Stairs are a great way to add creativity to your deck.
There are countless ways to customize your deck. This article presents some options for 5 specific areas:
Benches can serve many purposes on a deck. In addition to their obvious use as seating, they can provide a barrier at the edge of a low deck, or a surface for plants in containers, creating a multi-level potted garden show in the growing season. Free Woodworking Plans has lots of styles to consider, including Mission Style, a Heart Bench, and a Time Out Bench. Free Bench Plans also offers free woodworking plans for building deck benches, including potting and storage benches.
No deck seems complete without planters of some kind. Even a single planter of substantial size can add a beautiful, cared-for look to a deck. If you're a do-it-yourselfer, you can build your own planters – perhaps with materials left over from deck construction or other projects. Garden centers and import shops are excellent places to find ceramic, terra cotta, and faux stone planters. For inspiration, check out the garden centers at your local Lowe's or The Home Depot.
Many homeowners will hire a contractor to build the foundation and floor of their deck, but select different materials for the railings and either install them themselves or with the help of a fellow do-it-yourselfer. Railings add safety and also define the deck surface area. They can be simple or attention-getting, and be accented with lighting or planters. Do It Yourself has a section devoted to deck railings and stairs, with examples and plans and how-to information. Easyrailings products are made of high-strength aluminum alloys and have long-lasting powder coating finishes; they're great looking, too.
As people become more aware of the dangers of over-exposure to the sun's direct rays – especially in the hot summer months, when decks are most often used – including a roof in your deck's design makes a lot of sense. An excellent resource for the do-it-yourselfer is the Best Deck Site, which illustrates how to build a gazebo-style roof and provides tips for building, materials needed, and useful checkpoints to be aware of in the process. Awnings, or retractable roofing are other effective solutions for providing shade for you, your family, and friends while enjoying your deck. Did you know that, according to Retractable Awnings, "Retractable awnings, by shading exterior windows and doors, cut the light before it enters rooms, which can reduce interior heat by 77% (the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers). Reducing the heat in a room with retractable awnings can reduce air conditioning use – and energy bills – by almost 25%."
If there's an area to get really creative with, deck stairs is it. Stairs usually encompass a very straightforward design element, too. You can stick with the basics very successfully, or you can go for elongated steps lined with lighting or plants, or build a meandering stairway through multiple levels of your landscape. There are lots of how-to videos and articles available for building deck stairs, calculating stringers, meeting building safety requirements, etc. – just browse on the keywords "deck stairs" and you'll come up with dozens of selections. For visual inspiration, check out Hickory Dickory Decks for a photo gallery of different types of deck stairs.
By now, you can see that with these 5 basic accent areas – or elements – of decks, you have mix-and-match capabilities galore. Happy option-shopping!
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