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All Decked Out
5 Tips for Designing Your Garden Deck

After the winter blues, we turn to our backyards for comfort and beauty. Many plan their flower gardens year round, why shouldn't you spend as much time and energy choosing your decking materials?

Research has shown that deck contractors claim to have a lot of influence on their customers, but readily acknowledge that advertising, branding and name recognition are strong influencing factors.

There are five points to consider when designing a deck to best suit your needs:

* Homeowners -- Determine the materials you choose by your environment. Consider the surface texture and color of the product. Remember that children, pets and furniture may scratch the surface of your deck. Also, make sure the deck surface can stand up to abuse or scratches; that these scratches can be masked or reduced in appearance or re-sanded to remove cigarette burns.

"The height of the deck from the ground is determined by the position of the access to the house, which will affect the design, function and look of your deck..."

* Entertaining -- If your deck is a place that you use for entertaining, make sure it will be low maintenance so you can spend more time with your guests and less with yearly maintenance. Design the deck to allow for people to move freely from the deck to the house, including wide stairs to any garden areas or exits. Plan railing, benches, planters and other decorative accessories on the deck to create an inviting surrounding for friends and family.

* Deck boards -- The height of the deck from the ground is determined by the position of the access to the house, which will affect the design, function and look of your deck. From second story walkouts to low lying decks, choose your material to fit the form and functionality of the deck. Manufacturers such as Nexwood have traditional 2 by 6 and 5/4 Radius Edge boards as well as a newer 5/4 Tongue and Groove flooring. All deck boards have their appropriate applications. Also, make sure the board performs to the best of its ability with proper joist spacing and installation.

* Installer -- From do-it-yourselfers to professional installers, make sure to have the correct installation information to prevent voiding the manufacturing warranty. Read all instructions carefully and use manufacturers' toll-free customer service lines and websites for all technical support. When choosing a contractor make sure you see previous projects and speak to references prior to employing their services. Make sure the contractor is experienced with the product you choose, or similar products, to ensure they will be capable of completing the project to your satisfaction.

* Expectations -- Contractors and retailers must set the right expectations of the material in service. After the product has been installed properly, what can you expect for years to come? Decks are built out in the elements. All exterior products are subject to sun, wind, rain and snow, along with regular use. The sun's UV rays will discolor any surface.

Building professionals and retailers cannot always provide all the answers. Always search the Internet and visit the manufacturer's Web sites for more information. Design your deck to meet your needs and the needs of all the members of your family. After all, a great outdoor living space adds another room to your home, where memories last for a lifetime.

Courtesy of ARA Content

More gardening resources, tips & advice:
Early Spring Garden Guide Spring Lawn Care

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