homeowners used to stain there deck all one color. Now railings and decking are going to multiple tones. Also using colors that are a contrast to the house, although still complimentary to the facade of the house.
Are there features and accessories that would add some flare? – Decks used to be pretty basic. Now there are a lot of options that are being added to decks. The options include – Pergolas, lighting, gates, benches and planters. The two options that I have seen a big increase in are deck lighting and Pergolas. Deck lighting can dramatically change the feel of a deck, especially at night. The lighting is typically low voltage and can be added to railing posts, stair treads, and even installed into the floor of the decking. Lighting adds a nice subtle tough at night and not only looks good when you are on the deck but also when you are in the house, looking out to the deck. Pergolas are a great way to create structure to a deck. When sitting under a Pergola on a deck, it give you a feeling that you are in an Outside Room. A pergola can also provide some shade to the deck.
Can I build the deck myself or should I hire a contractor? – This is a question that you should easily be able to answer. If you are not quite sure, most likely you shouldn’t. Deck projects are a lot more complicated then they used to be. Building codes on a deck are now equivalent to the same standards that homes are built. Do you know the building codes? Are you comfortable making saw cuts of maintenance free material that is very expensive. If you make a mistake it can hurt your wallet. If you decide to hire a contractor, make sure that they are a custom deck builder. Deck building is very specialized now and there are hundreds of materials on the market. If you hire a contractor that just does a few decks here and there, you could find yourself frustrated after your contractor finds out they are over there head. Also these types of contractors will not be able to offer you the numerous options that are available. Typically they have a few products that they are comfortable with and will steer you away from anything that is foreign to them. It is important to find a custom deck builder. A custom deck builder can offer you more options and when the deck is complete you will be able to tell that it was built by someone that excels in the field
Deck projects have always been a project that a variety of people will complete or try to complete. All decks used to be wood, now the material types and product choices continues to grow and evolve. The bottom line is if you want a deck that looks beautiful after its built, make sure whoever builds it has the ability and or experience to do it right.
– Bill Barton – UglyDeck.com