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5 Things to Consider When Building a Deck

The backyard is often seen as an extension of the home, giving families more space for enjoying each other’s company, entertaining guests, cooking and dining and other fun activities. As such, a deck can be viewed as an outdoor living room/kitchen/dining room combo and can provide hours of relaxation and enjoyment during warmer months.

There are several things to consider before adding a deck onto your home, though, to ensure that the deck you get is the deck you’ll really want.

Safety

Safety should always be your primary concern with any building project and a deck addition is no different. Make sure that the materials used in your deck are sturdy and appropriate to the project. Check with your local zoning office to make sure that you are aware of all local building codes pertaining to decks. Also, be sure to use the proper screws for assembling your deck and never nails, always include hand rails and don’t skimp on the sanding - splinters can be serious business.

Materials

Way back in yesteryear if you wanted a deck it was pretty straightforward - you went to the store and bought a bunch of 2x4s and hoped they weren’t too bowed. Nowadays, though, there are different types of wood, including manufactured lumber and recycled materials formed into 2x4 shape. The best way to decide which is right for you is to set a budget (but be flexible) and roam through your local hardware store to check out the different products, their prices, advantages, and appearances.

Shape

Gone are the days of the simple rectangular deck. Some people still build them, no doubt, but even more families are opting for shapes that are more complex and intriguing. Keep in mind that the more original the design of your deck, the more you are adding to your budget. In addition to decks that include octagonal juts, 45 degree angles or other unique shapes, some popular deck designs are L-shaped decks, wraparound decks, and plans that connect the house to other yard attractions like the pool, terrace, or gardens.

Function

When starting on your deck design, not only should you take into account the size and shape of the wall the deck will connect to, you should consider what it is you plan to do on the deck. A family of three who plans to use the deck for al fresco dining may wish for a much smaller deck than the family of five who loves to throw large grill and pool parties. Make sure that your deck has ample room for people to perform the functions you envision there as well as to maneuver around each other comfortably.

Location, Location, Location

After all, a deck is real estate, too - so the same rules apply. Give careful consideration to where you want your deck to be placed on your house. You’ll want to put it at your desired height - either 1st or second story. Do you want access to the kitchen directly from the deck or would you prefer it entered into the mudroom or living room? Perhaps you’ll want a deck big enough for entrances from all of those rooms. Lastly consider whether you’ll want to be shielded from the elements - decks can be under or above house additions, under extended roofs or can have their own separate awning or truss system.

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