Mmm. Outdoor living. There is nothing quite like relaxation in the fresh air. If you have a deck, chances are it's been your family's oasis lately -- the site of cookouts, summery parties, and plenty of just plain unwinding. But even though you may feel as if the al fresco season has just begun, round about now "Back-to-School" ads are starting to appear. That means autumn is on its way. Do you dread the thought of being cooped up in the house for the next nine months or so? Well, adding a roof to your deck extends its usability. You'll be able to enjoy that open-air feeling through summer, fall, and spring.
Planning to Build a Deck Roof
Begin by making sure that your deck will be able to support the weight of its new cover. (Even if the materials of the deck roof itself are not very heavy, a good snowfall in winter will add quite a few pounds.) Usually local code requires uncovered decks to have the capacity to support 55 pounds per square foot; however, a covered deck will need to able to support 80 pounds psf. You are likely to need a building permit and perhaps plans drawn up by an architect or engineer.
For an attractive appearance, have your deck covering blend in with the existing structure -- wooden supports should be made of same material (redwood, cedar, etc) as the deck base and stained or painted to match, with a weather-resistant finish. If you will be topping it with shingles, use the same type as you have on the roof of your home.
Commonly a deck cover may be either attached to or floated over your house's roofing system. Before your carpenter gets to work on the new construction, though, make sure that the existing roof is clean, free of debris, and in good repair.
Advantages of a Covered Deck
With a covered deck, you will limit your exposure to strong sunlight. This means you and your family will be more comfortable and reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays.
You will be able to use the deck in all weathers. There can be something very cozy about sitting on your deck enjoying the sound and smell of a thunderstorm -- as long as you are not getting drenched, of course. The roof will also make your deck easier to maintain; you won't be constantly clearing off leaves in autumn and snow in winter.
You will still be able to grill on your deck. A few cautions, though: Never burn charcoal on any wooden or plastic deck, whether covered or not -- it's a fire hazard. When using a gas grill, keep it as far from your house as possible for fire safety and make sure that you have adequate ventilation.
You will be able to expand the use of your deck in more ways than one. Having a sheltering roof means that you can put newly sprouted seedlings outside earlier in the spring and gradually accustom them to life in the great outdoors before transferring them to your garden for the summer. You can also set up a portable drying rack on your newly covered deck; taking advantage of sunny, breezy days throughout the year to air-dry your laundry will cut your electricity use considerably.
A flat roof on your deck will tend to allow rainwater to collect, leading to leaks and forming the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Ask your contractor to calculate the pitch for your new roof to allow precipitation to run off.
If you are located in an area with mild summers, you may want to take advantage of all the sunshine that's available. In this case, an openwork slat or lattice roof, or pergola with retractable panels of outdoor fabric might be the best option for your deck.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.