Deck Design Tips for the Modern Family from Expert Deck Builders

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Modern families thrive in a versatile, low-maintenance living space, and this concept covers both indoor and outdoor areas. Deck builders encourage families of all shapes and sizes to examine their lifestyle and preferences when looking for that ideal deck design.

What types of deck features and options make for a perfect modern deck design? Consider the makeup of your family and choose things to suit.

Deck Designs for Young Families

If you’re newly married or just at the opening stages of building your family, flexibility plays a vital role in living space design. Children need safe spaces to play, but parents need to create an area adaptable enough for their own relaxation. Think about this contrast when building a deck.

Consider low maintenance decking materials, like composite or vinyl. These materials come at a premium cost, but they also clean quickly and eliminate the risk of splinters. Be aware that some vinyl decking products squeak and composite can become hot in the summer months.

Young families may also want to add railing gates near stair landings to enhance safety. Avoid placing furniture too close to the railing, where toddlers and young kids may be tempted to climb up and over the deck railing.

Deck Designs for Empty Nesters

Entertaining is a popular pastime for empty nesters, and your Virginia deck design can accommodate that lifestyle in a big way. Build a deck with multiple layers, including a main stage for patio furniture (minimum 12 feet by 12 feet in size), a separate area for the grill or outdoor kitchen and wide stairs for easy traffic flow.

Think about adding a shade feature, such as a shade sail, pergola or fully covered roof. Retractable awnings can also be added after deck construction, and may offer good value for your money. More permanent structures affect the deck framing and should be constructed at the same time as your dream deck.

Consider built-ins throughout the deck design. Professional deck builders can incorporate benches directly into the deck, either as railing or standing alone. Flowerpots and storage areas can also be easily built into your Virginia deck to optimize space and allow for maximum function.

Deck Designs for Transitional Families

There is a very long stage between parenting young children and launching adult children into the real world. Commonly referred to as a transitional family, this often includes school-aged kids, preteens and teenagers. It can be difficult to come up with a deck design that suits everyone. Look beyond each family member’s individual needs and create something that transcends stages and ages.

The trick for designing a deck that suits this family stage is versatility. Aim for something large and open, with plenty of no-nonsense features like tempered glass railing (allowing a cramped space to appear bright), low maintenance decking materials (composite or vinyl) and durable outdoor lighting. Make every portion of the deck inviting and it will quickly become a space for the whole family to spend time together.

Expert deck builders take the time to assess your family’s needs and should come up with a deck design that fits your lifestyle. Whether your modern family is young or transitional, just starting or enjoying an empty nest, you can design the perfect deck to extend your living space.

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.

Tips on Adding Decks Lights to Your Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Deck lighting extends the enjoyment of this outdoor living space and adds value to your Virginia deck. But smart design and expert installation are required to make the most of this feature. Learn how to detect inferior products and consider the ideal type of deck lighting for your home before you hang up modern day patio lanterns.

Where to Install Deck Lighting

You can find several types of deck lighting on the market, and each style works well in different areas of the structure. Recessed low voltage lights can be mounted flush with the deck surface to create a well lit border or illuminate the stairs. Other styles fit into railing posts and overhead features. Check out this quick primer on possible locations for deck lights and the styles that suit:

  • Deck surface – recessed styles provide a low profile look that also prevents tripping, but higher fixtures can be installed around the perimeter of the deck surface without becoming an obstruction.
  • Stair tread and Stair face – Smaller recessed fixtures work best in both the stair face and tread, and should always maintain a smooth surface. Be sure to look for brands with high quality lenses to prevent breakage on this high traffic area.
  • Railings - Mount globe fixtures or rods onto the handrail or along the railing post to light up this section of your Virginia deck. Railing post caps also provide an excellent spot for deck lighting and many manufacturers offer solar cap lights and lanterns that add beauty with little to no additional maintenance.
  • Pergola or Roof – Overhead features provide plenty of space for deck lights, including recessed fixtures within the beams or ceiling, globe fixtures on the rim of your roof or hanging lanterns.
  • Walls or Privacy Screens – Mount light fixtures to your house wall or privacy screen for more substantial illumination. These fixtures can be sconces or extend from the vertical surface to provide overhead lighting. Consider units that combine deck lighting and heaters for year-round enjoyment of your outdoor living space.

Where to Find Quality Deck Lighting

Deck lights are available at most building supply stores and many specialty stores. Remember that you will get what you pay for, and products with a solid warranty offer the best value.
Pay attention to the specifications. Low voltage lighting requires a transformer, unless the system is hard-wired into your home. Look for transformers with photocells that power up as evening falls and turn off when natural light exists.

Solar lighting is a growing industry, and many big name manufacturers offer solar deck lighting in a variety of styles. Surface-mount, pillars, post cap lights and even lighting strands provide an array of selection for consumers looking to add low cost, environmentally friendly lights to their yard. You may have to bring solar lights in for the winter, although some of the more durable varieties can withstand the freeze and thaw cycle of a Virginia winter.

Add deck lights to your Virginia deck for more opportunities to enjoy this cozy space. Think about where to mount the lighting and find a good quality brand to enhance the value and comfort of your backyard.

How to Help Deck Builders Deliver an Accurate Estimate

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Building a deck adds living space and provides your family with the perfect area to relax and play outdoors. Deck builders have an important role in this process and homeowners need to start with an accurate price when designing and budgeting for a new deck.

These tips will help you to prepare the information and make decisions that allow your contractor to price the job well.

Tip # 1 – Think About All of the Possibilities

Spend a decent amount of time dreaming about your deck and the space around it. Many homeowners look at the other decks in the neighborhood and ask for something “just like they have,” without really thinking about their own habits and lifestyle. Your family deserves a custom deck design that suits your property.

Browse the web and look through home and garden magazines to gather ideas. Bring those ideas to experienced Virginia deck builders and find out whether or not the designs will work in your yard and within your budget. Imagine, dream and consider all of the possible deck designs before settling on the ideal layout.

Tip # 2 – Measure Twice

Check the measurements of your house in two different ways.

Find out the actual “lay of the land” by measuring the existing space along your exterior walls. Account for vents, window wells and any other architectural elements that must be avoided or built around when installing a deck. Mark down these measurements and check them against those gathered by the estimator or contractor.

Then, measure and mark out your property lines. In some cases the local building authorities have a setback in place, meaning your deck cannot encroach or approach existing property lines. Use these measurements to consider privacy and access issues. Will your dream deck be in plain view from the neighbor’s yard? Will it provide a vulnerable point of access for thieves? Sometimes deck builders can provide an estimate for a privacy fence, which helps to create a more private atmosphere and enhances security.

Tip # 3 – Choose a Building Material

Homeowners have several options for deck materials, including:

  • standard treated wood
  • cedar wood
  • specialty wood, like exotic hardwoods
  • composite wood
  • vinyl decking

Do some research beforehand to narrow down your preferences. Your deck contractor can give you comparison prices for treated wood versus composite, or any combination of the above materials. But your deck material selection may influence the design.

Consider the railing design as well. Picket railings work well on wood decks, while tempered glass and aluminum picket styles match low maintenance materials like composite and vinyl. Benches and flower pots can also be used for railings.

Although your deck installer can help the decision making process with advice and direction, it helps to be familiar with your choices ahead of time. An accurate deck estimate requires all of the details.

Deck builders offer their design and construction expertise and help homeowners to create the ideal outdoor living space. But in order to deliver an accurate estimate, they need some help from you. Dream big, measure twice and decide on your preferred building material. Your new deck is right around the corner.