3 Things to Consider Before Building a Deck or Patio

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is an award-winning deck builder and designer who specializes in urban decking, transforming cityscapes with his creative constructions. He is a second-generation deck builder.

Table of Contents

The windy and chilly months of winter are the perfect time to start dreaming about how to improve your outdoor living spaces for next spring and summer. Building a deck or patio is one way to add usable space to your home while also increasing the value of your home. While you’re dreaming away this winter, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Your Home and The Terrain

Every home and yard is a little different, and even two houses on the same block can have vastly different landscapes. Before choosing between a deck or patio and before considering the layout of either, you’ll want to take a look at your unique yard.

A great deal of uneven terrain can be a headache to level if you’re considering a patio, but deck framing may be much simpler to accomplish. A gentle slope may be no problem for a deck and could be fairly straightforward to level for a patio. However, a steep slope can require a retaining wall or heavy grading for a patio, whereas deck posts can easily compensate.

You’ll also want to think about the size and shape of your home to ensure that your new addition is proportionate to the existing structure. Does the area you’re considering already have a door to the yard, or will that need to be added?

2. Your Goals

The size and location of a deck or patio will depend on how you intend to use the space. Are you looking for a complete outdoor kitchen and entertainment area? An enclosed place for the kids to play? A cozy hideout to relax after a long day of work?

While some people may enjoy an afternoon warming themselves in the sun, it’s usually a good idea to consider where the shade is in your yard. You may also want to think about whether you’ll need to add some cover for protection from the hottest times of the summer.

If you’re hoping to expand your kitchen and dining space, you’ll want your deck or patio attached to the house near the kitchen. That way, you’ll avoid having to carry food and tools back and forth through the house. If you’ll be entertaining in the evening hours, is the deck close to the sleeping area of your home? If it’s to be a play area for the kids, what type of railing will you want to keep it enclosed?

3. The Aesthetics

The structure and layout of your deck and patio are important, but the fun part is deciding how you want it to look! Modern decking materials provide an almost endless assortment of styles and colors to choose from. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want pressure treated lumber or composite decking.

Pressure treated wood is often less expensive; however, it has a shorter overall lifespan and requires more maintenance to keep it looking great. Composite materials cost more to install, but it requires almost no maintenance and will look great for decades. A poured concrete patio is often the least expensive option, but fewer options for customizing the look.

Either decking option will also present you with a multitude of colors to choose from, either in the form of stains for natural wood or the decking itself for composite. Here, the best choice is the one that works best for you. Some deck board finishes are more rugged or natural-looking, while others will be more finished or even colorful.

You’ll also have some choices when it comes to the type and style of railings to include with your deck or patio. From natural wood with standard, straight balusters to decorative turned balusters or even metal cables, your personal aesthetic will lead you to the right decision.

Making the Dream Work

While each of these considerations will have you thinking about different aspects of your backyard, all three of them must come together for successful patio or deck construction. To ensure that the constraints of your terrain will not spoil your dreams, or that you will not be wishing you had dreamed even bigger once the project is complete, speaking with a professional deck builder can help. At Mitchell Construction, we’ve been bringing dreams to life for years, and we’re ready to get started on yours next.