Decks are one of the most popular additions when it comes to remodeling or expanding your home — and for a good reason. Decks can offer many benefits and fit various niches and needs, ranging from being an amazing spot to host a party, barbecue, or social event, to even increasing the overall value of your property. They’re almost like an outdoor living room in that they’re versatile in their use — they give you a place to gather with friends, as well as relax with a good book when you’re alone on a sunny day.
If you’re considering adding a deck to your home, we’ve created a guide that covers everything you need to know.
Deck vs. Patio: Which one is right for you?
You might hear people use the terms “deck” and “patio” interchangeably, and while they share some similarities, they are two very distinct structures.
The most prominent feature of a deck is that it’s elevated and typically connected to your home, meaning it’s level with the second or third story of your house. But even if it’s flush with the first story, it still needs to be elevated off the ground — if only slightly. Since they are raised, they also require railing around them for safety, and decks tend to be made of lighter materials like wood.
Patios, on the other hand, usually sit at ground level. Since patios aren’t elevated like a deck, their materials come in direct contact with the ground. Placing wood directly on top of soil or grass would expose it to excess moisture from rainfall, making it much more susceptible to rot, mold, and other damage that can come from prolonged contact with water. For this reason, patios are often constructed from rock-hard materials such as concrete, brick, tile, or stone. In addition, these materials are typically much heavier than wood and therefore much more difficult to use in an elevated structure like a deck.
Patios are also not always directly attached to a house. Since they’re built at ground level, they’re a little more versatile in terms of where you can build them in your yard. However, if you build one farther away from your house, you may need patio coverings as you will not get any natural shade from the walls of your home — just something to keep in mind when thinking about a patio or terrace design.
Depending on the size and materials used, patios can be a little more inexpensive to construct than decks. Low costs might make them seem more attractive, but you also need to consider your return on investment (ROI). The National Association of Realtors found that a typical concrete paver patio has an ROI of 69%, while your average wooden deck’s ROI is 80%.
The benefits of adding a deck to your home
Adding a deck to your backyard comes with numerous advantages that you might not think about at first. There are far too many to list at once, but below are a few of the most significant.
1. It adds value to your property
Whether by you or a family member who inherits your home, your property will likely one day sell. When the time comes to sell, there’s no question you’ll want it to be as valuable as possible. Decks are one of the most sought-after features people look for when purchasing a home, and they’re an easy way to modernize your house if it’s an older property. There’s also the added benefit of being visible from outside the property, which may attract potential buyers who have just walked past it otherwise. Many owners plan to build a deck assisted by expert deck builders in Kansas City, Merriam, or other experts near them, so they can have a space to spend time with their family and increase the value of their house. Adding a deck to your house changes the way your house looks, and it is a space that many people look for when they want to purchase a new house.
2. It’s a place to entertain guests
Who doesn’t love a deck party? Decks add a large, open area to entertain friends and family, making them the ideal place to host gatherings like barbecues, birthday parties, and even wedding receptions. But you don’t need to have a huge party to get the most out of your deck — it’s a wonderful spot to enjoy a few drinks and catch up with a friend or two. Best of all, it’s much easier to clean up after a social gathering when most of it takes place outdoors.
3. You can enjoy the outdoors
After spending all day staring at your phone or a computer screen, getting in some time to enjoy the outdoors is essential. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), mental wellness benefits are associated with being outside in green spaces, including “lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery.” The USDA also states that studies have found that being outside in nature is relaxing, reducing “stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates – all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
4. It can provide peace and quiet
We live in a world with constant stimuli. If you live or work in the city, finding peace and quiet can be especially difficult. A deck can give you a place to wind down after a long day, lending you a relaxing space to work on hobbies and personal projects like painting, writing, or carpentry — as well as simply enjoy a few quiet moments alone.
5. It adds aesthetic appeal to your home
A balcony is great, but it has nothing on a deck. Plus, one of the best parts about adding a deck to your home is that you design it exactly how you want. If you frequently host parties or large social gatherings, you may want a larger deck so you have more space to entertain guests. You could even go all-out and construct a multi-story deck. On the other hand, you may simply want a space to barbecue and enjoy the outdoors with your family; in that case, a smaller deck may be for you. If you’re unsure exactly what size or design you want, a builder should be able to help you with deck design.
What to consider when building a deck
Once you’ve decided a deck is right for you, the fun part comes: designing and building it! Think about what you want from a deck: large space to host parties? A smaller spot to relax? Is a deck with a view important to you? Do you want something on the fancier side? The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to deck design: you could factor an above-ground pool into your deck, construct a deck that spans multiple stories or design a sprawling deck that wraps around the side of your home.
Though we all probably have a dream deck, make sure you take into account space and location when thinking about this. You need to make sure it will not only fit in your yard but that there will be a viable place to exit your home onto the deck. Is there an existing door that will work, or will you need to add one?
When designing your deck, you also need to think about materials. Different materials may suit you better depending on the aesthetics and design you have in mind (and your price range). Many people use pressure-treated wood, which has a low price point and high longevity because it’s been chemically treated to be resistant to mold, rot, and insects. If you’re looking for something more natural, redwood and cedar are also very popular options due to their beautiful organic coloring — though keep in mind this will require more maintenance. Wood composite is also gaining traction as a deck-building material, as it doesn’t warp, rot, or splinter because it is artificially created from a mixture of wood fibers and recycled plastics.
The railing is another important factor to consider. If you are building a deck that’s more than 30 inches off the ground, keep in mind that most building codes will also require you to build a railing that’s at least three feet tall (but double check your local building codes, as they may vary from place to place).
The furniture, lighting, and any other decor you choose are also vital in optimizing your deck for its desired purpose. For example, putting a bunch of comfortable chairs in a circle will encourage socializing. Adding a grill, fridge, or even a full-on outdoor kitchen will take your barbecues to the next level. You can even hang low, colored string lights to turn on for a romantic evening. It all depends on what its intended use is.
Lastly, it’s also imperative to maintain upkeep on your deck — they’re exposed to the elements 365 days a year, after all! To protect your deck from mold, rot, and mildew, you’ll want to thoroughly clean and seal your deck on an annual basis. Before using a sealer, remember to clear debris from between the deck boards using something thin like a putty knife and to check for any protruding or missing nails and screws. Remember that your deck may require a specific type of cleaner or cleaning technique depending on what it’s made of, so read the bottle and directions carefully when selecting a cleaner!
Everyday activities to enjoy on your deck
Part of the beauty of a deck is that they’re extremely versatile spaces that can be used for virtually endless activities. What you do with it is entirely up to you, but below are a few ideas for deck activities.
Who doesn’t love a barbecue? Decks provide ample space for guests to congregate and enjoy hotdogs, hamburgers, and all your other favorite fixings. Even if you don’t like cooking, a deck is still a great place to enjoy a few drinks with friends and family.
Painting can be an extremely relaxing activity, and having a place to do so outside will only make it even more calming. Painting on the deck allows you to create your next masterpiece without worrying about staining the carpet (though it’s still probably a good idea to put down plastic sheeting to avoid getting paint on the deck).
There’s no reason you have to work out inside on a nice day when you have a deck. Whether doing crunches, lifting weights, or following a guided yoga video, decks provide a large area for you and all your gear.
If you’re looking for an activity that’s fun for all ages, game nights are always a great time — and are made even better when you host them on the deck. If the whole family is together, you can look to simple classics like Monopoly or Go Fish. An adult game night might consist of poker, blackjack, or more complex board games like Settlers of Catan.
Have you ever felt guilty for staying inside and watching a movie when it’s nice outside? With a deck, you don’t have to! Set up a projector or TV outside, grab some popcorn and soda, and enjoy your favorite film and a warm summer night simultaneously. A movie night is another great activity for people of all ages.
With all the distractions inside, finding the time to curl up with a good book can be challenging. Sitting on the deck removes you from many of those distractions, and the sounds of nature can provide a relaxing backdrop to focus on your favorite novel or magazine. Plus, it gets you some extra vitamin D.
Sleeping under the stars
You don’t have to go camping to enjoy stargazing. Set up cots, air mattresses, or bedrolls and drift off to dreamland under the stars. This activity can be fun for the family to do together, or it would be a great place to host a sleepover for the kids and their friends.
If you have a job that allows you to work from home, why not work out on the deck and enjoy the nice weather? Being able to sit outside on the deck while you work might make the day go by a little faster, and would be a more calming environment in general.
When was the last time you sat down and just relaxed? No phone. No computer. Not even a book or magazine. Sometimes, taking 20 minutes to sit and reflect without any other distractions or stimuli can be very refreshing — simply kick back and take in the sounds, sights, and smells of the outdoors.
You don’t need to be a person who likes to host big, extravagant parties to get the most out of a deck (though if you are, you’ll undoubtedly be able to get the most out of one as well!). The world of deck building is large and near-limitless, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find a deck design that suits you, your personality, and your needs. Even if you’re planning on selling your house, adding a deck is a fantastic way to up your property value and add aesthetic appeal — not to mention, you’ll get to enjoy it in the meantime!