Not all backyards are alike. In fact most present a few unique challenges when designing the ideal outdoor living space. Check out these top four Northern Virginia deck designs to see if any of them can be adapted to suit your unique property. From extreme grades to swampy soil and waterfront lots, these deck plans make the most of the situation.
Deck Designs for Extreme Grades (Down)
With the help of a professional contractor decks can be built on nearly any property, even if your house is built into a steep hill, or the grade drops off naturally towards the rear of your property. In many cases a well-built deck allows for better use of the yard, creating a flat space for patio furniture, BBQs and other backyard living features.
Footings are the most important aspect of decks built on extreme grades. These concrete piers need to firmly support the deck frame. Be sure your contractor digs a deep hole that’s wide enough to allow for a stable footing. Think about the effects of erosion and consult your municipal building department to ensure that your footings meet local building codes for safety and stability.
Railings are another essential element, protecting those on the deck from falls and injuries. All railing posts should be spaced fairly close together (around 4 feet apart is a good measure) and made from materials that have been tested for strength and durability.
Deck Designs for Extreme Grades (Up)
When your home sits at the base of a steep hill the design challenges are vastly different from other situations. You don’t need to worry as much about footings, but may have to design your deck to suit the natural layout of the hill. Plan for curved edges and smaller platforms incorporated together into a large deck design.
Excavation is another option when your yard grades up to the rear. Move the soil away to create a flat space and install heavy-duty retaining walls around your deck or patio area. This creates a private oasis, often quiet and shady. But those retaining walls must be built correctly or the natural power of gravity will have that space looking run down in just a few seasons.
Deck Designs for Swampy Yards
Perhaps you live in a low-lying area, or have experienced several issues with drainage. Assess the water problems before installing your Northern Virginia deck, to be sure those concrete footings will not heave or sink. In swampy or wet areas, the concrete footings need to be installed deep into the ground, providing solid support. Building codes may have standards regarding minimum footing depth on swampy lots.
Be sure to use treated lumber for this deck design as well, since moisture takes a toll on cedar and other wood species in a short period of time. Even treated lumber will rot over the years, but you can opt for composite or vinyl deck boards to reduce maintenance and increase longevity.
Deck Designs for Waterfront Properties
Waterfront homes generally provide fantastic views and direct sun. That means your deck design needs to incorporate shade without blocking the views and creating a fishbowl effect void of privacy. Deck designs for waterfront cottages and homes often hug the side of the building, stretching around the corners for a wrap-around look. Overhang a roof for easy shade or build a gazebo into the corner for seclusion and shade.
Railings need to be sturdy and safe, unless the deck is close to the ground. In that case, consider incorporating wrap-around stairs as well, allowing traffic to flow off of the deck at any point and adding impromptu seating for larger gatherings.
These Northern Virginia deck designs address the specific problems of unique properties. Call your local deck contractor to discuss your own needs and keep dreaming of that ideal outdoor living space.