Extend Your Outdoor Living Space

No matter the season, people in the Pacific Northwest love getting outside. Skiing in the winter, boating in the summer, or finding a new hiking trail, there’s a strong connection to the outdoors, even if it’s just hanging out in the backyard.

“People enjoy being outside,” Ty Overby, corporate sales manager at Rick’s Custom Fencing & Decking, said. “Using the barbecue, throwing the football around. Things like that are ways we like to spend our lives with our family. We get all four seasons, and we want to enjoy it.”

That’s why almost every new home built in the last decade has at least some kind of patio attached to the house. For the amount of time we spend outside, a small concrete pad is hardly enough room to sit, let alone entertain.

“That’s what we notice,” Overby said. “A builder will put in an 8×8 concrete pad one step down off of the back door, and then the yard slopes away from the house. It makes it difficult to put chairs and a table out there.”

Adding a deck to the backyard opens up the possibilities for outdoor living. Instead of a small bistro set, the right size deck can expand the homeowner’s living area.

“A lot of people think about adding a hot tub,” Overby said. “Or build in some really beautiful planter boxes and built in benches. I’ve also seen a lot of firepits, another huge thing people can do to keep the deck heated.”

Cover Up

Still, this is the Pacific Northwest, and even the hardiest of backyard cooks can be chased back indoors if too much of the wet stuff is falling. With the addition of a cover, backyard cooks and nature lovers alike can recapture the deck during the wettest of months.

“We’re doing so many covers,” Overby said. “Either over the concrete pad or over a deck, covering the area makes it so much more usable. Sometimes, when it’s too hot, a cover creates the shade. Other times it’s warm but downpouring with rain. I used to drag the barbecue to the garage to use it when it rained. With a cover, the barbecue can stay and it gets used a lot more.”

If the home has gas, many homeowners will run a line out to the barbecue, erasing the need for those white propane tanks that always seem to run out 30 minutes before guests start arriving for a backyard get together.

“A lot of people will pipe gas out to the deck because they can use it all the time for the barbecue,” Overby said. “With the tanks, you always ran out right in the middle of cooking. We’ve done a lot of smaller decks right off the kitchen. It’s tiny, maybe 32 square feet. But it’s under cover, and has the gas hookup.”

Still others view the deck as a landscape cover to make their life easier. A well-positioned deck can cut back on yard maintenance.

“One homeowner wasn’t going to install a lawn or buy a mower,” Overby said. “They didn’t want to install sprinklers, didn’t want to mow or edge the yard. It takes a lot to maintain a lawn, so they wanted us to cover over that area. It was 450 square feet and they went with a composite material to cut down on deck maintenance, too.”

The Right Deck for the Yard

For those who do enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass or tending to a backyard garden, there are things to take into consideration when installing a deck.

“It comes down to how is the yard going to be used,” Overby said. “If someone goes out to the deck, what are they trying to get to? How big is their furniture? How far it is to the back property line? There’s usually a setback from the back of the property, so local building codes come into play. Same thing with the side yard. You have to take all of that into account.”

That’s why a professional contractor is important when building a deck. An experienced builder will know how much framing is required to handle something like a hot tub all the way down to the size of the treads on the steps to meet code standards.

“This person is trusting us to the be the expert on the best use of the space,” Overby said. “How many stairs will be needed, the hand rails, will there be planter boxes or built in benches. There really is an appropriate deck for every yard.”

No Need to Break the Bank

Building a backyard oasis can be expensive, but with proper design and managed expectations, a homeowner can take steps to lessen the financial blow.

“The elephant in the room: what’s the budget?” Overby said. “We want to make sure we’re recommending the right materials and the right size of project. We take into account what’s appropriate for the backyard. If it’s a 1960’s house, and they are going to sell in a few years, we’re not going to put in glass handrails.”

If the homeowner knows how to swing a hammer, or operate a drill, some more money can be put away for a rainy day. Rick’s Custom Fencing and Decking offers a program where they build the frame of the deck, bring in the decking and fasteners, and even hold a how-to seminar to show the homeowner how to finish the job.

“We can come out and frame the deck and the homeowners can put down the decking,” Overby said. “There are homeowners who can do a lot of the work, but just aren’t familiar with the framework of the deck, how to make sure everything is done right.”

When finished, the new deck can extend living area of the home beyond the original floor plan. Whether it’s entertaining friends in family in the summer, or firing up the grill in the dead of winter, a well-designed deck lets homeowner enjoy the outdoors 365 days a year.

Rick’s Custom Fencing & Decking is one of the largest decking and fencing companies in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to decks and fences, we also design and build patio covers, pergolas, gates, and arbors.

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