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5 Things to Consider Before Adding a Deck to Your Home

Outdoor activities are on the rise. Many homeowners are considering the best way to utilize outdoor spaces and are thinking of adding decks. There are five main factors you should ponder before calling a contractor: the purpose of your deck, local codes and legalities, location, decking materials, and lighting. Here, we review these elements and offer our advice on preparing for your new deck.

Purpose and Function

How do you plan to use your deck? The size and design of your deck will depend upon the answer to that question. Will you be entertaining and require seating for large groups of people? Are you thinking of adding an outdoor kitchen? Will your deck have pool access or house a spa? Consider your day-to-day as well as special occasion use.

Legalities

Contact your town hall to find out applicable building codes and legalities to ensure that you obtain the necessary permits for your deck. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, check to see if they have regulations regarding size and aesthetics.

Location

There may be an obvious location for your deck, or you may have multiple options. Use stakes to map out your desired deck location and size. Once you have stakes in place, take a look at the areas of sun and shade. Will you be comfortable? Will you have enough privacy from your neighbors? Will you have enough space to accommodate your activities?

Deck Materials

While most people immediately think of pressure-treated wood when they think of decks, there are actually several options available.

Pressure Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is the least expensive decking material, and it is used the most often. It needs annual cleaning and staining every two to three years. Pressure-treated wood is susceptible to splinters and boards may rot or warp over time. A pressure-treated deck will last about 15 years.

Cedar and Redwood

Cedar and redwood are a step up from pressure-treated wood and cost about three times more. These types of wood are naturally resistant to rot and insects, but they are softer and may show more damage from foot traffic. They both require cleaning, sanding, and refinishing about every three years. A deck made from cedar or redwood will last approximately 20 years.

Composites

Composite decking materials are made to look like wood. They come in an array of natural-looking colors and grain patterns. Composites will not splinter and don’t need staining or painting. They must, however, be cleaned regularly to discourage mildew from growing. While composite decks are more expensive than pressure-treated wood, over time the cost of upkeep for the wood decking makes the amount you’ll spend comparable. Composite decks generally last over 20 years.

PVC Vinyl

A deck constructed of cellular PVC vinyl decking is made from environmentally safe plastic. It’s more durable than wood or composite and will likely last a lifetime. PVC vinyl decks don’t require much maintenance — just the occasional cleaning — but they don’t look or feel like wood. The cost of these decks depends upon the quality of the materials, but they are usually more expensive than composite decks.

Aluminum

Aluminum is ideal for decking, though it is probably the least popular choice. It’s lighter and stronger than the other types of decking materials and it is resistant to mold, weather, and insects. Aluminum decks are the most expensive option, but they will last a lifetime.

Lighting

If you want to make the most of your deck, you’ll need to be able to use it in the evening hours. Deck lighting adds ambiance to your yard as well as safety while you’re using your deck. There are several options for lighting, and your choice depends on how much light you want, your lighting budget, and the styles you prefer.

Integrated lighting along the rails, posts, or stairs provides soothing ambient lighting along the edges of the deck structure. Outdoor kitchens may require overhead or wall-mounted lights to provide illumination for cooking. You may choose landscape spotlights or solar path lights for atmospheric lighting. Of course, you aren’t restricted to choosing just one type of lighting. A combination may work well with your deck design.

Awareness of these five factors will help you prepare for your new deck. A professional contractor can help you address the details and offer advice about the best choices for your particular yard and deck.