Creative Wooden Decks

One of the most dramatic places in your house could be right outside your back door. After all, this is a space that you are going to fully utilize when the weather is nice, and particularly when you are entertaining guests, spending quality time with the family, or just engaging in some much needed R&R. If you are contemplating a deck, it makes sense to forget about the plain rectangular decks of yesteryear and to invest in something that is going to fit your lifestyle and make you glad every time you venture out there.

There has been a real renaissance in the design and construction of back yard decks. A whole industry has grown to provide the design, construction, landscaping, lighting, and furniture for a modern deck, and there are many specialists in the field who do nothing else. Many architects have taken the concept of using a deck as outdoor living space to heart, and have used the areas, steps, and levels to full advantage. Often times, the "dining" area of the deck is placed so as to be convenient to the kitchen door, and may incorporate room for a grill, or storage for extra chairs or other equipment. On a different level, you might find a "den" complete with exterior loungers, comfortable chairs, and end tables. Somewhere else may be a place to set up a bar or projection screen, or to plug in a TV, or one of several other amenities such as a fire pit or water feature (like a mini waterfall or pond) that are sometimes incorporated into a deck.

For owners who appreciate having greenery in their living space, integral planters can be incorporated into the design or potted plants can be used judiciously. The steps from one level to another can also be designed to define the designated areas, add interest to the layout, and provide informal seating when necessary. Underneath the deck is a good place for yard storage, which can be enclosed in a lattice screen.

While the majority of wooden decks are still constructed of treated lumber, more bio-composite decking is being used. This new, engineered material is weather resistant, comes in a choice of colors, is maintenance free, and has the added environmental advantage of being made from recycled materials.

One of the deck components that has gone through the most change recently is the railing system. Fancy deck rails are now standard items in most lumber yards. You can choose from treated, vinyl, or composite newel post and picket designs, or use several different types of decorative metal pickets, or opt for ultra-modern glass panel railings. Both the plantings around a new deck and the pots or flower boxes on it ought to be designed by someone who knows how to get the greatest visual impact with the least maintenance. This is no small feat, and in some areas of the country it involves installing or adding on to an irrigation system.

A lot more thought is going into lighting design for decks as well. General outdoor illumination, task lighting, and mood lighting are now regularly built-in, and with additional steps and levels, safety lighting is a must.

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