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Adding a Wood Deck

Sunlight on a wood deck wtih railings.A deck is described as a wooden platform constructed above ground level and is connected to the main part of the house.

It is usually surrounded by railings for the safety of the occupants. To access the deck, one must pass through the doors located in the main house or by stairs from the grounds.

To control the flood of sunlight, decks may be covered by canopies or light roofing. To provide light at night, the deck may have outdoor lighting.

A homeowner who is considering improving his home may decide on building or updating their deck. Decks are considered to be a good investment for the house, it will generally raise its overall value. It will also improve the home aesthetically.

A deck will also give you more living space especially if it incorporates a roof or an awning. Depending on the size of your deck, you don't need to cover the entire surface but it is nice if you can cover part of it.

Choices available for deck improvement and construction have risen considerably since more and more homeowners are getting interested in building decks for their homes.

Here is a list of several factors you should consider when you are planning on building or updating your deck:

1. Location of the deck in the house

Spaces for decks should be designed like a regular room. If you live where heavy snowfall occurs, it is best to decrease the elevation of the deck from the threshold of the door. If you are adding a roof, make sure it is built to hold the snow load.

It is helpful if you have a copy of the site plan or plan for your house. This is very handy when you are designing or adding to your deck and talking to contractors about building your new deck. You can enter this information into deck plan software.

Remember your deck does not have to be symmetrical to the back of your house but it is nice if it blends in with the existing architecture.

2. Main use for the deck and the amount of room needed

Most homeowners utilize their decks for entertaining or dining outside. Nowadays, additions such as outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, Jacuzzis and gazebos are becoming popular choices.

Here are a few design ideas for your deck:

  • Add a patio heater - to extend the use of your deck as the weather gets colder or the party last a bit longer into the night.
  • Add an outdoor fireplace - for the same reason as a patio heater, this will make those cool evenings last longer and more enjoyable.
  •  Add an awning or a roof - this can provide shade in the summer and protection from rain and snow in the winter.

3. Specific area where the dining will be held

You can provide a slight elevated area for your dining table so it is raised off of the main area. Another way to provide a specific area for dining is to add a section of your deck that is used specifically for your dining table and chairs.

When we built or new we did this by having the cooking and dining area under the roof and then the main leisure area was in the open part of the deck.

4. Need of the homeowners for privacy from neighbors and the main street

You can add walls to the side of your deck to provide privacy from your neighbors or passerby's. They are different ways to do this depending on the level of privacy you want.

You can use a solid wall or a trellis. A trellis is nice because it adds privacy but it is softer than a wall and can let air circulate. You can also add climbing plants to the wall or trellis that provides additional privacy and a nice accent for your deck.

Look at different kinds of railings. A glass railing is quite open but it does allow sun in and stops the wind. This might be nice if you are in a windy location. A wood railing will provide more privacy than a glass railing and can provide a nice accent. You can also use a low wall that will provide ultimate privacy.

5. Accessing your deck

The most likely way to access your deck is from the back of your house. This is usually through a patio door or French doors. Having an opening larger than a standard door is nice when you are moving larger items onto your deck.

If your deck is raised it is nice to have a set of stairs to access your backyard. There are certain regulations from the local building department when it comes to building stairs, so a good idea to check the local regulations.

If you have a long set of stairs you will want to add a railing and you might want to consider a landing midway down the stairs. Of course this will depend on available space and how you want your deck to look.

6. Placement of the grill

If possible it is a good idea to place your BBQ or grill near the kitchen door, but not right next to the house itself. You also want to make sure the smoke from the grill will not float into the house when the door is open.

To save yourself trips to refill propane tank it is a great idea if you can run a natural gas or propane line to your BBQ. No more worries of running out of fuel in the middle of a BBQ when your friends are over.

Check what fuel your BBQ has and what your house is using. You might need to get a conversion kit for the grill or get a new one with the correct fuel source. Here's a good reason to get that new stainless steel BBQ you have been dreaming about.

You can also look at adding a space for food preparation when you are connecting your grill the grill. Not necessary but a nice feature.

7. Need for shade

A retractable awning can be added for protection from the elements when needed. It can retracted when you want the sun or you are worried about the snow fall.

You can also get a custom-made awing or roof that is more permanent. Just make sure it can deal with the snow load or heavy wind if you have that in your area.

A few other options available to cover your deck are a pergola or a gazebo. A pergola can cover the entire deck, whereas the gazebo will cover a specific area. A wood gazebo is a nice way to cove your hot tub and add a little privacy.

But for total coverage you will want to consider a roof.

8. Deck railings

In most areas any deck that is higher than 18" off the ground requires railing. Railings are mostly for safety but with all of the different designs and materials available for deck railings they also provide a nice finish for your deck.

Here is a list of different railings that are available today:

  • Classic wood railing - nice if it matches the deck material
  • Composite railing - nice if it matches the deck material
  • Glass railing - can be clear or tinted to provide privacy
  • Wrought iron railing - a variety of patterns are available

The railing can also incorporate a bench if you use these one of these deck bench supports. This will save space on your deck and provide a nice place to sit with a back rest.

For more deck design ideas, please read these articles:

Deck plan software reviews

Time to design a deck?

More Articles...

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