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Deck Building and Design

"Adding a deck to an outside area of your home can be a very pleasant addition to enhance the time spent outdoors."

Design and Build Your Deck

Website: Editor - The Home Improvement Web

Adding a deck to an outside area of your home can be a very pleasant addition to enhance the time spent outdoors. Before starting your deck construction project make sure that you check with your local building department because codes vary widely. Local building codes are different depending upon lot size, deck height from ground, area of country for the depth of post holes (frost lines) etc. We suggest even though local codes may allow such things as a floor joist of 2x6-inch dimensional lumber to always go 1-step higher such as a 2x8-inch joist. Also if the code allows you to place floor joists etc at 24-inches on center – stick to 16-inches on center. This will add to the costs of your deck but will assure that your deck will bring you lasting value for years to come.

The planning and designing of your deck should include where the deck is to be located and what your deck will be used for. Make sure you take into account the sun/shade positions at the time of day you will be most likely using the deck. Trees are great for shade but some types of trees will drop leaves and/or berries that will stain the surfaces of your deck, furniture, and railing. A trellis roof can be added to help shade the sun if you have a particularly sunny spot chosen for your deck location.

You also want to consider privacy and the view that you can gain/lose by the design and location of your deck. If you are going to be installing a “hot-tub” or even prefer your gatherings to have a little more privacy try to incorporate a privacy, railing/trellis along side of the offending view. When designing your deck, try to incorporate items such as built in storage compartments that double as benches, built in flower boxes, etc. These are great for storing garden hoses and items that are often used on or around your deck. Make sure you do not forget to add electrical receptacles for use of electrical items on your new deck.

Also, make sure to choose your materials and finishes wisely. After your deck is completed the amount of maintenance required to keep your deck in top shape comes into play. Any material you choose is subject to maintenance regardless of its composition. It will at minimum require a yearly cleaning to keep it looking as it should. Pressure treated lumber does have a tendency to crack, warp, and split and should be cleaned and sealed properly every two years or so depending upon the location. Remember when choosing your railing material that the smaller the dimension the wood used, the more likely it will warp and split/crack. Water has the most damaging effects on wood decks. Different finishes to properly seal the surfaces of deck and railings can be used. Some products seal the wood and give the wood a slight patina over time that is very pleasing. You can also use semi-transparent and solid stains to protect and enhance the look of your wood deck. All of the finishes have their pros and cons and this would take an article on it's own to provide an in-depth review of these finishes.

Even though local codes in your area may not have requirements for baluster spacing on your deck – try to keep them at about 4-inches apart on center so a small child cannot fall through, or get their head stuck between the railing balusters.

2002 The Home Improvement Web

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