Everything You Need to Know About Decking


A deck can be a great investment. It not only adds beauty and functionality to your home. It also enhances your home’s value.

Getting started on building a deck may initially seem overwhelming. Not necessarily! After all, you only need to consider a few things:

A plan of the deck you have in mind

A set budget for your plan

A decision on the size of the deck you want

Following is a guide on everything about decking to help you build the perfect deck for your home.

Different Styles

There’s a lot of deck styles to choose from. You can opt for a smaller deck for hosting small parties and get-togethers. If you want a larger deck to host bigger parties, then you can opt for a wraparound deck. You can then decide on how you want your deck to look like.

Deck Size

The size is a major factor to consider once you have made up your mind to build a deck. Do you want just a small deck for two where you can enjoy a quiet dinner or some quality time with your spouse? In this case, the deck will require fewer materials, and it will cost less. If you frequently entertain guests or you host parties from time to time, then you may opt for a bigger deck. This deck will cost more.

You can build the deck behind the house. If there is space at the side of the yard, you can go for a wraparound deck. This will provide some room for tables, chairs, and even a barbecue. There will also be a lot of space for people to walk around and mingle.

Types of Materials

Various materials are available for your deck. One of the most popular is wood because of its affordable price and wide availability.

Another good option is cedar. While it is lightweight, it is strong. This makes cedar the ideal material for a deck with heavy foot traffic. The oil in cedar repels insects that can potentially damage the deck.

A common deck material, specifically on the West Coast, is redwood. The beautiful color of the wood will make the deck stand out.

Composite is another popular material these days. It has become as popular as wood. The material is made from wood fibers and recycled plastic. It’s immune to insects and rotting that can cause expensive damages.

Composite likewise doesn’t warp or splinter, ensuring that your deck will look great over time. The material also requires minimal maintenance. With the raid advancements in technology, composite decks look and feel more and more like wood.

Cost of Installation

As mentioned, the total cost of the deck partly depends on its size. The larger the area, the more materials will be necessary. Typical cost of a composite deck is about $1.50 to $3.00 per ft2. Wood decks cost just about as much, averaging anywhere between $1.25 and $3.00 per ft2. You also need to set aside budget for the extras like railings. If you want your deck to have built-in benches, then you should also provide a budget for the additional materials.

DIY vs. Hiring Professional Help

You may be able to build a simple deck on your own, or maybe with a little help from friends. A simple, single-level deck is easier and less time-consuming to build. You only have to make sure you’re building on a solid foundation. You also have to attach the posts properly to provide stability to the deck.

However, if you want a multiple level deck or one with various features, it may be best to leave the job to the hands of the pros. Just make sure to tell them everything you want your deck to have so they can provide a more accurate estimate, plan the job, and build the deck you want.

Dos and Don’ts in Decking

In building a deck, it is important to measure everything – multiple times, if necessary – to make sure that your materials will fit together properly. For example, if you want your deck to be in a corner or beside a fence, you’re left with just a little of room for error. It is also crucial that you have the appropriate fasteners to put the materials together, as it can affect the deck’s stability.

When building a composite deck, avoid over-spanning the decking. Check the span limits of the particular product, and follow them, in particular, when using the material as stair treads.

There are various factors to consider when building a deck. First, you must have an idea of how the finished deck will look and whether you want to have a single or multi-level deck. Decide on what the deck’s purpose is, so you’ll have an idea on the size you need.

The material used will determine the deck’s durability, general appearance, as well as the total cost. You will also have an idea on what methods to use and how difficult it will be to build the deck you envision.


At this point, you are done with the planning stage. You have settled on the size of deck you need and its purpose. Measurements are done and you have already sourced the materials. It’s now time to actually build your deck.

It is vital that you know how to properly install your deck – whether your material of choice is composite or hardwood. You should also think about the finishing touches to complete the deck and provide it with a great look. If you want, you can add some personal touches. These include buying the furnishings and decorations to adorn the deck and its surrounding area with when you have visitors.

Installation Tips

When building a hardwood deck, make sure there’s enough ventilation. This will minimize wood movement and increase the deck’s stability. Allow a minimum of 18” of open air beneath the open-sided joists to improve cross ventilation.

When cutting the wood material for your deck, be sure to seal the planks within 24 hours. Apply end grain sealant at the cut point of the wood. Make sure that no sealant reaches the particular portion of the wood that will come in contact with foot traffic. When this happens, wipe it off right away.

In building a composite deck, you must consider the thermal expansion, which isn’t a concern with hardwood. This means the deck will undergo expansion and shrinkage as it gets exposed to warm and cold weather the entire year.

Mushrooming is another problem to consider. This happens when a bugle head screw drives composite material to the surface, causing an ugly bump. To minimize the risk of mushrooming, using reverse-thread screws will do the trick.

Finishing Touches

After laying down the wood, and building the basic structure, you can now breathe a sigh of relieve. The most challenging part is over. The next step is to add the finishing touches. These include staining the wood to protect the material from all kinds of weather. Because the deck is outdoors, it is always exposed to the elements. Over time, this can result to damage.

You can then add tables, chairs, and other furnishing and decorations. The final touch would be to adorn the deck and its surrounding area with smaller items like flower pots and bins.

Just as important as properly building the deck is sealing it. Exposure to the elements day in and day out can take a toll on your deck. First, check if sealing will help protect your deck. You can do this by sprinkling some water. If the deck absorbs the water, then it can benefit from sealing. Before applying sealant, make sure that the deck is completely dry and clear of debris.

Apply a thin coat of sealant over the material. Avoid forming any puddles. Do the same to the remaining parts of the deck. Make sure to apply the sealant evenly.

Personalizing Your Deck

After building and sealing the deck, the fun part begins. You can set your creativity free, and start decorating away! To keep you on the right track, always remember your purpose for building the deck. This way, you can decorate the deck with that purpose in mind.

For instance, if you’ll be receiving guests, place appropriate tables and chairs to make your visitors comfortable. If you plan on having barbeque parties, then have a grill and other cooking implements handy during warmer months. Also consider the sun’s direction during the day. Put big umbrellas in appropriate places to protect your guests during the day.

You need not break the bank just to add some charm to your deck. Simply putting planter boxes around will help. You can buy the boxes or build them on your own. Place brightly colored flowers in the planter boxes to liven up the atmosphere in your deck.

If the deck is located very near your neighbor’s property, and you need to have some privacy, you can use a privacy screen for this purpose. The screen doubles up as a wind protector as well. Creating an awning is another way to protect you and your guests from nosey neighbors. This way, you can stay outdoors in comfort – even during the warm months.

The key is to come up with ways on how to make your own deck stand out by putting your own personal touch. If you love sailing and you’re near the sea, you can use nautical-themed décor around the deck such as hand-painted signs in various colors like white and blue.

Consider the night lighting as well. You can buy some lanterns to hang around the deck. You and your friends can then enjoy the soft glow as you take in the cool evening breeze. Add some coziness to your deck by investing in outdoor cushions and pillows that come in your favorite colors.

Maintaining Your Deck

All year round, your deck will need proper maintenance to make sure it will stay in good condition for many years to come. if the deck starts to accumulate dirt, use a deck cleaner and get rid of the grime and dirt. If necessary, apply a coating off the sealant after cleaning. Cleaning off food particles and drinks immediately can help preserve your deck’s condition. When spilled on the deck, acidic or dark colored drinks like wine can stain the wood permanently. To avoid damage, clean and dry the spill right away.

After completing your deck project, you can start enjoying it. To sum everything up, here are some pointers:

  • Properly building and sealing your deck is important. So take time to make sure that everything is done right.
  • Have fun personalizing your dream deck.
  • Pick a theme and get accessories and décor to match the theme.
  • Pick items that will support the purpose of the deck such as chairs, tables, grills, and kitchen utensils.
  • Flowers nicely placed in pots or planter boxes can add a touch of color to the atmosphere without being overwhelming.