How to Maximize the Space UNDER Your Deck

by Matthew BreyerJune 27, 2018

Decks give you a great outdoor living space. They are perfect for family gatherings, barbecues, birthday parties, etc. However, decks can also provide an additional area underneath to relax and entertain.

These lower spaces (often called “all weather patios”) are perfect for storage or adding accessories like ceiling fans, heaters or a TV mount. But to maximize this deck space, you’ll need to keep it dry. This means you’ll need a drainage system under the deck above before furnishing. More of these systems are available today and are growing in popularity with homeowners.

maximize your deck space
via Professional Deck Builder

How Drainage Systems Work

Decks are designed to let water drain between the wood or composite boards. The purpose of a good drainage system is to capture that water and direct it to a gutter away from the deck space, usually at the deck beam or outer band joist. The gutters slope to a downspout that drains to a controlled location.

Start with the Deck Itself

Before installing a drainage system, you’ll need to first consider the deck above. Decks made of wood, for example, need airflow on all sides to allow the boards to expand and contract naturally. An experienced deck professional should be able to recommend the style of under-deck drainage system that will work best for your unique situation. It’s important to note that certain locations or decking materials require additional drainage or ventilation efforts.

Types of Drainage Systems

Drainage systems can be installed either above or below the joists:

  • Above the joist, options include a built-in rubberized membrane that is stapled at the top of each joist then dips down into it. For a deck that doesn’t get a lot of topside debris, this type of drainage system may work best.
  • Below the joist options are usually metal or vinyl and include ceiling panels that divert water to gutter pieces attached to the base of each joist. This kind of system often provides better long-term maintenance and is easier to install after a deck is built.

Consider This Space Before Building a Deck

Under-deck drainage systems can be retrofitted (see “below the joist options” above) to existing decks, but it’s best to consider this space before starting a deck project. This will allow you to have the most control over what drainage system will be installed and will give you another outdoor living space to start enjoying right away without a second project.

Furnishing and Safety

Once you install a drainage system, you can begin furnishing your new space. If you are looking to entertain, consider adding a table and some all-weather patio furniture. A ceiling fan is a great option for gatherings and events during the summer months.

deck space safety
via Wahoo Decks

Just as you would do with the deck above, be sure to keep this space free of debris or other materials that may be tripping hazards. Ensure that there is enough lighting to illuminate key spots or pathways. Do a regular checkup of your drainage system to make sure it is working properly and keeping your space dry.

Build Your New Outdoor Space

With all the choices available for decks and under-deck drainage systems, it is recommended that you work with a qualified deck professional. They will help you navigate the options to assure you get the outdoor living spaces that fit you and your family’s specific needs.

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About The Author
Matthew Breyer
Matthew Breyer is the owner of Breyer Construction & Landscape, a family-owned residential remodeling company in southeastern Pennsylvania that specializes in designing and building custom outdoor living areas and other home improvements. Matt wears many hats in this role, including Lead-Designer where he works directly with clients as well as supporting the rest of the BCL design team as they work to understand our client’s dreams, needs, and concerns — and create a unique solution to ensure the finished project exceeds expectations. When not working, Matt enjoys spending time with his family, as well as serving as president of the North American Deck and Railing Association.