A new deck can provide a great outdoor living space for you and your family to enjoy for many years to come. It is also a great investment because a nice deck will add to the value of your home. Before you get started there are many important decisions to make. Will you hire a contractor or do you have the skills and time to do it yourself? Will you use low-maintenance materials or wood? What is your budget for this project? What size and design should you choose?
The beginning phases of planning a deck project are often referred to as the day dreaming phase. Spend some time browsing images of decks, learning more about material options, and get an idea of the cost involved. Once you have a handle on the basics you can iron out the details.
Professional deck contractors have years of experience designing and building all types of projects. Hiring a good contractor usually produces excellent results with little inconvenience. We recommend that you get estimates from at least 3 contractors. Check out their qualifications, pictures of their work, and their personality. Don't always choose the lowest bidder. You will probably get what you pay for.
If you have some basic carpentry skills, some tools, and a enough time you may want to consider building your own deck. This can be a fun and rewarding project. You can save about 60% of the cost of hiring a contractor. It will also probably take you a lot longer and may not turn out as nicely.
Always get a permit and complete all of your inspections. The small cost and inconvenience is definitely worth having evidence that your deck was built to code. You will need to submit a framing plan with dimensions showing the position and sizes of your footings, joists, beams, and stairs. Most building departments in the U.S. have adopted some version of the International Residential Code but there may be some local rules that apply. You may want to visit the building department and see if they have any information on deck requirements.
Selecting a good lumberyard can make your project run much smoother. Many times smaller regional lumberyards offer a better variety of deck products, advice, and services than large national chains. Your deck frame will be built from pressure treated wood. Your support posts will be either 4x4 or 6x6. Your joists and beams will be 2x8, 2x10, or 2x12. Pressure treated wood will not rot or decay. Make sure your hardware is compatible with the pressure treated wood you are using.
You will have a variety of options for decking including pressure treated wood, cedar, ipe, composite, aluminum, and vinyl. Your choice for decking will probably be determined by your budget and your preference for appearance and maintenance. There are also a variety of railing choices. Select a railing that attractively compliments your flooring material. Choose from a wide selection of products including metal balusters, glass railings, cable railings, and composite systems.
Accessories can transform an ordinary deck into something outstanding. Consider installing a pergola, built in benches and planters, lighting, or railing post caps.