Custom Decks: Design Ideas and What You Need to Know
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Many homeowners are not sure what kind of deck they want. So, they will ask builders of custom decks if they have any deck design ideas for them and what deck features are popular.
Before deck contractors talk about custom decks, deck ideas, and features, they should have some questions of their own:
- What do you want to do with your deck?
- How much space does your home have?
- How many people would be using this deck?
- Is it for entertaining, or just relaxing and enjoying nature?
- Do you want something that will last for decades with little maintenance?
Function, specifically how someone plans to use a deck, plays a big role in the design. When you answer these questions, you will give the custom deck builder a better understanding of what to recommend. After all, you do not want to invest money in a deck that ends up being undersized and doesn’t work well for your needs.
Deck Design Ideas & Features
When you work with a builder of custom decks, keep in mind the questions from above: Choose a design that works well with the space you have, is large enough to accommodate your needs, is easy to maintain, has a beautiful, creative design, but is also practical.
Also, make sure your deck contractor thinks beyond the deck. What is off the deck? What are you leading to? Are you leading to a pool, patio, outdoor kitchen/BBQ, yard, garden area, pergola, arbor, or other shade structure?
One of the more popular deck designs is an under-deck system with an elevated deck. Deck contractors build a lot of raised decks because the first floor is often several feet off the ground.
Also, if the elevated deck is on the second floor, then it leaves a lot of open space underneath it.
When you build a deck like this, you can finish out the lower section and create a weatherproof room. If you go this route, a good feature to have installed is a Trex Rain Escape System. The custom deck builder will add this to the frame before the decking goes down.
The system captures the water and helps funnel it away, just like a downspout does with a roof. With this waterproofing system, you can create a livable area underneath the deck. You will have a dry space that is basically a pavilion.
Under-deck systems have been around for a long time, but they have been gaining in popularity in recent years. More people choose this option because it’s easier than building a whole new structure over the top of your existing deck.
Most of these under-deck systems will open up to a pool deck, a patio. a grill area, or even a hot tub.
A nice feature many people add to their decks is an aluminum railing that is powder-coated, which is a dry paint that is applied in layers and baked on.
These railings are versatile, come in many colors, the aluminum will not rot or rust, and the powder coating is strong and durable.
Deck lighting is another feature you should talk to your deck builder about. This adds a beautiful ambiance to your space, as well as offers a degree of safety and security.
When people decide custom decks are the way to go, they still have a big decision: Will it be made of wood or a composite material? This is an important decision that will have ramifications for years to come.
Wood is beautiful, it is natural, and it comes from a renewable source (making it an environmentally friendly choice). However, if you choose wood for your deck material, do not be surprised if your deck contractor wants to discuss the long-term and short-term benefits and aesthetics of composite materials.
Two main issues with wood decks are maintenance and longevity. If you treat the wood, and you maintain it every year or so, then you might be able to get 15 years out of your deck.
Maintenance costs can range from $500 to $1,500 a year, depending upon whether you stain it, pressure wash it, paint it, and decide to do it yourself or hire a professional crew.
Also, wood decks do not come with a warranty, as composite decks do.
Composite Material Decks
Like wood, composite deck materials are eco-friendly, too. Manufacturers use a high percentage of recycled plastic and wood. As wood prices fluctuate wildly and people not wanting the expense of maintaining wood decks, composite materials are the No. 1 choice when homeowners decide to build a deck.
Companies that manufacture composite deck materials, like Trex, TimberTech, and Azek, offer consumers a few lines at different price points, depending on a person’s budget. Trex offers three levels that it markets as good, better, and best.
The lower level competes on cost with wood, like cedar. Because there’s not much of a cost difference, people prefer to go with the composite material because it has a 25-year color, fade, and stain warranty … and it will last much longer than wood.
As for maintenance, composite deck materials can be cleaned with soap and water.
Doing it Yourself vs Hiring a Professional Deck Contractor
Building a deck yourself has a couple of major benefits: If you have an understanding of how to build a deck that will meet local safety and building codes, then you can save some money and have it built on your schedule, not the contractor’s schedule.
However, as with anything else, there are consequences when you undertake such a big endeavor. You might think you’ll have enough time to build it on your vacation, but soon learn the task is bigger than you thought.
You might have bought the wrong materials, the wrong nails, or the wrong screws. Maybe your beams were not plumb, and you have to rip it out and start all over. It can end up costing you more and take longer if things go awry.
If you are able to DIY your deck, congratulations! If not, that’s OK, too. Custom deck builders routinely receive calls from people who started a deck and realized they cannot complete it. They regularly have to fix and strengthen the work of others.
It can be enticing when you go into a big box store, get on a calculator, and see the design … not to mention the prices. But, a lot goes into building a deck.
When you hire a professional outfit, you are getting trained carpenters who will build the deck to code. And, you will need to check local building codes because if a deck exceeds a certain height, you might need a building permit.
And, when you build your own deck, be mindful of safety. There are a lot of code requirements, and they change with each jurisdiction. It’s not uncommon for local municipalities to have additional requirements that differ from the national code. So, it’s important to understand which codes you are building under.
When is the Best Time to Build a Deck and How Long Does it Take?
When you are ready to have a custom-designed deck built at your home, you can expect the design and estimating process to take 2 to 4 weeks. As for the building process, if you are looking to start a deck during the peak construction season, then you can expect a 12 to 16 week lead time in most cases in Central Indiana.
When deck construction begins, it can take one to three weeks, depending upon the size and scope. Also, it can take longer if you have an under-deck system. If your project calls for a pool house or a pavilion, then it can take 4 to 8 weeks.
How much Does it Cost to Build a Deck?
When you speak with a custom deck builder about your project, at some point the conversation will arrive at the price. Every home is different, with different terrain challenges. Because each project is different, it is hard to come up with a ballpark price for a deck project.
While it can be difficult to talk price, it’s beneficial for the contractor to have an understanding of what your budget is. This will make it easier to design a deck that you can afford.
Where you live will affect how much you pay for a deck. While most deck contractors do not create estimates based on square footage, a deck can cost between $50 to $90 square foot.
How to Find the Right Local Deck Contractor
When you start looking for a local deck contractor, you will want someone who is licensed, insured, and bonded.
- A license lets you know the contractor knows what to do.
- An insurance policy lets you know you will be made whole if there are any mishaps on the project.
- A bond is an assurance the project will be completed should the contractor fail to keep up with the terms of the agreement.
Something you should know, good contractors are difficult to book in just a couple of weeks. Be patient. You might want to consider reaching out during the off-peak season and scheduling it early.
Be sure to ask for references and look at examples of the work.
Why Artisan is the #1 Custom Deck Builder in Fishers, Indiana
Our creativity and attention to detail help us stand out among our competitors. Artisan Outdoor Craftsman started as landscape architects, so we can think beyond the deck. We understand how to create a beautiful, functional deck, and how to make the landscaping around it complement it.
When we design a deck, we design it to utilize the full board width. This means no scrap or waste. This means fewer materials find their way into a landfill.
We pay careful attention to the designs of our custom decks because we want them to look good. We want you and your guests to take pause and notice the beauty and the exceptional craftsmanship and artistry.
Also, Artisan Outdoor Craftsman is more than a crew with a truck and tools. We have a showroom where people can come in, look at some design examples, check out materials, and see which colors work for them.
When you are ready for a beautifully designed, professionally constructed custom deck, along with accessories and other structures, get in touch with Artisan Outdoor Craftsman to get your free estimate.