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59 curved virginia deck

How to Achieve the Beauty and Grace of a Curved Virginia Deck

You’ve seen the design in magazines and on television shows, now you want to capture the distinct look in your own yard. But a curved Virginia deck is much more challenging than it sounds, and transitioning from an on-paper design to an in-the-yard structure requires careful planning. Find out whether or not a curved deck is feasible for your outdoor living area.

Basics of a Curved Deck Design

It’s difficult to install a curved wooden deck due to the angular dimensions of lumber. Treated lumber provides the durability and strength necessary for an outdoor application, but creating a round frame with rectangular lumber is harder than it appears.

Posts, ledger boards and beams can be installed in the same manner as a rectangular deck, running along the outside wall and perpendicular to that line for support. Rim joists, on the other hand, must be curved to produce the desired shape. There are two popular and successful ways to complete this, including:

  • Kerf-cutting – it is possible to curve dimensional lumber by scoring the lumber along the back. These slots must go all the way across the lumber, and the amount of curve is dictated by the slot depth. Some installers feel that this type of construction degrades quality and stability, but the structure of your deck remains solid.
  • Laminated plywood – pressure treated plywood can be cut into 8- to 10-inch strips and soaked. This allows the plywood to bend, and those curved strips can be laminated with marine-grade adhesive and stainless steel fasteners to form a strong rim joist. The amount of curve is dictated by the length of those strips and the degree of bending achieved.

Composite materials and cedar wood tend to bend easier, and thinner building materials (such as composite facia board) help to cover bent lumber. Talk to your contractor about choosing the right material for your curved Virginia deck.

Install an angled frame underneath the rim joists and attach your decking joists between the ledger board and curved rim joist. Deck boards should be installed perpendicular to the rim joist. The rounded ends can be marked and cut to fit and blocking installed against the curved joist for support.

Curved Railings

Installing curved railing sections can also be challenging, depending on the severity of the curve. Shallow or gentle curves work well, with the top rail cut out of larger pieces of dimensional lumber. Wood pickets can be mounted onto the outside of the rim joist to produce a curve, although this may not pass building code for decks installed more than 24-inches off the ground.

Some styles of railing can be prefabricated in a curved line. This adds significant cost to your deck design, but does provide an unbeatable customized look. Get in touch with a metal fabricator for pricing or consider aluminum or steel railings that can be mounted to wood or composite railing posts.

Building a curved Virginia deck requires a fair amount of planning and forethought. Homeowners can expect to pay a premium for this design, as the curved framing requires extra materials and additional installation time. The finished product provides an exceptional, modern outdoor living space that will add value to your property and lifestyle. Consider how building a curved deck could enhance your home.

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