A deck is a popular home improvement
that not only adds to the value of your home, but provides a focal point for enjoying
the outdoors. You'll want to carefully consider the design elements that go into
your deck. Planning is the most important part of building a deck, because, chances
are, you'll be living with your design for a long time.
USE OF YOUR DECK
How do you
plan to use your deck?
You Entertain Frequently?
Kind of Seating Will You Need?
Do You Want the Space Arranged?
You Need Adequate Lighting to Entertain At Night?
- The size and orientation of your property
and house may limit you to one or two deck locations, but within those limits,
you may have more choices than you think. You may be able to add a door, build
a walkway or incorporate a privacy screen that will allow you to locate your deck
so it is most convenient for your intended uses.
The climate in your area and the views you'll see are the major factors to consider
when deciding where to place your deck. A north-side deck will probably be the
coolest location. Southern or western orientations may be too warm in the middle
of the summer, unless you include an overhead screen, or build the deck around
an existing shade tree.
You may be able to avoid prevailing winds by locating your deck where the house
will provide some protection. Likewise, careful placement can minimize traffic
noise, eliminate unwanted views or provide additional privacy. If you plan to
include a hot tub or swimming pool in your plans, privacy considerations for you
and your guests may be very important.
- Local zoning ordinancesMay
limit the overall size of your deck, height of privacy screens and the minimum
distance from your deck to your lot lines.
or subdivision covenantsMay restrict the appearance of the structure.
- Local building
departmentMay require a building permit and design plans.
utility companiesWill help locate buried pipes, utility lines and utility
- You can build any size deck you
want within legal limits. However, a huge deck can look out of place next to a
small house, just as a tiny deck looks wrong with a big house. If you think your
dream deck is too large for your house, break up the expanse by building smaller
sections on multiple levels.
To test your ideas, measure the size you want on your lawn. Drive 4' stakes at
the approximate corners, then tie string between them at about the height of the
railings. Set your lawn furniture in the area to get an idea of how the space
will work. The most common mistake people make is building a deck too small.
- One tip: If
possible, size your deck in 2' or 4' increments. You'll have to buy standard lumber
lengths anyway, and there's no point in wasting that material when you could have
a larger deck for the same amount of money.
AND DECKING PATTERNS
deck can be any shape you want, and in fact, simple changes like an angled corner
or a 45 degree decking pattern can dress up a house. You can also add visual interest
by wrapping the deck around a corner, adding built-in benches, integrating a fence
or screen on one side or even adding an overhead screen.
- Usually, the decking should come to
within 2" of the bottom of the access door from the house. On sloped ground,
you may want to build your deck in multiple levels to follow the slope. Typically,
wherever the deck is more than 48" off the ground, codes require that the
posts be braced to prevent swaying and racking.
- A spa or hot tub can be set on the
deck if the structure is reinforced to carry the weight of the water, or it can
be set directly on a concrete slab on the ground, with the deck built around it.
Existing trees and rocks can also be integrated into the deck by framing around
them. If you work around a tree, leave at least 3" on all sides to allow
for growth. Around a stationary object such as a boulder, leave about 1/4"
so the decking can expand and contract with temperature and moisture changes.
are the most prominent visual element in a deck, and offer great opportunity to
use your imagination and creativity. They may be fastened to posts that run all
the way to the ground, along the sides of the rim joists or attached to the decking
itself. They may include wood, metal or even ropenearly anything that satisfies
structural requirements. Your railing design will be limited primarily by building
code regulations that are designed to insure safety. Typically, those codes state
that support posts may be no more than 6' apart, and that the railing may have
no spaces larger than 4" x 4". The durability of your railing will be affected
by the design. For example, the ends of the railing posts should be covered or
cut at an angle to shed water, to minimize cracking and splitting.
STEPS AND STAIRS
and stair construction is closely regulated by building codes. As a rule, steps
and stairs should be at least 36" wide–48" if you want two people to
be able to pass each other comfortably. The rise should be no more than 7-1/2"
and the width of a tread at least 10". The slope should not be too steep–a
7" riser with a 10-1/2" tread are a common combination. Building codes
will also govern how the stair is supported and attached, and whether or not you
need a railing.
are five basic components of a typical deck:
Set on concrete or on piers, typically spaced 4' to 8'
- 2. Horizontal
Set on posts parallel to the decking, carrying the weight of the
- 3. Joists
Run between the beams, typically 16" or 24" apart. They distribute the
weight of the deck, allowing the use of decking boards.
Laid over the joists to form the floor of the deck.
Usually 36" to 42" high.
The materials used and
the size and spacing of these components are specified by local building codes.
materials must not only be resistant to decay and insect damage, but also withstand
the effects of water and sun. Standard construction lumber such as fir, pine or
spruce may be treated to protect it from rot, but it won't hold up under extreme
weather conditions or the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
You'll get the most durability from pressure-treated pine, cedar, or redwood and
they can be stained to nearly any color you want. If you use redwood or cedar,
remember that only the heartwood portion is decay-resistant. The lighter colored
sapwood will deteriorate just as quickly as pine or spruce.
SKETCH YOUR IDEA
you have a rough idea, draw two sketchesone of your lot, showing the deck
as part of your landscaping plan, and one of your design. Use graph paper, making
each square equal a given dimension to get all the components to scale. Take the
sketch to your local home center or lumberyard, and ask the salesperson to estimate
and price the materials you'll need.
state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions.
Information in this document has been furnished by the National Retail Hardware
Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to
ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can
be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information
in this document.
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