Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Aaron Presley
Building a beautiful, new deck onto your home can be one of the best ways you add value and functional space to it. From spending some time relaxing in the sun to entertaining a group of people every weekend during the summer, there is a great deal to look forward to when adding this type of space onto a home. But, there is more to the process than just saying you’ll build a deck. You need to know how to do so, what to use, and how to ensure it creates the perfect space for you. From choosing the right deck lumber to creating a customized layout, here are a few things to keep in mind before you purchase a single piece of wood.
#1: Always check with your city first
In many cities, building codes are present that apply to decks. These will provide specific information to you about your obligations including where it can be built, what type of footing it needs to have, and overall size. Location is a big deal as well since having it too close to property lines can often be a problem. Building codes may also state what type of material you can use for the deck.
#2: Brainstorm ideas before getting started
Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and go to work on creating an effective plan for your deck. You will want to take measurements of the outside area you plan to place the deck, calculate square footage and go to work on the details. Think about the placement of furniture, BBQs and other amenities. Do you have enough room? Also, think about the overall shape and style of the deck.
#3: Start thinking about materials
When buying deck lumber, which is one of the biggest steps, you will need to think about all types of materials on the market. Pressure treated lumber is perhaps the most important type to purchase, unless you plan to use a composite material. With traditional wood, you’ll want to learn more about the distributor, the condition of the wood, the type of wood, and overall availability of it.
#4: Work out the foundation
The foundation of the deck will depend on your location and the overall property demands. An elevated deck will need a strong footing that goes into the ground several feet. It will need to be anchored using cement or another very stable product that can handle the harsh climate or heavy rain. Also, think about the under-deck surface. Gravel helps encourage water runoff. You don’t want to plant anything under here due to the lack of ability to trim or manage it. For this reason, you may want to consider the use of materials to prevent vegetation growth.
#5: The steps
Don’t overlook the importance of purchasing step kits or having a professional build steps for you. Even a small error in the configuration can create a problem for you that you need to deal with for years to come. It is also a good idea to invest in steps that meet any building code. These codes often focus on the angle, tread width, and the overall scale of the steps.
#6: Think about railings
You can use deck lumber or specially-designed railings to create your deck’s safety feature. Nevertheless, there are a few things to keep in mind. Elaborate railing systems add a lot of character to the space. You will want to consider the type of wood used as well. For a less obstructed view, choose a wood railing with thinner rails. For a more dramatic impact, choose something with unique cuts. Most building codes require railings to be in place on any raised deck.
#7: Think solar power
All of those evenings you’ll be spending relaxing on your deck require some type of lighting. You should be planning for lighting now, not later. You can install solar powered lighting fixtures to the top of your rail posts. This is one way to add a soft glow of light in the evening hours. You may also want to choose other solar-powered lighting fixtures for various spaces around the deck as an energy-saving solution.
#8: Consider wood staining
When using pressure treated lumber, which is the most common option available, it is a good idea for you to focus on how you will further protect the surface and what steps you will take to add color. Staining this wood is an option but you will need to choose the right materials to do so.
#9: Minimize fire risks
You’ll be hosting those fire pits and barbecue cook-offs on your deck, so you will need to consider upgrading your deck lumber to products that can minimize your home’s fire risk. Look for fire resistant lumber. Lumber like this is coated to reduce the risk that it will catch fire should a spark land on it. It is nearly always a very good investment for this type of space.
#10: Call in a professional
Sure, you could build your deck yourself. You could handle every nail and board on your own. Having a professional do the work for you, though, will ensure the job is done properly and to the very best level possible. Allowing a professional to handle the design and build also means you’ll have someone that can create exactly what you want around building codes. You also will still be able to choose all of the types of lumber you wish to use. In most situations, a deck builder can help you to save time and money on your project by simply knowing the process well.
Adding a deck to your home is more than just adding space to have fun in or to relax. It is also about ensuring that your family can count on your deck to be functional for years to come. This is a major investment in your home. Having it done properly and through a methodical process like this ensures that the value of your deck will be as high as possible. Don’t overlook the benefits of turning to a professional for advice on every stage of the process or using a specialized supplier for the highest quality of wood available.