Creating an outdoor living space beyond the four walls of your home is gaining ground as one of the most popular home improvement projects of all. Whether your outdoor room will be a brick paving patio or a wood or composite deck, creating an outdoor room is the least expensive way to extend your living space.
Not only does building a new deck or patio create new space for recreation and relaxation, the return on your investment is also significant. According to one report, installing a deck will give you a 76.8% return on investment when it comes time to sell your home. Patios aren’t rated in the findings, but I’d expect the results to be similar. Whatever outdoor living space you decide to build, you will be increasing the value of your home.
All it takes to build your own wood deck or brick paver patio is an evaluation of the space you have, proper selection of materials, and basic construction knowledge. Consider the following elements for an outdoor room with quality from the ground up.
Paver Brick Patios: In the realm of DIY patio possibilities, brick, natural stone and cement pavers are the main paving choices in materials. All three varieties are installed in sand, with irregularly shaped natural stone being the biggest challenge to work with, as it’s like assembling a giant outdoor jigsaw puzzle. Start your patio project by carefully assessing the space slated for placement and planning for necessary drainage. Then take time to properly excavate, level and line the patio area for long-lasting, trip proof results. The most common paver patio mistakes come from not properly prepping the base. Don’t rush through the patio brick installation, or the bricks will loosen and weeds will form just as quick!
Durable Decks – The costs and looks of decks can vary widely due to the many choices of materials available. Wood decks are the least expensive, but can be troublesome to maintain, so if your budget is healthy, and tolerance for maintenance low, you might like to consider composite decking, a high tech alternative. Good quality composite decking is as tough as it is beautiful.
Whatever the decking surface and railing material you choose however, pressure treated lumber is generally the standard for construction of the floor framing and support structure of your deck.
Deck Construction Options: Once you’ve made your choice in decking materials, deciding how to fasten the deck board to the frame involves a few trade-offs. If you’re working with vinyl or fiberglass-plastic decks, the fasteners are usually a hidden feature not visible to the eye. If you’re working with wood, you should think through your options. Nailing may be easy, but even galvanized nails can leave stains and rust bleeds on the wood. Plus, as the wood expands and contracts, nails pull out, resulting in loose boards on your deck that can be unsightly and even dangerous.
For a more permanent deck assembly solution for your outdoor room, select stainless steel screws. Using a power drill with the right tip, stainless steel screws can be driven to just below the deck’s surface where they’re difficult to spot. And since the screws are stainless, they can’t rust and stain the finished surface of the wood.
Also, unlike ground-level brick paving projects, one of the most critical areas of deck building is flashing. Pressure treated lumber can be very corrosive and cause fasteners and key deck hardware to fail. For a safe structure, use a high tech flashing like Vycor® Deck Protector. Made by Grace Construction Products, Vycor prevents corrosion and joist rot caused by water accumulation under deck boards.
Deck Sealing: Even wood that’s decay-resistant will warp and split, making the deck uncomfortable for bare feet and possibly unsafe. To minimize movement, make sure the deck is sealed within the first 3 to 6 months after it’s been constructed. Using a good quality sealer on your wood deck helps stabilize and protect the wood from the damaging effects of solar radiation as well as moisture.
Deck Cleaning: Annual cleaning of an otherwise tired looking wood deck can do a lot to freshen it up. Mix a simple, effective cleaning solution in a five gallon bucket by combining three quarts of water, one quart of bleach, and a half cup of detergent (make sure the detergent is ammonia-free, as mixing ammonia and bleach can form a dangerous gas). Apply the mixture to the wood deck using a stiff floor brush and let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly. When planning this deck cleaning project, schedule your work for the cooler hours of the early morning or late afternoon, as the cleaning solution may dry before it has a chance to work when applied to a hot deck.
Deck and Patio Building Permits: Whether your outdoor room will be created by building a wood deck or patio by yourself or calling in a construction pro for assistance, be sure to get a building permit. If you’re planning to sell the home, your local zoning or code enforcement inspector may be contacted for an inspection and you’ll want to be sure that you’ve done everything properly.