Hit the deck

Timber Home Living - - Contents -

WITH THE SUM­MER SEA­SON right around the cor­ner, we’re all get­ting ready to open our win­dows, step out­side and soak up ev­ery last sec­ond of the warm-weather months. And what bet­ter way to make the most of the great out­doors than with a deck? But be­fore putting shovel to soil, you’ll need to do some thor­ough plan­ning to en­sure you’ll build a deck that you and your fam­ily will love and use fre­quently.

Func­tion. Most peo­ple use their deck for dining out­side, so think about po­si­tion­ing your deck in a way that al­lows for an en­trance into your home’s kitchen. To ac­com­mo­date eat­ing out­doors, many home­own­ers in­cor­po­rate an oc­tagon or bump-out space on their deck to sep­a­rate the ta­ble and chairs into their own des­ig­nated dining area. A screened-in area, such as a gazebo, would also work for this type of set­ting.

Lay­out. Take a walk around your yard — or con­struc­tion site — and map out your po­ten­tial deck us­ing rope or a gar­den hose. Use 2-foot in­cre­ments when de­cid­ing on the size of your deck since lum­ber is typ­i­cally cut to 8-foot, 10-foot, 12-foot and 16-foot lengths. Pick­ing a stan­dard size deck that ad­heres to th­ese mea­sure­ments will save on scrap ma­te­ri­als and, in turn, money.

Square footage. When think­ing about the depth of your deck, con­sider how far your deck’s joists can span be­fore you’ll need to add an­other beam. (This can be costly if you have to add an­other com­plete set of piers to hold up your deck.) Just short of 12 feet is the max­i­mum span com­mon for 2-by-8-inch joists un­der most con­di­tions, but with an added can­tilever, a 14foot deck can be built from one set of piers and beams.

Rail­ing spacing. Typ­i­cally, deck rail­ings are re­quired for any deck more than 30 inches above the ground, and for stairs with fve or more steps. The height of a deck rail­ing of­ten needs to be be­tween 36 and 42 inches. The reg­u­la­tions for spacing be­tween balus­ters usu­ally calls for 4 to 6 inches, and the space be­tween your deck foor and the bot­tom of the rail­ing should be 2 to 4 inches.

Once your deck is com­plete, you’ll need to pro­tect your in­vest­ment. Stains like the new Su­perDeck prod­uct from Sher­win-Wil­liams (sher­win-wil­liams. com) will coat your wood, re­pel wa­ter and pro­tect your deck from mildew and al­gae.

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