Tips on Adding a Sound System to Your Northern Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Sound systems create a relaxing atmosphere in any area of your home, and there’s no better place to kick back and listen to tunes than in the backyard. Adding a quality, durable sound system to your Northern Virginia deck requires a few essential components and an eye (or is it ear?) for detail. Find out how you can enjoy music while lounging in your outdoor living space this season.

Material List for Outdoor Sound Systems

This type of entertainment center requires a few easy to find components, including:

  • Outdoor Speakers – invest in quality speakers specifically designed for outdoor use. They often come with rubber grommets protecting the wire entrance point and sealed compartments at connection points. Casing is waterproof and superior brands provide added corrosion protection with gold-plated binding posts.
  • Wire – unless you opt for wireless speakers, outdoor sound systems require speaker wire running from the receiver to each speaker. Direct burial or DB wire is recommended for use with outdoor systems, and standard speaker wire cannot withstand the exposure to sun and moisture.
  • Conduit – may be required for systems running on 120-volt wire, although other system designs do not require conduit.

Placement and Overall Deck Design Considerations

Outdoor speakers come in a few different styles or designs. The most popular are wall-mount, post-mount and planter styles. Other outdoor speakers come disguised in an outdoor accessory, such as a resin rock, garden sculpture or tree stump.

Speaker design and placement play major roles in reliability and sound quality. Well made speakers produce excellent sound in any weather, season after season. Proper placement ensures your family and guests will enjoy the tunes from any corner of your Northern Virginia deck.

Wall-mount speakers point slightly down, toward the deck surface, and project sound to the entire yard. This type of placement may disturb your neighbor, since the echo tends to be louder just outside the perimeter of your property. Wall-mount outdoor sound systems are the most economical and simple to install, since they require less wire than alternative placements.

Post-mount speakers contain the sound within the deck area. Installed around the perimeter of your deck, these speakers point back toward the house. Post-mount applications require more wire and installation time, driving costs higher and demanding the skills of a professional.

Accessory styles can be placed at various locations to provide spot sound, most often near patio furniture or lounging areas. They tend to be low to the ground, and project less sound than the other two styles. Speakers disguised as outdoor accessories are often wireless, but require batteries to operate.

Contractor Considerations

Talk to your Virginia deck builder about incorporating an outdoor sound system into your deck design. They can run speaker wire through conduit mounted to the joists and leave space grommets and other connection components in the ledger board. An experienced deck builder can help to pinpoint deck designs that may facilitate better sound and furniture placement, optimizing your outdoor experience and making the most of your outdoor sound system investment.

Add a sound system to your Northern Virginia deck for parties, socializing and everyday relaxation. With these tips and the help of your deck builder, creating an entertainment center in the backyard is easier than ever.

Top Four Northern Virginia Deck Designs for Unique Properties

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Not all backyards are alike. In fact most present a few unique challenges when designing the ideal outdoor living space. Check out these top four Northern Virginia deck designs to see if any of them can be adapted to suit your unique property. From extreme grades to swampy soil and waterfront lots, these deck plans make the most of the situation.

Deck Designs for Extreme Grades (Down)

With the help of a professional contractor decks can be built on nearly any property, even if your house is built into a steep hill, or the grade drops off naturally towards the rear of your property. In many cases a well-built deck allows for better use of the yard, creating a flat space for patio furniture, BBQs and other backyard living features.

Footings are the most important aspect of decks built on extreme grades. These concrete piers need to firmly support the deck frame. Be sure your contractor digs a deep hole that’s wide enough to allow for a stable footing. Think about the effects of erosion and consult your municipal building department to ensure that your footings meet local building codes for safety and stability.

Railings are another essential element, protecting those on the deck from falls and injuries. All railing posts should be spaced fairly close together (around 4 feet apart is a good measure) and made from materials that have been tested for strength and durability.

Deck Designs for Extreme Grades (Up)

When your home sits at the base of a steep hill the design challenges are vastly different from other situations. You don’t need to worry as much about footings, but may have to design your deck to suit the natural layout of the hill. Plan for curved edges and smaller platforms incorporated together into a large deck design.

Excavation is another option when your yard grades up to the rear. Move the soil away to create a flat space and install heavy-duty retaining walls around your deck or patio area. This creates a private oasis, often quiet and shady. But those retaining walls must be built correctly or the natural power of gravity will have that space looking run down in just a few seasons.

Deck Designs for Swampy Yards

Perhaps you live in a low-lying area, or have experienced several issues with drainage. Assess the water problems before installing your Northern Virginia deck, to be sure those concrete footings will not heave or sink. In swampy or wet areas, the concrete footings need to be installed deep into the ground, providing solid support. Building codes may have standards regarding minimum footing depth on swampy lots.

Be sure to use treated lumber for this deck design as well, since moisture takes a toll on cedar and other wood species in a short period of time. Even treated lumber will rot over the years, but you can opt for composite or vinyl deck boards to reduce maintenance and increase longevity.

Deck Designs for Waterfront Properties

Waterfront homes generally provide fantastic views and direct sun. That means your deck design needs to incorporate shade without blocking the views and creating a fishbowl effect void of privacy. Deck designs for waterfront cottages and homes often hug the side of the building, stretching around the corners for a wrap-around look. Overhang a roof for easy shade or build a gazebo into the corner for seclusion and shade.

Railings need to be sturdy and safe, unless the deck is close to the ground. In that case, consider incorporating wrap-around stairs as well, allowing traffic to flow off of the deck at any point and adding impromptu seating for larger gatherings.

These Northern Virginia deck designs address the specific problems of unique properties. Call your local deck contractor to discuss your own needs and keep dreaming of that ideal outdoor living space.

Why Plan Early For Your Northern Virginia Deck?

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

northern-virginia-deckLarge home improvement projects take time to plan. You need to move from the dreams in your head to sketches on paper and then on to designing and troubleshooting with your contractor. But all of that effort is worth it when you get to see the finished product – a Northern Virginia deck that suits your tastes and yard perfectly. Think about the many advantages to planning your deck project early.

Coming Up With the Best Deck Design

Not all decks are created equal. And not all come in a simple shape, with room for your BBQ and a patio table. The best deck designs are built to accommodate your family’s hobbies and lifestyle, as well as the lay of your property. Grading issues, the location of trees and gardens and various other factors need to be considered when designing your deck in order to ensure the area fits well into the space.

You may want to make a few sketches of various deck designs. Be sure to include the house walls in the sketch, along with any permanent fixtures including trees, sheds, driveways and walkways. Some things can be moved if necessary, but it’s best to start designing with those fixtures in mind. Experiment with different shapes and designs, put in multiple layers and think about the various types of railings available. When you begin this stage early, there’s plenty of time to play around before deciding on a final design.

Getting the Best Prices

Taking the time to plan your Northern Virginia deck project will help you secure the best prices as well. Not only will you be able to shop the project around and compare contractor rates, but you can also take advantage of pre-season rates. Many contractors offer early booking programs to help them get their season off to a strong start. You should always hire the best contractor for the job, despite the price, but you stand a better chance at nabbing these discounts by planning ahead.

Many product introductions also occur in the early spring, just in time for the backyard season. Check out what’s newly available; you may just find something that is perfect for your home or lifestyle. New composite decking products pop up almost every year, as well as fastening systems, railing designs and deck accessories. Ask your local contractors what’s appearing in their showrooms or browse the web to get a look at new and innovative products entering the deck industry this year. You may find a deal or be eligible for an introductory price.

Starting the Season Right

One of the biggest advantages to planning your deck early is the jump you’ll get on the season. Early planners are usually one of the first projects in the ground come springtime, providing more days of enjoyment on your new deck. If you’re coordinating the decking project with a new pool, fence or hot tub, scheduling can get a bit tricky. But planning ahead and keeping all of the various contractors up to date will ensure your backyard is ready to play around in as early as possible.

Make sure your Northern Virginia deck is built using the best design by planning early. Get a better price and start the season with a bang by starting the process long before installation. Time is on your side, and thoughtful planning will help you create that relaxing, cozy backyard space.

Top Five Tips on Budgeting For Your Northern Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

northern_virginia_deckOutdoor living space will add to your quality of life and create countless opportunities for family fun and relaxation. But saving the money for your Northern Virginia deck project can be challenging. Follow these top five budgeting tips and you’ll have the deck of your dreams before you know it.

Tip 1 – Design the Most Functional Deck Possible

Many people rush through the design process and end up with a space that doesn’t meet their needs as well as it could have. Decks are permanent fixtures in your landscape and are difficult (and expensive) to change or adapt once they have been installed. Work through all of your needs and concerns before finalizing a deck design that is ideal for your family.

Keep the overall budget in mind throughout the process, but be sure you do not compromise on features and size. Building a small deck or leaving out important features will be cause for regret and diminish the value of this investment.

Tip 2 – Consider the Time of Year

You will get the most enjoyment out of your deck when it’s installed in the spring. But that only applies to the current season. You’ll have years to appreciate the deck space, and waiting until the off-season to install your Northern Virginia deck can mean big savings.

Many contractors slow down in the fall and early winter months. This could be the ideal time to get more for your money. It doesn’t hurt to ask, although the prices of material and working conditions have the most effect on the overall project price.

Tip 3 – Obtain a Home Equity Loan

Since a deck will add to the value of your home, many financial institutions will consider extending a home equity loan to cover the cost. These types of loans often come with a lower interest rate than your credit cards and allow for flexible payments. Talk to your financial institution about the most affordable plan for financing this particular project.

Tip 4 – Research Government Programs

Various tax rebates and government incentives have been in place for homeowners in the past. From upgrading your heating appliances to installing alternative energy solutions, these offers were designed to help you save money directly from the government. Do your research and find out if the design or type of materials chosen for your deck fits into any rebate programs.

Tip 5 – Consider the DIY Option

It may not be feasible for every homeowner, but those with the skill and inclination to build a deck can save money going the DIY route. This project can get complicated though, so don’t attempt the installation process without the know how to see it through. Instead it may be worthwhile to consider other expenses and costs that can be shaved by doing certain task yourself.

Spending lots of cash on car washes? Shining up the car or truck yourself is much cheaper and lots of fun. Have you hired a landscaper to plant the gardens or brought in a painter to redecorate the house? Think about whether you can tackle other projects with DIY, leaving that cash free to invest in a new deck. Use the skills you have to save money and invest that money into a professionally built outdoor living space.

The atmosphere and space that a new Northern Virginia deck offers is priceless. Follow these budget tips to move faster towards the completion of this project with wisdom and practicality.