As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
(BPT) - As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. But with television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner is left to wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”
Atlanta, Georgia-based deck builder Frank Pologruto says it all comes down to how homeowners intend to use their space as each “zone” of the deck will require a general square footage.
“People want somewhere to cook, and then eat, and then have a conversation, and you start adding up these areas and you realize you can’t do all this in a 16-foot by 12-foot deck,” said Pologruto, the owner of Decks & More.
Dining — 320+ square feet
Outdoor kitchens and dining areas are growing in popularity, but do require significant space. A grill with some counter space for cooking and a large table and chairs for dining will take up around 320 square feet of deck.
Seating — 250+ square feet
Adding an additional seating area, whether a quiet morning coffee spot or an after-dinner conversation pit, will require more space. A conversation area for about six people will add another 256 square feet to the deck. Adding a fire element to the seating area, will require not only the space for the actual fireplace or fire pit, but also appropriate distance between the fire and any seating.
Pool or hot tub — 150+ square feet
Homeowners looking to include a water feature like an in-ground pool or hot tub can expect it to require additional deck space. A four-person hot tub could take up as many as 100 square feet of deck, but Pologruto cautions homeowners to build in plenty of room to walk around, and enter and exit the hot tub, bringing the total to between 150 and 200 square feet.
Parties — 15 square feet per person
As a general rule, Pologruto said homeowners should determine how many people they expect to host on their deck and estimate about 15 square feet of deck per person. To comfortably fit around 20 people, the deck will need at least 300 square feet of open space.
“Remember though, if you plan to have 50 people over, they won’t all be out on the deck at the same time, so plan for your deck to hold about 30 people,” he said.
With the added square footage comes a bigger price tag — $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the size.
The deck material will also affect the final cost. Pologruto uses traditional wood boards and high-end ENVISION composite decking by TAMKO Building Products, and says if homeowners are already preparing to spend the money to build a large deck, they should go the extra step and upgrade to a composite board.
“If you’re smart and have the money, do the composite — it just makes more sense,” he said.
Overall, from his experience, Pologruto said most homeowners don’t need a 3,000-square-foot deck, and should be able to fit a small dining area, arbor, hot tub and separate seating area in about 750 square feet, although some of the decks he builds are more than twice that size.
Planning to include the right amount of space will leave you with the most comfortable outdoor living area to suit your needs.
While most people today understand the main benefits of composite decking, the material itself is still new enough to raise questions, confusion and some skepticism among homeowners who grew up with wood decks. To help set the record straight, a pair of backyard design experts offer their insights on five common misconceptions about composite decking.
Demystifying Composite Decking
5 common misconceptions about composite material
(Family Features) First introduced in the late 1980s, composite decking quickly gained acceptance among builders and homeowners who recognized and appreciated being able to achieve a natural wood look without the ongoing hassles of upkeep. While most people today understand the main benefits of composite decking – durability and minimal maintenance – the material itself is still new enough to raise questions, confusion and some skepticism among homeowners who grew up with wood decks.
To help set the record straight, Trex Company, the world’s No. 1 decking and railing brand and leader in high-performance, low-maintenance outdoor living products, has teamed with backyard design experts Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell of HGTV’s acclaimed “Decked Out” series.
Misconception No. 1: Composite decking looks “fake.”
“Composite decking has evolved tremendously since its beginnings more than 20 years ago,” Campbell said. “The latest generation of products, such as Trex Transcend, look more natural than ever, featuring high-definition wood grain patterns and rich, saturated colors ranging from warm browns and pristine grey to spicy reds. There are also tropically inspired boards designed with subtle color variations and authentic streaking that mimic the look and feel of exotic hardwoods without the environmental impact – or splinters.”
Misconception No. 2: All composite decking materials are the same.
“Since composite decking was invented in the early 1990s, the market has been flooded with competitive offerings varying widely in quality, aesthetics and value,” Lafrance said. “For my projects, I use what is categorized as ‘high-performance’ composite manufactured with an integrated, three-sided shell or ‘cap.’ Capped boards feature an added layer of protection against severe weather, heavy foot traffic, fading, mold and staining.”
Misconception No. 3: Composite decking is maintenance free.
“Anything that sits outside in the elements for years on end is going to need some type of maintenance,” Campbell said. “When it comes to decking, the difference lies in how much upkeep is required. Maintaining wood decking is a downright chore with all the scrubbing, sanding and staining that wood requires – not to mention the replacement of splintered, warped and rotten boards. High-performance composite decking, on the other hand, calls for just wiping up spills when they happen and a simple soap-and-water cleaning twice a year – once in the spring when you’re getting it ready for outdoor living season and again when you close up your outdoor living space for the winter.”
Misconception No. 4: Composite decking is too expensive.
“Over time, wood decking actually ends up being more expensive than composite,” Lafrance said. “Sure, the initial cost of pressure-treated lumber is less than wood alternatives, but since a deck is a long-term investment, it’s important to consider the long-term costs, such as all the materials you’ll need for seasonal stripping, staining, painting and sealing. Add to that the time and cost involved in repairing and replacing wooden deck boards that will inevitably warp and splinter over time – even if they are well-maintained. When you factor in the cost of ongoing maintenance required with a wood deck, a composite deck ends up paying for itself in the long run.”
Misconception No. 5: Composite decking is not eco-friendly.
“Because it is made primarily from recycled content, composite decking is remarkably eco-friendly,” Campbell said. “In fact, Trex composite decking is made from 95 percent recycled content. By using plastic and industrial wood scraps that would otherwise wind up in landfills, they use more than 400 million pounds of recycled material each year in the making of their deck boards.”
For more information, visit trex.com.
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