Now’s the Time to Plan a Redwood Deck

(ARA) – Building a deck is one of the most popular do-it-yourself projects. It involves relatively simple construction skills, tools and materials. It’s also a satisfying and economical way to extend your living activities outdoors. Choose redwood and you’ll discover the advantages of working with a quality building material.

Redwood is a natural building material not dependent on petroleum products. Pro builders have been using redwood for years. Lightweight for its strength, it cuts and drills easily. It’s dimensionally stable and naturally decay resistant. You can expect exceptional results — a deck that is beautiful as well as functional, a deck that will provide many years of enjoyment while also increasing the value of your home.

While building your own redwood deck is feasible, in some cases you may need help from a pro. An engineer or architect can help make sure you have the right bracing on a deck over 6 feet in height. A contractor can help you work with your local planning or building department to make sure your design ideas meet building and zoning codes. An electrician would be a big help with outdoor wiring and lighting.

To begin the design process, ask yourself some questions. How much sunlight will your deck receive at different times of the day and at different times of the year? Do you want all sun, all shade or a combination of the two? If trees aren’t available to shade your deck, you might want to include an awning or a redwood trellis in the deck design.

Do you have outdoor furniture that needs to fit on the deck, or do you prefer to have built-in redwood benches? Will there be room for potted plants or redwood planters? What about a grill? Or perhaps the focal point of your deck will be a spa or hot tub. Also consider evening use of your deck. What kind of lighting will be most suitable — floods, spots or low voltage?

Be creative as you ask and answer these questions. Perhaps there’s room at your house for more than one deck — a small private deck off the master bedroom, a larger “party” deck off the living room or a grade-level deck as a playroom for children.

Think about access to the deck. Is there already an exterior door that can open onto the deck, or will you have to install one? Railings are required on raised decks, but they can also control traffic on a grade-level deck, protecting lawn and garden areas along the deck edge. If you’re planning a raised deck, do you want a stairway leading down to grade level?

To make the most of your new redwood deck, integrate it with an overall landscape plan. New shrubs, trees, garden areas, walkways and other landscaping elements enhance the appearance and utility of your deck. Even raised decks require some sort of ground-cover treatment beneath.

Consider the materials you will use. Knot-textured Deck Heart and Deck Common grade redwood are perfect for outdoor building projects, especially decks. Redwood is cost-effective and resists shrinking, warping and checking. Redwood decks simply last longer and age beautifully, looking good 10, 15 and 20 years after construction.

All nails, screws, joist hangers and other fasteners should be corrosion-resistant. Poor quality fasteners can react with redwood’s natural, decay-resisting extractives and cause unsightly stains.

Redwood is one of few woods that can be left unfinished. As the redwood weathers, several natural color changes take place. These changes will vary from one climate to another. Usually the redwood color evens out at a gray or silvery tan shade. If you want to keep the brighter, new redwood color, a good finish is the way to go. A quality finish enhances the beauty of your redwood deck and protects the wood from the elements. Read labels carefully. The finish you choose should include a water repellent, a mildewcide and UV (ultraviolet) inhibitor or blocker.

Need some inspiration to get you started? The California Redwood Association offers the Redwood Design Gallery an eight-page, tabloid-sized booklet with over 30 color photos of beautifully designed redwood decks, fences and other projects. For a copy, send $1.50 to: California Redwood Association, 405 Enfrente Drive, Suite 200, Novato, CA 94949.

Courtesy of ARA Content