The modern deck is more than a raised platform connected to the house. It has become a priority item for home renovation as families merge their outdoor and indoor lifestyles.
There are dozens of shapes, materials and enhancements available for a new deck – limited mostly by budget and imagination. Today’s designs often include a fire pit, seating areas and even a complete outdoor kitchen. This new creation increases the value of your total space.
Do you already have a deck? Does it need a facelift? If you already have a structure, you can enhance the outdoor experience by adding a new section, a new shape or revitalizing the surface. A new “skin” on the existing surface is possible with composite materials.
No matter if your building plans call for an all-new addition or updating an existing area, planning ahead is essential. Building a sturdy, reliable structure isn’t as easy as it may look. It requires professional building techniques, the right tools and the skill to use them. It’s best left to a pro.
Create a Long-term Plan for Your Deck
Before you sit down with your professional contractor to outline your goals for this home renovation, take a close look at the location and ponder just how a new or revamped outdoor space will fit your lifestyle. Think long-term, not just this season or the next. Which of these (or your own personal choices) might apply:
- Will a simple up-to-code railing work, or do you want decorative railings
- Somewhere in the future might you want to make this a screen porch or add a roof
- Do you want built-in planters
- Will you use furniture of want benches or a special seating area
- Will you use a portable grill or a built-in grilling area
- Do you require privacy screens
- Will a new design require special landscaping
- Is one level what you want or multiple levels for multiple uses
- Does your plan include using treated lumber, cedar or composite materials – each has its own pros and cons.
These are “nuts and bolts” consideration for a new plan or remodeling effort. While they are critical, a close inspection of how your family interacts with the space is equally important. Answer these questions:
- How will you use the space most often? Entertaining or just family relaxing?
- How much furniture do you expect it to hold?
- Do you want to include a water feature?
- Do you need to include ramps or stairways?
- Do you want special lighting?
- Do you want to redo access from the house – replace sliding patio door with French doors, for example?
DIY or Go With a Home Renovation Pro?
While a simple plan looks like an easy weekend project, the North American Deck and Railing Assn. has facts that show it’s not. Building projects that don’t include a qualified contractor often result in mistakes, including:
- Failure to obtain the appropriate building permits and pay the required fees.
- Poor flashing that allows water to penetrate between the new structure and the house
- Using the wrong fasteners – the formula for treating wood has changed in recent years so fasteners designed for the older style may corrode easily in the new lumber
- Using the wrong size fasteners
- Using fasteners and building materials that are not weather-proven
- Weak footings – There’s a minimum depth footings need to reach in Madison thanks to the Wisconsin winters. Shallow or undersized footings lead to a sagging platform – with potential for total collapse
- Improper railing size and design – building codes spell out clearly what’s required
- Stairways with weak rails, narrow designs and open risers
A professional contractor plans building a deck the way he would building a home. There will be attention to all these details while applying training and experience. The real challenge is determining what you expect and how the finished project will fit into your life. That way, your outdoor living space becomes a successful, cost-effective addition.
A well-designed deck extends the family home beyond its outside walls, bringing a new dimension to every home. Whether you’re looking to upgrade an existing structure or start from scratch, Sims Exteriors and Remodeling can help. Call us at 608-825-4500 or email us for a complete deck building and home renovation experience in Madison WI.