If you’re one of the many Central Texas residents that would like to enjoy the outdoors more we’ve got a solution – build a deck! It really isn’t as complicated or costly as you may imagine if you properly prepare and keep the deck design simple.
Location, Location, Location in Deck Building
When it comes to a deck build there are two important deck location considerations. 1.) Where’s the best place on your property for a deck? 2.) What is the local environment like?
Finding a Safe, Simple Spot for the Deck
As far as where you’ll build the deck it’s understandable to want to put the structure right outside the backdoor. While this is usually perfectly fine you may want to reconsider if the spot isn’t level, frequently pools with water or will require that the deck be built high above the ground. Leveling out the land, building around unlevel spots or perching the deck on posts that are more than a few feet high will take the design from simple to highly complex very quickly.
The best place is a nice level surface that doesn’t hinder any entrances or walkways, won’t require the removal of landscaping and enables the deck to be built close to the ground. Decks that are only a foot or two off the ground not, only require less infrastructure, they also don’t have to include a rail system for safety. During May’s National Deck Safety Month the last thing you want to do is construct a dangerous deck.
Let the Environment Influence Your Material Choices
Now, as far as part two of the location equation goes the surrounding environment and weather will influence how you construct the deck. A simple design incorporates materials that are appropriate and can handle the elements with minimal maintenance. When it comes to simple deck construction Redwood and Cedar are two excellent options in Central Texas, especially for the deck surfaces that will have the most exposure.
In the Austin area we contend with 100+ temperatures in the summer, below freezing temps in the winter, long dry spells, high humidity after rain, lots of sunlight and insects that are Texas-sized. Cedar and Redwood will stand up to the elements with very little maintenance because they are naturally rot resistant and insect resistant. Both also weather well even without a sealer.
Settling on a Size
A simple deck design that doesn’t include stairs, rails or multiple levels can be just about any size without getting complicated. Of course, the smaller the deck is the easier it will be to build. The most important factor is that the deck provides ample space for its intended purpose.
One great way to get the deck size spot on is to lay out any furniture, planters, etc. at the site where you plan to put the deck. Take everything out to the deck site and arrange it the way you want it. With everything in place you can then mark off and measure the parameter of the deck. Just make sure chairs can be pulled out from tables and walking around the deck won’t be difficult.
The area you mark out will need to be prepped before the building begins. Follow these steps to prep the area:
- Remove any grass, weeds, etc.
- Smooth the ground, remove large rocks and make sure it’s level.
- Lay down landscaping fabric that keeps weeds away.
- Lay a layer of gravel down in the cleared area so that it’s level with the rest of the lawn.
The Simplest of Deck Designs
If you’re able to build directly on a level surface the deck design couldn’t be simpler. All it has to consist of is:
- Deck boards
The main thing to remember is that the joists need to run in the opposite direction as the deck boards and there shouldn’t be much more than 16” between each joist. Leave a small gap between each of the deck boards so that rainwater can drain through. That’s the nuts and bolts of building a simple square deck.
Ideally you’ll be able to build the deck in a spot that gets natural shade most of the day since Texas summers can get scorching hot. Unfortunately that isn’t always an option, but you can create shade on a deck in lots of different ways. A few ideas you may want to incorporate into the deck design include:
- A pergola
- Shade sails that are fixed to posts and stretched over the deck
- Standard umbrellas
Want even more tips for building a simple deck this summer? Give us a call or stop by Timbertown Austin to bounce your ideas off one of our exterior experts.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/7282451@N02/2662428996