How to plan for your new deck

March 17, 2016

(Almost) Everything you never knew you wanted to know about building a new deck

Your new deck… it’s all in the details.

Decks can be one of the most complex components of a landscape. I could probably write a book on the topic, but I won’t. At least not right now. There are many very important considerations when looking at incorporating a deck into your landscape.

First is design. As a designer the first question I would ask is, “Do you need a deck?” Some sites are more conducive to a patio where others, due to topography and door height, a deck is the only option.  We will assume the answer to that question is ‘Yes’.

Bothell Deck- Extending the deck over the hillside to maximize usable space.

The design and layout of the deck is linked very closely to the way in which you want to use the space. Is it going to function as a transitional space, patio space, or is it going to be an outdoor room? Are you going to use the area under the deck for storage, seating, or plantings?

Woodinville Deck- with area to dine

Woodinville Deck- Dining space

The top 5 questions you need to answer when planning a deck:

  1. Do I need a deck?
  2. How will the space be used (this will determine how much space you need and what accessories will be included)?
  3. What style appeals to you (layout and materials)?
  4. With an elevated perspective of your garden and possibly your neighbor’s as well… do you need screening or privacy?
  5. Last but not least… what is your budget? Hint: decks are not inexpensive.

Next comes determining materials. Each element of the deck will have its own list of material decisions to make. The materials of each component need to be looked at in perspective of the whole deck. With so many elements bringing endless material options it is important to keep the look and feel cohesive.

Mercer Island covered deck elevated above the adjacent bog garden

Mercer Island covered deck elevated above the adjacent bog garden

Material determinations need to me made for:

  1. Decking surface- type (cedar, hardwood, composite, pavers, stone tiles) directional layout of the decking material, and how that surface is attached (screws, nails, hidden fasteners)
  2. The exterior face of the deck- fascia, and under-deck screening
  3. Railing- type (cable, metal, wood, composite) and how the railing is attached (inside or outside of the deck boundary)
  4. Materials necessary for any included accessories

    Bothell Deck- Under-deck storage screening

    Bothell Deck- Under-deck storage screening

When we talk accessories, we are not talking about candles.  The functional accessories of a deck can transform your deck from ‘just a deck’ into an extension of your home. Some of those are: lighting, covered space above or below the deck, screening, an outdoor kitchen, a fireplace, built-in planters, storage, and built-in seating.

Sammamish deck- Privacy screen with Parasoleil inserts

Sammamish deck- Privacy screen with Parasoleil inserts

This post just skims the surface of all the things that need to be considered when planning your new deck. We didn’t even touch on permitting, engineering, or contractors, which could be a whole post in itself! Stay tuned for a more in depth look at the options to consider when planning your new deck along with a peek at a large outdoor room deck project we just completed (pictured above- privacy screen with Parasoleil inserts).

What are your biggest questions about decks?


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