Deckorating Basics

Deckorating Basics












If you are looking to extend your living space, there is perhaps no better place to turn than outdoors. According to experts at The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, Americans are increasingly interested in “cocooning,” spending more quality time relaxing, entertaining and gathering with family and friends in the comfort of their own surroundings. As a result, decks, porches and patios have become a popular foundation for creating the ideal backyard resort. And while outdoor expansions are typically the least invasive remodeling projects, there are still many things you will want to take into consideration before your start deckorating your surroundings.

Want it. Need it. Have to have it.
Want it. Need it. Have to have it. Overall, your needs of the client and the location will dictate much of a deck, patio and/or porch design, so it is important to consider all of your wants and desires.

Consider this
Answering the following questions will help you determine the location, size, materials and various design elements you crave. Considering these items will make it easier to communicate with your contractor so you can create your dream design within a realistic budget.

1. What type of functions do I want my outdoor area to serve?
2. What types of activities will take place in this area?
3.How do I want my existing (interior) space to interact with the new (exterior) space?
4. What type of budget am I working with?
5. How much time and energy can I allot to maintain of this new space?

Size Wise

To get an idea of the space, lay out a rope or a garden hose to help you see clearly how, for example, your table and chairs will work in an area of a given size. Outdoor spaces, like the rooms of your home, can end up being too large or too small to work properly. —Jeff Wilson, HGTV host and advisor for Thompson’s Water Seal


Photo courtesy of Thompson’s Water Seal

According to Jeff Wilson, HGTV host and an advisor for Thompson’s Water Seal, the beginning phase is a time to dream big. “It is important to allow yourself to dream in a sky-is-the-limit fashion in order to ensure you get exactly what you want,” he says. Create a list of all the items you want, need or have to have, even if they seem too expensive, and from there you can work with a designer or contractor to prioritize items within your working budget. “This will help you make sure you don’t have any regrets with the final project,” Wilson adds.

What’s my style?
So now you have to decide which structure is best for you—a deck, porch or patio. You will first want to consider which will function the best for your lifestyle, Levine says. From there, recommends considering the elevation of your home’s doors. If your house access point is near ground level, a patio may be more practical than a deck. A high door location will require a deck or porch. Price can also be a factor as porches are typically more expensive than decks, and decks more than patios. If you can’t decide, “fantastic combinations of the three can be achieved with proper planning,” Wilson says.

Design ideas
It’s important to consider how the size of the deck or patio will fit with the overall look and feel of your home. No longer are you required to select a simple rectangular spaces, you can create any size and even add a variety of levels.

There are also more decorative options. Color, materials, lighting and architectural elements are just a few features that can add pizzazz.

Material things
According to NADRA, the quality or grade of your materials ultimately determines the success or failure of your structure. Before choosing a material, you will want to consider cost and upkeep.

DECKSpert Advice

Tips on picking the right pro for the job.

• Check portfolios and ask for references.
• Make sure the builders are skilled with the latest materials.
• Look for membership in trade organizations such as The North American Deck and Rail Asssociation (NADRA) and The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).
• Plan ahead because deck builders are booked during busy

Source: NADRA,

Piece together the patio

Photo courtesy of TREX

Patios can take advantage of a variety materials, all of which are relatively low maintenance.

Some popular materials being used today are:

• Concrete(stained, colored, stamped and engraved options are available)
• Bricks
• Stones
• Slate
• Flagstone
• Tile
• Pavers

Source: Concrete Network,

Decked out
There are three different porch or decking material options that can affect the strength and amount of maintenance required.

• Pressure-treated lumber (pine or fir): least expensive, high maintenance, typically needs replacing in about 10 years
• Rot-resistant wood (cedar, cypress, redwood): high quality, long lasting, high maintenance
• Composites (combination of wood and plastic): little to no maintenance, long life span (more than 25 years), variety of colors and styles

Source: DecksKey,

Maintenance minimums
According to Wilson, “everything needs to be protected from the elements.” He recommends adding a quality waterproofer as soon as possible to all porous surfaces (wood, concrete, pavers, flagstone). Waterproofers come in clear formulas or with color. You will also have to clean the surface periodically, typically with a power washer, and apply a new coat of waterproofer, but how often you do this depends on the area you live and the type of coating that you applied. The Thompson’s Water Seal Web site,, is a great place to find some of the answers to your most pressing questions on cleaning and waterproofing your outdoor surfaces.

Armed with these tips it is time to stop waiting and start dreaming big. With the proper planning, a deck, porch or patio project can provide you with the perfect space to enjoy your free time for years to come.

En Vogue Option

“Today we are seeing more people go the composite route,” says John Barrett of Archadeck. “Typically it is because they don’t want to deal with the upkeep required of wood options. After all, less maintenance means more time for enjoyment.”
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