Things to consider before deck installation:
- If you are planning to do a lot of cooking out your deck should be easily accessible from your kitchen.
- If the deck will have a hot tub it should be close to a bedroom, bathroom, mudroom or some type of dressing area.
- If there will be a table and chairs on the deck it should be easy to walk around with all of the chairs occupied with people
- Steps should be placed where you can easily access the most used areas of your yard (trash cans, shed, play area ect.)
- Sun and wind can effect your enjoyment of the deck. If your deck is sundrenched and you live in a hot climate it may not get used all summer. If possible you may want to build your deck where you can feel the breezes in the summertime, normally those breezes come from the west, southwest and south. If you plan to use your deck in the winter it should be shielded from the north and northwest wind. In our area (Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake) we have fairly mild winters so we use our decks all year round.
- If privacy is an issue you may want to build your deck close to the ground to take the most advantage of your privacy fence. (on a side note most localities allow you to install 2' of lattice across the top of a 6' fence giving you a surprising amount of privacy, your local deck contractor will know your local codes). Lattice walls can also be built on the side of a deck to provide privacy.
- You must decide if you want rails or not. If your deck is over 30" off of the ground you must have rails. Not having rails can make your deck seem bigger and will not impede your view of the surrounding area. Rails will give you a more sophisticated look and make your deck safer if it is more than 8" off of the ground. You can also incorporate seating into your rails which is a great addition to a large deck. On a small deck built in seating often takes up too much space.
On an average pressure treated pine deck 3' off of the ground with rails and one set of steps you should be expecting to pay about $16 per square foot. On a ground level deck with no rails you can figure about $12 per square foot. If you want benches built into your rails it will cost you about $20 per linear foot. Of course all of these prices can go up or down depending on the complexity of the deck style you choose.
If you decide to use composite, vinyl or higher end wood decking you will pay about 2 to 3 times as much as pressure treated pine depending on what type of material or manufacturer you choose.
The advantages and disadvantages are fairly obvious. Wood is cheaper and the others are maintenance free. One thing I've noticed about composite decking is that it seems to soak up stains with no way to remove them. If grease or other types of stains soak into the decking you either have to replace those deck boards or just live with it.
Wood deck Maintenance:
About a year after you have a pressure treated pine deck installed it should be sealed or stained. If you would like to keep the wood color then seal it with a clear sealant. I would seal it twice a year for the first couple of years then once a year after that. You will be able to see when the sealant wears out because water will no longer bead up on the surface. Stains are a bit more durable than clear sealant and come in many different colors. My favorite color is Bear Natural. This color can make an old pine deck look like a higher end wood deck. If you have an old weather beaten deck you would be surprised how good it can look if you clean it with some deck cleaning solution then stain it with a natural color.