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Deck Building: Expert Offers Tips to Get You Started

Schilling deck designer Micah Guzman suggests using low-maintenance products to build your new deck. And he offers tips to help you get started on the project.

What’s it going to be? Standing on deck? Or sitting on your deck?

In the on-deck circle, batters size up pitchers. Watching or listening to the game while sitting on a deck in your home’s back yard has become just as much of an American past time for many avid baseball fans.

And the cost of a cold drink on a hot summer’s day is only that of making a short trek to the ice box between innings.

If you’re planning to add a deck onto your home, you might want to consider the following tips from an expert, Schilling Design Center and Lumber Yard deck designer Micah Guzman.

1. Start by coming up with a basic design plan.

“What’s going to work best in your yard?” Guzman said. “What’s in your yard? What are we trying not to block or trying to still have access to?

“A lot of times people will be coming up to a pool and they want to use the deck around the pool, which sounds great. But is there a shed in the back of the yard or is there a path they have to have open for lawn equipment, things like that? Those are things we’ll have to know ahead of time.”

2. Do you want/need lighting on your deck? Will you be using your deck at night?

 “The lighting has come a long way from years past,” Guzman said. “They use all LED lighting so the bulbs don’t burn out very often and it’s very consistent lighting—post-cap lighting, rail-lighting and stair-lighting.

“The stair-lighting is key because a lot of times people say, ‘Oh, I have a porch light on the house. It will shine onto the deck.’ The deck will be lit, no problem. But as the stairs come down, all it does is that light casts a shadow on each tread. The stair-lighting goes right into the riser of the stair and casts light directly onto the stair.”

3. Think free time.

Treated lumber and cedar decks still are popular, but more and more homeowners are trending toward low-maintenance products like those produced by AZEK Building Products and Trex. The low-maintenance materials cost more to install initially but pay for themselves in a reduction of labor over time, Guzman said.

You’ll be able to spend your weekend sitting instead of cleaning and staining. Guzman recommends you take some time to match the colors offered by manufacturers of the high-tech decking materials to the existing colors on your home.

“We do have samples of all the decking, so they can actually take a small, four-inch piece home, match it up to their siding or their trim—whatever they’re trying to match on the house—and really make sure it’s going to look right.”

4. Coordinate the colors on handrails and trim pieces.

“The main body of the deck will be a base color,” Guzman said. “Then, the handrail and the stairs and borders and trims will be a color that’s going to coordinate very well with it—to really accent, say, the gutters on the house or the shutters and tie the two together. You want it to look like the entire project from start-to-finish was always planned and in the works from Day 1.”

5. Take photos of your home.

Bring a collection of the photos with you when you make an appointment to see a deck designer and/or construction agent.

“Any time a customer comes in and they have any pictures of the house, it really helps as far as knowing exactly what we’re working with,” Guzman said.

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