Building the Deck of Your Dreams
Homeowners across the country are investing in their decking. On a mission to create their own lavish but functional outdoor space (even in color climates), they’re seeing decks as desirable places to spend time and money. According to a 2017 survey by the American Institute of Architects, outdoor living rooms have taken the top spot among consumers in the “special function rooms” category. Decks are replacing kitchens, dining and family rooms as the go-to gathering spaces for family meals, parties and leisure time. By incorporating elements like outdoor kitchens, heating and dining, you can make your deck feel like a real extension of your home.
Incorporating accent colors in stairs, railings or deck trim is a subtle (and subtly chic) way of differentiating your decking from the rest. Two-tone decks—like a contrasting bright white or bold black or gray for the stairs or railings—are becoming increasingly popular. Mixing wood and stone elements into your decking design is big. Create interesting texture by incorporating a stone fire pit or fireplace.
Traditional deck rails can make your outdoor space feel small. A glass wall or railing will definitely open things up, and an aluminum or wrought iron railing system can also add more style, dimension and space. If your deck is low to the ground, you don’t even need a railing. Use wide, large steps instead. It will easily transition the deck to your yard. You can also incorporate greenery to add separation and dimension to your deck. For example, place a row of matching head-high potted plants or trees side by side along an edge of your deck to create a natural privacy wall. A tall wooden square lattice wall on one side of your deck can also create the illusion of a wall, which you can decorate with plants like ivy and climbing roses that will grow up the lattice over time.
Decks are a great way to express your design personality, and there are a variety of ways to add some flair to your outdoor area. Custom inlays—decorative elements built into the deck using different colors and textures—have become a popular way to personalize a deck. Inlays can include family initials, sports logos, a compass, gaelic knot, customized designs or even a city skyline. They make bold style statements that also serve functional roles by breaking up a space and adding a focal point to a large, expansive deck.
Enjoy entertaining and cooking? Consider adding an outdoor kitchen and dining area to your deck with built-in features that complement your indoor kitchen. In addition to their abilities as a traditional grill, gas burners are great for cooking stews, sauces, sautéed dishes and fish boils. Built-in refrigeration services can include wine storage, ice-makers and beverage dispensers for tap beer. Build in a customized table and benches. Then go one better with a classic pergola to deflect the sun, or a weatherproof fabric shade sail to mark the dining area and protect your guests from the weather.
Extend the life of your deck beyond the warm months by adding a heating or fire feature, such as a traditional gas or bioethanol unit. Or opt for infrared heat, which can be mounted on a structure, such as a wall, pergola or ceiling. With the addition of an outdoor heating system, your deck becomes that second living room you always wanted, even as the temperature dips. To avoid decking damage, place a porcelain tile or a stone beneath the fire source.
There’s a smart way to preserve the beauty of your deck throughout the year, reducing time and maintenance costs. Invest in premium composite decking that echoes the same warmth and appearance of natural exotic wood. If you live in an area where there’s changing weather conditions—such as extreme heat, rain and snow—natural wood decking will sustain a lot of damage throughout the year and require regular upkeep. Today’s high-end composite decking is indistinguishable from the real thing, except for the added benefits.