5 Tips for Adding a Deck to Your Backyard

A deck can be a wonderful addition to a home. A place for parties or family get-togethers. A bit of outdoor living space. A second kitchen and dining room. A cozy and comfortable place to relax. But the first thing you should always do: choose which one you want.

1.Know What You Want to Use the Deck For

Why do you want a deck? Is it your backyard party spot? Kitchen, living room, reading nook? The use you plan to put it to will govern just what you choose to build, or it should. Think hard about what you want and need, take a family poll and see what everyone wants. Building the wrong deck to fit the wrong needs can be a source of contention for as long as you keep it, so get it right from the start and build your dream deck first try.

2.Set a Budget

If you had unlimited funds, you could build a wonderful deck, something to show off to all your friends and increase the value of your home tens of thousands of dollars. But most of us are a bit more constrained. There’s only so much money to go around, and this project has to fit in the overall budget. So figure out what you can afford, before you fall in love with a design that costs too much.

In fact, once you determine your budget, make sure you leave a buffer for any unexpected costs. Or perhaps those little extras that come up at the last minute, but you just can’t pass up. Build a little surplus into your budget and you’ll be able to upgrade to get that little bit more without breaking the bank.

3.Make a Design

Plan out what you want to do based on your desires and your budget. Make the big decisions here, on paper or perhaps using a computer program, where they are easy to change. Try all the great ideas in the planning stage and price them out. Maybe a circular deck would be too expensive, both in time and materials, but putting a curve on one corner is within reach. Find out early and set down a design that appeals to you and you can afford.

Want to integrate with the layout of your home? Attach the deck to your back door, but also have it overlooked by your bay windows? Make sure you measure and design your deck to fit the real-world constraints you have to work with. Finding out your design only fits the door or the window after you’ve started building can reduce you to tears. Make it work before you start work.

4.Choose Your Materials

The basic, traditional wood deck is still very popular, but there are a variety of woods to choose from, as well as other materials, and it pays to choose carefully. Pressure treated wood can range from relatively cheap to quite expensive, and there are a number of other aspects, color, durability, availability, to consider. Pressure treated wood also needs regular maintenance.

Typically at least a new finish every year or two.

Vinyl or composite requires much less upkeep and can last for decades, but the initial cost is correspondingly higher. Another consideration is aesthetic appeal. Artificial materials just don’t look like wood. If you feel the traditional look and feel of a wooden deck is important, that could be a deal breaker.

Price your materials but be on the lookout for possible cost savings here. Many cities have organizations that accept excess materials from construction projects and resell them to raise money for various causes. Some research into these could save a lot on your materials costs.

5.Know What You Need

Do your research. Do a lot of research. This is an expensive project and you want to get it right the first time. One example is fasteners. Deck screws. But is that what you want? Do you want the screw heads visible? If not, there are a number of alternatives where the fasteners are attached from beneath or at an angle. Do you use the inexpensive electroplated galvanized screws? Low quality screws can corrode, staining your wood, and cause it to degrade faster than normal.

Stainless-steel or coated screws are highly recommended. Does you deck require a railing? Check your local codes to see how high a deck can be and not have one. Plus check what requirements a railing has to meet. Do you have to get permits to build a deck? Do you have to check with your Homeowner’s Association? Getting everything you need done before you start can save a lot of trouble later on.

You’ve figured out what you want from a deck, how much you can afford, created a plan that fits those two things, chosen what to build from, and checked over all the extras you might need. Now you can get to work building your backyard oasis, a haven for grilling, your spot to watch the word go by. Your deck. Get ready, get set, build!