Decks are extensions of your home and when you build your own deck, you create an outdoor space which not only increases your homes usable square footage, but you also create a connection to your garden and nature.
A deck is basically a room shaped floor used to extend your home and to be closer to nature. A deck can be on the ground or it can be a high, floating platform. It can be simple or complicated, with a complex architectural design.
When you decide to build your own deck, always integrate it into the landscape, while complementing the design of your home. It is important to use the correct materials, shape and accessories so that it is a natural extension of your home. Take the same amount of care with you deck design as you would with any other room in your home. You will create a wonderful atmosphere to be enjoyed by everyone using this special place.
When you build your own deck, you are creating a retreat where you can experience the views, hear the sounds and smell the natural smells of the surrounds, while you are still in touch with the comforts of your own home. Isn’t that something special?
The ideal is that you plan your deck with the building of your home, even though you may not construct it immediately, as this will ensure that you place your home correctly on the plot and it will ensure a flow from your home to your deck and from there a flow to your patio, if you have one.
This however is seldom the case, as most of us bought a house a long time ago and then, as part of our home improvements decided to add a deck. Even so, it is still possible, with careful planning and attention to detail, to integrate the new deck to your existing home and create that inside to outside flow that makes it so inviting to use the outdoor space.
That is why I always say to people: “Build your own deck”. Not necessarily with your own hands, but by being intimately involved in the design thereof and in the process of building the deck.
By now you have realised that I encourage your personal involvement when you do any home improvements. It shows in the design as well as in the final product. These are the things that add real value to your home. No contractor cares as much about the final product as you do!
So, the decision is final! You are going to build your own deck, so it is time to get to the more intimate details.
Traditionally, decks are constructed from natural wood on a wooden framework supported by posts. The posts are fitted on a foundation. Nowadays, there are many synthetic materials that offer alternatives, although I still prefer real wood; even though it requires a lot more maintenance and care.
A deck is composed of the following major components:
The foundation is just that, the foundation and it is important to lay it well in order for your deck to be sturdy and strong to be enjoyed for many years to come.
The frame is a combination of vertical posts that sits on the foundations. Connected to this are horizontal support beams, with the joists secured on top of the beams, spanning the distance between the posts and the house.
The decking is the finished floor and these are fitted perpendicular to the joists.
The railing or balustrade is the protective surround that prevents nasty accidents and must therefore be well designed, strong and securely fastened to the frame and posts. This is also where your imagination can run wild as there are literally hundreds of designs that can be used. Make sure you use something that will truly enhance the safety of people using the deck, while at the same time contributing to its beauty.
The deck must be thoroughly designed before any construction begins. A deck is considered a structure under building regulations, so please consult with your local building authorities on what you will require in terms of building plans and approvals. Ensure that you comply to all the requirements spelled out in the local building code and that you follow them as far as joist spacing, railing heights and stair specifications are concerned.
It is important to integrate the deck with your home for a variety of reasons:
So, whether you build your own deck, or someone else, always keep the above criteria in mind and also remember to address the following points:
1. Site Evaluation
Position the deck to optimise views, privacy and access. Take into consideration the lay of the land so that you can take advantage of the best position. It is important to consider your privacy when you site your deck. No use to have a beautiful spot, but your neighbours bedroom window looks straight onto your deck, unless you are into the kind of thing of course.....hehehe
It is very important to consider the climate in your area when you design and build your own deck. The primary goal of your deck is to enjoy the outdoor space:
Here in Cape Town we have a continuous south easterly during summer and a strong north westerly in winter, so I had to make provision for that.
3. How will you use your deck?
It is important to decide at the planning stage exactly what you want to use your deck for. This will have a huge influence on your design.
If you only want it to be used for a private retreat where you and your wife will relax after a hard day, then it can be a small intimate deck of your main bedroom.
If you want to use it for entertaining family and friends, then you need a huge deck space with:
You will also consider storage space, the position of the stairs and access ways.
So, let’s look at some other important elements when you build your own deck:
Or if you want to make your deck flow onto your patio, then visit my patio deck designs page too.