Renovating an old deck saves money and helps homeowners enjoy their outdoor space with enhanced function and safety. But every project presents unique challenges for the homeowner and deck builder. Follow these top ten tips for a smooth renovation project that results in an attractive, comfortable deck that works for your family and budget.
1 — Start With a Full Assessment
Book an appointment with a professional deck contractor and have them look over the entire structure. They will know what can be salvaged, what needs to be repaired or altered and how to go about the project in a safe and efficient manner. Hire a contractor that you feel comfortable with, and be sure that they understand your vision for the space.
2 — List Your Must-Haves
Just as you would with a new deck, make a list of the features and elements that must be included in your newly renovated deck. Think about the floor space you need, as well as the railing style, stair width and location, privacy screens and framing features that will make this structure more suitable for your current lifestyle.
3 — Research the Current Building Codes
Older decks may not have been built to follow current building codes, which are enforced to provide optimum safety. Depending on your location, state or federal building codes will apply for the deck framing, railing design and stair design.
Check government websites or ask at the local library and find out which building codes apply for your property. Your decking contractor will need to renovate and repair the existing structure to comply with these codes. This could involve extensive work and understanding the details of these requirement will help homeowners.
4 — Understand Material Lifespan
Building materials have a lifespan, depending on the exposure, climate and amount of wear and tear that applies to your property. Treated wood, for instance, lasts approximately 15 to 20 years in a four-season climate with southern exposure and average traffic. That same material will last about five to ten years longer in more temperate climates.
Other types of decking material, like cedar wood or composite products, have a different lifespan. Choose wisely, based on your needs and budget.
5 — Consider the Maintenance
Different building materials also have different maintenance requirements. Cedar wood should be stained to retain the beautiful color and extend the wood’s natural lifespan. Treated wood can be left alone without fear of rotting, but this material does need to be cleaned on a regular basis for appearances. Composite is nearly maintenance-free, although a composite deck should also be washed down to maintain that stunning look and optimum comfort levels.
6 — Factor in Disposal Costs
Taking down an existing deck results in garbage or, in some cases, salvaged building materials. You need to factor removal time and disposal costs into the project budget. Some larger cities and rural areas have a depot for used decking, which helps to cut down on environmental costs and waste. But the labor to remove those materials is still a factor and many places are picky about the type of material that will be accepted. Fasteners may need to be removed and older, rotted lumber thrown out completely.
7 — Think About the Balance of Your Landscape
You new deck needs to fit into the surrounding landscape. Any alterations to the gardens, trees and turf will increase the cost of this project and could set your landscape back in terms of growth. But it’s important to ensure you have created a cohesive, comfortable space, taking into account each area of the yard.
The shape and size of your deck extension should suit the landscape. Curved walkways and patios should be echoed in your deck design, and angular or linear garden designs work best with square decks and railings. Also consider how the traffic will flow from your renovated deck into the yard and whether or not you’ll need to make changes to exterior lighting.
8 — Blending Old and New Takes Talent
Deck renovations are not generally DIY projects. You may be able to rip off the old deck board and install new composite decking, or add a set of stairs to your old deck. But larger scale projects that transform old decks into stunning, new outdoor living spaces require the expertise of a professional deck builder.
Not only does a deck builder have the skills and tools to make this project work, but they also know which components of your deck will need to be upgraded or beefed up to accommodate a larger design. Framing and piers may need to be added, or a different style of railing constructed for safety. Creating a seamless look between the old and new requires expertise and a keen eye both things your decking contractor should have in spades.
9 — Consider the Possibility of Ripping Down the Old
Your existing deck may not be in top notch condition, making it unwise to construct your new deck on the existing framing or piers. If decay, age or pests have deteriorated the structure of your old deck, consider ripping it down to make way for the new. This may seem like a more expensive option, but it will also be safer and more efficient, resulting in better value and greater enjoyment for your family.The cost of ripping down an old deck is reasonable, and some homeowners opt to handle this portion of the project themselves, saving even more cash.
10 — Design For the Future
Most decks can be renovated once, or possibly twice. Think about the future when tackling a deck renovation and plan for a new structure that suits your current needs, as well as the needs of tomorrow. Consider your outdoor entertaining habits, whether or not you have a pool to accommodate and how your family’s lifestyle may change over the years.
Create enough space and design for optimum traffic flow. Be sure to include features that you can live with long-term, including railing design, deck lighting and other decorative elements. Take your time and do your deck renovation right to make the most of your investment.
Source: Trusted Pros