Are you planning on building a deck this year? If you are, there are a lot of decisions you’ll need to make before you can get started.
Determining what type of deck is right for you and whether you’ll DIY it or hire a contractor will depend on a number of elements including what kind of space you have, your budget, and your skill level.
Read on to learn about the factors you’ll need to consider before designing and building a new deck, and why you may not save as much as you think by building it yourself.
Materials—Wood vs. Composite
When most people think about building a deck, they think of wood. But wood isn’t the only decking material available, and it may not be the best option for you.
Wood decking certainly wins in terms of aesthetic appeal and, typically, cost-effectiveness. However, it requires much more ongoing maintenance to keep it looking and functioning at its best (sanding and staining, for example) than composite decking does. Plus, it doesn’t last as long as composite.
Composite decking requires very little maintenance and is generally much more durable than wood. Spending a bit more money on composite will allow you to spend your time enjoying your deck, rather than maintaining it. And with recent lumber shortages, the cost of wood has been hovering close to that of composite, so it may not cost you much more to build a composite deck than wood.
At Outdoor Solutions, we offer wood decking as well as Trex and TimberTech composite decking, and we’d be happy to help you decide which is the best fit for your needs and budget.
Location and Size
When designing your deck, you need to consider its size, as well as where to place it in your yard.
Think about how your deck will fit your space, how you plan to use it, and where in your yard will be the most comfortable and private spot to place it:
- Do you want to be able to access your deck right from your home? Or is there an area in your yard away from your home that would give you ideal scenic views?
- Are you planning to use your deck for outdoor dining, or will it act as a base for a hot tub, pool, or fire pit? Or will it need to accommodate multiple uses?
- Do you want your deck to be in full sun or shade? Are there wind patterns or other aspects of your yard’s climate to consider?
- Where in your yard will you have the greatest privacy from neighbors?
The choice is yours whether to have your deck attached to your home or freestanding, large or small, hidden from view or in plain sight. It just depends on what is most important to you.
Budget can be a limiting factor for your deck building choices. How much money you have to work with will affect your deck’s size and the materials you choose as well as the accessories and extra elements you include.
Be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t afford. Determine what you want to get out of your deck and what you’re willing to pay for it.
It’s not enough to have a ball-park figure. You need to take the time to research the cost of materials, labor, accessories, and permitting so you can set a realistic budget. There are options for design and materials to fit nearly any budget, but you need to do the work to figure out what you can spend and what elements fit within your spending limit.
When setting your budget, don’t forget to include built-ins like flower boxes, seating, privacy screens, or storage, as well as safety features like lighting and railings.
Safety is not the area to make budget cuts. It’s vital to use the proper materials and procedures to ensure your deck is as safe as possible. For example, joist hangers are critical, as nails and screws aren’t strong enough to hold up the cross members. And never try to make do with subpar materials.
If your deck is close to the ground, railings may not be necessary. But if your deck is on an upper story, railings are a crucial safety feature (and may be required by local building codes).
One often overlooked aspect of deck safety is lighting. Not only can lighting add ambience to your deck and yard, it can make your deck much safer to navigate. Options for deck lighting placement include:
- Recessed lighting on stairs
- Path lighting
- Wall or post-mounted lighting
- Landscape spotlights
When you work with a contractor to build your deck, they’ll walk you through all of these safety elements and more to ensure your deck is safe.
Local Building Codes
One of the biggest reasons a deck may fail is because it doesn’t adhere to building codes.
Building codes are the set of rules, standards, and procedures that regulate the materials and design for constructed structures. Check with your state, city, or municipality for their requirements as well as the process for obtaining the proper permits.
You’ll need a building permit before beginning work on your deck. As part of obtaining your permit, you may need to have your deck design approved to ensure it meets all local building codes.
There may also be local restrictions or covenants in place that affect the build of your deck. Check with your city or county for any easements, setbacks, or variances that pertain to your deck project. Covenants may be in place that can affect the style, location, materials, and size of your deck build.
When you hire a decking contractor, they’ll take care of these details for you and ensure your deck aligns with all building codes and restrictions.
Hiring a Deck Contractor
Building your own deck may save you money on labor costs up front, but in the long run, it could cost you a lot of headaches.
To begin with, building your down deck requires much more time, energy, and skill than hiring a deck contractor. Plus, working with a reputable contractor guarantees safety, durability, and adherence to building codes, and they can help you find the right materials and accessories to build the deck you want while staying within your budget.
When you choose to do all of this yourself, the process becomes much more time consuming, frustrating, and difficult. So sure, you might save a few dollars, but is it worth it? (Spoiler: no, it typically isn’t.)
If you choose to hire a deck contractor, it’s crucial to find one who is reputable and who can meet your needs for budget, design, timeline, and safety. Before you hire a contractor, read our post on the key things to consider when hiring a deck contractor.
Building a Deck This Year? Rely on Outdoor Solutions
A deck can give you the perfect place to entertain friends and family, relax, and enjoy your yard. But building a deck shouldn’t be an ordeal. That’s where Outdoor Solutions comes in.
At Outdoor Solutions, our expert team uses the best quality materials available to build the unique, enjoyable deck you’re dreaming of. We’ll take care of the details of building your deck so you can spend your time and energy planning all of the ways you’ll enjoy it.
Contact us to talk about building your new deck and to get on our schedule!