21 Ways to Upgrade Your Deck

If your deck looks drained and dull, give it a boost with these refreshing ideas.

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Clean, Repair, and Stain It

    Before you add anything to your deck, create a solid foundation. Cosmetic changes can't hide a deck in disrepair or dirty, ugly boards.

Hide and Sit

    Storage boxes made from the same deck material look good, provide places for virtually anything, and serve as extra seating.

Punctuate the Surface

    Cut a hole near an edge of the deck and plant your favorite flowers or small trees so they can grow up through the boards.

Cover Up

    Add a custom aluminum roof frame with removable clear polycarbonate panels or outdoor fabric. If you don't need protection from rain, install a retractable awning or build a pergola with vines such as wisteria climbing over it.

Wrap Around

    A railing, gate, or other entry feature can turn your deck into a safe, cozy enclosure. Plus, the railing provides a platform for fitted planters, birdbaths or feeders, or other garden ornaments. Top your railing with a ledge so it can double as a spot to set drinks.

Blend In Comfort

    Guests and family members alike appreciate places to sit, and built-in benches can be made to look like original parts of the deck. Whether the benches are freestanding or attached, make them blend in by building them from the same materials used for the deck itself.

Color It-Naturally

    Whether bursting with flowers or foliage, hanging or artfully arranged in pots, plants are the perfect way to enliven a space and soften a deck's edges. If you have a wood deck, place the pots on brick or other supports so they're not in direct contact with the wood when you water the plants; this can lead to rot.

Rev Up Railings

    Railings can do more than enhance the safety and appearance of your deck -- they can make a style statement. Decorative ball tops and turned spindles are among the many specialty products available to embellish railings.

Grow a Feast

    If you gave up your garden to build or expand your deck, grow veggies in containers on your deck for an eclectic look and homegrown food for dinner. Start with tomatoes, beans, peas, and carrots. Put the containers on rolling supports so you can move them around easily.

Reach for the Sky

    Add tall, evenly spaced 4x4 posts around the perimeter of your deck and connect them with tree limbs for a rustic look. Or add glass panels between post gaps to block wind while retaining views.

Bring the Inside Out

    Extend your living space onto your deck and enjoy easy access by adding double doors. Use furnishings and fixtures to create distinct zones for grilling, dining, and lounging.

Build an Addition

    A greenhouse or a similar structure can attach to a deck and serve as a wonderful getaway space while fulfilling its designated purpose.

Wire for Sound

    A weatherproof outdoor sound system is a soothing finishing touch for any deck.

Furnish and Forget It

    Consider all of your furniture options: hardy wood such as teak, aluminum, steel, and recycled plastics. An outdoor rug completes the scene.

Spring for Upgrades

    Replace wooden rail spindles with wrought-iron ones and the deck boards with rot-resistant composite planks.

Make a Splash

    Dedicate a corner or add on to the deck to accommodate a hot tub.

Polish the Edges

    Add skirt boards or trellis material around your deck perimeter between its surface and the ground. This lends a finished look to the project and can let the space below the deck serve as handy storage.

Make Room to Move

    Extend your deck in one or several directions, add a level up or down, or curve an edge for visual interest.

Eat Out

    Create an outdoor kitchen, complete with grill, sink, undercounter refrigerator, wine cooler, and eating area. Got money left over? Add a tiki bar!

Light It Up

    Solar or low-voltage post-top lights create ambience when your dinner guests linger into a summer evening.

Hold Still

    Tucked into your deck flora, statuaries can be tasteful and even mysterious -- real conversation starters.

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