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The Well-Designed Deck
Whether you’re replacing an older deck or building a new one, a backyard deck is a great way to add value to your home.
A well-designed deck can transform your backyard from ordinary into an interesting and inviting outdoor living space. A place to entertain friends, or just relax with the family.
Before building your deck, however, make sure it’s the right design for your needs. All too often homeowners build a deck, only to realize once it's finished that it is lacking some important features.
Here are some things to consider before you start your deck project:
Spend a few days taking note of the sun and shade patterns in your backyard to help you decide on size, style and placement of your deck.
Check with the municipal building department to see if there are local building restrictions on either the size or style of a deck.
Get a building permit. If your deck doesn’t meet the approved standards, or you don’t get a permit, you may have to tear down your beautiful new deck or face delays during building.
Find out if the deck will increase your property taxes before you start to build, otherwise you might be in for an unpleasant surprise later on. The municipal building department can advise you on this matter.
Think about what you’ll be doing on your deck. If you have your heart set on an enormous new barbecue you saw at Home Depot recently and are dreaming of big backyard parties, then you will need to factor the extra weight requirements into your plans.
If you have children or pets you’ll need to pay close attention to railings and stairs.
Drive around and look at decks in your area. Look closely at homes that are similar in size and style to your own.
If you’re looking for something that makes a statement, don’t get locked into the idea that it has to have an elaborate multi-tiered design or be especially large, it’s the details that will really make your deck stand out in a crowd — even if it’s a cost-conscious project. For railings and balusters you can use decorative wrought iron or aluminum pipe rail, or add a decorative centerpiece.
Deck accessories; such as decorative post caps add stylish flair. Look at your home and see if there are any architectural details you can incorporate into your deck design.
If you are lucky enough to live near a lake or by the ocean consider glass balusters instead of railing — made with ultra-strong safety glass these balusters will allow you to relax and enjoy the view.
Look around and you’ll see that most decks are built using wood. Pressure-treated wood is probably most common, although many people opt for redwood, cedar and treated pine as well.
Composite decking materials, such as GeoDeck, Trex and SmartDeck are becoming more popular with homeowners who like the manufacturer claims of less maintenance than wood and a longer lifespan. These materials have improved a lot since they were first introduced on the market, and now come in a variety of colors.
No doubt about it, a deck can be expensive. It does, however, add incredible value to your home — both from a resale perspective, and in terms of the day-to-day enjoyment you and your family will get from using it.
If you have your heart set on a lovely cedar deck, you can save money by building the understructure with pressure-treated lumber and use cedar for the surface and other exposed areas.
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