Top Three Virginia Deck Design Tips for Small Yards

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Many suburban homes come with limited yard space, but this doesn’t mean homeowners need to forget about their dreams of enjoying a beautiful Virginia deck. With some creativity and these deck design tips, even the smallest yard can be transformed into functional outdoor living space for the whole family.

Tip # 1 – Avoid Stairs Where Possible

Stairs require a significant amount of space. Look over your yard with a sharp eye and consider how you can build a deck without stairs for access. Measure the distance from the ground to your back door sill. Anything less than 24” allows for a basic platform deck just one step down from the door. Simply build up a garden around the deck and you can walk off onto the grass comfortably and safely. If your back door sill sits higher than 24” off the ground, consider limiting the access from your deck to the yard.

Where stairs become necessary, design to maximize space. Run long staircases beside the deck or along the front, butting against the deck. Avoid using landings, as these take up more space than a long run of stairs.

Tip # 2 – Choose Glass Railing or Skip the Railing

Certain types of railing block the view from your deck and can make the area feel cramped and closed in. Tempered glass railing works well to optimize the view and allow natural light to permeate this space. Ask your Virginia deck builder about the different options available using tempered glass panels, including wood frames, aluminum and vinyl framework.

Skip the railing altogether on ground level decks and use landscaping to draw the eye out into your limited yard. Tall posts and decorative beams provide overhead interest and places to hang flower baskets or outdoor décor, but skipping the railing where possible makes for a striking deck design.

Tip # 3 – Make the Most of Simple Patterns

Although busy patterns and multiple colors can look fantastic on larger decks, small deck areas look best with simple design. Consider using a monochromatic scheme on the deck surface. Enlarge the look of your yard by working in the same color tones—choose a natural wood stain or composite decking color to help blend the deck into your yard. If you need to add color, choose areas at or above eye level, such as hanging wall art, mounting flower baskets or installing decorative deck lights.

Avoid installing deck boards in a herringbone pattern or using borders. Instead, opt for simple patterns. Run the deck boards parallel to your house for a traditional look or install deck boards perpendicular to the house to provide visual stretch.

Use deck lighting sparingly or hide the deck lights to avoid breaking up your deck surface. A continuous visual, kept neat and tidy where possible, makes a small deck appear much larger and allows you to optimize your small yard.

Your Virginia deck builder has plenty of experience in dealing with properties of all sizes. Ask them to help you create the ideal deck design for your small yard, utilizing the tips above to realize that outdoor living you’ve always dreamed of.

Tips to Enjoy Autumn on Your Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Colder weather has hit Virginia, and shifting schedules pull many of us out of our backyards. But you still have plenty of time to enjoy the autumn season on your Virginia deck, complete with the right accessories to make your space attractive and comfortable. Check out these tips and spend the coming months outside in the fresh air of your own outdoor living space.

Tip # 1 – Let the Sunshine In

It’s important to provide an area of shade in your backyard, and that space often falls on or near the deck. We shift our focus during the autumn months. Instead of hiding from the sun, we welcome those warm rays with upturned faces and open arms. Consider how you can expose your deck or patio to more sunlight by removing or simply moving your shade structures.

Permanent shade structures, like a covered roof, may provide less flexibility. Think about extending the deck surface beyond these structures and allow your family to enjoy the fleeting warmth.

Tip # 2 – Chase Away the Cold Shadows With Heat and Illumination

Certain Virginia deck features help to chase away the crisp temperatures of autumn mornings and evenings. Look for end-of-season deals on patio heaters and set up a cozy corner on your deck. Be sure to provide a safe, sturdy base for the heater and keep plastics and other soft materials away from direct heat.

Low voltage deck lighting allows you to enjoy your outdoor space long into September and October nights. Install solar lighting posts or lanterns along the perimeter of your deck (often these lights look best in a border garden). Or ask your home improvement retailer about deck lighting packages that can be installed in the stairs, deck boards or railing posts. Find a style that works with your deck layout and budget and plan to spend time under the stars this fall.

Tip # 3 – Keep the Deck Surface Clean

Autumn leaves create a beautiful picture while still on the trees, but that blanket of damp leaves can also transform your deck surface into an unsightly mess. Be aware that fallen leaves also present a slippery surface. You’re best to clear them up on a regular basis, sweeping the fallen leaves off the deck or collecting them for the compost heap.

Cleaning up your deck surface makes the area more inviting. Enjoy dinner out on the deck or coffee on your favorite deck swing. Spend time simply unwinding in this clean and clutter-free space.

Tip # 4 – Evaluate Your Furniture

Sometimes furniture used in summer will not work as well in the fall. Wet cushions take longer to dry out and large umbrellas create too much shade for this time of year. Consider moving your patio furniture around to make better use of the space and capture more natural light.

Swap out summer cushions for something less absorbent or put your cushions away for the season and sit on the bare furniture. We often have more clothing on during the autumn, making it less uncomfortable to sit on bare patio chairs and benches.

By evaluating your furniture, allowing more sunlight onto the area, adding heat and illumination and keeping the leaves cleared away you can extend your outdoor enjoyment this season. Spend more time on your Virginia deck and make the most of every day that autumn brings.

Five Things to Expect From Your Deck Builder

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Hiring an experienced deck builder to construct your outdoor living space makes sense from a financial standpoint. Your money will be well spent and your backyard area designed with function and value in mind.

Some homeowners opt for the cheapest option and regret not investing in the expertise of experienced Virginia deck builders. Spend wisely and learn what you can expect from a deck builder with the know-how and skills to complete your project.

1—Modern Design

Any deck installer can build you a rectangle platform. If you’re looking for a space with modern features and comfortable, yet cutting edge design, only an experienced deck builder can deliver. With access to the latest trends and the knowledge to construct a deck that reflects your tastes and lifestyle, experienced deck installers offer much more than your average contractor.

Lighting, multiple levels, attractive railings and shapes that work with your house and yard are all features available through established builders. Hire a company that has built decks of various sizes and knows how to work with you to design the perfect Northern Virginia deck.

2—Solid Warranty

You want to invest in a company with roots in your area. A solid warranty offers you peace of mind today and far into the future. Look for a contractor that offers coverage for both the materials and installation.

Manufacturer warranty applies to materials in most cases, but experienced companies provide this information ahead of time. Depending on the deck design, this may include treated wood, composite materials, aluminum railings, tempered glass panels and other deck materials.

Installation warranty covers workmanship. Post or pier depth determines the stability of your deck through the first few winter seasons, while installation of railings, stairs, deck boards and framing determine safety and comfort while on the deck. Hire a deck builder that offers solid warranty coverage for both aspects.

3—Skilled Labor

You should expect to have at least one very experienced installer on your job site at all times. This person can supervise the entire project, work on more complicated sections of your deck design and troubleshoot issues as they arise.

Skilled labor is well worth the additional cost. Trust your contractor and lean on the years of experience available to design and build your dream deck. Challenges inevitably come up during the construction phase, and only skill can overcome these issues with creative, yet safe solutions. Skilled contractors also have knowledge of the local Virginia building code, an important consideration for any property in the state.

4—Quality Materials

New deck builders have access to quality materials, but those with experience have the knowledge to choose each piece of lumber wisely. Companies that have an established relationship with suppliers receive quality materials on a regular basis and enjoy the ability to filter out those of a lesser quality. Bank on that experience to obtain top quality deck materials for your project.

5—Timely Service

An established decking contractor has spent years building their name in the community, and they work hard to maintain that reputation. You can expect professional service from your deck builder, including timely communications, complete and honest answers to your questions and on-time delivery.

Many things are out of a contractor’s control, such as the weather and delivery times, but experienced deck builders stay in contact with their clients and maintain a high level of service throughout the project.

You can expect these five things from your deck builder, as well as many other smaller elements. Invest your money wisely by hiring a company you can trust to construct a space you will love for years.

Can Your Northern Virginia Deck Include an Outdoor Fireplace?

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Bringing features of indoor living out onto the patio is a hot design trend. And homeowners in our neck of the woods wonder whether or not a Northern Virginia deck can include an outdoor fireplace. Does a four-season climate make this deck design impossible or unwise? Find out how to create an outdoor living space that echoes the warmth and charm of your interior with the right support and features.

Specs of an Outdoor Fireplace

Fireplaces built for use outdoors differ in design from those used inside your home. While the models may look similar when finished, outdoor fireplaces must be built with durable materials and include features that withstand the rigors of the local Northern Virginia climate.

Good quality outdoor fireplaces come with an insulated firebox, designed to keep the interior of the unit hot and facilitate a clean burn. Gas logs sets are generally made from fiberglass, and outdoor fireplace sets tend to be more durable and larger, for easier set up inside the unit. Your gas burner should also be designed for use in all types of weather.

Of course, wood-burning fireplaces are also ideal for outdoor use. Simply build or purchase a woodburning firepit and create a stone mantle around it. This area will become a magnet for gatherings, although it will be difficult to incorporate into a wood deck. Think about installing a stone patio if this style suits your tastes.

Specs of a Northern Virginia Deck with Fireplace

You need to be sure your deck is designed to support an outdoor gas fireplace, both for safety and aesthetics. Add extra blocking under the fireplace unit to reduce the risk of sagging and think about incorporating stone decking in the immediate area to protect against damage from high heat. Good quality stone floor tiles can also be installed onto a plywood subfloor. Use attractive trim for transitions between the deck boards and tile.

Will you use the fireplace as a railing as well, or have it installed against the house? Some units float in the middle or work as a dual-sided fireplace, while others can be incorporated into the deck railing or mounted in the corner to finish off the outdoor room.

Keep the stairs away from the fireplace and ensure there is adequate room for furniture around the unit. Generally a 100 square foot space is required (10 foot x 10 foot), although a smaller space may work with a smaller fireplace.

Where is your gas valve located? Hide any conduit running from that shut off to the unit and place the outdoor fireplace close by to enhance efficiency. If your fireplace will run from a propane tank, consider building a storage unit to hide the tank. Many homeowners incorporate the tank storage into an end table or other patio furniture.

A Northern Virginia deck that includes an outdoor fireplace provides the ideal place for a cozy get together. Be sure that your deck builder has designed the structure to support a fireplace and incorporate all of the necessary safety features. Then look forward to long summer nights outdoors, enjoying the warmth and comfort of your new outdoor living space.