What are some things that need to be
taken into consideration prior to
building your deck?
For many Canadians, our backyard decks are an important extension of our living space during the warm summer months. Whether it be for a family meal, a morning coffee, or just hanging out and having drinks with friends, backyard decks are a favourite gathering place when the weather is welcoming. This means that it is important to ensure that you think through and plan your deck project well so that you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your living and gathering space, while also keeping it cost effective and low maintenance. Properly planning your deck project before beginning can prevent extra costs from arising once the project is underway.
A basic consideration to think about would be the materials you will use for the surface of the deck and the railing. Do you want to use wood, knowing that it requires more upkeep and maintenance over its life and will not last as long as some alternatives, or would you prefer to use a material like composite decking which will last much longer and is similar to work with when compared to wood? We have had customers who are using alternative materials such as porcelain tile systems, aluminum decking, or exotic extremely hard wood species such as ironwood, ipe, etc. Whatever you choose to build with, it is important to not only consider the upfront purchase price, but also the long-term maintenance costs, which includes your time as well as the material costs. This is where aluminum railing is a vastly superior product to use rather than traditional wood railings because they will never rot nor need to be refinished; all they require is very minimal yearly maintenance and they will stay strong and beautiful for many years to come.
Deck Layout: Traffic Flow and Angles
Another important consideration to take into account is the layout of your deck. What are the plans you have in mind for your deck? Is it going to be a hangout space with couches and chairs, is it a dining space, or is it more just a pathway to get to the backyard? Depending on your plans it will affect the amount of space you need and where you want to locate your stairs to allow access and egress. Ensuring the traffic flows smoothly and easily according to your plans (and keeping in mind possible future plans) is essential to fully enjoying your investment.
Something else to consider regarding layout is that it is best to try and avoid strange angles, keeping to mostly 90-degree and 45-degree angles. Going with uncommon angles can increase the difficulty of installing railings and can increase the difficulty of installing the decking and framing depending on the materials used which ultimately increases the costs associated with the complications.
Timing and Scope of Project
A couple of other factors that will affect how smoothly your project is executed are the timing and scope of the project. If you are planning on building your deck with the help of family and friends, then this will not be as major a factor. However, if you are planning on hiring a contractor or installers like us, the availability factor will affect the timing of it all. Planning ahead of time (2 - 3 months in advance is minimum depending on the type of contractor you hire) will ensure full enjoyment of your deck for the season.
No matter what shape and size and material your deck is made out of, thinking of some of these beforehand can save a lot of time, money, and headaches during the building process. Making your railing decisions prior to building is also very important because it allows the railing suppliers/installers to coordinate with the deck builder to ensure that proper blocking and supports are installed – it is much easier to install blocking prior to the decking being built than after, and without proper blocking your railing will not be secured sufficiently. Just because the railing goes on last does not mean that it doesn’t need to be thought about until the end. The earlier you plan all of the elements of your deck, the easier the installation process will be able to go, and the faster you will be able to sit out and enjoy your little piece of paradise.
Written by Matt (and Grace)