So when did the contemporary idea of backyard decks become so popular?
Interestingly enough, wood decks are a relatively knew phenomenon
over the last 50 or 60 years. It used to be that homes had covered front
porches where people would gather and socialize. It served a slightly
different purpose then and was usually tastefully built-in as part of
the overall architectural design of the home.
However the kind of decks found on single-family homes today are not
really part of any defined architectural movement or period. The deck
designs of today evolved from the west coast, which was younger, hipper,
and less concerned about sticking to traditional architectural designs.
People just started building cedar or redwood decks on to the backs
of their homes to create more living space and take advantage of the
And when pressure treated wood became available it was then possible
for homeowners in the more seasonal parts of the country to build decks
that would last longer and withstand the elements.
And perhaps another reason why decks became so popular was because
most builders did not provide any front or back covered porches on their
homes. Also many homes were being built 3 feet or more above grade
requiring stairs from the back door to the ground.
So building a deck was a perfect solution and something usually done by each homeowner afterwards.
Most Backyard Decks Clash With The Style of The Home
But here is the dilemma, since a deck is really just a platform to
sit on and relax, very little effort tends to go into creating deck
designs that actually look good and work with the architecture of
And because of the perceived simplicity of building a deck, almost
every handy man has tried his hand at this one time or another, further
exacerbating the deck design void.
To create a well designed deck that has some style and looks like it
belongs well with a home, rather than an after thought, requires only a
bit more effort. But the results are worth it.
So here are some tips to help you come up with better deck designs for your next project.
Redwood and cedar are beautiful materials to work with and perform
well for decks. But there are all kinds of materials at your disposal
nowadays that offer different design influences.
Consider the design options available from aluminum, vinyl, glass or
wood railing combinations. Different decking materials such as Ipe and
even mahogany give your deck a real feel of attachment to the home.
And to add visual and material contrast don't forget that the actual
deck surface materials nowadays can include advanced waterproof and
maintenance free vinyl flooring material, fiberglass, as well as one of
over 55 different kinds of composite decking boards.
Consider Existing Architecture of Your Home
Probably the most important thing to consider when designing your
deck is the existing style of your home. This is certainly the one area
that deck builders often overlook entirely and just go ahead and build a
big cedar or redwood rectangle suspended 4 feet above the ground
regardless of the look and style of the existing home.
Instead look at your home and identify its architectural influences -
if any. Some homes built over the last 30-40 years are quite
nondescript so you'll have to wing it a bit in those cases.
But if you have Arts and Crafts bungalow style home famous for its
simple but robust accents such as large beams supporting roof overhangs,
shingle siding and clean lines - try to add hints of some of these
attributes to your deck.
If you have a Cape Cod style home famous for long sloping front
oriented roofs and dormers, a California influenced redwood deck is
going to appear a bit out of place however well designed and built it
On the other hand, a deck that uses the soft marine influenced color
palette for the deck boards or fascia with white railings, or teak
inspired decking (if you can afford it - Ipe is a nice alternative)
might look like a perfect match.
Another example might be a Victorian era style home known for is
"busier" appearance. These homes exemplify complexity in detail with
such attributes as large turned balusters, circular turret style roofs,
curved walls and more. They also typically had large porches on the
front of the homes with roof overhangs.
Imagine just sticking a square pressure treated 2x6 deck on the back
of one of these homes. It would detract from the character of this kind
These are extreme examples of how architecture can clash but hopefully illustrates the point well.
So you see, you have to just take a bit of time to think about how
this additional living space will work with the overall design of your
home. But you will be delighted with the improvement to your deck
designs if you follow these simple approaches.
So get out there and build it right!
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