The trend in outdoor furniture design is to create pieces for outside that look like they could belong indoors, so unsurprisingly, backyard decks are now being called outdoor living spaces. The backyard deck is no longer just a place to keep the barbeque and leave your shoes when you come indoors; it’s now an extension of your home and living space.
While previous backyard decks have been squares or rectangles, extending off the back of the house, modern decks and patios have different areas and maybe even different levels for entertaining, relaxing, and cooking. And rather than the cooking area being just a place to hook up the barbeque, it’s become an “outdoor kitchen” with refrigeration and built in countertops for prepping.
Some homes, especially those that have their main living space on the upper floor, have a deck extending off the second floor as well as a patio or second deck space underneath it extending off of the first floor. In this scenario you want to make sure that the deck above is watertight and won’t drip onto the people below in a sudden rainstorm. Gutter systems are available for second story deck edges for this very reason.
The first step is to decide what kind of backyard deck is best for you and your family. The questions you need to ask yourself include: What will be the primary use of the deck, such as entertaining or relaxing? What areas will you include, such as an outdoor kitchen or fire pit area? What is the sun like in your location; will you need shade at certain times of day? Are there any by-laws or restrictions, such as being a member of a homeowner’s association, which could limit your material or size options? Will you need to obtain a building permit in you locale? Is it worth it to hire a professional deck builder or will you do it yourself? How much of the sq footage of your backyard space do you want to take up? How will any vegetable or floral gardens or other vegetation like hedges, be positioned around the deck? What type of material do you want to use for construction?
Most of these questions will depend on the individual, their location and their budget. It is especially important though, to consider the material you are going to be using for construction. In the past decks were always made from wood but certain woods are more or less attainable in different areas of the world, making them more or less sustainable. Ipe and Mahogany woods in particular should be avoided from an ecological standpoint because they are taken from South American rainforests. If you live in an area with a lot of coniferous growth treated pine, cedar or redwood may be good material, when FSC (forest stewardship council) certified. Any wood product will eventually wear out, either through frost and thaw, solar bleaching, or bug infestation. Many wood decks, if built of solid construction and good quality materials, can last ten years or more, but then, need to be completely rebuilt.
For this reason non-wood decking materials are becoming more popular. The non-wood options include: composite materials made from recycled wood pulp, bound with plastic resins, “plastic lumber” or PVC material, and aluminum decking which comes in both colors and wood-look. These materials are more waterproof than their natural counterparts and last much longer under normal use. The drawbacks of these materials are that they will feel warmer on the feet if the deck is in direct sunlight and they do not have the same feeling for the feet as stepping on wood does. So if you’re looking to be reminded of summers on the dock, stick with wood.
And enjoy the backyard deck photo gallery. And don’t forget to share your designs!
This deck has three levels, the highest level from which the photo was taken, the lowered level with the hot tub, and the mid level on the far side for sitting. The bridge between the low and mid levels is probably there to accommodate a basement window on the house.
This deck has a raised eating area, with stairs down to a fire pit area ending in a mirrored wall. If you have no children or pets and don’t enjoy yard work you may want to make your whole backyard your patio/deck space.
If you have any disabled or elderly friends or family members you may want to include a ramp up to your deck so they can enjoy the rest of the yard as well. It’s also fun for kids to roll down on their bikes.