Building a deck isn’t as easy as it might seem at first blush. Your deck will consume a great deal of visual space on your lot or landscape, affecting the curb appeal of your house. A deck that’s well-designed and constructed can add substantially to the value and enjoyment of your home. Conversely, one that’s poorly designed and screams “homemade” will depreciate the value of your house—and you’ll feel regrets every time you step on to it. We know. We’ve seen them. We’ve replaced them.
Beware of the “handyman”
As for any construction project, there are rules, regulations, and best practices when it comes to building a deck, not to mention attaching it to what is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever own: your house. So it’s crucial that your Madison deck-builder contractor knows, understands, and obeys all applicable building codes; and that they use the best recommended industry practices to construct it. Some examples:
Don’t get screwed—literally
As a Madison deck-builder contractor, we only use stainless steel or specially-coated fasteners specifically made for pressure-treated wood and deck materials. A common handyman shortcut is using low-quality screws and fasteners. Or they will use electroplate-galvanized screws: a common practice that is not acceptable for decks.
The wrong fasteners will quickly corrode and discolor your deck—as well as shorten its life because it will get rickety. Using stainless steel or specially-coated fasteners is particularly important with pressure-treated wood. And even if you’re not using pressure-treated wood, your deck will be screwed into your home’s beams and joists—and they’re pressure-treated.
How high is up?
As a Madison deck-builder contractor in Madison and Dane County, we are familiar with local building codes. It doesn’t matter if your deck is “at ground level.” Railing is required if it’s greater than a certain height above the turf. As little as 12 and as much as 24 inches—depending on where you live. There are also safety rules & regulations about how high the railing needs to be—and even how much spacing there must be between the newels so that—like on a crib—toddlers don’t become asphyxiated by getting their heads stuck between them.
Don’t feed the termites
You can’t use plain old pine to build your deck. It will fall apart in the weather and become a pile of sawdust as soon as the carpenter ants get wind of it.
Certain species of wood are better than others for deck building. Minimally, your deck-building contractor needs to use pressure-treated lumber, which is infused with arsenic to thwart insects and resist rot. Arsenic is what gives pressure-treated lumber its green hue. Since it’s infused, pressure-treated lumber doesn’t take stain as nicely as other wood species. But there are other choices.
It’s not just redwood and cedar anymore
Redwood and cedar are both naturally beautiful, take stain nicely, are naturally insect repellant, and weather-resistant. Both give a very premium look to your home. On the downside, they require more frequent maintenance than practically anything else you might choose. However, other hardwoods are coming into vogue that are as luxurious as cedar and redwood, if not more so, albeit at greater cost. Two are ipe and jarrah —both of which are almost as durable as the composites.
For ease of maintenance consider composite decking and other synthetic materials such as vinyl. The look is very different from real wood, so personal taste will be a big part of your decision. Composites and vinyl never need painting or staining and will last decades. They cost more than most wood, but the payback comes with reduced maintenance—as in virtually none.
You need a designer. We have a designer.
Along with experience and knowhow, Genesis Exteriors has an in-house craftsman who specializes in deck design and deck building. He owns the software to prove it. His services are free to you as part of your deck-building project. He will sit down with you and show you different onscreen designs based on the size of your home, its architectural features, the amount of square feet you have in mind, not to mention your personal reasons for wanting a deck in the first place. Privacy? Cookouts? Parties? Sunbathing? Poolside? All of the above?
For example, want lots of room? Don’t just specify a bigger platform. Instead, consider two or three levels. Not only is this more visually-interesting than a great big rectangle full of boards. It will be cozier when you’re on the deck with only one or two others. And for bigger get-togethers, your guests can congregate in smaller groups on different levels. A multi-level deck can also be placed below an existing elevated deck to break up an unattractive flight of stairs that rises to it.
Keep in mind that your deck will be attached to your house and so should be a design detail that will enhance it. Consider unusual angles or other features that will add visual interest. Steps as wide as the length or width of your entire deck can provide an elegant transition into your garden or yard.
Don’t forget color
It doesn’t have to be brown. Today’s selection of stains and decking make it easy to find a color that compliments your house exterior. A well-chosen shade can mean the difference between a deck that looks like a stuck-on foreign object rather than a natural extension of your home’s architecture.
Consider Extra Touches.
The time to consider built-in benches, a sound system, lighting, planters, and other niceties is during the design phase. During construction, you can easily hide wires and attach structures rather than forcing them into the plan later on.
Contact us to learn more about Genesis Exteriors deck-building services.