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“Adding a deck to your home is the ultimate way to increase your outdoor living space,” said Wendy Cline, owner of J&B Construction. “The beauty of decks is that they are extremely versatile; meaning they can be as straightforward as a ground-level platform that sits only a few inches off the ground, or as sophisticated as a multi-layer structure complete with railings, steps, a hot tub, outdoor furniture, and other décor.” How can you design the perfect deck?

According to the American Society of Landscaping Architects, if you spend five percent of the total value of your home on landscaping, which includes a deck, you can add 15 percent or more to the home’s value. It’s important to first determine your specific wants and needs in relation to how exactly you plan on using your new outdoor space. “For instance, deck design will differ drastically depending on whether you utilize the space for dining and entertaining purposes versus installing a pool or a hot tub,” Wendy said. With the former, you may want to consider including an outdoor kitchen or a fire pit. The latter requires you to think about how you would like to incorporate a hot tub or swimming pool into the space, or how you want the deck to frame or accentuate those features if they already exist. Perhaps you have a green thumb and prefer to use this space to extend your garden with outdoor planters. Whatever your personal preference is, it’s essential to evaluate your storage needs. Built-in seating helps free up space and benches are ideal for built-in concealed storage. Remember, one of the best perks of having your own private deck is the view. You can incorporate glass or clear panels between railing posts for a perfect view of your backyard.

The location and size of your deck are significant factors that deserve careful consideration. Keep in mind that often times decks are built adjacent to living rooms or kitchens in order to get the most out of the space. When determining location, you need to also acknowledge sun exposure and shade. “The position of your deck will be dependent on whether you are partial to optimizing the warmth of the sun or avoiding it. Be sure to evaluate the amount of privacy you wish to create as well,” she said.

In terms of size, you want to examine the shape and size of your backyard. “The idea is to create a deck that fits all of your desired features comfortably, without feeling cramped or crowded,” Wendy said. “Always measure furniture and other add-ons to ensure there is plenty of space for moving around.”

Another essential part of adding a new deck is ensuring that the deck design compliments the home’s style because a deck that harmonizes well with a home will equate to added value. “Furthermore, your home’s design will influence the building materials and accents that will be used in the construction of your new deck,” she said. “In addition to architectural design, you will also want to examine durability, maintenance, and cost when choosing a decking material for your project,” said Wendy.

For example, composite decking has a higher price point, but its durability makes it a cost-effective investment. The average lifespan of composite decking is 15 to 25 years and it has a reputation of high performance and minor maintenance. An alternative option is pressure treated wood decking. One of the more popular selections, pressure treated wood decking is economical and lasts around 10 to 15 years. Annual maintenance involving cleaning and staining is required. Homeowners and guests should also be cautious of occasional splinters.

If you want to utilize landscaping to turn your deck into a private oasis, it’s wise to select tall trees or bushes with low maintenance that also offer shade. “Be sure to add climbing plants if you decide to incorporate a trellis in order to emphasize the new deck’s charm,” Wendy said. “One of the simplest solutions to integrating more color into an outdoor space is to add planters containing rich and vibrant vegetables or annuals.”

You may want to brighten things up with deck lighting as well, especially on those warm summer nights. “Wall sconces are optimal for exterior walls, flood lights or post lights can be fastened to the awning of a roof or near the foundation of a deck, and accent lights can create a well-lit boundary,” she said. “Think about installing switches indoors and add dimmers and timers for ease of use. Moreover, you can save money and energy with solar powered lights.”

Adding a new deck space to your home is a fitting way for homeowners to increase their outdoor living space while being creative. “The adaptability of deck construction allows for the homeowner to choose a deck design that is tailor-made to fit their unique taste. As an added bonus, a new deck can increase the property value of your home,” Wendy said.