Building a Deck: What You Should Know

  • 01 of 10

    So You Want to Build a Deck?

    fixing a deck
    Fixing a deck. Dorling Kindersly

    More planning and consideration may go into building an outdoor deck than, say, an indoor bathroom. Besides determining it's a deck you want instead of a patio, you will need to establish a budget, select material, find a space to build it, and determine whether it is a DIY project or you'll need to hire a professional.

    Read these 10 considerations before planning and starting to build a deck.

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  • 02 of 10

    What's the Difference Between a Patio and a Deck?

    A brick patio with trees. Getty Images

    Q: What's the difference between a patio or deck?

    A: If you asked the average person on the street that question, would they be able to answer? Most likely, some people would be able to come up with a reasonable explanation for a deck: that it's this "thing" outdoors made of wood that you walk or sit on.

    This article defines the two words, and, perhaps more importantly, helps you decide which one you want or need, if you are thinking about building one or the other.

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  • 03 of 10

    All Decked Out: Building Wood and Composite Decks

    A couple admires their wooden pool deck. Getty Images

    You don't want a cold, hard "slab" of concrete -- you'd like your outdoor space to rise up to the level of your back door, creating an almost-seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. Sounds like a deck just might be the right choice for you. A hint: decks work well on sloping, uneven, or poorly draining sites. Pool owners take note: a wood deck is cool underfoot and also dries quickly.

    Learn more about wood and composite decks.

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  • 04 of 10

    Deck Plans and Designs

    redwood deck freestanding
    Plan drawing for a freestanding deck from the California Redwood Association. &copy California Redwood Association

    The toughest part of building a deck may be at the beginning -- in the planning and designing stages. Sure, you may have decided that it is, indeed, a deck and not a patio you want to build, and that you want to use composite or synthetic decking. But deciding its size, whether it should connect to the house or be free-standing are also things to think about before going forward with the project.

    Hopefully, these deck designs and plans will inspire you and help you decide what you want and where you want it.

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  • 05 of 10

    Wood Types for Decks

    Wood deck near swimming pool
    Wood deck surrounding swimming pool. Getty Images

    While composite decking has risen in popularity, not everyone chooses to go that direction. Many potential deck owners love the look and feel of real wood. Whether it's because of tradition, personal taste or -- sometimes -- cost, wood is the material of choice. Once you decide to go with natural wood over composite decking, it becomes evident that no two woods are exactly alike -- there are many types that have the potential for being ideal choices for decks.

    Let's take a look at the names and types of deck woods available.

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  • 06 of 10

    Wood and Composite Decking: Pros and Cons

    multilevel wood deck mississippi
    A multi-level wooden deck. © Patricia McCarthy

    Should you go with wood or composite decking? Like any big purchase, decking materials vary in looks, durability and cost. Start your research here, becoming familiar with types of wood and synthetic decking. Another thing to think about -- you might want to use certain types of lumber or decking for structural parts of your deck project, and other decking timber for surfaces and railings -- the parts that will be more visible and upon which you will walk.

    Learn more about composite and wood decking, including the pros and cons for each type.

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  • 07 of 10

    A Guide to Composite Decking Brands

    picture of brasilia composite decking by trex
    Brasilia Decking by Trex. Photo courtesy of Trex

    Composite decking is an alternative to all-wood decking and is made of materials that can include recycled and new plastic, bamboo and wood fibers. Many composite decking products have evolved as a reflection of the environment in which we live and are green, eco and LEED qualified or certified. Check out our list of top brands in the world of composite decking. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Types of Deck Cleaners

    deck cleaning supplies
    Gather all the necessary supplies to clean the deck. Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Your neighbor may swear by his or her pressure washer, but that's not the only way to clean a deck. Check out our list of deck cleaners -- some are environmental, others really tackle stubborn mold and mildew -- but all purport to clean a wood or composite deck.

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  • 09 of 10

    How to Clean a Deck

    deck cleaning
    Pressure washing a deck. Banks/Getty Images

    It's not a fun task, but one of those things you simply must do to keep your deck looking good and in working condition. Experts recommend that you clean a deck at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall. Follow these step-by-step instructions to clean that deck the right way. 

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  • 10 of 10

    Deck Safety Checklist

    sanding a deck
    Man sands a deck. Hero Images/Getty Images

    Your deck should be a source of pride and accomplishment. But part of the package is also responsibility and maintenance. Once a year, make a date with your deck to inspect it for things like wood damage, rot, loose nails and other types of damage. Address these issues before they become a bigger problem. Follow this handy checklist to inspect your deck annually.