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Custom Decks – How to Design Your Ultimate Deck

by Nathan Zachary
deck design

The majority of sundecks beyond the standard BBQ decks offered with many homes will be unique additions to an existing structure. As with most custom-built structures, the more thinking you put into a project, the better the outcome. This means that the construction of your new sundeck begins not with the first nail, but with the first pencil line in your sketchbook for your deck design.

Those who will use the deck should conduct the initial planning, regardless of whether they will construct it themselves or hire a professional. A skilled designer can assist with this, but most homeowners have a solid notion of what will work at this stage. Using a bird’s-eye view or “plan view” sketch to determine the design of the deck is a good starting point.

Simply draw a line depicting your home’s exterior wall and add the deck’s shape to it. Try your hand at it. You may find yourself drawing arcs and odd angles, but because it’s all in pencil, feel free to experiment.

Considering that most decks are used for recreation, it is obvious that keeping to perfect angles throughout the design phase may not result in the ideal sun deck.

There are quirky sundecks among the greatest. Deck elevations are also significant for several other reasons, including the fact that most deck surfaces are supported by joists. In damp places, the bottom of these should be around eight inches (20 cm) above the ground to protect woodwork. Railings are an even more essential consideration. Generally, a railing is required if a deck surface is higher than two feet above the ground. If the height exceeds six feet, a higher guardrail is required. Any elevation shift on a deck should be visible, in my opinion. For safety purposes, some identify elevation changes with planters or other impediments.

The surface of the deck is arguably the most important aspect of deck design. This selection can be simplified to two options: wood slat or membrane. Wood enthusiasts prefer slats. Common decking material is cedar, often six inches (15 cm) broad and at least one and a quarter inches (3 cm) thick. There are further sorts of wood finishes, including treated boards and tropical hardwoods. Regardless of the material selected, rot resistance will be an essential quality of any deck board. Most individuals will stain their slatted deck surface to reduce the risk of wood rot and preserve the wood’s appearance. If you are utilizing treated wood, make sure to also treat the ingrain of any cuts.

The primary substitute for wood is a vinyl membrane. This membrane type is available in a variety of colors and textures and, unlike a slat surface, does not require re-staining, only periodic cleaning. Another benefit of a membrane surface is that it helps to keep the area beneath it dry. As these finishes continue to improve, certain building authorities will permit a vinyl membrane to be installed over an enclosed living space.

Whether a deck’s surface is made of wood or vinyl, if the space underneath is exposed to the elements, it is advisable to take measures to prevent weed development. If the deck is only slightly elevated above ground level or “grade,” this should be completed as soon as the deck’s footing supports are placed, as it will be impossible to do so after another support structure has been installed. It is especially crucial to prevent weed development on slatted surfaces since water is designed to enter through the spaces in the slats, as opposed to draining off as with a membrane. We use a high-quality landscape fabric that is held in place by gravel. Investing a little time now will save us a great deal of time weeding later.

Now that these primary principles of deck building have been explored, it is time to consider further details. I have not encouraged scouring the Internet for inspiration because, in my experience. The building site decides the majority of the previously listed features.

Additionally, viewing an abundance of photographs may impede the creativity of individuals. Others may begin with this strategy, discovering that observing other cards and their details stimulates their creativity. In either case, it might be helpful to study how others have addressed the numerous issues of deck design, particularly in terms of railing solutions. They are numerous. As with wood decking, wood railings will likely require staining. Aluminum rails are the conventional replacement to wooden rails. The benefit of these is their low maintenance, since they only require an occasional wipe to maintain their appearance. Because sundecks are all about leisure, minimizing the time spent maintaining a deck is a good idea. It makes little sense to spend leisure time cleaning a deck.

Now that the majority of the deck’s nitty-gritty details have been accounted for. It is time to move on to the construction phase. If you are confident in your carpentry abilities, you are prepared to begin. If not, examine the work of local carpenters and deck builders. The likelihood is that they have constructed several decks, and their knowledge should be invaluable. Determine if your deck will require a permit from your local building authority at this time. Even though not all inspectors will offer guidance. They may tell you how they would handle particular issues and will, at the very least, save you from making significant errors if you’re a beginner.

If there is one primary structural concern in deck construction, it is whether or not to directly attach your deck to existing work. This primarily involves waterproofing. If the main building and deck are erected at the same time and a membrane surface is chosen, it is typically simpler to “hang” the deck frame from the main building and run the membrane up the main building’s wall.

This will aid in preventing water from penetrating a building envelope. Using slats makes it significantly more difficult to keep rain and cleaning water out of the building. In this instance, we run a row of footings alongside the house wall. Ensuring that there is no more than a one-inch (2.5 cm) gap between the deck surface and the cladding.

Thus, the deck will merely appear to be attached to the main building. The untreated cladding will continue to resist penetration regardless of the presence of a deck. Yes, an additional row of support footings is an added expenditure. But so is the labor required to remove cladding in order to install deck framing. In addition, when a deck and building are not joined. There is virtually no risk of the deck rotting out the building, a common problem requiring costly repairs in the future.

As with other construction projects, deck design is guided by a guiding concept. It should complement existing work as closely as possible, be resistant to the elements, and, according to some, be a joy to use. And like with any building projects, hurrying through any phase of design and construction will be detrimental. Take your time, determine and gather your resources as soon as feasible. And always bear in mind the primary purpose of a sundeck: to maximize leisure time.

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