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Summer is here!

Man is that ever nice to say. Sure, throughout the year we get a lot of sun up here in the middle of the prairies (which can wreak havoc on our decks – more on that in a minute), but until we get that first stretch of truly warm weather at the beginning of June, it’s tough to proclaim that summer has actually arrived.

Well, you heard it here first. So what are we going to do now? There’s nothing we enjoy more than taking advantage of our brief time in the summer heat on the deck. BBQ’, beers, and banter = best.

So you want to build an awesome new deck for your family, hey? Well, we can help with that. As in, we could build it for you, but we also love the DIY work ethic of the prairies, so here’s three tips to help you get started and avoid a monstrous headache further down the road.

1. What’s the Right Size?

Enormous? Gigantic? The biggest deck you can imagine?

You’d be surprised how many people we work with who bite off more than they can chew when it comes to the size of their new deck. People imagine a deck that has room for their bbq plus furniture plus toys for the kids plus a second seating area – plus, plus, plus.

It’s important to predict what you’ll be using your deck for. Just because you have a big yard doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea to fill half of it with a deck. The point is to have a deck that compliments your yard, and vice versa.

We tell people to reserve a minimum of 100 feet for each specialized area – 144 feet is ideal.

  • outdoor eating
  • outdoor living
  • outdoor cooking

… And so on. That ten foot by ten foot square is the minimum amount of space you’ll need for each area.

2. How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Everyone thinks of this point, but it’s important to remember that costs can easily get away from you. And not just in the short term, either. The consistent pounding of our prairie sun means maintenance is a very real element if you want your deck to look as good in ten years as it does now.

Composite Decks: The cost of building a deck with composite decking ranges from about 26 to 36 dollars per square foot. The cost of composite is much more than the cost of a standard treated-wood deck. The pay-off is that there’s no maintenance.

Like, none at all.

People these days are definitely building composite decks more often than wood. It’s about the future value of your home, too. The deck might be ten years old but it will look brand new.

3. Do You Enjoy Working Outside?

We like to argue with ourselves here at North Elm sometimes. So sure, building a composite deck might remove future maintenance, but maybe you want to save some money now because you know you won’t mind the upkeep in the future.

That’s cool too!

Just make sure you know what you’re getting into.

If you’re building a traditional wood deck, it absolutely, unequivocally, most definitely needs to be stained or treated with the proper materials. It’s true that the deck boards you buy from the hardware store might come pre-treated, but it’s usually not enough to maintain the longterm health of your deck. Stick with it and maintain your deck every year.

Hey, we obviously like working outside, but it’s up to you. Weigh your options before you start building and soon you’ll be well on your way to patio season.


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