A properly planned for and constructed deck can add significant value and curb appeal to your home. A place to bring family and friends together outdoors, it also helps make memories.
Here are some tips for bringing your dream into reality.
Using an existing doorway that provides access to your deck is a great place to start. If that is not an option, consider converting an existing window into a door that will allow access to the deck off your home’s kitchen or dining room for ease of access. Another consideration when planning where your new deck will be, is what time of day it is likely to be used and whether you prefer outdoor activities directly in the sun or in the shade.
When determining the size of your deck, consider what types of activities you will be enjoying, as well as how many people will likely be participating in those activities on your new deck. Take into consideration the size of all pieces of outdoor furniture, grill, hot tub or other items you will place on the deck, as well as the deck’s size in proportion to your home and surroundings.
A deck that is 12×12’ could reasonably accommodate a small round patio table and four chairs. On average, most decks range in between 200 and 300 square feet.
To ensure a smooth transition going inside and out, the top of your deck should be just below the bottom of the door’s threshold. Should you want the deck higher or lower to capture a view, or if your lot is sloped, consider building a deck with multi-layers and/or adding stairs. A multi-level deck can add interest to your deck where you can designate certain areas for certain types of activities.
Once you have determined your deck height, be sure to check your local building codes to determine if railings will be needed around the deck at all levels, as those will need to be budgeted in.
With so many decking options to choose from on the market today, finding a budget that works for you and a general idea of the deck material you desire (wood vs. man-made materials) is a great place to start narrowing down what product is right for you for the deck top.
A deck top constructed of Knotty Western Red Cedar will provide many years of service and currently is the most cost-effective option; while the cost of clear grades of Cedar decking will be on the high end of the scale.
If you love the look and feel of real wood and are interested in exploring other decking options, Red Batu, commonly referred to as “Mahogany”, is an extremely durable hardwood that is sustainably harvested and is currently the best priced hardwood decking option we offer. Going up the scale is Ipe “Ironwood”, as well as other exotic hardwoods such as Tigerwood, Purple Heart.
If a deck top constructed out of man-made materials, such as composite or cellular PVC, is more interesting to you, we offer a wide range of products produced by Timbertech and AZEK. Backed with excellent support and warranties, these products have a fairly wide range of price points and colors to select from.
No matter what product you choose, regular cleaning and maintenance will be required. How much of it is determined by the product you choose and the look you want to maintain.
Now that you have determined the size and height of your deck, as well as the decking you like, configuring the proper framing for the deck is the next order of business. The size of the deck, as well as the number of footings and beams, local building codes, decking type, and manufacturer’s recommendations all need to be factored in.
In general, the framing joists are spaced 16” apart when using a 5/4×6″ decking product, but can vary based on the decking product selected.
Recommended joist spacing for Western Red Cedar Decking
|Thickness (in.)||Width (in.)||Grade Category (in.)||Span|
|1-1/4||4||All clear grade categories||16|
|1-1/4||4||All knotty grade categories||12|
|1-1/4||6||All clear and knotty grade categories||16|
|2||4||All clear and knotty grade categories||24|
|2||6||All clear and knotty grade categories||24|
The joist size need is directly related to the size of the deck. Joists spaced 16 inches on center can span 1.5 times in feet their depth in inches. A 2×8 up to 12 feet; 2×10 to 15 feet and 2×12 to 18 feet.
Using high quality pressure treated lumber is recommended. Use caution when choosing products based solely on price, as there are differences in the type of wood used, as well as pressure treating products and methods.
Selecting the right fasteners for the job is often overlooked until the very last minute, however, all the fasteners and hardware used to construct your deck should be a priority. A properly constructed deck relies on all the connection points of the under framing to stay firmly connected and the deck top to stay securely fastened down.
Fasteners should be selected based on your application, environment, and the material being used. All fasteners for outdoor use should be corrosion resistant, and special care should be taken when selecting products that will be installed near saltwater.
Most decking can be secured using nails, screws or hidden fasteners, and should be selected based on the look you desire, as well as the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Deck Add Ons
Should your new dream deck require a railing, there are countless options in both wood and man-made materials, including powder-coated aluminum, stainless steel cable, composite materials, and glass. These can be mixed and matched is countless options to provide the exact look you desire.
When selecting a railing, always be sure the railing you select complies with local building codes and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for installation.
Adding built-in planter boxes, benches, timber frame structures or a pergola can help define your deck as a custom outdoor living area. To elevate the feeling of your new outdoor living area to a welcoming extension of your home, add lighting, a fireplace or patio heater, and carefully selected accessories.
Need some inspiration to help you visualize your dream deck? We have a great gallery of projects on Pinterest just waiting for you!
For help in selecting the right materials for your job, as well as help designing your dream deck, please contact our team of professionals to assist you.
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