Generally speaking, make any outdoor living spaces slightly larger than indoor rooms intended for the same purpose. A family room of 16 by 18 feet in size would be modified to be 18 by 20 feet- outside in order to accommodate similar activities. A 10 foot square breakfast nook would equate to a 12 foot square area outside for the same function. Outdoor furniture designed for leisure living tends to be slightly larger than indoor furniture. An outdoor chair generally occupies a square yard of deck area while a bench seat requires a 3 foot wide space. A walking space requires a minimum width of 3 feet while a main pathway would be 4 to 5 feet in width. Main steps would be 4 to 6 feet in width. Include furniture arrangements and traffic patterns in the plan to ensure that there is enough room provided. Use planters, dividers, alcoves and benches to break up larger areas.
Consider the size of the home and the size of the yard when trying to determine an appropriate size for the deck. A large home can overwhelm a small deck while a smaller home can make a comfortably sized deck feel to large. Avoid wall to wall decks that span the entire back of the home since they create a feeling that the deck and house are out of proportion. Making a decision as to the shape of a deck can be a daunting task initially. There are so many shapes from which to choose. Squares, rectangles, curves, angles, L-shapes, T-shapes and free forms are just a few of the possibilities. Create the deck shape by aligning the sides of the deck with existing features. The swimming pool, a hot tub, fence lines, a large tree or garage wall. Doors and windows may suggest the length and the direction of other sides of the deck. Taking the time to consider the principles that affect the deck size and shape is a very important step with your new project.
The materials used for the construction of decks is almost as varied as they sizes and shapes themselves. Pressure-Treated Southern Yellow Pine has been the standard deck building materials for years. It’s track record is proven and it’s affordability unrivaled. It’s relatively inexpensive, readily available in a wide range of sizes and takes fasteners easily. On the down side, it is more likely to checking, splintering, cupping and twisting. But like most things, if maintained properly, it will offers years of enjoyment.
Western Red Cedar and Redwood both produce beautiful decking and are frequently specified for high-end custom decks since they resist splintering and checkering. However, they are rather soft, making wear a problem in high traffic areas. In addition, the best “vertical grain” material is in short supply since it is cut from trees taken from old growth forests. Tannic acid found in both, sometimes reacts with galvanized fasteners to cause staining, so stainless steel fasteners are preferred.
Then there is the currently popular Composite Polymer Wood (Trex, Boardwalk, TimberTech and Fiberon are examples). This is a relatively new material which is manufactured from recycled plastic and wood fiber. It is becoming readily available, and is manufactured in a variety of colors in both 5/4 and 2x thicknesses. It does not have a perceptible grain, nor does it splinter, absorb water or rot. If possible stick with designated composite wood screws when purchasing fasteners. Tropical Hardwoods such as Ipe, Teak, Pau Lope, or Greenheart are premium materials for long-life decks. The woods are very dense, and resist rot, cupping, splintering or checkering. Usually these products are special order and require stainless steel fasteners. Organizations distributing these materials often claim to obtain them from managed forests. Check carefully before you buy.
We hope some of the above information will be helpful. We offer to you a zero-cost consultation and estimate for any deck project you may be considering. Give us a call, lets talk.