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Deck Benches: Taking Your Deck to the Next Level

built-in deck benchWhen it comes to enjoying your new deck, the devil is in the details. Choose the right shape, shade and material for your outdoor living space, and family members will flock to it. On the other hand, if you don’t carefully think through your options, you may be stuck with an area of the home that no one actually uses.

Built-in deck seating is an excellent way to guarantee the utility of your new cedar or composite deck. This article will review the advantages of built-in deck seating and offer tips for installing a deck bench.

Advantages of Built-In Deck Benches

The first advantage of built-in deck seating is that it will always be available. No matter how hectic your week, when guests visit, they’ll always find a comfortable spot on your deck. Adding a bench to your cedar deck automatically makes it a more pleasant place for entertaining and lounging, especially if you add a few indoor/outdoor throw pillows.

Another advantage of built-in deck furniture is that it cuts down on the need for patio furniture. If you hate maintaining your outdoor furniture and dread hauling it all out every year, a built-in deck bench is a welcome reprieve. Deck benches are also idea for small decks because they create abundant, compact seating and eliminate the need for bulky furniture.

Built-in deck benches can also serve utilitarian purposes. Placed next to a door, a deck bench can provide a convenient place to change your muddy shoes or rest groceries while you find your keys.

Additionally, there are deck benches have visual benefits. Built-in deck seating is an opportunity to add custom flair to your deck’s design. Long, monotonous stretches of deck can be visually broken up with a built-in deck bench. Tiny solar-powered LED light fixtures may be installed underneath built-in deck seating to dazzle visitors and keep burglars away. Even without lighting, deck benches can direct visitors. For instance, built-in seating can take the place of deck railings to lend a simple, smooth look to your outdoor entertaining space. A low, backless deck bench can define the deck’s perimeter and allow visitors to choose which direction to face. On sunny days, wide built-in benches convey an open invitation to sun-bathe.

Deck Bench Construction Tips

As you can see, there are many reasons to add a built-in bench to your deck. A professional decking contractor can easily add a deck bench to your project. Alternatively, you can build one yourself. If you’re choosing the second route, here are a few construction tips:

  • Anchor the benches next to the joists of the deck. If your deck does not have joists, you will need to add support blocks underneath the bench.
  • Place the bench posts no more than four feet apart; this will prevent sagging.
  • The height of the bench is up to you, but most people find a 16-inch bench comfortable. Install the seat of the bench 16-18 inches above the surface of the deck.
  • Oddly, many people also prefer a 16-inch wide bench seat. Of course, the ultimate width is also up to you, but 16 inches is a good starting point.
  • If you’re putting a back on your bench, slope the surface of the seat to be about 1 inch lower in the back. This will help people feel comfortable while sitting for long periods of time.
  • Another way to increase comfort is to slope the back of the bench about five degrees back. Think about Adirondack chairs; they have a noticeable slope to their backs. Your bench will also benefit from an angled back.
  • It’s smart to leave gaps between the boards on the seat of the bench. This allows water to drain through the bench’s surface.
  • Carefully choose your materials. Because it requires very little or no maintenance, composite lumber is a great choice for deck benches. If you must have the real wood look, cedar is an excellent material; it naturally repels pests and stands up to the elements better than other woods.
  • Mirror the shape of your deck. Many award-winning decks include curved seating to match the shape of the deck itself.

Once your new bench is complete, add a few planters or garden accessories to help it match the rest of your deck. Next, pour yourself a refreshing drink, sit down and enjoy the view from your new built-in deck bench!

~Colleen Welch, 2010

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