Building a deck can be a big job and it is important to plan carefully so that your project turns out the way you hope it will. If done correctly, a deck can be a great place to relax and enjoy time with your family. It can also be a great transition from your interior spaces to the exterior backyard and if well planned, it can blend seamlessly and naturally into your landscaping. Below are some important things to consider when planning your deck.
Is your deck going to be attached to your home, or will it be a destination type deck. A destination deck is one that is not attached to your home and has a path leading to it. Destination decks are great for areas with a special view or purpose.
What type of activities will take place on the deck? Will it be where you want to do some grilling and picnicing? Perhaps it will be an area for entertaining? Maybe it will be a place for your hot tub or adjacent to a pool. Will you want privacy for this deck or does that matter at all. All of these things will affect your deck design.
Now consider how large you want it to be. Smaller homes and backyards typically need a smaller deck. In fact, if you make your deck too big it can actually make your house look smaller than it really is. On the other hand, you want it large enough to accomodate the activities for which you are constructing it.
Time to move on to choosing construction materials. Wood is a great material but there are also composite materials available that look like wood, but do not weather like wood. Keep in mind that a wooden deck will require quite a bit of maintenance and periodic repainting or refinishing. Composite materials and even vinyl are available that are extremely durable and maintenance free, but they also cost more.
Regardless, you will need concrete footings poured in the ground to support the deck. Sandy soil will require larger footings. The footings will support structural posts that hold up the platform. The posts are usually 4″ x 4″ or sometimes 6″ x 6″.
Depending on your area, there will be building code requirements. Check with your city planning department or with your county if you are in a more rural area. These requirements can often be found online on your city or county website. Sometimes permits are required for which there is usually a fee.
One great way to get a feel for deck construction is to look out for deck plans that have been built before. Often step by step instructions are included.