Top Five Popular Northern Virginia Deck Design Options

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

The ideal deck design takes several factors into account, including property size, architecture and lifestyle. Those planning to build a Northern Virginia deck should consider these top five popular designs, and then adapt to suit their own families. From shady spots to space for entertaining, these deck designs work for a wide range of homes in the region.

1 – Modern and Maintenance-Free

Design your deck with a minimalist attitude to create a modern space, including large open spaces, glass railings to avoid obstructing the view and angles that echo your house. Maintenance-free decking materials work well. Consider composite deck boards and railing components, as well as tempered glass panels in clear finish or smoked for privacy.

Subtle lighting adds a practical punch to this type of deck design. Install solar fixtures and recessed lighting in posts and stairs or along the perimeter of the deck surface.

2 – Multi-Level Entertainer’s Special

Multi-level decks are necessary for those who love to throw a good backyard bash. Combining two or three deck levels allows for optimum traffic flow and organization. Put your patio furniture on the largest level and place the grill or outdoor kitchen on the upper level, closest to the kitchen. Other levels can include additional seating or lounging areas, a dedicated play area for the kids or a private nook for more romantic times.

Be sure to keep the levels only one stair rise apart and minimize sharp turns. The ideal multi-level Northern Virginia deck design allows for conversation between levels. Privacy screens add to the overall atmosphere, but shouldn’t be an obstruction.

3 – For the Shade Lover

Too much sun affects your health and may keep you off the deck in the heat of summer. Create a more inviting space with shade structures built directly into the deck. Consider the design of your existing roofline and build the deck in the ideal location to minimize sun exposure.

Use a durable material for the covered roof, and consider options like mechanical awnings to allow for shade at certain times of the day.

4 – A Floral Showcase

Gardeners love to show off the results of their hard work. With the right design, this can be built right into the deck. Planter boxes double as railings and visual borders, as well as providing a spot for colorful annuals and delicious herbs. Raised beds planted around lower level decks provide space for perennials and shrubs, or you could include decorative beams in strategic spots for hanging baskets.

Be creative about how to display your flowers and your deck can become more than a simple outdoor living space. After a few years of growth, this type of deck design develops into part of your landscape.

5 – Classic Style Revisited

The tried and true classic deck form never goes out of style. This type of deck design includes wooden deck boards at a 45-degree angle, wide steps to grade and a standard wood picket railing. Homeowners dress up this basic, but incredibly affordable deck with privacy screens, unusual pickets in aluminum and trim around the outer framing (commonly called fascia board).

Classic decks come in a wide range of sizes and work for almost any yard. Grading issues do not pose a problem and wood choices like treated wood or cedar provide years of durability with a reasonable price tag.

Whether you opt for a modern, maintenance free design or go with something that shows off your love of gardening, entertaining or shade, take the time to consider all of the options. Your ideal Northern Virginia deck design is out there.

Top Four Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Northern Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Investing in your outdoor living space provides an area for relaxation and seasonal fun. If you want to make sure that your Northern Virginia deck is designed properly and built with longevity in mind, avoid these top four common mistakes and create a true backyard paradise.

Do Think Long Term

Design your deck to meet current needs, including size, shape and desired maintenance levels, but remember to consider the future. You may want to incorporate a children’s play area with a sandbox, swing or other play equipment. Or perhaps you dream of a hot tub or outdoor kitchen. Think about how well these features will age and whether or not you’ll be using them in a few years time.

Consider the balance of your yard as well. Do you plan to install a swimming pool in the future, expand your gardens or build a patio? How does the deck design fit into these plans, and how can your Virginia deck builder ensure that your long term goals are accounted for, without sacrificing the comfort of today.

Do Not Over Design

Deck features add style, beauty and function, but including too many to your Northern Virginia deck results in chaos and busyness in an area designated for relaxation. Think about what you hope to do on the deck (suntan, eat, read, nap, etc.) and focus on features that complement those activities.

Remember to consider other members of your family. Although you may never use it, a hammock hanging in one corner may be appreciated.

Certain features add value to any deck, including:

  • lighting
  • shade structures
  • built in seating

But be careful not to over design the space. Find a balance that accounts for the size and shape of your new deck.

Do Expect Disruption

Deck construction is a messy job. From digging post holes to hammering nails and cutting stair stringers, your deck builder will tackle plenty of tasks that create noise, mess and disruption. That’s not to say that your home will be turned upside down during the construction phase, but you must have realistic expectations about the process.

Deck piers require heavy equipment, which is often driven over your grass and gardens. Avoid laying fresh sod or planting new material until the deck crew finishes your project. You’ll also need to provide a space for lumber storage; conscientious contractors often tarp an area of the lawn or driveway for this purpose. Be prepared to share your space with workers and materials during the course of construction.

Do Not Forget to Contact the Local Building Department

Your local Virginia state building department offers guidance on building codes and requirements involved in residential construction. Consult with them before and during the deck design phase and take their valuable direction into consideration.

Contractors know the code and should build a deck to suit it, but wise homeowners familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of building codes in order to make better design decisions.

Avoid these four mistakes and build your Northern Virginia deck with confidence. The project will add value to your property and plenty of space to enjoy the warm season.

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.

Top Five Modern Deck Features to Set Your Virginia Deck Apart

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Sleek shade structures

Building a deck or patio is like adding an outdoor room to your home, and that living space should have the same conveniences and features as your interior rooms. Adding modern deck features to set your Virginia deck apart helps to capture your unique style and makes this space feel more like home.

Check out these top five features that hit the mark for contemporary styling and modern conveniences:

# 1 – Tempered Glass Railing

Modern ground level decks are often designed without a railing, preserving a feeling of openness. But decks more than 24 inches off the ground require a railing for safety purposes. Tempered glass railings provide the ideal solution, maintaining the view while keeping your family and guests safe.

Pair tempered glass panels with wood railings for a rugged look, or opt for aluminum posts, top and bottom rail. This material is maintenance-free and available in a wide range of colors. Some glass railing manufacturers also offer a frameless system, which optimizes your view. Consider tinted or etched glass for a dramatic appearance.

# 2 – Built In Bar or Kitchen

A fabulous addition for those who love to entertain on the deck, outdoor bars and kitchens can be designed to suit your lifestyle. Think about an upscale grill and prep station if backyard barbecues are a common event on your summer schedule. Or opt for an inlaid rock bar with built in sink and bar fridge for cocktails under the stars. The options for this Virginia deck feature are almost endless.

Be sure to plan out the ideal location for your built in bar or kitchen, paying close attention to traffic patterns and access to the main kitchen. Also consider building codes and heat protection for deck board and any vinyl siding nearby.

# 3 – Sleek Shade Structure

Adding shade to the deck extends your enjoyment of the space and provides a comfortable place to rest from the sun’s heat. Modern decks boast sleek shade structures in striking shapes, such as a triangular sun sail for that casual look or a high, heavy-beamed pergola for more traditional appeal.

Incorporate the framing, posts and structure into the deck, carrying on similar themes and shapes throughout the railing and trim.

# 4 – Deck Board Border

Choose your favorite color of composite deck board for the deck surface. Popular tones include browns, grays, tans and reddish hues, available in a range of shades from the biggest brands in the decking industry. But don’t limit your design options there—dress up the space with a contrasting border color. Use stain to achieve the same look in wood.

This deck design works especially well with larger layouts and multilevel decks, where each area is created to standalone as a room in your home would. Using a contrasting color deck board gives that room visual definition, without detracting from the overall design or creating any physical obstructions.

# 5 – Inlaid Patterns

Inlaid patterns provide another option for deck board details. Put a little dramatic splash into any area of your deck by installing the floorboards in a unique manner. Either with different colors or by shifting the direction of the decking, you can easily add spice and character to this space.

Your contractor may need to include extra framing for this option, or charge you more for the labor-intensive installation. But the final effect is well worth the investment, making this outdoor living space truly one of a kind.

Set your Virginia deck apart with any of these five modern deck features. From glass railing to built in bars, shade structures and deck board patterns, these details dress up your deck and help to display your tastes and character.