When considering a deck building project, you are probably thinking about either a wooden deck, most often attached to a house, or the decking, usually made of some kind of masonry, around a luxury swimming pool. Both types of decks add a special dimension to your landscape design, creating usable, safe spaces that are also pleasing to the eye.
Your Deck Building Project: Dreaming Your Deck
In the early phases of the design process, you want to get clear on what you want out of your deck design. Options include the additions of outdoor water fountains, outdoor kitchens, and outdoor fireplaces or fire pits. You might want to consider whether to cover the deck or not and whether to add deck railing or built-in seats. Decks also present a great opportunity to enhance your landscape lighting. On the practical side, your deck building project needs to take into account tying into any existing drainage systems—due to Houston’s notorious rainstorms. For decks, drainage solutions include gutters, French drains, or decorative drains.
Your Deck Building Project: Material Choices
Depending on your personal preferences, your budget and other design considerations such as your home’s architecture, the material choices for your deck building project include wood, brick, concrete (colored or textured or both), stone (flagstone, limestone, bluestone, slate, cut stone) and pavers.
For the decking around a pool, you need to be safety conscious and use surfaces that are non-slippery. Stone, brick and concrete are durable options. They also have the added benefit of being beautiful and creating interesting textures.
Pressure-treated pine is the mainstay option when choosing wood as the flooring option for a patio or terrace. In particular, treated pine stands up well to two common deck problems found in Houston—weather and damp soil. Cedar and redwood have resins that naturally protect them from weathering and rotting, too. These three woods are popular because they possess dimensional stability—they generally lie flat, stay straight and retain fasteners. They also easily take most types of stains and paints.
Don’t overlook engineered products like Trex. While these products can be more expensive from the standpoint of the initial cost, the durability can be 1 ½-2 times that of wood, if maintained properly. Trex offers another benefit in these “green conscious” days: its decking, railing and fencing are made primarily from recycled plastic grocery bags, reclaimed pallet wrap and waste wood. Jeff Halper, landscape specialist with Exterior Worlds, says engineered building materials provide another benefit to homeowners—tree preservation. “You only have to make a few holes to hold up the decking. And you don’t cover the ground with it, something that suffocates trees,” he explains.
Your Deck Building Project: Selecting a Builder
A key consideration in this type of project is selecting the designer, builder and contractor. You want to find a Houston landscape designer or landscape contractor who will not only capture the dream of your deck and put it onto paper, but who can actually build it. And construct it so that it avoids any under-built problems—that is, a design that has the deck inadequately attached to the structure or inadequately supported.
“The more complex the project and the more sophisticated the design, the more important your designer and contractor become,” Halper says. Here are some tips for finding someone suitable for your project:
- Ask friends for referrals.
- Obtain references from the company under consideration.
- Spend time interviewing the designer, architect or contractor. Get a feel for their aesthetics by discussing the types of projects they’ve completed. Find out how long they’ve been in business, ask about their relationship with subcontractors, and determine the expertise of the crews.
Call Exterior Worlds to discuss a deck project for your home—713-827-2255. Exterior Worlds has specialized in high-end landscape design and services since 1987 for the Memorial Villages, Tanglewood, River Oaks, West University, Bellaire, and other fine neighborhoods in the greater Houston area.