Danny Lipford, DIY expert and TV personality, writes about the joys of composite wood decking. For more tips on how to update your home and improve energy efficiency using plastic home building products, click here.
The beautiful summer weather means barbecues, grilling and outdoor fun. A great way to make your home an entertaining mecca for family and friends is to have a well-built deck. Besides adding to the atmosphere of your backyard, a deck actually increases the square footage of your home.
But before you run out and buy materials for this new space, here are a few things you should consider:
- First things first: make sure you know what you can and cannot do based on your local building codes. This is especially true for all you do-it-yourselfers out there. Structural stability, location and size are main factors to consider before the first post goes in place.
- Don’t overbuild the deck. A huge deck next to a small house looks odd and can even detract, rather than add, to the resale value of your home. That’s why designers generally scale the size of the deck to the size of the home. If you really think you need a lot of extra space, build the deck in several layers. This will break up the expanse and also add some character to your entertaining area.
- A low maintenance deck could be well worth a little extra cost—especially if you do a lot of entertaining. The deck needs to be able to stand up to traffic, moving furniture back and forth, kids, pets, line dancing….you get the picture.
- Shy away from boring lines in the deck boards. Mix and match the layout to create some diagonal patterns, inlaid designs or other features to bring some life to your deck. Give it personality!
- Consider functionality. Adding built-in benches, planters, even built-in cup holders in the railing can enhance your entertaining space.
To further hit home the necessity for a low maintenance deck, consider composite plastic decking. While it looks just like wood, composite lumber usually is a combination of plastic and wood, which means that you get the benefits of durable, weather-resistant plastic with the look of wood. Plastic composite lumber can be partially made from recycled plastic, such as grocery bags, molded to look like real wood planks, pillars and railings and installed exactly the same way as wood materials.
So what’s the big deal? Well, plastic composite decking has remarkable advantages. Wood decks may be susceptible to damage caused by the weather, things like sun, humidity, rain, snow and extreme temperatures, which can cause warping, splitting, splintering and rotting. Decks made from plastic composites hold up really well to weather, which means you can spend more time enjoying your deck instead of maintaining it and paying for repairs. And if your family enjoys going barefoot, plastic decking lets you stop worrying about splinters and slivers!
Finally, for homes without decks, don’t forget that even the simplest additions can create a fabulous entertaining area outside, even if only for one or two people. A spot for a couple of chairs and an outdoor fireplace, maybe a water feature or a bench (made from plastic composite lumber!) beneath an arbor can provide a very nice spot to enjoy the outdoors.