Designing Your Own Deck

A great deck adds value to your property, while increasing the usefulness of your yard. You may want to consider using a computer software program to develop the deck design. These programs can be very helpful in determining costs and what building materials are needed. They easily incorporate design changes which are likely to occur, thus reducing the amount of time spent recalculating. Software programs range in price, up to hundreds of dollars but check out Google’s free Sketch Up program: http://sketchup.google.com/. This program allows you to create, modify and share your 3D models. There are also video tutorials, a help center and live training classes to get you up and running in no time. Designing your own deck can be fun and is an opportunity to provide your family with a beautiful, safe place to relax and experience nature. Here are a few things to consider:
Chances are when you began thinking about building a deck; you already had a location in mind. Sometimes the most obvious location to you can have unforeseen problems. A rough sketch of the proposed location for the deck is a great tool in assessing what obstacles may exist. When preparing the rough sketch make notes of property lines, septic tank locations, location of utility pipes and lines, locations of doors and windows on the house (having these open out onto the deck may be a safety hazard), prevailing wind directions and locations of current shade and walk ways.

You will also need to consider the purpose and size of the deck that you want. Generally, you want to allow at least 20 sq. feet per person. A 12 X 12 deck can accommodate 6-7 people, which is great if you just want a nice space to read however, more space may be required for entertaining, barbeque grills, plants and other items.

While decks are great for the beautiful outdoor views, you still need to take into account what views the deck may obstruct while you are indoors. Visualize the deck from the windows inside your house, so that your deck design accomplishes the most for your money. Another factor to consider is the height of the deck. Decks that are too high may block sunlight from reaching windows or doors.
The next things to consider in your deck design are the building codes for decks in your area. Permits and inspections may be needed before building your deck. These requirements vary from region to region. Your local building supplier may be able to tell you what may be required and if there’s any question take your rough sketch to the office that issues building permits.

Materials are the most important factor to consider when designing a deck. These choices determine how much maintenance may be required to keep the deck safe and looking nice. When planning your deck design and choosing your materials, it is important to consider the style of the house that the deck will become a part of. You want the deck to look like it is an extension of the house and not just something stuck on the side of it. Wood is the traditional material used for decks however great products made from recycled plastic or wood chips are gaining in popularity with the increase in demand for green building products.

Wood finishes are essential in ensuring deck longevity. Deck finishes may even be used on composite decking, but check with the manufacturer for their recommendations. Finishes for decks have traditionally been natural wood stains, but many people are opting to use new, vibrant stain colors on their decks. These bright, cheerful stains are a great means of artful expression and can give your deck design a unique, one of a kind look. Finishes should be applied as soon as the deck is built, so plan on purchasing the deck finish at the same time as you do the building materials. Have fun designing your deck. With the right planning and materials, you will have years enjoying the wonders of nature from your own back yard.