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Building a Deck

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Decked Out – Ten Things to Consider Before Building your Outside Deck

Decks are one of the most beautiful additions to any home. They add beauty, value, and a serene home getaway that is unbeatable. Imagine yourself sunbathing on your deck with the rays of summer sunshine dancing on your lawn chair. Imagine having a get together with friends, the barbecue grill smoking away spreading its luscious smells to all of your guests and admiring neighbors. Imagine an evening of star gazing with your kids on the solid surface of your deck. Before you imagine too much, though, think about the disastrous consequences of a poorly built outdoor structure. The media is full of stories about decks crashing in on homeowners leaving permanent disability in its wake.

If you are ready to build the right outside deck for your structure, there are ten things you should consider first.

  1. The first thing to think about is the purpose of your deck. Will it be used for entertaining guests on a regular basis? If so, have you considered how many guests you want the deck to hold? That should be one of your primary considerations. More guests will equal more weight. It will also mean you might need extra space for lawn furniture, grills, and people. You also might want the deck to be a play area for you small children. If so, that means a whole host of other issues throughout the planning process. Whatever your deck's intended purpose, it is best to think it all the way through before starting on the process.
  2. The next thing you should consider is your deck's location. If you have landscaping issues where you think you will be placing your deck, which is one more thing you are going to have to deal with in the building process. You may also need to consider tree removal, as well as entrances and exits to your home. Remember, you have to have a way to actually access your deck, and if you want it in a place where you do not have an exit, you may need to add one to get the deck in your desired location.
  3. The third thing you need to consider is your deck plan. This will serve as a guide to the entire project. It does not require a professional hand; it just requires someone who can be thorough enough to cover all of the aspects involved.
  4. Another thing you must consider is how your deck will attach to your home. There are many different ways this can be done. It can be freestanding, but that is not always practical or safe. If it is to attach to the house, you have to decide how you will cut away the siding at the joining point. You must also check on the framing of your home where you wish your deck to stand. Is it strong enough?
  5. The fifth thing you must consider are the deck supports as a whole. You need to decide exactly how many footings and posts you will need, and where you intend to place them. If you plan a very large deck, you should plan for a large number of footings and posts. With a smaller deck, you might not need quite as many.
  6. An additional thing to note is the decking material you plan to use. Do you want a wood deck or one made of composite materials? If wood, you should choose your variety. Redwood, cedar, and pressure treated pine are all popular because they resist rot and decay. If you choose another wood decking material, you will, on a constant basis, need to provide protectant and sealant material. Composite decking materials are a good choice because they have been chemically engineered to avoid all of the problems of traditional wood.
  7. The seventh thing to think about is the permits that will be required to build your deck in your area. Different areas have different zoning laws and requirements. Where some areas will require a building permit, others will require only a periodic site inspection. Some require both. It is best to check with your city government to decide what action you need to take to file for a permit.
  8. The eighth thing to consider is the tools required for the project. Do you have everything you need on hand? How much additional expense will this add to the project? At the very least, you will need three different saws. If you do not have this kind of experience, you should consider the next point very carefully.
  9. The ninth thing to think about is whether or not you will need professional help with this project. Decking is a big project to undertake if you are a weekend handyman. Moreover, if you have very little construction experience, decking is not a good first learning project. Poorly built decks are very dangerous, and if you cannot handle the project, leave it to a professional.
  10. The final thing to consider is the extras you might want to build into your deck. You could add flower boxes on each corner. You might want a decorative hand rail. You might even want built in seating for your guests. Whatever extras you add, they will personalize your deck.

A deck can be a great place for a number of activities, but it is a huge undertaking.

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