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10 Things to Know Before Building Your Deck

Building a deck is a huge undertaking. So, before you put hammer to nail, make sure you've thought about these design elements.


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    • Invest in Fasteners

      When old decks get rickety, it's often due to failing fasteners, not the wood. Low-quality screws will corrode, discolor your deck, and eventually shorten your deck's life. Use stainless-steel (shown) or coated screws made specifically for pressure-treated wood. These screws will resist corrosion and extend your deck's lifespan. Warning: The popular electroplate-galvanized screws are not acceptable for decks.

    • Conceal Your Support

      Hide unsightly screwheads with hidden fasteners, which give deck surfaces a clean and simple look. Once the deck is complete, the hardware shown will be concealed by the deck boards. The fasteners come in many options, so check with your materials supplier for the best options.

      Bonus: Hidden fasteners also make it safe to enjoy your deck while barefoot.

    • Branch Out

      Explore both wood and composite-decking options. Real wood is always in style, but hardwoods, such as ipe and jarrah, are becoming more popular because of their longevity. Composite decking is also becoming more popular because of its long lifespan and the fact that it's virtually maintenance-free. Both of these options are more expensive than wood, but the payback is in the extended, maintenance-free lifespan.

    • Level Playing Field

      Don't have enough room to spread out? Move down a level. Adding another level not only multiplies your living and entertaining space, but it also breaks up a long flight of stairs. Having a multilevel deck allows you to entertain close to the house, enjoy the shade on a second level, or soak up the sun on the lowest level.

    • Beautiful Surroundings

      Railings not only provide safety, they can also help beautify a deck. An innovative railing can turn an average deck into an extraordinary structure. Railings come in glass, metal, vinyl, composite, and cabling.

    • Open the View

      One alternative to railings on low-to-the-ground decks are wide stairs. Stairs that run the width of one or more sides of your deck provide extra seating and an elegant transition into the yard.

    • Play with Color

      Choosing an exterior color doesn't have to stop with the house. Why not extend your color palette to your deck? With today's selection of stains and decking materials, it's easy to find one that complements your home's exterior.

    • Increase Your Overhead

      A pergola can transform your deck from a platform to an outdoor room. Not only does it provide shade, but it gives you a place to attach speakers, lights, fans, and hanging plants.

    • Vary Your Geometry

      Who says decking has to be square? Choose decking with unusual angles or curves to add drama to your backyard.

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      Set the Mood

      Amenities such as lighting, sound systems, or fans make outdoor structures popular places to be during warm weather. Rather than finding ways to incorporate these amenities after the deck is finished, plan for these features by hiding wires and attaching structures during the construction phase.

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      Next Slideshow Build Wooden Exterior Steps

      Build Wooden Exterior Steps

      Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford shares his step-by-step instructions for installing exterior steps in an afternoon.
      Begin Slideshow »

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