Decks are an excellent extension of your living area, providing you with the space to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the comfort of your own home. For this reason alone, deck remodel and construction projects have been among the top home improvements chosen by homeowners all over the nation. If you’re considering building a deck of your own, there are a few important pointers you need to consider.
Right off the bat, the first question you’ll need to answer is whether you want a raised deck or an at-grade deck. Raised decks are more common, but constructing a deck at ground level offers its own set of advantages as well. Here are a few considerations.
Building a Raised Decks
Raised decks, much like custom decks, depend on the design of your own home. It’s not uncommon for raised ranch-style ramblers with split-level floors to have raised decks attached on the second floor of their home. This deck can have stair access right on the outside with the stair height mirroring the height of the indoor stairs.
Traditional styles of houses like a Colonial, Victorian or a classic Cape Cod can also have raised decks attached at foundation level, usually two to three feet above the ground. The crawl space underneath counts as an additional level although it is, functionally, not an actual level. These decks are raised just enough to meet the height of the backdoor for easier access. Stairs can also be built on the outside to provide users a second access point to the deck right from the backyard.
Grade Level Decks
Grade is simply a technical term pertaining to the ground level so building a deck “at grade” means building the deck on the same level as the ground. Ground-level decks are simpler to build, consisting mainly of a framed box of floorboards held up by joists several inches above the ground.
When at-grade decks are constructed unattached to the rest of the home, they are called platforms. Platforms that are below 18 inches in height normally do not require railings; however, this depends on local building codes. Consult with your deck building contractor about code requirements for when you start your project.
Advantages of Raised Decks
Aside from the additional outdoor living space it provides, the right deck and patio design can also increase your square footage and, subsequently, raise the overall value of your home. It can also serve as an excellent way to finish out your backyard, along with plants, trees and other landscaping elements.
Adding furniture to your brand-new deck is a great way to entertain family and guests during special occasions. Hold an afternoon BBQ party or a relaxing Sunday brunch outdoors by placing a set of tables and outdoor chairs as well as a grill. Observe fire safety precautions, however, before using a grill as the fire can cause discoloration on any wooden components nearby or, worse, start a small fire.
For all its benefits, raised decks also have its disadvantages. The strength, longevity and performance of your deck will depend greatly on two factors: the skill of the installer and the quality of the materials you use. This is as true for raised decks as they are for ground level ones. Make sure you choose high-quality and dependable materials to ensure that you’re getting the maximum value of this worthwhile home improvement.
Advantages of At-grade Decks
The most common reason homeowners choose to build their decks at-grade is cost. Without the need for piers and railings, at-grade decks can be a lot cheaper than their raised counterparts. Total costs for both labor and material are comparatively lower when you can choose not to add a few components needed for raised decks. The savings you make can go for additional outdoor furniture for your enjoyment.
However, building a deck at ground level can make it prone to moisture damage. Talk to your deck contractor about using water-resistant materials and treated wood as well as adding waterproofing seals to the support joists to ensure that its low height does not make it vulnerable to water-related problems.
Which One Should You Build?
Raised and ground level decks both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, which means one is not necessarily a better choice than the other. The decision all boils down to your own preference and the existing layout of your home. Some architectural styles are simply better suited for raised decks while others pair well with unattached at-grade decks.
Whichever type of deck you choose to build, the most important step in its construction is finding a good and reliable contractor to help you with the whole process from start to finish. Decks can be a good investment so it makes sense that you’d want a skilled and experienced professional to guide you through the project with as little stress as possible.
It’s tempting to try and take a DIY approach when building a deck, but this can easily be problematic. There are so many factors at play that even the most enterprising homeowner might encounter problems when building their own decks. At The Deck Store, you can count on our skilled team of deck builders and remodelers to ensure that your deck is built properly, efficiently and beautifully. Give us a call at (701) 223-1008, or fill out our contact form to schedule a design consultation and request a free estimate on a brand-new deck today.