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Design & Planning
4 Things to Consider Before Building a Deck
July 10 2016
Decking Design & Planning

This is the year. You’ve finally got the time, the vision, and the DIY willpower to turn your backyard into the relaxation space you’ve wanted since you found your place to call home. No more excuses, no more setbacks. This is the year you’re going to build that deck.

We say, awesome. Let’s get started.

Before you start laying down boards though, it’s worth running through a quick checklist to make sure you’re covering your bases. Consider these four factors at the beginning of your project, and you’ll optimize design, manage the cost of building your deck, and create the backyard you dream of, not the one you end up with.

  1. Be Picky with Materials -- Not all decks are created equal! Spend some time researching wood vs. composite, visible vs. hidden fasteners, or a wide array of finishes early on, and you’ll likely sidestep costs and headaches for years down the road. Buzzwords like deck maintenance, water-damage repairs, and replacements should be on the tip of your tongue while you choose your building blocks.

    Our opinion: invest early in quality materials, skip the headaches later.

    Consider this: wood is cheaper as an initial purchase but requires constant upkeep to avoid water damage, so the final cost of your deck typically comes back to you in repairs. Take a look at TimberTech's Decking Materials Comparison for the breakdown.

    Wood-Plastic or Capped Composite, on the other hand, is low-maintenance, resists fading and mildew, and doesn’t require any annual staining or sealing. Be selective: dig through your composite options, and you won’t have to compromise that natural-wood look.

    And, of course, TimberTech provides a 25-year limited warranty for our composite materials, so you can put your mind at ease soon as you finish the build.

  2. What Can Your Deck Do For You? -- Summer event planning. That’s right, the high school graduation party/outdoor book club/coworker beer-and-brats dial has fallen on you, and whether you’ve had this on your Google Calendar for weeks or just got a sudden impulse for a kickback, you want to be able to say, “Great! We can have it on the deck!”

    Sounds good, now let’s talk logistics. Is your deck suited for sun or shade? Is the compact fridge stocked with IPA’s or juice boxes? Can you host fifteen people? Twenty? Fifty?

    The trick isn’t to limit yourself early on; it’s to anticipate your deck’s purpose. Fire pit, Jacuzzi hot tub, patio furniture, grill master station -- picture yourself, your friends, your many or exclusive guests. How do you see yourself passing the perfect summer afternoon?

    For total deck customization, you might check out TimberTech’s online Deck Designer tool. Map out your entire space beforehand and ensure that, whatever good times are to be had, your space is ready for it.

  3. Check Your Permits -- No, really. Check ‘em. Yes, there are the obvious concerns of deck safety and good-neighbor courtesy. But more often than not, over-eager DIY’ers tend to discover their deck building codes while selling the property, realizing their beautiful backyard is suddenly a legal issue instead of a centerpiece.

    Don’t be those guys.

    Run by your local municipality for details on dimensions and foundations early on. Check it off your list. It’s a quick trip, and it’s one more thing off your mind so that you can focus on the building, not the rulebook.

    (Added Tip: Once you have the permits settled, consider downloading the TimberTech visualizer mobile app. Use augmented reality to see your home and dream deck become one. How much space are you working with? Is there room to move around?)

  4. Nail Down the Style -- It may sound abstract, but determining the style may be the most important step of your project. You'll want to extend your exterior style into your new outdoor space so it flows seamlessly. Take a look around your home. Check out the architecture. Ensure your new deck fits your home and lifestyle. And, if you're looking for style inspiration, request a free TimberTech style guide.

You can measure and construct with absolute precision, but while you’re brainstorming, your gut instinct is the best compass.

Then, once you’ve got the idea, we can get down to the nitty-gritty. Those styles that speak to you will translate to paint finishes, furniture layout, curved banisters or straight, dozens of decisions to serve your vision.

Look around; familiarize yourself with your options! Did you ever think of a pool? Should you customize handrails to better hold drinks?

For your inspiration, TimberTech’s website has a photo gallery of some of our favorite decks to help you find your ideal concept. Sometimes, it really is easier to point at a picture and say, “That! That’s what I’ve been looking for this whole time.”

There you go. Measure twice; cut once. Get yourself squared away on these four bullets, and you can enter construction with confidence.

Remember: for years, your deck is where you’ll likely spend a chunk of every day. It’s going to host some of your favorite summer memories, become familiar to your favorite friends and family. It’s a project worth putting in the extra legwork. Check off your list, and start building!