9 Deck Building Tips You Must Consider Before Getting Started

Building a deck as a backyard extension of your home can add new value and quality of life to your home. To get the best fit, it is vital that you make decisions along the way during the planning and building process which reflect your lifestyle. You also want to make sure that you build a deck that lasts for years to come by choosing the right materials. Here are nine deck building tips that can help you achieve the best deck for you and your needs.

1. Determining the Size of your Deck
Deck Building Tips Size
Eco Outlet

Determining the size of your deck is your first and most important consideration during the planning stage. As a first point, make sure that the size of your deck works compatibly with the size of your house. An outsized deck on a smaller home or a too-small deck on a large home can look out of scale and awkward. Make sure that you choose a size that creates visual balance with the overall structure of your home.

A second consideration to keep in mind when determining the size of your deck is how much effort and time you can put into its maintenance. A larger deck will clearly take a lot more muscle if it needs annual maintenance, so make sure you select a size that works within your lifestyle and schedule.

Finally, you need to consider the structural and cost implications of a large deck. For every bit of square footage you add to a deck you will need more materials and labor… not to mention that you may need more structural support in the form of concrete footings that need to be dug and poured. Select a size that satisfies your lifestyle needs but is still realistic for your household budget and build schedule.

2. Deck Access
Deck Building Tips Access
Evergreen Consulting

Ensuring that you have easy and proper deck access will help guarantee that you get the most use out of your deck area. Typically, decks have glass door access to a main room in the interior, such as a living room or a kitchen. If you live in a muggy, high bug area, you will want to make sure that your entry point to the deck has a backup screen to protect your interior space from mosquitos and flies. A rolling screen door can be a viable choice or you can look into screen panels that hang like curtains and attach in place via magnets.

With an elevated deck with stairs, ensure that there’s a natural flow to their structure and that safety standards are in place, including rails and anti-slip surfaces in wet or icy regions. Keep in mind that stairs can provide intruders with secondary access to your home. Make sure that you have the necessary protections and alarms in place at direct entry points to your home to compensate.

3. Deck Materials

Deck Building Tips Materials

A primary step in deck building is considering the available material options. Natural deck materials include cedars, thermal-insulated woods, and tropical hardwoods. Synthetic deck materials are comprised of composite woods and cellular/plastic materials. It is essential to evaluate your material selection as it plays a major role in deck longevity, durability, maintenance required, cost, and aesthetics. For a complete guide for choosing deck materials:

4. Safety Considerations
Deck Building Tips Safety
Mark English Architects AIA

You also need to keep some additional safety considerations in mind when designing and decorating your deck.  Any deck above grade level requires a railing, and the space between vertical or horizontal components must be less than 4 inches according to code.  A railing can usually fall into anywhere between 36 and 42 inches in height to satisfy deck building code.

5. Deck Design Software

Deck Building Software

Many deck suppliers and retail stores offer deck pre-planning software and apps that you can use to start laying out a plan for your deck. There are also pre-fabricated deck building options available that take care of the basics in planning for your substructure and surface. Working with a landscape architect or builder is your most detail-oriented option, but comes in at the highest price point.

6. Privacy
Deck Building Tips Privacy
Logan’s Hammer Building & Renovation

Whether you live in an urban or suburban environment, privacy is always an impediment for maximizing the use of your outdoor living area. Ideas for adding privacy include using lattice (in complimentary or same materials as your deck), structures such as trellises and pergolas, foliage, and other outdoor space features. For an extensive look at adding privacy to your deck and outdoor space, please read here.

7. Coverage

Deck Building Tips Coverage

Whether you live in a sunny or rainy clime, it’s always important to consider building some coverage into your outdoor deck area. If your deck plans include relaxing, enjoying the view, and entertaining, remember the sun can be harsh, and the rain can be an unwelcome guest. Freestanding umbrellas are of course an option, giving you movable coverage that you can use as needed. Today’s retractable awnings and canopies are another great choice to consider; modern versions of these products use attractive, durable, and weather-resistant materials that can add value to your deck and protect not only you and your guests on harsh or rainy days, but also your deck furniture, grilling accessories, etc.

8. Lighting
Deck Building Tips Lighting
Karen Garlanger Designs LLC

The proper lighting will increase the use and enjoyment of your deck. For the best results, consider lighting in the early stages of deck building design to ensure an integrated look. Use outdoor lights to illuminate your entertainment areas after hours and safety lights for stairs and walkways.

9. Decorative Accents
Deck Building Tips Accents
Decks by Kiefer LLC

Adding small decorative accents can also add to the beauty and ambiance of your deck. Just as you might choose a moulding or railing detail within your home’s interiors, pay attention to these small touches in your outdoor space to add finish and polish to a deck. The detail on a moulding or handrail, whether squared-off or beveled, can help create the overall style and aesthetic you want, from modern to classic. Don’t forget to explore balls and caps to that you can intersperse along deck railing and stair rails for a final finishing touch.

Have you had your own experiences you’d like to share when building your deck? Advice to give? Chime in below in the comments and share your thoughts.

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