Murphy Brothers Blog

Planning to add or replace a deck on your home?

Building a deck can be a very simple project. Especially if it is rectangular in shape, straight off the back of the wall, there is an existing ledger board properly installed and it is at ground level.  In fact, it is not unusual for the building of a deck to be easier than the planning of it.  Of course the type of home a deck is being installed on determines what type of deck is most appropriate to build.  A simple boxy deck built out of green treated lumber might look as out of place on an upscale suburban home as a large composite deck with aluminum railings would be on a small urban bungalow.

As with everything in home planning and improvement, there is often more to consider than what you see at first glance.   Below I have a list of things that we consider and review with our clients as we start planning a deck project.  Many of these items are also part of our list when considering porches and room additions but decks are a little simpler.  As always, it is best to plan with the end in mind as it is the easiest, fastest and least expensive way to get there.

1)      Final size and layout

  • Setback’s and ordinances
  • Sized and proportioned to fit uses.  (Tables, chairs, grills, etc.)
  • Accommodate existing landscaping or integrate with future plans.

2)      Mechanical considerations

  • AC condenser
  • Vents and fresh air intakes
  • Spigots and sprinkler systems
  • Fireplace vents
  • Gas meter
  • Electrical service, TV, cable, phone

3)      Footing locations and sizes

4)      Framing considerations

  • Support to accommodate existing cantilevers on houses
  • Extra support for large doors or windows below ledger if needed
  • Ledger attachment for bearing
  • Siding considerations & flashing.

5)      Joist and beam sizes

6)      Decking material

  • Wood
  • Composite – Type/brand/color/fastening options
  • Aluminum.
  • Vinyl sheet
  • Designs in decking installation.

7)      Decking fastening method

8)      Railing design – materials

  • Wood
  • Wood/aluminum
  • All aluminum
  • Glass sections
  • Composite
  • Composite/aluminum

9)      Stains/finishes

10)   Extras – built-ins

  • Seating
  • Storage
  • Privacy fence
  • Grill/Cooking options
  • Planters
  • Lighting
  • Pergola or arbor
  • The latest and greatest ?????

11)   Skirts or lattice under deck.

  • Possible shed/storage

12)   Under-deck – pavers, concrete, stone, mulch?

13)   Living area under deck.

14)   Water management

  • Roof drainage – add gutters, diverter.
  • options for additional dry space.

15)   Future options, built for future porch above or living space underneath?

16)   Add or replace door from building for access.


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