Planning the Perfect Deck

A beautiful, versatile redwood deck can extend your lifestyle and add richness and pleasure to daily living. Equally as important, a deck is a long-term investment because it increases the resale value of your home. Here are some basic planning, design and building tips for the deck of your dreams.


Libraries, book stories and home centers are good sources for deck ideas and plans. CRA also has information on decks and other back yard projects.

Site Planning

Survey the yard and decide which problems the deck should solve. Redwood decks can be built over steeply sloping ground, along a side yard or even in front of a house as an entry. Consider wind direction, the amount of sun or shade desired, the availability of water and electrical outlets and other fixed conditions. Generally, the southwest and southeast corners of a house offer the best combination of sun and shade.


Be sure to check the local building codes and regulations to determine what guidelines and restrictions you must follow. Consult a building professional if the area is to be extensive or the construction difficult. If you decide to do it yourself, you may want to divide a large deck project into small manageable projects, so your building experience, budget and outdoor living can grow each year with your deck.


Be sure to choose quality materials. Redwood is a classic for decks because it is great looking, resists weathering and is easy to saw and use. The heartwood grades naturally resist insects and decay. Redwood has no chemical additives and resists warping and splitting better than other woods.


The rugged, knot-textured garden grades, which are more economical than architectural grades, are ideal for outdoor structures. Choose an all-heartwood grade such as Construction Heart or Deck Heart for applications on or near the ground. The sapwood-streaked grades, Construction Common and Deck Common, for example, are good choices for above-ground uses such as deck boards.


A variety of joist hangers, patented connectors and deck fasteners are available to help the do-it-yourselfer. When working with redwood, always use top quality, hot dipped galvanized, stainless steel or aluminum hardware. To avoid splitting, pre-drill holes for nails or screws at the ends of the decking boards.


Redwood takes and holds finishes better than most other woods. For long lasting good looks and performance, a quality water repellent finish containing a mildewcide and an ultraviolet inhibitor is recommended For best results, the finish should be applied directly to the lumber before construction covering all sides, edges and ends. A second application is recommended when the deck is completed.


After the deck is finished, adding amenities completes the job of individualizing your project and making it a true outdoor living center. Popular add-ons in the '90's include relaxing spas, shade shelters, privacy screens, built-in benches and planters. If you like to entertain,, incorporate a grilling center and service counter. Plant enthusiasts often create a work center for potting activities and storing garden equipment and supplies.

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