Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before Installing A Deck

by Matthew BreyerAugust 15, 2018

A backyard deck can provide several terrific advantages for homeowners. They extend the usability of your home and give you an extra space to entertain, relax, or simply sit out under the stars with your friends and family. If you’ve decided that you want to add a deck to your home, a good first step is to identify your objectives or “pain points,” so that as the finished design comes together, it reflects your priorities.

Wooden deck of family home at summer.

Here are six questions that you should ask yourself before installing a deck. As you answer them, you’ll have a better idea of how to design your “backyard oasis” so that it’ll meet your needs and support the lifestyle you want.

1. How Will You Use Your Deck?

This is one of the most important questions to ask before installing a deck. Once you know how you will use the space, you’ll be able to create an organized plan to include the necessary features and accessories. Decks can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Entertaining – If you plan to host get-togethers, consider an expansive deck with built-in seating arrangements. This’ll save space and provide more flexibility. If you have a low-height deck, this’ll also help preserve the view.
  • Family Dinners – If you enjoy dining al fresco, install a sheltered deck with screening. This’ll allow you to dine outside and enjoy your deck more months of the year.
  • Private Time – Incorporate separate areas or multiple levels to your deck during the design phase. This will provide space for different members of the family to relax and do individual activities.

View at happy friends grilling food and enjoying barbecue party outdoors on a deck.

2. How Will Traffic Flow from the Home to the Deck?

Depending on how your home is designed and situated on your property, you may be able to access your deck from several levels – below, from a patio or finished basement, and above, from the first or second story. If you already have access points like patio doors at these locations, it will help your budget and planning. If you plan to use your deck for meals and entertaining, having an access point at the kitchen would be most convenient.

3. What Materials Should Your Deck Be Made Of?

Deck materials fall into the general categories of pressure-treated wood, untreated wood, and composites/PVC. Each material varies in terms of cost, maintenance, performance and longevity.

Many people love the traditional look of wood, and today’s pressure-treated woods can preserve the life and beauty of your deck. Composite materials or vinyl/PVC also have their advantages, primarily longevity, a wide range of styles and easy maintenance.

4. What Is Your Style?

A well-designed deck should complement the style of your home and the surrounding landscape. For example, if your home is a traditional or colonial style, a Mediterranean-style deck may not be the best choice.

If your home has rounded features, you may want to design a deck with round or curved lines. If you have a modern-style home, you could go with a sleek deck design with sharper angles. If you have small children or pets, strongly consider adding railings and stairs that can be enclosed. Safety should always be a priority when designing your deck.

Dreamy outdoor covered deck with stone fireplace a beadboard ceiling with skylight rattan armchairs sofa and ottomans overlooking the expansive backyard.

5. What About Some Extras?

When it comes to adding features and accessories to your deck, the sky is the limit. An outdoor kitchen can have all of the features of its indoor counterpart, but with fun additions like a smoker and warming drawer. For the cooler months, an enclosed deck can have a fireplace with a TV mounted above it. A well-designed patio fire pit and all-weather seating can be used on the coldest days of winter.

6. What Is Your Budget?

This is where research and good communication come into the planning process. It’s important to know what you can reasonably spend on a deck installation project. If you’re a DIY person, you will need to research all aspects of your project to anticipate potential costs. Remember, you can start with the basics (i.e. the core deck) and then add extras, such as furniture, later.

If you plan to work with a professional deck builder, a good contractor will give you ballpark figures and then refine them as you clarify specific ideas and desires. If the estimated cost is higher than your budget allows, a reputable remodeler will present alternatives, such as using lower-cost materials or completing the project in stages. Communicating frequently with your contractor reduces the chance of unwanted surprises and leads to a satisfactory result.

In Summary

Adding a deck to your home is too important of a project to not think through carefully. You must consider factors such as how much you can spend, what you want your deck to look like, and how you will use it. Before starting this project, ask yourself these six questions and supplement them with your own research and conversations with a deck building professional. Doing so will help you design a deck that fits your family’s lifestyle and extends the enjoyment of your home.

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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.