Upgrades on Deck: Five Strategies for Creating an Outdoor Space that Shines
By Geoff Case, Pressure-Treated Lumber and Decking Merchant, The Home Depot
With the summer winding down, cooler fall weather around the corner and outdoor gathering opportunities becoming more frequent, it is the perfect time to sell your clients on the benefits of a deck makeover…or perhaps the need to build a new one altogether. Fine-tuning a deck’s structure and accessories not only allows your clients to integrate their personality and style into a highly visible area of the home, but also can do wonders for the property’s overall value.
Consider the following five essentials as you work with your clients to finalize a plan that elevates the backyard into a chic, but affordable and manageable outdoor living space.
Lay the Foundation
At the onset of any potential renovation project, ensure you have a complete understanding of your clients’ full vision for their new deck or patio. Not only will such thorough discussion help define the desired elements and project timeline, but it also will invite chances to upsell beyond the most fundamental upgrades.
Outdoor spaces are growing to accommodate a wider range of activities, even if it involves adding another tier or section. As a result, we’re seeing more traditional indoor activities transition outdoors, and in formats likely exceeding the skill sets of DIYers. For instance, the idea of bringing a full-service kitchen to the deck or patio not only is reasonable, but something that might pique your clients’ interests.
Get on Board
Whether you are building a new deck from scratch, or looking to replace aged or weathered boards within an existing one, selecting the right lumber can make or break your project. There are several criteria to keep in mind, ranging from the size and desired function of your clients’ deck to their preferred level of maintenance.
Typically featuring a mix of wood and plastic, capped composite boards offer appealing versatility and a low-maintenance design. Contemporary composite boards come in a variety of patterns and designs, and enable clients to incorporate appealing non-traditional outdoor looks. While these boards traditionally are more expensive than natural wood, the long-term benefits of a rigid design that deters mold, fading and the need for repeat staining might be worth the added upfront investment.
Despite the advancements in composite boards, pressure-treated lumber remains the most popular option for new and renovated decks. Termite- and rot-proof, this wood maintains a reasonable price point and allows clients to infuse color that lasts for several years without refurbishing. Even for clients desiring a sophisticated surface look, pressure-treated wood provides a sturdy and affordable option for the underlying support structure.
Be mindful though of recent changes to pressure-treated lumber standards, which have made ground contact treated wood a requirement for many applications. Take some time now to research the potential impact of regulatory revisions on building codes and other project parameters. This proactive preparation will help you identify the right materials and approaches to prevent a profit-threatening work stoppage.
Set the Bar
A well-built railing system brings an added layer of safety to any deck while also fostering an open, upscale feel. While railings come in a variety of styles and materials, ranging from wood to vinyl and aluminum, this enhancement now trends toward a smaller, “less is more” approach. For clients willing to make the investment, cable-railing systems deliver visibility and durability without overpowering the space. Likewise, metal balusters have grown in popularity thanks to their captivating pure black color and minimal upkeep.
Regardless of the style, it’s best to choose a pre-built railing system to reduce implementation time and expenses.
Light up the Night
When hosting nighttime events, your clients likely will need more than a clear, starry sky to brighten up their deck or patio space. Low-voltage lighting can serve as the jewelry of the deck, and improve both safety and ambience.
Consider implementing low-voltage LED lights under railings and steps for added visibility. These lights not only blend in well with the deck’s overall layout, but provide significant energy-saving (80 percent less than standard deck lights) and lifespan extension (up to 50,000 hours) advantages. As a complementary installation, elegant post caps also can add sophistication and practicality for elevated lighting.
Restore the Floor
Once the makeover or installation is complete, advise your clients on the pro-trusted strategies that will keep their deck shining for years to come. A resurfacing liquid, such as BEHR’s DeckOver, can enliven a deck and deliver that “brand new” feeling any time. DeckOver further preserves the deck’s integrity by eliminating mildew and hiding cracks and splinters, creating a smooth, slip-resistant finish.
For clients who love hosting and being outdoors, a deck upgrade makes perfect sense. From basic improvements to a full-scale makeover, there are many avenues to an outdoor space that is safe, elegant and versatile, and ready for guests at any time.
By Geoff Case, Merchant, Pressure-Treated Lumber and Decking, The Home Depot
Geoff has been with The Home Depot for nearly two decades and in the lumber and building materials industry for 30 years. He has worked as a merchant and a supplier, experiencing the different building practices and regional nuances of lumber and building materials in five different states.