So you have decided to expand your home into the outdoors. Building a deck is a great way to maximize the amenities available in your home. But before you plan and start building a deck, make sure you read through this tips on materials, maintenance, design, and style before starting your project.
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What deck material should I use?
Wood is the number one choice for deck material by homeowners. The way to distinguish quality within the same wood type is by grade; wood with a smoother surface and fewer knots will have a lower grade.
There are several varieties of wood you can choose from- cedar, ipe, or pressure-treated with pressure-treated being the least expensive. The primary characteristic to consider of whatever wood type you prefer is its rot resistance.
As for general maintenance, wood needs to be cleaned regularly and stained to prevent the color from fading into a dull gray. If the wood is subject to the afternoon sun, the color may fade fairly quickly, so keep location in mind.
Composite is another popular option for decking material. It is composed of a combination of wood and plastic waste fibers. This is generally more expensive than wood. Composite is usually quite heavy, but it does not need any staining or painting. As for general maintenance, composite does need to be cleaned regularly.
Lastly, PVC is another potential deck material option. PVC is available in a variety of colors and finishes and is also lighter than both composite and wood. As for general maintenance, PVC does need to be cleaned regularly and could potentially fade.
What sort of maintenance does my deck need?
A deck should be inspected annually or biannually for any loose boards, protruding nails, or sinking foundation. Decks are subject to the damaging toll of weather and you do not want your outdoor living space to become treacherous.
The deck should be thoroughly cleaned regularly. This can include sweeping the deck regularly to rid it of dirt and debris. You should also use a garden hose with a strong current or a power washer to remove debris that builds up in between the cracks.
Using water to wash off any debris can also serve a secondary purpose of diluting any chemical build up inadvertently tracked on from your lawn. You can use bleach to kill any mildew growing, but be aware that bleach will also leave the surface of your deck drab and washed out.
If you choose to paint your deck, choose a finish that soaks into the wood rather than creating a surface film. The finish also needs to be waterproof or water repellent, “water resistant” will lead to a stained and weathered deck.
Try to find a finish that offers UV protection from the overhead sun.
You can also opt for a finish contained mildewcide, which is used to preserve your wood and prevent the growth of mildew.
Finally, the deck should be sealed. Sealant can be brushed on, rolled on with a paint roller, or sprayed on. While spraying on sealant will be the easiest and most time-efficient, it can also be the messiest. And you should be advised that sealant is toxic to plants and can create a stain on the surfaces they are applied to.
What sort of rails should I choose for my deck?
The three most common choices of wood for railings are redwood, cedar, and pressure treated wood from a variety of wood types.
Redwood is the most expensive of the options, but it is also insect and rot resistant. It provides an excellence resistance to warping, which helps it looks good for a longer length of time. It does need to be stained, but it is able to retain its finish for a while.
Cedar is another popular choice for railings. This choice is also able to resist insects and rot; however, it is a soft wood which can cause a lot of splintering. Therefore, it is best used for any vertical elements of your rails.
There is an abundance of pressure treated lumber, which is not the case of either redwood or cedar. Pressure treated lumber is also rot and insect resistant and is a much cheaper option than the other two.
On the downside, pressure treated lumber can be fairly unstable and is often subject to shrinkage and warping.
Do I need a permit to build my deck?
If the deck is 12 inches or move above grade, most counties do require you to obtain a permit. If the deck is less than 12 inches, this structure is considered a patio rather than a deck.
Generally, there is a fee involved in getting a permit and a drawing of the deck and property to scale to determine location and demonstrate the anticipated dimensions for approval.
Appearance- Make the deck appear seamless by concealing the support. Using hidden fasteners will make your deck appear clean and simple.
Spacers– if you want to have an even looking deck, invest in some yellow deck board spacers. They come in two different sizes and can create your desired space between each board as you install them.
Pricing- With decking material, the more you pay can dramatically increase the quality of the lumber you are paying for as well as the longevity of the deck.
Screws- When you can, and especially when hanging a ledger board, use structural screws as opposed to traditional lag screws. Structural screws cut the installation time in half since they don’t need a pilot hole.