How to Plan For a Deck or Patio

Deciding what best suits your needs and wants starts with a plan for a deck or patio. You’ll want to start by considering how you will use your outdoor space and then arrange the size and layout to best suit your lifestyle.

Will the deck or patio primarily be used for entertaining large groups, as an intimate place to dine al fresco with your loved one, or as a place to quietly enjoy a cup of tea and read a book?

Maybe you want a combination of all three with separate areas for different activities?

Consider how you will access your outdoor space. For example, with a bit of planning you can ensure your outdoor room is easily accessible from the inside of your house, with food preparation areas located near your indoor kitchen.

Don’t forget to plan for outdoor structures, this may include a pergola, gazebo, arbor, or trellises for shade and visual interest. Even if you don’t plan on constructing an outdoor structure right away, consider leaving space for adding shade structures in the future.

Once you’ve determined the location and size of your patio or deck, it’s time to measure. For more tips on measuring space properly, have a look at How Do You Measure Up? to get some easy how-to tips.

Gather the Necessary Material and Tools

In Material Matters, I explained some of the pros and cons of various materials for decks and patios including concrete, pavers, natural stone, brick, exposed grass, as well as natural wood, composite wood, and vinyl for decks.

Personal preference, your budget, and maintenance needs will determine your choice; however, also keep in mind your climate when determining what kind of materials you’ll use. Working with nature’s elements ensures that your deck or patio will be long-lasting and that the space will be comfortable and enjoyable year round.

Check your local building codes and building permits for requirements before you begin the project and then it’s time to gather your materials. For a list of basic tools you’ll need for constructing a deck or patio, take some time to read over, The Right Tools. This will give you a sense of what you need and when you’ll need it during the construction process.

Make Plans for Maintaining a Deck or Patio

Because of their natural properties, wood decks are prime targets for surface mold, mildew and discoloration over time. If you build a deck, the final step will be sealing or staining the deck. Allow the stain or sealer to dry thoroughly before you enjoy the new extension of your home. If you plan to paint your deck, a good primer allows paint to adhere more tightly to the surface and improves the topcoat’s ability to resist surface moisture.

Consider a shade structure such as a retractable canopy to protect your deck or patio from the outdoor elements and nature’s aging process.

Deciding on either a deck or a patio can be a tough decision. Keep these tips and ideas in mind to help make your decision an easy one!