You may think of your deck as simply a platform — a place where you can survey your kingdom and stash your barbecue grill. But deck technology and imaginative designs have combined to create fabulous outdoor havens that extend your living area with comfort, style, and a dash of wow! Take a peek at these inspiring deck creations.
Synthetic decking materials aren’t any easier to bend than regular wooden boards—unless you heat them up. Then synthetics turn soft and pliable enough to be bent into various shapes (a deck pro does the heat treatment). Best of all, synthetics are virtually maintenance-free.
Custom railings are a great way to add some panache to your deck. Cut steel railings can be reproduced from photos or other artwork, and are built to comply with building codes (no open spaces larger than 4 inches). You’ll spend $150 to $200 per lineal foot for a custom-designed steel railing insert 30 inches high.
Swirls of light from fiber optic cables, attached below the decking and inserted into small drilled holes, add galaxies underfoot. LED string lights can work similar magic, are cost-effective alternatives to fiber optic cables, and can be battery- or solar-powered. LED strings cost about $1 to $2 per lineal foot.
Tired of trellises? Have arbor angst? Sleek shade sails provide diffuse shade underneath a soft, flexible canopy of woven industrial-grade nylon fabric. Available in various colors and shapes, shade sails are unique design elements that protect you and your deck from summer’s heat and UV rays.
With some imaginative planning, even a smallish urban setting can be converted to an outdoor living area. This diminutive entertainment area is only 6 feet wide, but big enough for a table and plenty of seating. Built-in planters provide lots of shade and privacy.
Put the space underneath your raised deck to good use. A few pieces of painted plywood and siding materials turn not-so-pretty structural posts and supports into a kid-friendly play shelter. A 10-ft. polyethylene play slide costs about $300 and ensures a happy landing for your youngsters.
Credit: Judy White/GardenPhotos.com
Dress Up Your DeckFeeling Exotic?
Tropical hardwoods, such as ipe, cumaru, and the tigerwood shown here, are increasingly popular decking materials. Besides being beautiful, they’re resistant to moisture, disease, and insect attack. Make sure the wood decking you buy has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as harvested from sustainable forests.
Built-in planters and benches add personality and can substitute for railings (check your local building codes). You’ll spend $150 to $250 per lineal foot for a custom-built redwood or cedar planter that’s 2 ft. high and 2 ft. wide. Wood decking and planters require regular maintenance to retain their natural good looks.
In backyard locations, decks are often open to view from neighbors. Tastefully designed screens can provide privacy with an artistic touch. These tempered glass panels have been etched with sandblasting to create a dreamy mural that blocks views but admits light. This project cost about $2,500.