Don"t elevator a finger without our time-tested indict on making all the right selections for this renowned outdoor project


Cover your Bases

Expanding her living space by including a deck is a great American tradition. Even if it is you plan to execute it you yourself or hire a pro, the an essential to success is factoring in every the crucial design issues, choose the right material for her budget, climate, and also lifestyle, and building a structure that will certainly stand the check of time.

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What will You execute On her Deck?

Let your favorite outdoor activities dictate its size, shape, and also features.

Eat family Meals

Make certain your table will fit comfortably. A good rule of thumb is to add 4 feet all the means around the table therefore that human being can walk behind those who space seated.

Host Barbecues and also Cocktail Parties

Leave room for a prep station and also serving area, and also a grill. Include built-in perimeter seating. Opt for handrails with a wide, flat cap whereby guests can rest their drinks.

Kick ago and Relax

Create a zone because that lounge chairs and also a low table or two in a sunny (or shady) spot. If neighborhood codes allow it, a fire pit provides chilly nights an ext cozy and also adds to her deck"s ambience.

Test-Drive your Layout

photo by Kindra Clineff use stakes and string to summary your deck"s footprint and also visualize exactly how much yard room it will cover. Place furniture inside the outline to see if there"s sufficient clearance, and walk about to view if you prefer the shape, circulation, and views.

Know her Materials

photo by john David Becker/Time Inc. Digital Studio If you desire easy-care decking, select manufactured boards; if looks trump all, opt because that wood. Usage our cheat sheet to help pick what"s best for you.

Pressure-Treated Wood

Pros: straightforward to job-related with. Take away stains and waterproofing easily.

Cons: will certainly corrode unprotected steel fasteners and also connectors. Boards deserve to warp and crack. Requires regular cleaning, resealing, and restaining.

Price: $

Know her Materials: Composite

photo by man David Becker/Time Inc. Digital Studio Pros: comes in a selection of colors and textures. Long-lasting if cared for properly. Won"t splinter, crack, or rot.

Cons: Some assets look much less wood-like than others. Scuffs and also scratches easily. Spills have the right to leave stains.

Price: $$

Know your Materials: PVC

picture by john David Becker/Time Inc. Digital Studio Pros: premium resistance come moisture. Doesn"t swell or shrink. Not vulnerable to rot or termites. Basic to clean.

Cons: Some commodities look much less wood-like than others. Boards have the right to squeak as soon as walked on.

Price: $$

Know your Materials: Cedar or Redwood

photo by john David Becker/Time Inc. Digital Studio Pros: Offers herbal insect resistance. Weathers to a handsome shade of gray. Easy to job-related with.

Cons: Not accessible everywhere. Requires constant maintenance and waterproofing.

Price: $$–$$$, depending upon location.

Know your Materials: dry Hardwood

photo by john David Becker/Time Inc. Digital Studio Pros: Long-lasting if cared because that properly. Offers herbal resistance to rot and insects.

Cons: easily dulls cutting blades. Environment is labor-intensive.

Price: $$$

Let the surface ar Drain

Illustration by Eric Larsen leave gaps in between deck board so the they can burned water. Follow the manufacturer"s instructions because that spacing fabricated boards. For wood, ⅛ to ⅜ customs is safe; usage a 10d or larger nail come help an are the boards effectively as you install them.

Don"t Overload It

Most decks are designed to support 60 pounds every square foot, which includes the load of the deck (called the "dead load") and people and also furniture (the "live load"). If you host substantial bashes, or desire to include a hot bathtub or hefty planters, you"ll need to beef up your deck"s supporting framework for safety"s sake.

Choose a Pattern: Basketweave

photograph by Photoshot/Redcover/Henry Wilson short boards form squares laid in alternative directions. Size the squares to your liking, and plan to include bridging between joists for extra support.

Choose a Pattern: interval Boards

Here, boards v opposing miters room inlaid right into the rest of the field. Lay the end joists and also bridging come ensure that each board spans at least two supports.

What"s New: Jig and Screw Kit

A jig and screw kit allows fast surroundings of decking without pilot holes. The mystery of the handy hidden fastener mechanism is one augering screw the hogs out wood as it"s driven, together with a special tool that hold it at the proper angle and acts together a plank spacer.

DeckPac, around $60;

What"s New: Deck Stain

This premium deck stain includes a cashew-based resin the repels mold and also mildew. One gallon can cover approximately twice as lot square footage together a traditional stain. Select from amongst 24 colors, or usage a clear complete to let the wood"s grain and texture display through.

Earth-paint, around $92 per gallon;

What"s New: Composite Boards

Composite deck boards make of 75 percent timber fiber and also 25 percent polypropylene room surprisingly wood-like in looks and performance. You deserve to paint, stain, or nail v them, and they can also withstand ground contact without rotting or cracking.

Wood 2.0 Decking, indigenous $4 per square foot;

Pick your Design

photograph by Brad Simmons/Esto friend can develop a deck come suit any type of outdoor space—check out these remedies to typical problems.

For a Sloped Yard

A multilevel deck offers you the square footage you need without having actually to use extra-tall short articles that require bracing. Designate every level because that a different activity.

Design for a clear Spot

photo by wilhelm P. Steele A pergola provides a shield against strong rays while tho letting you enjoy some sunlight. It can be oriented follow to the seasons.

Design for Yards v Trees

photograph by Deborah Whitlaw LLewellyn As lengthy as the trees are healthy, you can work roughly them. Leave at least 3 inches about the trunk to accommodate growth, and also make sure the base of the tree can obtain water and also air.

Design for dense Neighborhoods

download a upright privacy display screen that creates a visual and also acoustic barrier between your deck and the house next door. The display screen should it is in braced and also anchored come the deck"s structure to withstand wind.

Follow the Rules and Regs

Many elements of deck design and construction, from structural needs to dimension limits, room covered by neighborhood codes. Her homeowners combination may additionally have indict on aesthetic choices, such together materials, finishes, and handrail appearance. This is not the time to flout authority. Your options will be clearly shows for every to see, and violations can set you back a pretty penny—or worse, lead to a disaster if the deck isn"t built correctly.

Finishing Touches

The right details provide each deck that individuality. Let the layout of her house and also the furniture you pick influence the look at of the fixtures you add and the method the woodwork is trimmed.

Riser Light

Codes currently mandate stairway lighting; this alternative sets the mood and also keeps the climb safe.

Highpoint; around $25;

Finishing Touches: Post-Base Trim

A handsome way to hide imperfect cuts and also give each post a an ext finished look.

Maine Ornamental; about $9;

Finishing Touches: write-up Cap

This decorate piece also keeps water from seeping right into the finish grain.

Maine Ornamental; about $24;

Finishing Touches: Baluster Connector

usage these to develop a distinctive railing by creating pairs of stock aluminum balusters.

Deckorators; native $18 per pair; for regional dealers

Finishing Touches: Lattice Skirt

photo by Courtesy of American Deck Northwest This can"t-fail standard hides the structure and keeps critters out but permits ventilation.

Acurio; about $33 for a 4x4 PVC panel;

Care and Maintenance

picture by Paul Bardagjy How frequently you"ll must reseal or stain your deck depends on the material and also finish—but clean doesn"t. Setup to scrub your deck once a year using a power washer on a low-pressure setting, a brush, and a compatible cleaner. Usage a fan guideline on the wand, and keep the wand moving to minimize surface damage. Obtaining rid the mildew might require a specialty product. For day-to-day upkeep, move away leaves and also debris, and also mop up spills ideal away so the they don"t leave stains.

Be certain the Ledger is Safe and also Sound

photograph by David Carmack If this weight-bearing board that connects the deck come your home isn"t installed properly, her deck could collapse. It must be bolted, no nailed, to the house"s structure, and fully flashed to store the hardwood from rotting. Inspect out just how to build a straightforward Deck to watch Tom Silva demonstrate how to install and protect the ledger.


At the very least, coat a hardwood deck v a penetrating sealer come fend turn off rot and decay—or stain that to include color and extra protection. Waterborne stains suit most species of wood, however only oil-based stains can penetrate tropical hardwoods. Stains with more pigment last longer and offer far better sun security than semitransparent or clear ones. Composite boards require a finish that suits the material; look for advice indigenous the manufacturer.

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Make Stairs and also Railings Comfy

Illustration through Eric Larsen Much about these elements is administer by code, but there"s flexibility. To do stairs basic to climb, opt because that shallower steps with depth treads. Dimension the treads so the you don"t need to rip boards come fit your depth. Select handrails that are simple to grip and balusters that permit views the end to your yard. Because that safety"s sake, prevent horizontal balusters or meshes that might be simple for children to climb.