Building a new deck or redesigning your current deck adds to the value of your home, and your lifestyle. While it can be tempting to try and DIY your new build or try to fix your current structure, it is essential to consider your goals and choose the right materials.
First ask yourself:
Do I want to add a deck to my home?
Do I want to replace my current deck?
Do I want to redesign and update my current deck?
Knowing your goals will get you started on the right track of knowing what to do first.
Look at the details that go into designing a new or existing deck, replacing your old deck and pros and cons of popular materials options.
Designing a New Deck
If you’re catching yourself stepping into your backyard and dreaming of a beautiful deck to lounge on, it might be time to consider building. Not only can a deck tie your home together, it can also bring your value.
Before you can start your decking project you’ll need to determine what size, shape, and features you want to add by identifying what goals and purpose your deck is for.
Entertaining and meals: If you’re planning on adding a table, a good rule of thumb is to add 4 feet all the way around the table.
Standing parties: Yet, if you want to host events on your deck you might consider getting wider handrails to hold drinks and you should consider if you’ll be adding stairs or multiple levels.
Outdoor kitchens: Want to take your home cooking outdoors? Adding an outdoor kitchen is the latest trend in 2022 helping to create or enhance your indoor/outdoor living spaces but not without considerations for plumbing, gas and electrical – especially if you’re going full service.
Other considerations to have when designing your deck is to build your deck to fit your space. Each backyard is unique and whether you’ve got lots of trees or a sloped yard you can plan your deck to match your needs. To make it easier to visualize you can outline your deck size with string or flags. You can even put furniture in there to make sure everything fits.
For yards with:
- Slopes or Uneven Ground – Rather than one long deck, consider adding multiple levels to utilize your space.
- Extra Sunshine- Build a pergola to enjoy some shade while keeping your sunlight is a great option.
- Lots of Trees- You might have to work around trees for your deck. A good rule of thumb is to leave 3 inches around the trunk for growth and to help the base get proper air and water and to build around healthy trees.
- Lack of Privacy- Adding a privacy screen that can be anchored to your deck can give you more peace and comfort.
Replacing Your Deck
If your home has a deck already, safety is a top priority. The Association of Certified Home Inspections estimated 60% of the 45 million deck structures in America have safety issues. Routine inspections can catch these safety issues before something happens. If you’re considering a deck replacement for safety issues, upgrading the look, or you know it’s time to replace, a great place to start is an inspection. There are things you can look for beforehand to know how your deck is holding up.
Wood Rot and/or Soft Spots
- Inspect your deck, especially underneath for rot and soft spots. Be sure to check areas where water tends to pool.
- You can use your finger or a knife to push into your deck and see if it easily goes through, this is a sign you’ve got some problems.
- Although rails aren’t key to your decks structural integrity, shaky rails can cause safety issues for children and pets. Look for any rust or rot and try tightening your railing screws.
- Noticing one or two loose boards can be a sign of a repair but if you’re whole deck is moving, this can be a serious safety issue and requires a professional inspection.
Split/ Cracked Boards
- Nobody wants to get a splinter walking on a deck. Your deck might not be holding up if your boards start splitting and cracking.
Joints & Beams
- These are critical to a decks structural integrity. Check for rot or rust and get inspections regularly to prevent safety issues.
- A deck would be nothing without its nails. Rusty nails can be a sign of wear and tear and need to be inspected.
Your homeowner inspection leads you to your next step. Do you need to fully replace your deck or can you keep the bones and do a redesign? Any of the above signs signal a deck replacement is needed. If you have concerns, get in touch with your local contractor for a professional inspection before deciding what comes next on design or materials.
Redesigning Your Deck
We looped in deck expert Jordan Bednar, project manager with decades of industry experience who highlights a key element to upgrading or redesigning your existing deck. Bednar shared that it is possible that your current deck has “good bones” still and you could replace your cedar boards with composite material, as well as continue with a deck expansion. However, “if your current deck is not to code, any contractor you work with is required to bring it up to code, even if you just want to replace one boards,” says Bednar.
Safety and Building Requirements to Consider:
Start by researching local building codes, HOA (if applicable), and permit requirements to help guide your design
- For those in the greater Colorado Springs area, you can check out basic codes on the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
- For those in Denver, check out your local building and fire codes here.
- For those in Fort Collins, here are your building codes
Get your current deck professionally inspected or know how to do it yourself to ensure it’s safe and can handle an addition.
Choosing Deck Materials
Moisture is a key culprit for deck damage and an average lifespan of a deck in Colorado is 15-20 years. You’ll want to weigh your options and see which material fits best for your needs. Homeowners can expect to earn back an average of 80% of their costs from building a wooden deck, while a composite deck earns you a 68% value recoup. The top three most popular choices are pressure-treated wood, composite wood, or cedar.
Pressure-Treated Wood – This wood is either spruce, fur, or pine and is chemically treated making it less likely to develop rot, fungal decay, or insect damage.
Durability – With the chemical treatment pressured- wood goes through, it’s more durable than many other types of wood and better withstands dents, scratches, and marks.
Cost – Average costs range from $12-$14 per square foot.
Color Options- If you’re trying to match colors to your home or want the option to paint/stain, this material makes it easy to do what you want.
Maintenance- 1x a year you’ll need to stain and apply a penetrating sealer to keep it protected
Sustainability- Pine is most commonly used for this type of deck and is an environmentally-friendly choice.
Splinters – This natural wood can become dry and start to slit apart leading to splinters. Your treated deck may also experience checking.
Fading- Especially in Colorado, no colors are immune to fading that happens over time from sun exposure.
More Maintenance- This type of material requires more work to keep it in shape. Be sure you know how much regular upkeep is required beforehand.
Chemical Risks– Pressure-treated wood is made with chemicals and can become hazardous when burned, trimmed, or cut as chemicals are released into the air.
Composite Wood – This is a synthetic wood that has grown in popularity over the years. Composite wood benefits of durability and low-maintenance make it a great choice for homeowners looking to spend their time elsewhere. Trex is a quality manufacturer that we work with. Trex offers homeowners a durable decking material that looks like wood but has better durability and moisture resistance.
Composite wood is Bednar’s top choice for homeowners in Colorado, followed by metal and aluminum for their moisture resistance and maintenance. “A low-maintenance deck is something that will pay off later down the line and most composites have a 50 year warranty” he said. Bednar highlights composite to ultimately be a cheaper option for homeowners despite a higher upfront building cost.
Durability– Composite wood is insect and rot resistant and doesn’t need to be regularly painted or stained. Its outer layer gives it an extra level of protection against the outside elements.
Cost– Average costs range from $30-$60 per square foot.
Color Options– There are lots of colors and textures to choose from but just in case, you can always paint your deck.
Maintenance– 2x a year, clean your deck of any dirt or debris.
Sustainability– Trex offers homeowners sustainable decking options. Fun fact- An average 500-square foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags!
Cost- Composite decks offer greater durability and less maintenance but can cost 50%-100% more than treated lumber.
Color- While you can repaint your deck, you can’t get rid of color, tint, or shade of the original deck.
Fading/ Damages- Picking a darker color means accepting that it might fade quicker over time. Repairing damaged composite planks is harder than regular wood since you might need to replace the individual deck plank.
Cedar – The natural look of wood, color, and smell is impossible to recreate and cedar decking gives you the authentic feel and warmth of your wood deck. Bednar recommends staying away from wood since it won’t last as long as composite and requires way more maintenance for homeowners than other decking materials but you’ll need to weigh all the pros and cons for each material to help make your decision.
Durability– Cedar offers a natural insect resistance and is more resistant to moisture allowing a longer lifespan.
Cost– Average costs are $4 – $9 per square foot.
Color Options– You can paint or stain your cedar deck but be sure to follow proper steps to prevent chipping and cracking.
Maintenance– Natural wood requires more maintenance. From sweeping to washing your deck, cedar deck requires regular upkeep to ensure its longevity and prevent splintering.
Sustainability– For those looking to make a greener choice, cedar has a low impact on air and water quality.
Fading To Gray– Overtime cedar that isn’t properly stained can turn to gray.
Softer Wood– Cedar is more susceptible to scratching or denting.
More Upkeep– Real wood is hard to recreate and choosing wood means embracing all the upkeep that comes with it.
Deck Replacement with Endeavor Exteriors
Remodeling exteriors is our passion but transforming your home into something you’ll feel proud of gives us a sense of pride in our work. Your experience comes first. Throughout your whole project, we provide clear communication and work with high quality manufacturers to create the home of your dreams. Whether you’ve got questions before starting your project or you’re ready for a quote, we look forward to helping guide you through this journey.