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.

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.

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 Benefits of Using Cedar Wood for Your Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Contractors and DIY enthusiasts often use treated wood to build decks, but you have several other options for your Virginia deck. Composite wood products and exotic woods tend to be expensive, but cedar wood presents several benefits to Virginia residents, making it a great choice for your backyard living space. Compare deck materials and choose the best option for your property.

# 1 – Cedar Weathers Well

Cedar heartwood is used for decking materials and provides natural resistance to rot. Although decking contractors recommend using treated wood for the in-ground applications (framing and posts), cedar deck boards, stairs and railing materials should last 15 to 20 years without major structural decay. And that’s without applying any stain or treatment products–a good quality cedar stain could extend that life by a decade or more.

Left to weather naturally, cedar turns a silver color. This attractive appearance matches well with modern and traditional homes and provides a casual atmosphere for your outdoor living space. Many Virginia homeowners want this look and cedar delivers with minimal effort. For those consumers who want to maintain the rich red color of new cedar, annual cleaning and staining are required.

# 2 – Cedar Presents Fewer Splinters

Many deck installers prefer to handle cedar, as it tends to present fewer splinters. This may appeal to young families and pet owners in particular. Cedar decking surfaces remain smooth and comfortable for years.

Cedar sawdust may trigger an allergic reaction in some people, but it does not contain any chemicals and can be safely composted. Scrap cedar can be burned (where allowed by local bylaws) and this wood can be safely used for indoor and outdoor applications.

# 3 – Cedar Costs Less Than Other Premium Products

Cedar decks are more expensive than those designed using standard treated lumber. Expect to pay about 40 to 50 percent more to finish your Virginia deck in cedar wood. But this added cost is much less than composite wood, which runs closer to double or even triple the cost of standard treated lumber.

# 4 – Cedar Allows for Flexible Deck Designs

Are you dreaming of a round deck design or something with a little personal flare? Cedar is fairly flexible and can be used to construct decks of varying sizes, shapes and designs. A soft wood that allows for bending and cutting, cedar provides a skilled craftsman with hundreds of design possibilities. When compared to hardwoods, treated wood and composite products, cedar allows for more variation in your design.

# 5 – Cedar Presents Less Cupping and Warping

Cedar does not absorb moisture as much as spruce, pine or fir (woods used in treated lumber). This natural property means that cedar does not split or crack as readily and quickly as treated wood. You’ll find less cupping and warping on a cedar deck, allowing for a more professional appearance now and over time. Cedar may grow mold or mildew, when left in the shade, but it will perform very well in all other areas.

Talk to your contractor about using cedar wood for your Virginia deck. This building material provides several benefits and is well worth the additional investment.