- Layout: When deciding on a layout for your deck, start by listing the activities it will need to accommodate. Make sure there's ample space for a dining table and chairs and that your deck is large enough to hold friends and family comfortably. If you're having trouble visualizing how a layout will work, create an outline of the space in your yard. Use stakes and a rope to illustrate the space, and get a better feel for your future deck.
- Location: Many homeowners opt to connect decks to their back door, but there's no hard and fast rule about this. Decks can connect to nearly any level of your home, or they can remain freestanding. Sometimes the options change depending on your home, your yard, and your city code, so talk with a professional deck builder to decide.
- Stories: Just like your home, decks can have more than one story. Multiple levels can give you more space or create visual interest. With more than one story, you can get even more creative with your deck, building different areas for grilling and relaxing and both covered and uncovered spaces.
- Stairs: When planning your deck, consider whether you want one or more sets of stairs to the ground level. If you build your deck near ground level, you also have the potential to install stairs around the entire perimeter, which can open up your deck even more and allow easy access for kids and adults alike.
- Covered vs. Uncovered: If you want an open space to grow a variety of plants, you're probably best off with an uncovered deck. If you want a shady place to cool off with an icy beverage in the afternoon, consider a covered deck. Pergolas offer partial shade and a place to install ceiling fans or grow decorative plants. If you struggle to choose between a covered and uncovered deck, an outdoor umbrella makes a good compromise between the two.
- Railings: Choose from wood, glass, metal, cabling, vinyl or a combination of these. Whatever you choose has the potential to take your design to another level as well as offer a stylish yet functional safety feature. If you build a ground-level deck, you can go without railings, which open your line of sight and improve your view. Consult with your local code, or check with your contractor to be sure a railing isn't necessary.
- Seating: Deck seating can be movable or built-in. Movable options include everything from folding seats to classic Adirondack chairs to outdoor rockers. Built-in options range from basic benches to porch swings to fully upholstered sofas. While it's easy to add more movable seating as necessary, consider all built-in seating as you're designing your deck.
- Lighting: This element can add yet another functional design element to your deck. Install lights on deck posts or underneath built-in benches for subtle illumination. If your deck includes a pergola or roof, consider installing ceiling lamps for even more light.
- Fire Pits: If you live in an area where temperatures drop at night, adding a fire pit to your deck will help you stay warm while still enjoying the outdoors. Local codes determine whether it's possible to build a fire pit in your area, so make sure you understand the regulations before adding one to your deck.
Because these outdoor spaces have almost limitless potential in terms of design, materials and add-ons, no two decks are the same. Here's what you need to consider before hiring a professional to build your deck.
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