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What to Know About Adding an Outdoor Living Space

Warmer weather is finally heading our way, and there is nothing better than enjoying life outdoors in a stylish new addition to your home. Whether it is a deck, or a patio, here are the things you need to know before taking the plunge and adding an outdoor living space:

Currently, about 80% of people undertaking home projects are adding a deck or a patio, so outdoor living spaces are on the rise. This is likely due to the invention of new, more durable outdoor materials, as well as furniture and accessories with overhang/shade options.


The first thing you will need to consider is whether or not your home is suitable for a deck or patio, or possibly even both. A deck is great for homes with sloping yards, sit on a hill, or have a basement. This type of property is ideal since a deck can be built as high as needed. If your home sits more than two feet off the ground, a platform deck should be considered.

Patios are a bit different in that they are made of concrete, flagstone, or some other hardscaping material. Building a patio on a sloping yard is more expensive, as retaining walls must be added. If your back door opens right at ground level, a patio is the direction in which you should go.


Next you must consider what the function of your deck will be. Generally, people want a deck suitable for many purposes such as grilling, entertaining, etc. Determining the function of your deck will help you decide on a specific size, what kind of safety measures to take, and the overall design of your new space. Privacy is another factor. Arbors, pergolas and latticework are a great way to keep nosy neighbors at bay.


How will you access your outdoor living space? If you already have a back door, you’re set. But if you are adding a deck to a part of your house with no access point, to which you will need to add an opening, you will dip into some drastic added expenses depending on whether or not the door will be added to a load-bearing wall. Another thing to consider is whether or not the deck will be used for eating. If this is the case, you will want your deck located as close to the kitchen as possible. Going up and down multitudes of stairs just to grab the ketchup will get old very quickly.

Next the overall look of the deck must be considered. Think of the style and architecture of your house, then choose an addition that compliments the overall feel. A professional can always help you make this decision, as well as recommend materials and color.


It is best to know your options in terms of materials. The two main options for decks are composite boards and wood. Lately, composite boards have been the winning choice, as they withstand weathering longer than natural wood. Composite wood is about 40 to 50 percent more expensive than real wood, but does not require the re-staining and upkeep that a natural deck would. To clean a composite deck, simply rub detergent on the boards, and use a hose to wash it off. Simple and easy!

The next thing to consider is a shade option for your deck or patio. There are a lot of shade options on the market, such as gazebos, retractable awnings, and screened-in porches. Any kind of enclosure or overhang will greatly increase the amount of time you spend in your new outdoor space. If you live in an area that receives a lot of sun or rain, this option should be highly considered.


Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is to decide who to hire. It is recommended to hire a professional for a project as complex as this one. A professional can meet you at your home, take measurements, and talk with you about your specific needs and ideas. A professional will also be able to map out everything with advanced software and show you exactly what your finished deck will look like, complete with ways to gauge traffic flow, as well as furniture placement and overall design. Investing in a skilled professional is perhaps the best decision you can make for this project, as certain deck additions can recoup around 80% of the initial cost when it is time to sell your home.

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