1. Appraise the ViewWhen constructing a deck, the very first thing to factor in actually happens during the design phase — consider your deck in relation to your view. If your deck is going have posts embedded in the ground or as supports for a roof system, it’s important to look at where those posts will rest in relation to your windows and evaluate whether they will obstruct your line of sight.
It surprises me how often designers will specify posts 6 or 8 feet off center across the back the house or outside a master bedroom window that will jut out in the middle of an otherwise clear view of a gorgeous mountain or lake. When possible, I like to remove posts from porch or deck construction. Instead I’ll use a pressure-treated glulam, paralam or even a steel beam to carry the load and create wide spans to where I can eliminate posts that would obstruct a view.
2. Consider CantileveringIf you’d like to expand your outdoor living space — especially if your log home will be at the edge of a steep slope — cantilevering a portion of it beyond your vertical supports may be a solution.
A cantilever is simply a rigid, angled brace that adjoins a vertical component to one that’s horizontal, creating the opportunity for larger spans without extra support posts in the ground.
So, if you want a deck that’s 12 feet deep, traditional framing requires support posts at the 6- and 12-foot marks across the width of the deck to carry the load. If you cantilever, you can get away with one set of posts at the 8-foot mark, suspend the last 4 feet with the cantilever and achieve the same distance without having to have the extra set of posts at the edge. Not only will this provide a more pleasing appearance, it offers more open space at the ground level, which can create patio space, or allows your deck to hover dramatically above a cliff.
3. Be Safe and SoundDeck installation is often an afterthought. In fact, many log homeowners opt to save a little money during construction by prepping for a deck that they will install down the line. If the deck isn’t integrated to a home while its being built (or even if it is), it’s vital to make sure that it’s properly fastened to the structure. Code requirements vary between states and/or local jurisdictions, but, as a builder, I want to make sure my clients are safe, so I always use a fastening system that’s stringent, not just code compliant.
4. Material DifferencesTo fully enjoy your deck, it’s got to look good. In terms of natural materials, cedar planking is one of the most popular, thanks to its ability to hold up well to the weather. Redwood is a sound option, too, but is harder to come by; and then there are species, like ironwood, which are extremely durable but super expensive.
5. Railing RegaliaFinally, once the decking is decided you need a railing to enclose the space. If you’re looking to eliminate posts, as discussed earlier, you don’t want to block your view with thick, heavy spindles supporting the handrail, so you’ll want to keep those to a minimum. However, for the posts you do have, be sure to protect them from rot by sealing every surface — especially those that are cut. Oftentimes, a builder will cut all the components, install them and then stain or seal the structure as a whole. Water can get in between the joints and penetrate unsealed surfaces, even if they are not directly exposed. It takes a bit more time, but by pre-sealing every part of the material before it’s installed, you can stop rot (not to mention future repairs/replacement) in its tracks.
Terms to KnowWhat’s the difference between glulam and paralam wood beams?
A glulam beam is a grouping of dimensional lumber (like a 2-by-6) that is glued together under high pressure. Glulams are often used underneath the roof system that’s covering a porch or deck. It’s exposed to the elements, but it’s not in direct contact with a steady barrage of excessive moisture.
A paralam is more akin to plywood or OSB that’s been laminated into a cohesive unit. It’s a good choice for a lower-level deck where water will run down over the top of the material, but the underside won’t be readily seen.