Relax And Enjoy Life Outdoors On A New Deck

Cabin Fever, the feeling of being cooped up all winter, takes its toll each year. What better way to get outdoors and enjoy fresh air and sunshine than to add a new deck to your Madison WI home? A well-designed deck expands your personal outdoor living space providing a comfortable transition from indoors to outside. In addition, it boosts the resale value of your house.

Do you have a favorite deck you’ve seen on TV, at a neighbor’s or on the Internet? With planning and the experience of a skilled craftsman a new deck can become a reality for almost any home. Where do you start?

Building a deck, size makes a difference so start there. How big can you go with your deck design? This is a critical decision. You don’t want to be sitting on the deck and wish it was “just a little but bigger,” do you?

Get off to a good start by listing features you want. Just like remodeling inside the house, make a record of “must have” and “would like to have” features. You are creating an outdoor room so consider it as carefully as you would for an indoor living space.

Detail The Plan For Your New Deck

Start mapping out your deck plan by reviewing things like:

  • Available space – where would you like the deck to be? Are there obstacles in the way – trees, landscaping, basement windows or an AC unit?
  • Special features – do you want a hot tub on the deck, overhead shade, an outdoor kitchen, privacy features, a place for a TV or even a fireplace?
  • Overall layout – are you thinking connecting more than one level or several sized mini decks? How big can each one be? How high above the ground? Will you need stairs – more than one set? Be prepared to take measurements so you can provide a deck planner with as much detail as possible.
  • Access points – stairs to reach the deck from the different angles and parts of the lawn as well as from the house. One set each or more than one? This is a good place to consider the many new styles of patio doors making movement from inside to outside smoother, too.
  • Levels – does your home lend itself to multi-level decks? Or are you considering a deck off the main floor above a walkout lower level? Multi levels take added attention in both the design and installation phases – how much weight will each level hold, is a critical calculation.
  • Railings and safety features – building codes dictate when and where you need railings. There are many railing styles from artistic to plain. There’s one just right for your decorator’s eye. In addition, outdoor lighting specifically created for decks provides both security and after-dark convenience.
  • Design features, color – backyard decks come in colors. There are dozens of stains that both protect and color wooden deck boards. Composite decking materials come with a more limited selection of colors molded in – with more color and texture options added all the time.

Basic Deck Building Materials

Once you’ve got a basic concept on paper it’s time to tackle the biggest decision in modern deck building: which material makes the most sense for your needs? Take a close look at the two main choices: wood decking and composite decking.

In the realm of wood decking there are two major types: pressure-treated lumber and natural boards of redwood or cedar. Pressure-treated lumber is mostly southern pine that is chemically treated to resists moisture, mold, rot and insects. There are two types of pressure-treated boards, one recommended for all above ground building and one rated for direct ground contact. Knowing which is which makes a difference depending upon the design of your new deck. Cedar and redwood have natural properties making them resistant to the elements. They never need chemical treatments and rarely need to be sealed. The can, however, be stained to accommodate your preferences. Cedar will naturally age to a gray look so many people opt for a weather-resistant stain to maintain pristine colors.

Composite decking materials are the result of mixing wood products with plastic – usually recycled plastic. Boards are compressed and molded to mimic the look of real wood. Colors are molded in so re-staining and sealing is never necessary.

NOTE: even if your deck’s final surface is a composite, the base foundations will be created using pressure-treated lumber.

Compare deck board options

Both wooden deck boards and composite deck boards have advantages and disadvantages.

There are three main factors separating them:

  • Durability – you’re looking forward to spending a lot of time on your backyard deck, right? So you want a surface to stand up to all kinds of traffic. Composite decking is dense and water-resistant. It doesn’t’ warp, crack or split. Weathered boards created the potential for slivers in bare feet. It’s pretty much maintenance-free. A good scrubbing and sweeping is about all it takes – that’s a positive for today’s fast-paced lifestyles isn’t it? Composite boards can show signs of wear from heavy foot traffic after a few years. Among the woods, cedar is the most durable. Pressure-treated lumber is softer so it dents, cracks and splinters more easily. Wood requires repeated sealing and staining to maintain a good color and surface moisture resistance.
  • Good looks – beauty is in the “eye of the beholder” so there’s no right or wrong when it comes to good looks. Real wood decks have great appeal. Some people say composites are “too perfect.” Composite deck boards are available in more and more colors but there are many more options for staining real wood.  A recent study by Remodeling magazine noted wooden decks have higher resale values than composite decks. Both add significant value to your home. Composites are gaining respect, especially among homeowners looking for maintenance-free installation.
  • Cost – the bottom line on adding a new deck is based on the cost of decking materials. Treated lumber is the lowest cost option – even as the cost of lumber continues to go up. There are several grades of pressure-treated lumber, too. Composite decking is slightly more expensive. However, you have to factor in the cost of sealant and stain when you choose wood.

Why Add A Backyard Deck

A few years ago a survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggested the return on investment for a wooden deck could be as much as 106%.

Most people don’t think about adding a backyard deck as a boost to resale value. That’s for some time in the future, isn’t it? You want a comfortable outdoor living space to enjoy right now, don’t you?

Going beyond dollars, the NAR study reported a “joy score.” Most of the people questioned said the top reason for adding a deck was simply to improve outdoor living; to add a place to relax and enjoy life. Enhancing your family’s daily life with a new spot to gather is a worthy investment, don’t you think?

In the same survey three out of four homeowners said they really look forward to coming home and getting “out on the deck.” They said they enjoyed the backyard much more since the deck was completed. It’s a place to relax after a busy day, and a place for family to use together. People entertain friends and family more when there’s a backyard deck to host a barbeque. These responses give a new deck a “joy score” of 9.7 out of a possible 10.

Add A New Deck To Expand Your Living Space

When you add a deck you’re not creating a new bedroom or more efficient kitchen, but you are expanding the useable square footage of your home. Outdoor entertaining is a growing goal for homeowners. Adding a deck expands your home’s footprint and versatility. With overhead shade, built-in seating, dining areas, outdoor kitchens and specialty lighting you’re creating an outdoor family room. You’ve got a nice backyard, why not provide a platform from which to really appreciate and enjoy it?

After you’ve had a chance to review all the factors going into adding a deck to your home you have choices to make. The bottom line comes down to your personal needs, lifestyle and budget. If you love the look of real wood decks and are willing to take on the maintenance, it’s an easy choice. If you’re looking for a deck not needing much attention once it’s installed, a composite deck is an excellent option.

A key factor that is often overlooked is the value of professional installation. A simple deck can be a do-it-yourself project, but it isn’t as easy as you think. Obviously you need the right tools before your start. And a pro knows how to use them to best advantage. A professional remodeling contractor knows the shortcuts to make building a deck fast and efficient. And, they know which “shortcuts” create additional problems needing correction in the future.

With a deck addition you expand the family’s living space without changing the footprint of your existing home. It’s a true outdoor room.

When you’re ready get out into the fresh air and enjoy your surroundings call Sims Exteriors & Remodeling at 608-825-4500 or email us to explore your options. Put our decades of experience, craftsmanship and attention to detail to work in your yard. Our home remodeling solutions include everything you need inside and out. Let’s work together to create a new deck for years of family fun outside your Madison WI area home.