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Decks and Related Articles

The Best Deck Design: 5 Questions Before Getting Started

When It Is Time To Hire A Professional Deck Builder

Building a deck is a project that many people take on to improve their family’s quality of life. In some circles, adding a deck to your living space is considered a great tradition of sorts. But before you rush off to the nearest hardware store to stock up on lumber, there are a number of important factors to first consider. Below are a few of the most important things to take into account before designing and building your new home deck.

1. What Will You Use it For?

One of the most important things to consider before building a deck is what you will use it for. Your deck’s intended use will greatly influence its overall design. Decks for family meals will require enough space for a table and chairs, decks for grilling will need room for a prep station, serving area, and a grill, and a deck for lounging should incorporate both sun and shade. If you want to hang out around your deck at night, you might even consider adding a fire pit (if local building codes allow it).

2. Do You Want a Professional Design?

Having a professional design your deck is a surefire way to make sure it lives up to expectations. It can also give it extra “wow” factor. Having a professional design your deck for you doesn’t mean they have to build it for you. You can simply pay for the design and instructions and build it yourself. Or you can have an experienced contractor build it for you from scratch to make your life a whole lot easier.

3. Should You Use Footings?

Many local codes require that decks be built with footings. Even if yours doesn’t, it is wise to incorporate them into your deck’s design. 48-inch deep concrete footings are the best as they extend far below the frost line. Using a builder’s tube further keeps frost from being able to heave the footing.

4. Where Are You Building Your Deck?

The location of your deck is of utmost importance. Most people prefer to have an attached deck, one that they can step out to from their house, instead of a floating deck. Property size is also a huge factor in both the location and the size of your deck. In addition to property size, consider sun and shade, wind, rain, the view, privacy, and proximity to your house while planning the location of your deck.

5. What is Your Budget?

Building your own deck can be an extremely expensive undertaking. Yet it can also be a budget friendly project. The key is setting your budget beforehand. Be sure to include size of your deck, intricacy of design, and the cost of lumber and hardware. If you are going to have a contractor build your deck for you, be sure to factor that into the equation as well.

Getting Started

The factors above are all things that everyone should take into consideration before starting to build their own deck. Each of them will greatly influence the end project. Like most other building projects, rushing into building a deck is not the way to go. Take the time, do your research, and make sure that you have a solid plan before making the first cut or pounding in the first nail.

So you have been looking out the back window for a while now and you see that your porch is looking less than beautiful? Is your deck sagging and splintering? Or maybe the whole deck has rotted right on through. Before you groan and think about this huge task being something that YOU need to do, take a deep breath and consider a professional deck contractor to repair your deck.

Many home owners avoid deck contractors, thinking that it will end up being far more expensive hiring a professional than doing it themselves. Unless, you are a deck contractor yourself, there is actually a very good chance that you will spend significantly more doing it yourself than if you hire a contractor. You will need to buy the tools that you do not already have, the materials, and if any mistakes happen (which are bound to come up, if you have not built a deck before!) then you may be paying hundreds just trying to correct your mistakes. Also consider how you are keeping your weekends free from stress!

You will also need to consider actually repairing your deck compared to replacing it. For one, it will be less costly due to less materials being needed.

It is also easier on the environment, considering you are saving precious wood by using your already-existing deck wood.

This being said, there are of course some limitations to being able to replace your deck. If you fear that your deck may be just a bit too "far gone", such as the structure being damaged perhaps beyond repair, be sure to talk to your deck contractor about the possibility of it collapsing.

Here are some things to look for to determine whether or not your deck needs to be repaired:

  • Do you have loose, heaving and/or splitting wooden boards on your deck?

  • Do you hear groaning or loud squeaking noises when someone is walking on the deck?

  • Is your deck leaning away or against the house? Is it deformed in any way?

  • Are there any missing boards and/or support structures?

  • Is the wood "mushy"? Can you easily dent it or bend it?

  • Does the wood have holes?

  • Is there a "dip" in the middle of the deck due to sagging?

Once these things are taken into account, the deck contractor will then be able to advise you as to whether or not it will be able to be saved. They should also then be able to tell you an estimated cost for repairing the deck.

You will also want to see if you can get away with simply repairing ONE PART of the deck, or whether you do need to repair the entire structure.

If you have decided to repair the deck, then comes the fun part! The contractor will set about selecting an appropriate wood to match your current deck, and he or she will show you just how it will blend in with your existing structure. Talk with them about how this new wood will look if it is stained and sealed compared to the other wood: will it be extremely noticeable that the repaired section of the deck is a new part of the deck? The contractor will be able to help you choose an appropriate paint and stain that will help keep your entire deck looking fresh and new.