Planning Your New Deck: Start to Finish
A new outdoor deck installation ranks among the most extensive, complex, and rewarding home additions/improvements. Every detail counts, from the initial planning stages to the finishing touches. So, if you’re thinking about installing a deck on your property sometime soon, you need to have all your ducks in a row. Let’s outline how to go about planning your new deck from start to finish. What’s the Purpose of Your Desired Deck?
First, you have to dig deep and think about why you want to build a deck in the first place. Are you simply keeping up with your neighbors? Do you anticipate using it frequently for gatherings, meals, and relaxation? Will it be related to a pool installation? Understanding why you want a deck and what its main functions will be is crucial to making every subsequent decision regarding this project.
DIY or Hiring a Pro?
Once you know the exact purpose(s) of your desired deck, you have to decide whether you want to tackle the project on your own, hire a contractor, or some combination of the two. Here are some things to think about to help you decide:
Choosing Location, Size, and Layout
- Building codes: Even a smaller deck is a significant installation, typically requiring clearance from the county, town, and/or homeowners association (HOA) before construction begins. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of obtaining a permit on your own, hiring a decking contractor can save you multiple headaches and ensure that your construction is up to code.
- Expertise: Properly constructing and installing a deck requires a significant amount of knowledge and experience. While you might enjoy the challenge of a large DIY project and have some experience under your belt, your experience won’t outweigh that of trusted professionals.
- Deck safety: Decks can become major safety hazards if they’re not put together properly. Even a small mistake can lead to major problems down the road. If you want to avoid such risks, hiring professionals will give you peace of mind and help you avoid large repairs.
- Time: Tackling this job on your own is a major time investment. You have to make several measurements, purchase the right amount of materials and tools, cut and affix various components, etc. If you don’t have the time or patience to handle all of these tasks, consider hiring a pro.
Determining the size, location, and layout of your deck will inform every other detail of your new deck. Think about how much lawn space you’re willing and able to overthrow, what environmental factors may be at play (sunlight, fallen leaves, pests, rain, wind, etc.), what kind of view you wish to have from your deck, how close the deck will be to your home, whether or not you’ll need stairs and rails, etc.
Then, consider the composition of your new deck. Wood remains the most common decking material, but you have several options within that category, such as composite, pine, cedar, ipe, mahogany, pressure-treated, and more. You might also go for a synthetic deck built from PVC to minimize maintenance and ensure longevity. Just know that different materials will come at different costs and have unique pros and cons.
Building a Budget
Whether you go it alone or hire a reliable deck installer, a new deck doesn’t come cheap. As mentioned above, the ultimate cost will depend on the size of your deck, the types of materials you need, the service you hire (if you do), regional/local pricing models, and so on. It’s worth doing some research on your own and receiving estimates from a few different contractors to get a ballpark idea of what it will cost. Then, base your budget off the average of these figures and determine whether or not you can afford a new deck at this time, or whether you must make certain concessions (smaller size, cheaper materials, etc.)
Protecting Your Deck
Even after your new deck is installed, there is more work to be done. Most importantly, you want to ensure that the material remains sturdy and well-protected from threats. Sealing a new deck with stain or paint is crucial to providing this initial protection. Keep in mind, though, that having your deck fully sealed doesn’t eliminate the need for regular maintenance, such as sweeping, mopping, and making minor repairs. Additionally, new stain or paint should be applied to your deck every 2-3 years to prolong its life and avoid major deck repairs in the future. You might also protect your deck’s surfaces by installing a roof, awning, and or screens.
Styling and Furnishing
A brand new, freshly sealed deck is a beautiful sight, but it’s not truly complete without furniture, decorations, and accessories. It’s worth considering what type of furniture and outdoor deck lighting you’ll want to install during the planning stages of this project, though your ideas might change as you see your deck come together. Your decking contractors may be able to help you pick out the right furnishings for your deck and even help you maintain these features as needed.
Need Help Planning Your New Deck?
Planning for a new deck is exciting but also incredibly daunting. Regardless of whether you want to do it yourself or hire a pro, the experts at SEAL-A-DECK can help you at any and all stages of the process, from budgeting to choosing location and materials to designing the layout, etc. To learn more about us or to schedule a deck check-up today, give us a call at 978-538-7325.