A deck is one of the most useful outdoor spaces because it can support so many different functions: lounging, cooking, throwing parties, container gardening or just sitting outside to enjoy the view. As a multifunctional surface, a deck needs to always look its best. Read on if you have an existing wood deck and are looking to make some simple tweaks to update its look and improve how it feels and functions.
1. Practice basic deck care. A deck can be improved in just a few hours through routine surface care. It’s recommended that you refinish a wood deck about every two years, either naturally with a linseed oil rub or with stains and sealers, to keep moisture away.
Whatever refinishing method you choose, know that moisture invites organisms into the wood that cause it to rot over time, so remove and clean up anything that is allowing water to collect in parts of the deck. Also, repair anything that may be habitually splashing water onto the deck, such as a leaky hose spigot.
To winterize, clean your deck of debris and remove and store your outdoor furniture in a dry place. Leaving your furniture out during the wet winter months can cause it to wear down more quickly.
2. Upgrade your railing. If your railing is looking shabby, consider changing it for an overall deck upgrade. A cable railing can contribute to a more contemporary deck style, or consider a different balustrade style or material.
You will likely need to hire a carpenter or contractor to help you design and install new railings, because they consist of detailed parts and connections. Have an idea of the railing type you want installed, and ask for product and design recommendations from the professional you hire. Also, check that your preferred railing type meets local codes before having it installed.
3. Add an edible container garden. If your deck receives full sun, and you have the space, consider building or purchasing a few containers for an edible garden. Edibles growing close to the house are easily accessed from the kitchen, and with a deck, you are always working on a level surface.
Keep water from pooling under your containers by placing a saucer beneath them to collect excess water or raising the containers off the deck.
Be aware that large containers can add a significant amount of weight to the deck, so it’s best to locate large, heavy containers over structural beams. Always consult a professional if you are unsure of your deck’s weight capacity.
4. Create more lushness at the edges. Sometimes a deck feels too open and exposed. Create a lusher setting by planting large shrubs or a small tree around the deck’s edges. Be sure to keep them away from the foundation of your home. If you can’t plant directly in the ground around the deck, create lushness with planted containers around the deck’s perimeter.
5. Use the space underneath the deck. If your deck is raised to meet a second-story door, consider how you can use the space underneath the deck to create a shaded outdoor area. The ground below should be sloped to drain water away from the house and have basic paving that allows you to use the space. Once those pieces are in place, you can add seating, potted shade plants, a hammock, lighting and whatever else you desire.
Advanced project: Screen it. Screening all or part of your deck is not a simple tweak, but it’s an option for getting more out of your deck. Screening all or part of your deck transforms it into a space that can be used more comfortably on the sultriest, most mosquito-filled summer nights. If you are only screening and not adding additional levels, you may be able to proceed sans permit, but always check with your local building department first.